Canning

If you’ve never canned anything, consider beginning with green beans. Canning vegetables couldn’t be simpler – provided you have access to a pressure-cooker. The “pressure method” is a requirement when you’re canning low acid foods(1).

What you’ll need:
pressure cooker
canning jars, new/used. You can use undamaged jars again and again.
jar rings, new/used. You can use undamaged rings again and again.
jar lids, must be new.
canning salt or course sea salt

 

A local farm stand sells bushels and half bushels discounted from their per pound price, making canning and freezing produce for the Winter months very economical. Plus, I like going into the cellar and seeing rows of MY preserved fruits and vegetables; beets next to peaches, pickles, tomatoes and green beans.

There are at least two methods for preparing green beans for canning, I prefer the “cold pack” method. I like to retain as much crispness as possible: when you use the “cold pack” method, the beans are only cooked once, in the pressure cooker.
Begin by washing, and snapping off the stem end of each bean. Earlier this Summer a farmer laughed at me for sorting peas by size before freezing them, nevertheless I sort. As I snap the beans I toss the small and broken beans into a separate bowl.

Now “cold pack” the beans into jars. I use wide mouth jars so I can better fit my fingers inside the jar. However today, Stevie has volunteered to pack beans. His small hand has no trouble standing beans upright in the jars.

At this point, it’s a good idea to start heating the water in your pressure cooker. The jars will be hot once you’ve added the boiling water, and you’ll want to set them into hot water inside the pressure cooker. You can set the canning lids in the water so that they’ll be hot when you’re ready to place them on the jars.
Remember the small and broken beans that I set aside? I use some of those broken (or just short) beans to top off the jars.

Add a teaspoon of canning salt or course sea salt to the jars. You can use ordinary table salt, but additives in table salt have a negative effect on the color of the beans. They’ll taste fine, they just wont be as pretty.

Bring a kettle of water to boiling. Pour boiling water into the jars, leaving an inch of space at the top of each jar. Hint: the neck of a canning jar is 1 inch from the rim.

 

After adding boiling water to all the jars, use a wood skewer or the handle of a wood or plastic spoon to help release air bubbles that may be trapped in the jar. Because I pack green beans vertically, air bubbles are not usually “trapped,” they rise to the surface between the beans. Tapping the jars, gently on the counter top, is usually enough to remove air from the jars.

 

With a clean dry towel, wipe the rims of the jars. Set a hot canning lid on each jar and screw on rings. Remember your lids have been heating along with the water in your pressure cooker. The rings should be secure but not too tight. What does that mean exactly? I don’t really know – all canning instructions advise against “over tightening.” Remember the 1 inch of space between the contents and rim of your jars? That’s air; and it should be pushed out during processing. Putting rings on too tightly will prevent the air from escaping during processing.

 

Gently lower the jars into the pressure cooker. (use the directions included with your pressure cooker. You will need to achieve 10 pounds of pressure and a temperature that exceeds 240º) Secure the pressure cooker’s lid. Once the pressure cooker indicates the pot is pressurized, begin timing:

  • General processing times are:
  • 20 minutes for pint jars
  • 25 minutes for quart jars
  • high-altitude times are generally 10 minutes longer

After your cooking time has passed, allow pressure to drop. (use the directions included with your pressure cooker.) Carefully lift jars and gently place them on a kitchen towel. If all the windows are open, I set the jars in the oven, fearing a cool breeze in the kitchen could crack the jars.
Once the jars have cooled, check the seals. The lid should be firm and slightly concave. If any of the jars have not sealed, refrigerate the jar and plan to use it within a week.

(1) Low acid foods, requiring the pressure cooking method;

  • asparagus
  • beans
  • corn
  • cucumbers
  • garlic
  • green beans
  • onions
  • peas
  • pumpkins
  • squash

 

Foods that are safe for water bath canning

  • apple sauce
  • tomatoes
  • berries
  • figs
  • papaya
  • peaches
  • pears
  • pineapple

My favorite resource for everything “canning”: Simply Canning

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“How I spent Memorial Day.” No, not really; just an hour. But we enjoyed the berries all day.
We picked 22 pounds; most were eaten “just the way God made them.” It was too hot here to bake. I’ll freeze the remaining berries- so we can go back to Rowe’s Produce Farm and pick more!

Also picking strawberries: Spicer Orchards

When you pick berries with kids there are bound to be some that are bruised. Which is okay; it’s easier to decide which berries will go into the freezer.

I like to freeze the washed berries in a single layer on a baking pan. After an hour I transfer them to a plastic freezer bag. For longer storage, (I’d like some of these to keep until February) I’ll place the freezer bag full of berries into another container, or wrap in a double layer of freezer paper.

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Basil is pungent, and I love it. However, my kids just taste the “pungent” not the “love”.
I made this Pesto with two cups of swiss chard and only one cup of basil. The result is a mild Pesto we can all enjoy.

Ingrdients

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup pistachios*
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 4 cups swiss chard leaves, stems removed
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt

*can substitute 3/4 cup pine nuts for pistachios & pine nuts.
Add all ingredients to some type of whirring machine; a blender, food processor, or Vitamix. If the Pesto is too thick, add additional oil; blend after each addition.

In order to evenly distribute the Pesto throughout the pasta; I drain the pasta in a colander, and add the Pesto to the hot, empty pot. The heat thins the oil in the Pesto. Add the pasta to the warm Pesto, but not all at once. I suggest: add, stir; add, stir…

To preserve Pesto Sauce: Pour 1/2 cup portions into small jars (I use empty spice jars), leaving space for a tablespoon of oil. The oil helps preserve the bright green color. Store Pesto in the freezer. Remove a jar from the freezer one hour before you plan to use it.

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