Following on from our earlier post about how the Americans can food, we thought
we’d look at some canning ideas that are just perfect for this time of year.
From canning in-season fruits and vegetables to stocking up on some hearty
meals or at least some base sauces for meals, canning has a lot to offer. Read
on to find out how you can build a larder full of home-canned loveliness to see
you through those long, cold winter days.
Stocking Up On Ball Jars
The first thing to think about is the canning jars that you’ll need. Traditional jam jars are fine for jams, jellies, chutneys and pickles, but for water-processed canning, you need to source a supply of proper canning jars. Ball jars, also known as Mason jars, are the right kind of jar to use.
They’re thicker than standard jam jars and they have a two-part lid which forms an airtight seal when processed under pressure in a pressure canner or cooker. Ball is an American brand and in the UK we’re perhaps more familiar with Kilner jars which work in the same way. Provided that your canning jars have the two-part lid, it doesn’t matter whether you choose Ball jars or Kilner jars - and as luck would have it, at Wares, we stock a huge range from both brands!
How To Fill Those Ball Jars
If you’re new to home canning, it might be sensible to start by canning some simple vegetables, such as green beans. It makes sense to try to can as many beans as possible in one go in order to make the most of your time and effort, so try to wait until you have a large quantity of beans to harvest. Wash the beans and then top and tail them and remove the strings from either side of each bean. Then roughly chop the beans and pack them into warmed, sterilised jars. Larger jars are better for this type of canning.
Leave an inch at the top of the jar. Add around 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar and then pour boiling water over the beans, again leaving a gap of an inch at the top. Make sure that there are no air pockets trapped in any of the jars and jiggle the beans if necessary to remove any air. Once you’re happy that the beans are packed in tightly, fix the two-part lid in place.
Process in your pressure cooker or pressure canner for the time specified in the instruction manual - typically, this would be about 20-25 minutes for green beans. After the jars have been processed, remove from the pressure cooker or canner and allow to cool. Always test the lids for a good seal before storing in a cool, dry space.
Once you have got the hang of canning green beans, you can move on to can any other seasonal vegetables that you might have grown in your veg patch or allotment. Carrots and peas make a great canning combination, whilst sweetcorn, peppers, chillies, tomatoes, pumpkins and squashes can all be canned effectively for use throughout the year. Where some vegetables don’t respond well to freezing, losing their consistency and texture, with canning, you can keep that "fresh as the day it was picked" taste and texture.
Fruit Treats For Canning
Autumn is apple picking time and even a modestly-sized tree can produce a huge quantity of apples each year. If you don’t want to fill your freezer with chopped apples and you don’t feel confident storing the apples in a cool, dark place through the autumn and winter, why not try filling a few canning jars with your apple crop?
Simply peel and core your apples and then place them in a large pan with an inch of water and heat on a high setting for around 15 minutes, until the apples are soft and ready to be pulped in a food processor. You may need to stir the apples occasionally during this time, to prevent sticking.
Once they are soft, leave them to cool for 5 minutes and then whizz them through the food processor or blender to make a smooth sauce. Pour into clean, sterilised Ball jars, then wipe the rims and seal with the two-part lids. Then place in your pressure canner and fill the canner with water, before processing according to your canner’s instruction manual.
You can also can bananas and pumpkins in this way, for use in cakes or as a pour-over sauce for desserts.
Fig trees are another common garden tree that produces a huge crop and it can be difficult to know what to do with all those figs. Since figs are popular at Christmas, why not make some unique homemade gifts by canning some figs in syrup, to give away to friends and family during the festive season. Blanch your figs in boiling water, then pack them into canning jars and cover with a sugar and water syrup, before sealing and processing in your pressure canner.