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Beacon Senior News

’Tis the season for canning

Oct 04, 2016 11:03AM ● By Cheryl Hardy

A few months from now, you’ll look outside your kitchen window to see a blizzard of snow falling on the already snow packed and frozen ground. But with a little bit of planning, you can be at work in your kitchen with the comforting fragrances of cinnamon, sugar and peaches permeating from the oven and throughout the house. This can happen for you if you have preserved those peaches of fall by canning them.

Canning is a method of preserving food by sealing it in a glass container to stop natural spoilage. The process isn’t difficult but it takes time.

There are two methods of canning. Long-time canner Karen Fogg prefers the pressure canning method, which is great for preserving low-acid foods such as vegetables and meat. She uses water bath canning for highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes and pickles, and food that will be made into jams, jellies and salsas.

“Canned food will keep up to 10 years,” Fogg said. “But I don’t recommend that. I can enough goods to cycle through my supplies every three years.”

Prior to canning, assemble the supplies you need and gather the items you’re about to can. If you’re canning fruit, remove the pits and make slices about a half-inch wide. Fill the jars, leaving a one-inch space at the top.

Water bath canning

If you decide to use the water bath canning method, you will need a large stockpot that will hold several pint jars. For water bath canning, heat your jars in hot (not boiling) water. Keep the jars hot until you are ready to use them. Be sure that the stockpot you are going to use has a small cake rack or something similar in the bottom.

Fill the jars with fruit and cover them with lids and rings. Fill the pot halfway with water and place your jars in the pot about one-inch apart. Immerse the jars in one or two inches of water and bring to a rolling boil. The amount of time needed for processing will be determined by your recipe. Allow your jars to stand for five minutes and remove them using tongs or a jar lifter. Let the processed jars stand for 12 to 24 hours before enjoying the fruits of your labor.

Pressure canning

If you are pressure canning, you will need a pressure cooker that will heat to 240 degrees.

For the pressure canning method, also warm your jars before using them. Fill the cooker with two or three inches of water and place it on medium-high heat, bringing the water to a simmer. Prepare your food according to the recipe you have chosen. As you fill your jars, be sure to wipe the rims with a damp cloth. Put the filled jars in the cooker with two or three inches of water, leaving a little space between the jars. Lock the pressure canner lid into place, leaving the vent pipe open. Allow steam to escape through the vent pipe for 10 minutes and gradually adjust the heat to achieve the amount of pressure recommended in your recipe. Remove the pot from heat to cool. Once the pressure returns to zero, remove the weight and unlock the lid. Wait 10 minutes then remove the jars. As with the water bath, let the jars stand 12 to 24 hours.

These delicious fruits and vegetables are still available and are waiting for you at farmers markets, roadside stands and packing sheds. Get them on your shelves to enjoy all winter long.