Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Canning

It's the perfect time of year to do some more canning. The weather is cold outside and the canner kicks off lots of heat warming the kitchen making it feel snug and comfortable. Not like in the summer when the sweat, oh excuse me, dew drops form on your forehead from the stifling kitchen making you feel miserable. Don't forget the smell. It permeates throughout the house adding to the inviting warmth an ambiance of homeyness.

Yes, canning in the winter is so... much more pleasant. But your probably wondering what I'm canning since the garden is a graveyard of once green lush vegetation.

Jam of course since we don't produce enough raspberries, ( a soil problem I'm going to work on big time this summer - I hope) and blackberries which we don't produce at all. I find them at a discount price frozen and let them sit in the freezer until the weather turns cold. Then of course I can milk because in a few days Chicory will be dry since she will freshen the beginning of April. That's the jars on the left. On the right is ghee. I know, I've yet to give you the instructions. I promise I will.

Of course beans. These are navy beans. Why would I can beans? They are cheaper to buy dried especially since I go to the beanery over the mountain where my mom lives and get them for a song. It's the place the farmers take their bean harvests and get beans for seed for the next year. They clean them and bag as many as I want of several kinds.

The other reason is the long list of ingredients in this can of kidney beans from the store.
Mine, just water and beans.

This year I canned 10 bean, navy bean, black beans, and kidney beans. I have pink and red beans but I won't get them done for other projects are knocking at my door or rather pounding loudly.

Why not can beans? It so simple. Bring to a boil the dried beans covered by a couple inches of water. Boil 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Pack hot beans into jars, leaving an inch headspace, (I suggest leaving more than that as I have a tendency to over fill my jars), and ladle hot cooking liquid or boiling water over the beans. Remove air bubbles, put on lids and caps, process at 10 pounds pressure in a pressure canner. I of course process at 12 pounds pressure because of our altitude. Process pints for 1 hour and 15 minutes and quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

It heats up the kitchen nicely, avoids all the additives, and your not eating the can. Yes, the foods inside of a can eat away at the metal giving you more than you wanted or should be ingesting for your health. Acidic foods are especially bad about this. And as far as using lots of energy, well, get a better canner. Mine, once it gets up to pressure has to be turned way way down to barely on. It will maintain the temperature with very little electricity. My old one wouldn't.

Usually this time of year I'm also finishing off the squash and pumpkins, canning and freezing them but since I didn't get around to growing any ---- I still had quite a bit left over from last year so I'm still good and they will go in this year. If I had a cellar, oh how I'd love one, then I'd probably be doing sauerkraut and possibly beets or something. I don't really know since I've never had one.

Next, I'm going to start fruit leather. Using the older bottles of peaches. Sometimes that includes applesauce or pears but not this year. This winter delight gets eaten up in a hurry and our kids look forward to it every year. You can also use those older cans of pineapple etc. I'll talk about this more later.

So rev up your canner and get going. It's winter canning season and for those of you who like canned chili, can your own, your doing the beans anyway and don't stop there. You could do ham and beans too. I've done all kinds of things including soups. And who knows, this year might just be the year I finally make orange marmalade.

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