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The Taste of Summer And How to Preserve It By Canning

September 4th, 2013

Olives

Oh, the taste of summer. Who doesn’t love dipping a crisp tortilla chip into fresh tomato salsa, or enjoying a bite of corn on the cob smothered in butter or sprinkled with lime? With memories like that, canning vegetables and fruit is becoming a popular way to preserve the taste of our favorite seasons all year long.

Interested in preserving the taste of summer, but have never canned before?

Essentially, canning the taste of summer requires placing the sweet taste of seasonal fruits and vegetables into prepared jars and heating them to a temperature that microorganisms are unable to survive in (and it’s easier than you think!).  If done effectively, canning vegetables and fruits can prevent unnecessary waste with tasting results, save money, and provide a summer bounty for your family all year long, as well as in an emergency situation.

There are two main options for home canning the taste of summer: one is water bath canning and the other is pressure cooker canning.  While both effective, this post details water bath canning as it is user-friendlier for first time canners. We’re covering everything you need to know in this post, from what you need to get started, to a step-by-step guide to effective canning.

Water Bath Canning

Selecting The Correct Jars Mason and Bell jars are the two safest and most effective jars to use for canning the taste of summer because they are designed to heat at high temperatures, and come with a two-piece self-sealing lid.  Do no use commercial mayonnaise, baby food or pickle jars, as these are not suitable for high temperatures.

Supplies Needed Much like with any hobby, the start up costs for canning the taste of summer can seem daunting.  Yet as each year passes, count on saving money as you can reuse jars, canning racks, and other food preserving tools through the years. There are also several canning kits that are available on the market, but you can also purchase these items separately:

*A large traditional cooking pot, specialized canning pot, or pressure cooker to place jars in. Whichever you choose, be sure it has a secure lid to prevent spills.  The pot should also be large enough to fit in each jar with room at the top for water to flow. Check that it is no more than 4 inches wider than the burner for an even temperature.

*A jar rack works well to guarantee water flow, and to space the jars properly; which will prevent cracking.  If a jar rack is unavailable, some choose to use sanitized cotton cloths to separate and cushion each jar.

*Jar funnels helps to easily ladle food in, and prevents fingers from touching the jar lid.

*Several Mason or Ball Jars with two-piece self-sealing lids.

*Other Useful Supplies: Mixing bowls, saucepans, clean towels, a timer, measuring cups, tongs, a ladle, and a cutting board will all help ensure a smooth canning process.

Basic Step-By-Step Water Bath Canning This process is ideal for canning the taste of summer: pickled carrots, a cucumber-turned-dill-pickle concept, unwashed berries, jams, preserves, jellies, pickles and tomato sauce, and can offer intense flavor even after many months.

1. Sanitize all jars and lids by dishwashing them first, and then adding them to a large pot of boiling water.  Allow all jars to soak for at least 5 minutes.  Remove each jar with sanitized tongs, and place them on a clean towel.

2. Using sanitized tongs for larger pieces of food, or a jar funnel for sauces and jams, gently ladle or funnel the food into each jar.  Leave approximately ¾ of an inch at the top for the lid. Be sure to use fresh and seasonal produce for optimum taste and expiration life.

3. Seal each jar by placing the small metal disc on the lid of the jar, and twisting the circular piece until securely fastened

4. Place the jar rack inside a large pot of boiling water, allowing the handles to come up from the top.  Carefully lower each filled jar into the boiling water, until all jars are set and carefully spaced. Using the jar rack handles, lower in the jars and fold the handles inside the cooking pot.  Allow the jars to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the jars using tongs, and allow them time to cool off.  Jars should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place to preserve the jar’s contents.

Bonus tip: Looking for a great recipe to get your canning off to the right start? Tomato sauces are excellent choices for first time canners.  The Producer includes the Rose Tomato, an heirloom variety with a beautiful, deep rose pink color. Meaty and flavorful, these tomatoes are perfect for tomato sauces.

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

 

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Summer Reading: Gardening Style

July 12th, 2011

During the dog days of summer, when it’s just too hot to completely enjoy the great outdoors—otherwise known as “your yard”—there’s nothing like being indoors in the comfort of air conditioning. It’s during these hazy, lazy days when relaxation is a true treat, like picking up a gardening book and curling up on the couch. From The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader to The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland to a cookbook overflowing with tempting recipes using summer’s finest vegetables, books are inspirational, thought-provoking and hard to put down!

If you love gardening and have yet to pick up a book this summer, here are some great picks to help you get you started on the road to relaxation:

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader

Product Description

Remember how grandmother’s cellar shelves were packed with jars of tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, pickled beets and cauliflower, and pickles both sweet and dill? Learn how to save a summer day – in batches – from the classic primer, now updated and rejacketed. Use the latest inexpensive, time-saving techniques for drying, freezing, canning, and pickling. Anyone can capture the delicate flavors of fresh foods for year-round enjoyment and create a well-stocked pantry of fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, flavored vinegars, and seasonings. The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest introduces the basic technique for all preserving methods, with step-by-step illustration, informative charts and tips throughout, and more than 150 recipes for the new or experienced home preserver. Among the step-by-step tested recipes: Green Chile Salsa, Tomato Leather, Spiced Pear Butter, Eggplant Caviar, Blueberry Marmalade, Yellow Tomato Jam, Cranberry-Lime Curd, Preserved Lemons, Chicken Liver Pate, and more.

The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland

Product Description

Chile peppers are hot — in every sense of the word. They add culinary fire to thousands of dishes from a variety of cuisines and inspire near-fanatical devotion in those who have succumbed to their incendiary charms.

In this comprehensive book, world chile experts Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland have assembled all the information that anyone with an interest in chile peppers could ever hope to find. Detailed profiles of the 100 most popular chile varieties include information on how to grow chiles; how to diagnose and remedy problems, pests, and diseases; and post-harvest processing and preservation. The book culminates in 85 mouth-watering recipes that make brilliant use of both the characteristic heat of chile peppers and of their more subtle flavor qualities.

Want to know what the hottest chile pepper in the world is? You’ll find it in the fascinating story of ‘Bhut Jolokia’, acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the fieriest chile on earth. Confused about the identity of those chile peppers you bought? The authors’ clear photographs and precise descriptions will clear up the mystery.

The Complete Chile Pepper Book is the only guide to chiles you’ll ever need. It’s a scorcher.

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) by Steve Solomon

Product Description

The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.

Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance. Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort. But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil. Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used more land with less labor, with wider plant spacing, with less or no irrigation, and all done with sharp hand tools. But these sustainable systems have been largely forgotten. Gardening When It Counts helps readers rediscover traditional low-input gardening methods to produce healthy food.

Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies — working an average of two hours a day during the growing season.

Steve Solomon is a well-known west coast gardener and author of five previous books, including Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades which has appeared in five editions.

The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook by Andrea Chesman

Product Description

What to do with a basketful of luscious tomatoes? How to prepare an armload of summer squash? Where to turn for new sweet corn preparations? These are the questions vegetable-lovers grapple with as they pick fresh-from-the-garden produce in their own backyards or from the ever-expanding farmers’ markets. Garden-fresh vegetables are so beautiful, yet their freshness so fleeting.

Andrea Chesman is a cook and gardener who knows what it’s like to be staring down pounds of vegetables and panicking about how to use them all before it’s too late. Simple. Delicious. Planned to fit the season. That’s the approach Chesman brings to the 175 recipes she’s developed for The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook.

The vegetables are organized seasonally by crop-readiness, with attention paid to combining vegetables that ripen together. All the favorites — spring salad greens, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, and more — are included, along with the more unusual — artichokes, endive, rutabagas, and edamame, to name a few. Popular techniques such as roasting and grilling accentuate the flavor in recipes such as Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad, Soy- Sesame Grilled Eggplant, and Maple Roasted Carrots. There are many vegetarian options, but even when combined with meat, vegetables get top billing. From Egg Rolls to Borscht, Caponata to Sweet Potato Pie, The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook has dishes destined to please every palate.

To address those nights when the mounds of vegetables are just too overwhelming to try a whole new recipe, Chesman includes fourteen master recipes for simple preparation techniques that can accommodate whatever is in the vegetable basket. Readers need only to learn the basics of preparing a creamy quiche, a bubbly gratin, a basic stir-fry, or a zesty lo mein, and then it’s easy to create new meals every month around the freshest assortments of seasonal vegetables.

The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook is sure to become a favorite for everyone who wants to enjoy their vegetables fresh, local, seasonal, and simple.

What garden-related books have you read this summer?

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