Canning opens up a whole new world in food preservation. You can preserve a wide range of vegetables and fruit and serve tasty variations all year long.
At first glance, canning sounds like one of the most intimidating ways to preserve food. With freezing, you toss food in freezer bags and store it in your freezer. With dehydrating, you place it in a machine that slowly dries it out. With canning though, you need a canner and canning jars… and there’s a chance that jars might explode. However, canning isn’t as scary as it sounds. Buy quality glass jars, carefully follow the directions, and you’ll be just fine.
A delicious place to start is with a simple vegetable canning project. Canning green beans is very easy, and you can use the beans throughout the year in any dishes in which you’d use store-bought canned beans. Clean, cut, and blanch your green beans to get them ready for canning. Then follow canning instructions to make sure you cook them long enough to kill any bacteria and create a good seal. As with any type of canned good you should store jars that didn’t seal properly in the fridge and use them within the next couple of days. You can also mix them into other meals and then freeze those meals for later use.
Another popular option is pickles. Pickling is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. It involves submerging the food in either vinegar or a salt brine to keep it from spoiling. Spoiling is a process that involves bacteria, and not all bacteria are created equal when it comes to spoiling or preserving food. The goal with pickling is to prevent the harmful bacteria from growing. In the case of using vinegar to pickle, the high acidity of the vinegar prevents most bacteria from thriving, thus preserving the food as long as it is submerged in the vinegar solution. With brine pickling, controlled fermentation is facilitated (like in the case of sauerkraut and kimchi). This allows beneficial bacteria to grow, which then overwhelms any bad bacteria that will cause the food to spoil. The same thing happens with cheese, which is fermented milk.
Fermented pickled vegetables can be found around the world and it’s a preservation method that has been used for thousands of years. There’s no need for power, cold temperatures, or special equipment. As long as you have salt, you can figure out a way to ferment and preserve your harvest in one form or another. It’s a fun and interesting type of food preservation to try. Since each culture fermented different types of foods and in different ways, there are all sorts of different recipes to explore.
Fermented foods make a great addition to your diet. The beneficial bacteria in these foods are healthy for you and help you increase the good bacteria that live in your gut. This in turn has a beneficial impact on everything from your digestion to your immune system.
Pickling is also one of the more cost-effective ways to preserve food. Plus, the same type of food can be pickled in a few different ways. Let’s take pickled cucumbers for example, one of the most popular pickled foods. Kosher pickles are the perfect example of cucumbers being preserved in a vinegar solution. Most dill pickles, on the other hand, are preserved in brine. While that mixture may include vinegar, it also includes salt, dill and other pickling seasoning.
Beginner Tip: Stay away from canning meats or high acid produce like tomatoes in the beginning. They can be a little trickier to can successfully. Get a few batches of easier foods to can under your belt, and invest in some good canning gear (including thermometers and proper canning pots) before giving these types of canned goods a try.
You’ll find many canning recipes around the internet. The following recipes are tried and true options that will increase your chances of success.
Brined Vegetables Recipe
1 pound of your favorite root vegetables
1 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of your favorite fresh herbs
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons Pickling salt
2 quarts purified water
1/2 gallon jar
8 oz jar
Clean cloth and rubber band
- Scrub and peel the root vegetables. Slice into very thin rounds. Add to bowl.
- Thinly slice the red onions and garlic. Add to the bowl with root vegetables and then add the black peppercorns and whole herbs, tossing everything together.
- In another bowl, add the pickling salt into 2 quarts water. Place vegetables in a clean 1/2 gallon jar. Pour the salt water over the vegetables until covered by 1 inch.
- Take the empty 8oz jar and place it on top of the vegetables to act as a weight. Put the clean cloth over mouth of 1/2 gallon jar. And then put the larger jar on a plate and store in a cool (65-75 degrees) place.
- Take a look at the jars each day to make sure the liquid stays at least 1 inch over the vegetables.
- You’ll see the fermentation start in about 24 hours. You should see little bubbles in the brine. There may also be a white film which is a natural, safe yeast that can be wiped out of the jar.
- Leave the vegetables for 3 -7 days to ferment. You can check to see if they’re ready by tasting a slice of vegetable. Once the vegetables taste the way you like, remove the 8 oz jar, wipe jar rim and cover with a lid. You can store these fermented, pickled vegetables in the refrigerator up to 1 month. Makes about 1.5 quarts.
No Vinegar Refrigerator Pickles
2 pounds of cucumbers, washed and sliced as you desire
5-7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch of fresh dill – 2 tablespoons of dried dill can be used if fresh is unavailable
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
- In a large bowl, add salt & boiling water, stirring to dissolve the salt. Cool the mixture, adding ice cubes if needed.
- Add all the other ingredients to the bowl. Add enough cold water to cover the cucumbers.
- Place a plate on top of the cucumbers in the bowl to help keep them immersed in the liquid.
- Taste the cucumbers after 4-8 hours to check for flavour. Taste every so often until the desired flavour has been reached. It can take anywhere from 12-48 hours to get them to taste.
- Once they taste delicious to your palate, put them into the refrigerator.
Note: the pickles will keep on fermenting, however, the process will slow in the refrigerator. They’ll keep for up to a week.
Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
6-lbs of Pickling Cucumbers
3-lbs Onions, thinly sliced
½ cup Canning or Pickling Salt
4 cups White Vinegar (5% Acidity)
4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Mustard Seed
1½ Tablespoons Celery Seed
1 Tablespoon Pickling Spice
1 teaspoon Turmeric
- Wash and rinse the cucumbers. Then slice the ends off of each cucumber and slice them into ¼ slices.
- Slice the onions into thin rings and then add the cucumbers and onions into a large pot and stir gently by hand to mix.
- Sprinkle salt over the mixture and then cover everything with ice.
- Refrigerate this mixture for 3-4 hours, or overnight, adding more ice as needed during this time.
- Drain the water from the cucumbers and onions. Rinse well to remove salt and let them drain.
- While the vegetables are draining add vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, pickling spice, and turmeric to a large pot. Stir everything together and then bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 10 minutes. Now add the cucumbers and onions to the pot, bring back to a low boil and boil for 1 minute.
- Gather your jars together, making sure they are sterilized. Remove the pickle mixture from heat and add to the jars, leaving ¼” head space in each jar.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles. Wipe the top & rim of the jar with a clean, damp cloth. Add the lid and band but don’t over-tighten the lid.
- Now add the jars to your canning pot and use the water bath process for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the jars. Place the jars in a draft free location and don’t bother them for 24 hours. Can be stored for up to 1 year.
Easy Watermelon Pickles Recipe
- Cut both the red & green parts off the watermelon then cube the white portion. Put watermelon cubes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover.
- Soak the cubes overnight and then drain. Add fresh, cold water to the pot and bring to a boil, cooking on low heat until the cubes are tender. Drain the cubes again.
- In another large pot, combine sugar, vinegar and water. Place cloves, allspice, cinnamon and lemon in a cheese cloth bag and add to the pot.
- Stir the sugar mixture over medium heat then boil for 5 minutes. Add the watermelon cubes and simmer about 15 minutes or until translucent. Remove the spice bag and pack pickles in hot, sterilized jars. Refrigerate 2 weeks before using. Makes 4 quarts.
1 medium head (2 pounds) napa cabbage
1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt or other iodine-free salt
Spring, Distilled or Purified Water
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons seafood flavour or water
1 to 5 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, peeled and cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Slice the cabbage into 2-inch-wide strips. Salt the cabbage and put into a large bowl with salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage until soft then add enough water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy (a can of beans works) so the cabbage stays submerged. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
- Rinse and drain the cabbage: Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes.
Combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavour (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the gochugaru to taste – more equals spicier.
- Squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage. Add it to a large bowl along with the radish, scallions, and seasoning paste. Mix everything together until completely coated.
- Add the mixture into the jars packing it tightly until the brine rises to cover the vegetables Leave at least 1 inch of headspace. Seal the jar with the lid.
- Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 5 days to ferment. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.
- Check the kimchi once per day. Make sure the vegetables stay submerged under the brine. Check it daily for flavour and refrigerate when ready. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two. Makes 1 quart.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes
2-3/4 lbs tomatoes
2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for each quart jar
1 tsp salt
- Wash the tomatoes then dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Trim away any green areas and cut out core.
- Cut the tomatoes until they measure about 2 cups. Transfer to a large stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Use a potato masher to help crush tomatoes and release the juices. Stir often and add more tomatoes being careful to avoid scorching. The remaining tomatoes do not need to be crushed, as they will soften with heating and stirring. Continue until all tomatoes are added, then boil gently for 5 minutes.
- Add 2 Tbsp of lemon juice to each quart jar and then add the hot tomatoes into jars leaving a 1/2 inch from the top of the jar. Compress the tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rim and add the lid adjusting the band until finger tight. Don’t over tighten.
- Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 45 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Makes about 1 quart.
Canned Lemons Recipe
- Scrub your lemons and then slice them into thin rings. Layer the lemons into the jars.
- Cover each lemon layer with about 3 TBSP of sugar. Alternate layers of lemons and sugar until filled with lemons, compacting them as you go.
- Place the lids on the jars and refrigerate. The sugar turns into a syrup while in the refrigerator. Makes about 3 pints. Will last in the refrigerator for about 1 month.
Canning your own vegetables and fruit is a satisfying and rewarding way to store them. You have full control over the ingredients, allowing you to use what you love and ensure the end-product is organic. There’s no denying they’ll taste much better than canned products you buy in a store, so don’t be surprised if you never buy them again! Additionally, homemade canned goods make unique gifts, fundraising items, or you may want to consider selling some for extra money.
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