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September 13, 2010 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Canning for the Winter Months

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

We live in a society that is remembering the importance of returning to the land and being self-sufficient. Part of becoming self-sufficient means making the harvest last all winter long. The fewer visits to the grocery store, the less processed foods purchased. If only we could make summer's fresh vegetables last a few months longer.

One of the biggest reasons people want to preserve their own foods is to make sure their family is getting healthy foods during the winter. The biggest reason people don't usually can their own vegetables? Many folks think putting food up is hard. That couldn't be further from the truth. Canning is not hard. In fact, it's rather easy.

Don't know what to do with all those carrots and green beans? Learn a few simple recipes for preserving your harvest and see how efficient you can become at creating your own winter foods. There are few things that feel as good, or taste as superb, as opening a jar of green beans in December and knowing they came from your very own garden. A really good method for canning green beans and/or carrots is to pickle them. Both are excellent additions to a relish tray or with a sandwich.

Make Your Own:

Dilly Canned Veggies

This recipe is for pint-sized jars. Green beans or carrots are the vegetables used. Though the pickling solution is the same for both vegetables, do not mix the vegetables in the same jar. You want the solution to penetrate evenly, and since carrots and green beans are not of the same thickness, the different vegetables will not absorb uniformly. Make a few pints at a time and keep them in the refrigerator, or make a dozen and store the sealed jars in a cool dark place.

Equipment:

Canning kettle or large, deep, stainless steel kettle with lid
Clean towel
Pint jars, lids and rings
1-2 large pots for sterilizing jars and lids

Ingredients:

Vegetables: either green beans or carrots
Dill heads
Garlic cloves
Red cayenne pepper
Vinegar
Kosher salt
Water

  • Mix 2 1/2 cups vinegar with 2 1/4 cups water and 1/4 cup Kosher salt (vinegar must be at least four percent acetic acid. Do not use homemade vinegar, or alter the brine recipe in any way. Bring liquid to a boil.
  • Wash and sterilize the jars in the dishwasher, or boil them on the stove.
  • Peel the garlic cloves and set aside.
  • Peel the carrots and cut them to a length that will fit straight up and down in a pint jar. Wash the carrots in cold water but do not leave them soaking or they'll absorb too much water. Follow the wash, rinse, remove method (if using green beans, wash and sort them and snip off the ends).
  • Wash the dill heads under running water and set aside.
  • Put the lids and rings into a pot of water and place it on the stove about 10 minutes before you need them (you want the lids and rings to remain hot but do not want the water to boil)
  • Place the deep kettle or canner on the stove with about 2 gallons of water in it. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Drop 3 cloves of garlic, one dill head and 1/3 teaspoon of red cayenne pepper into the bottom of each jar.
  • Fill the jars with carrots (or green beans.)
  • If there is room, add another dill head at the top.
  • Cover the vegetables with hot brine. Leave 1/2 inch head space.
  • Wipe the jar rims with a hot, clean, wet cloth.
  • Place a hot lid and ring on each jar and secure.
  • Place the jars into the canner or deep kettle. Add enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil (if you don't have enough jars to fill the canner, place empty, lidless jars filled with water in the empty spaces).
  • Fold the towel in half and place it, out of the way, on the kitchen counter (the completed jars should not be moved for 24 hours.)
  • Boil the jars uncovered for 10 minutes in open bath.
  • Immediately remove the hot jars and place them on the towel with about two inches between each jar. Lids will begin sealing with a resounding "pop" within a few minutes.

Unsealed jars should be placed in the refrigerator immediately and eaten within a few weeks. When a jar seals, the lid will be slightly inverted. Sealed jars should be left in place for up to 24 hours. Use a clean dishcloth to wipe down the jars before storage. Remove the rings and place the jars in the pantry in a dark, cool place. Now you can look forward to enjoying those veggies all winter long!

Sources:

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html

http://www.preservefood.com/canning/safety.shtml

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-594/348-594.html

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun/sets/

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