Thursday, April 19, 2012

Canning and Drying Part 6: Packing and Waterbath Processing

THE COLD-PACKING METHOD
1)      Prepare the jars. Boil and sterilize them as well as the lids. They should be kept warm so that they do not crack in the water bath. Keeping the lids warm will soften the rubber and make sealing more effection.
2)      The food to the canned should be clean. You must decide it you will can them whole or cut. The recommended procedure for different kinds of produce will be discussed later. 
3)      Scald or blanch the fruit if necessary. Blanching tomatoes, prunes, and plums will loosen their skin, making them easy to peel off. Ripe fruits must be scalded very quickly so that they do not become soft. They should never remain in the water after the skin has loosened. A wire basket or a cheesecloth will contain the fruits as you dip them in the boiling hot
a.       Blanching reduces the bulk of spinach and other greens. It also improves their flavor and partially sterilizes them.
b.      To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil. Use a wire colander to immerse the food in the boiling water, or suspend the food over the boiling water to steam it. The entire boiling-water and suspended food contraption should be covered by a lid to enclose the steam. 
c.       Blanch or steam as long as necessary - to reduce the bulk of the food, remove the skins, etc.
4)      Cold-dipping
a.       Improves color
b.      Stops softening/cooking process, making food firm and easy to handle,
c.       Loosens skin
d.      Shocks and destroys bacteria spores
e.       To cold-dip, plunge scalded, blanched, or steamed food into cold water, then remove at one.
5)      Pack the jars immediately and rapidly. Arrange the jars in order and use a spoon to fill each with the fruit/vegetable. They should be filled solidly, so as to put more food in each jar.
6)      Fill the jar with boiling hot liquid, either plain water, salt water, pickling liquid, or syrup depending on the food. Some tomatoes and greens need not have any liquid added as they will produce their own. The jars should be about half an inch from the top to leave some room for the food to boil while processing in the water bath.
7)      Prepare for the water bath processing by wiping the jar rims well. Place the jar covering and seal it.

THE WATER BATH METHOD
1)      Fill a large vessel of water to a boil, tall enough to cover the jars with 2 inches of water. A tall stock pot or pressure cooker pot is excellent. 
2)      A thick folded kitchen towel or rack should be placed at the bottom of the vessel so that jars do not sit directly on the bottom of the pot. They will crack if this is not done.
3)      Bring the water to a boil while you fill the jars with food.
4)      Make sure the jars are warm and not cold. If they are cold, warm them up in some hot water before lowering into the water-bath.
5)      Lower the jars in the water using a pair of jar lifters. Make sure the jars are covered by 2 inches of water, adding water if necessary. The jars should be upright and again, resting on a rack or cloth in the bottom.
a.       Perhaps your pot has a basket for arranging the jars in a basket and lowering them into the water all at once.
6)      Cover the pot with a good lid. Bring the water to a boil and process the jars for the prescribed time. Set your timer from the time the water begins to bubble violently. Use a kitchen timer or alarm clock. The boiling water will cook and sterilize the food in the jars.
When the jars are in place, put the tight-fitting cover on the sterilizer and allow the water to boil and thus cook and sterilize the food in the jars. The length of time for boiling varies with the kind of food and is given later with the directions for canning different foods. The boiling time should be counted from the instant the water in the sterilizer begins to bubble violently. A good plan to follow, provided an alarm clock is at hand, it to set it at this time, so that it will go off when the jars are to be removed from the sterilizer. Sit the jars on the countertop for 12-24 hours and check the seal, making sure that it is firm.
7)  Now label your jars with a sticker or a permanent marker, noting the date, batch, and contents.



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