Home Canning

Fast & Easy Elderberry Jelly Recipe

Elderberry jelly is easier to make than some older or modern Internet recipes would indicate. In those recipes the elderberries have to be washed, picked by hand; then boiled, smashed, cooked down and strained or sieved in some way to extract the juice for jelly.

Once the juice has been extracted the real business of jelly making commences. Many modern recipes use either liquid or powdered pectin. Older recipes use no pectin; just equal parts sugar and juice boiled to a jelling point.

Elderberry Jelly

Elderberry Jelly With Toast

I don’t recommend making elderberry jelly by those methods unless you want a messy, time-consuming and finger-staining early 20th century kitchen experience. If you just want beautiful, sparking elderberry jelly without the drama, I’ve got an easier and much faster way to get it.




My secret to perfect and fast homemade elderberry jelly (or just about any jelly for that matter) is the use of a stream juicer.  Sure a steam juicer is an expensive piece of kitchen equipment. But if you do a reasonable amount of jelly or juice making, a steam juicer will pay for itself the first summer that you own one. I would live without a toaster and an electric mixer before I’d forego a steam juicer in my kitchen.

Here’s my recipe for elderberry jelly. Try it my way once, and I promise you’ll never go back to picking berries by hand. Or spend another hot July night listening to boiled juice drip through a flannel cloth all… night… long…

GET THE JUICE

The first thing you need to do is to gather elderberries. Only collect ripe berries. Never use green berries or eat raw green berries unless you want to poison yourself.

Elderberries

Ripe Elderberries

For jelly I usually cut and gather enough elderberry clusters to fill a 5-gallon bucket. Once the berry clusters are cut, rinse them well with cold water and pick out any bugs or leaves.

Place the rinsed elderberry clusters in the colander part of the stream juice. Fill the bottom part of the steam juicer pan with water and then place the collection pan on top of it.

Elderberries For Jelly

Clusters of Fresh Elderberries in a Steam Juicer

Next stack the colander pan over those two pans and put the lid on the entire assembly. Put the steam juicer on the stove and turn the heat on. I always keep the collection tube of the steam juicer in a jar or cup while the juice is being extracted. Even with the clamp on the tube sometimes juice will dribble out.

Steam Juicer

A Steam Juicer Set Up In Summer Kitchen

Depending upon exactly how ripe the elderberries are, it will usually take about 1 hour to extract the juice into the collection pan. Once the juice is extracted the jelly making can commence in earnest.

Elderberry Juice For Jelly

Elderberry Juice For Jelly

ELDERBERRY JELLY RECIPE

Makes 7 to 8 Half Pints

4 cups prepared elderberry juice
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
7 cups of cane sugar
1 pouch of CERTO liquid pectin

Gather and assemble clean jars, lids and bands. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse and dry well. If you are going to use a water bath canner start to heat it now. Cut the top off of the liquid pectin pouch and set it in a glass or cup near the stove.

In a 6-8 quart pan measure out the 4 cups of elderberry juice. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and sugar until well dissolved. Put the pan on high heat. Stir the mixture constantly and bring it to a full rolling boil. (a rolling boil is a boil that doesn’t stop when stirred). Quickly stir in the liquid pectin and return the pot to a full rolling boil while stirring. Once a rolling boil is returned, time the boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to rest for about 2 or 3 minutes.

Foam on Elderberry Jelly

Foam on Elderberry Jelly That Should Be Removed

Skim the foam off of the jelly mixture with a cool metal spoon. Rinse the spoon in cold water between skimmings. Ladle the hot jelly mixture into the ½ pint jars and leave a ⅛ head space.Wipe the rim of the jar.

Fill Jar With Hot Jelly Mixture

Fill Jars With Hot Jelly Leaving 1/8″ Head Space

Apply the lid and band. Process the jars in a hot water bath if desired. If you don’t want to water bath the jars, invert them on a towel for 5 minutes.

Water Bath Processing Time

Altitude Time
0-1,000 ft. 5 minutes
1,000-3,000 ft. 10 minutes
3,000-6,000 ft. 15minutes
6,000-8,000 ft. 20 minutes
8,000-10,000 ft. 25 minutes

After processing time is complete remove the jars from the water bath and place them well out of the way of drafts. Allow the jars to cool for 8 to 12 hours. When cool remove the bands and check the seal. Wipe off the jars and label and date them. Store in a dark, cool dry location.

JELLY MAKING TIPS

  • Wear a long sleeve shirt.
  • Use an oven mitt while stirring hot boiling jellies.
  • Old-fashioned jelly glasses covered with a ¼” layer of paraffin will seal jelly if lids are scarce.
  • Use cane sugar.
  • Shallow wide bottom pans work best for jelly making.
  • Don’t increase the recipe. Make jelly in single batches only.
  • I don’t always water bath process my jellies. If I’m short on time I’ll just invert the jar for a couple of minutes. I have found that inverting a jelly jar will sometimes result in a lid and seal failure in about 6 months. Water bath processing on the other hand usually gives a 100% seal rate.
Elderberry Jelly

All In A Day’s Work. Elderberry Jelly and Canned Sauerkraut

Storing Canning Jars

Canning jar storage is almost always an issue for home canners.  I’m not sure an ideal storage solution has ever been found for empty jars.
I store canning jars in an unfinished cellar in clear plastic tote tubs. The jars are stored without the bands.

Mason Jars Stored In Tubs

Mason Jars Stored In Clear Plastic Tubs With Lids

I keep the bands out of the cellar and away from any dampness. In the past when I did keep the bands in the cellar they rusted and pitted.




I like clear tubs for storing Mason jars because I can easily see what size jars are in the tub. I also  can  see approximately how many jars are in a tub. The tote tubs are fairly sturdy and can be carried, stacked and are easily washed.

The only downside to storing canning jars in the cellar is that I have to go down a set of rickety stairs into the cellar to retrieve the jars.
It wasn’t a problem when I was a young woman, but now that I’m getting older, I can only carry up half a laundry basket of jars at a time. In another 10 years or so I probably won’t be able to safely carry any jars up the cellar stairs.
Oh the perils of growing old on a homestead!

Make Jam Without Pectin

Well wasn’t I hopping mad yesterday morning.
I had plans to make peach jam from frozen peaches that had been in the freezer since last September.
I like to use pectin when making jams and jellies because it saves time and stove fuel. I also think pectin jams have a slightly better flavor. But my plans hit a snag.

Free Peaches

Free Peaches





I bought “Ball” brand pectin instead of “Sure-Jell” brand, and didn’t notice until yesterday morning, that I had bought instant pectin instead of regular pectin. Instant pectin is used for freezer jams and is not interchangeable with regular powdered pectin.
I began to do a slow burn.
***(Optional Side Rant)***( All the Ball pectin products look alike to me when they’re on the grocery store shelf. And if you  ask me, Jarden/Ball Brands should work on their labeling so the difference between the two types of pectin is more readily apparent to the consumer. When I called to complain the customer service rep gave me some line about how we the consumers demanded “green” labeling for the Jarden/Ball Brand. Give me a  break!  Next time I’m buying Sure-Jell.)
Well I cooled off, but there was no way I was going to use up gasoline or time going to town for a couple of boxes of pectin. So I decided to make peach jam without pectin.

Peach Jam

Jars Of Peach Jam

Making peach jam without pectin is easy.
It just takes a little bit more boiling. The jam will be darker and have a more old-fashioned cooked taste when compared to jam made with pectin.
The trick to making perfect jams without pectin is a candy thermometer and knowing what “sheeting” looks like on a metal spoon.
When making jam without pectin you first need to determine at what temperature water boils in your location on a given day. The boiling point of water changes by altitude and with atmospheric conditions.To test the temperature of boiling water and jam you’ll need a jelly or candy thermometer.

Testing The Temperature Of Boiling Water

Testing The Temperature Of Boiling Water

Once you know what temperature water boils at, all you have to do is add 9°F to that number for perfect jam every time.

Recipe for Peach Jam

  • 4 ½ cups of peeled, pitted and crushed ripe peaches (I’m assuming you already know how to peel & pit peaches)
  • ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice (that’s 1 medium size lemon)
  • 7 cups of white sugar (do yourself a favor and buy pure cane sugar. Beet sugar is now a GMO)

Measure out crushed peaches and place in the bottom of a large kettle. Flat bottom kettles are perfect for this, but any good heavy 8 quart pan will do.
Add lemon juice and sugar to the peaches and stir well.
Place the kettle or pan on high heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. A full rolling boil is a boil that cannot be stirred down.
Once the jam mixture has begun to boil, occasionally test the mixture for correct temperature and “sheeting”.

To take the temperature of cooking jam, place the candy or jelly thermometer in the center of boiling mixture. But take care that you don’t rest the thermometer on the bottom of the pan. You want the temperature of the jam not the pan. Remember you need a temperature that is 9°F above the boiling point of water.
Sheeting on a spoon is another method to double-check and test jam or jelly.

Jam Mixture Sheeting On A Spoon

Jam Mixture Sheeting On A Metal Spoon

Sheeting is tested by dipping a cool, clean metal spoon into the mixture and quickly lifting it up and to the side.
You are looking to see 2 drops of jam that will run together to form 1 thick drop on the edge of the spoon. The jam mixture forms a jelly sheet on the spoon.
The characteristic layer of jam on a metal spoon is sheeting. It’s the method that our great-grandmothers used when they tested for the correct jelly or jam temperature.

Keep in mind that jams and jellies will thicken as long as they are heated. And it’s easy to over cook jam if you’re not careful.

If you are lucky enough (or foolish enough) to own a refrigerator (depends upon world view),
there is another and more modern method for testing jam when jam is ready . The test is performed by cooling a small amount of hot jam on a plate and placing the plate in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator.
While conducting the test, you’ll need to remove the kettle from the heat so that the jam doesn’t accidentally over cook.
The way that you do it is to place a small amount of hot jam on a clean plate and put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. If the jam forms a gel it is probably done. But if the jam is still too runny it needs more time on the stove.

Foam On Peach Jam

Foam On Peach Jam

After the jam is cooked, and you are confident that it’s the right consistency remove it from the heat. Set it aside for about 5 minutes to allow any foam to collect on the top. Now carefully remove and skim as much foam as you can with a slotted metal spoon. It helps to rinse and clean the spoon between skimmings.

The foam does no harm to the jam. It’s simply removed because of appearance. The foam migrates to the top of a sealed jar of jam or jelly and has a “rubbery” look and feel to it. You won’t win any blue ribbons at the local county fair with foamy jam or jelly.

Lawrence County Fair Jams & Jellies

Lawrence County Fair Jams & Jellies

After the foam has been removed, pour the jam into hot ½ pint jars leaving about ¼ inch head space – maybe a little less. Wipe the rims clean and seal the jars with a modern two piece lid system.

Process the jars for 10 minutes in a gentle water bath. Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil.

Peach Jam Processing In A Water Bath

Peach Jam Processing In A Water Bath

When processing time is complete, remove the jars and place on a wooden board or a thick towel. Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours. When completely cool, check the seals and remove the bands. Store the jam in a cool dark location.

Jam Tips

  • Make only enough jam for one year. Jams and jellies lose quality if stored for too long.
  • Floating fruit is reduced considerably by stirring the jam mixture after the foam is removed and the jam has cooled down a bit.
  • Canned or frozen fruit may be used when making jams and jellies. In fact a superior strawberry jam is made from frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones. And I think the best pineapple jam comes from crushed canned pineapple.
  • Modern canning lid systems work better for jam than a layer of paraffin. Save the old timey paraffin seals for jelly and not for jam.

When To Make Sauerkraut

Some days are better than others for making sauerkraut. Four generations ago when to pick the best day to cut cabbage for sauerkraut was basic everyday household information. Back then people couldn’t just run to a grocery store for food. What you grew in the family garden and then stored in your home had to last through the lean winter months. Cabbage and sauerkraut have always provided  a measure of food security for the rural poor.




A hundred years ago, even city people recognized that the moon’s monthly cycle had an effect upon the earth and upon agriculture. Today most educated people completely dismiss the notion that the moon’s cycle has any effect on daily life. It’s easy to think that if you’re not a farmer. Or if you are disconnected from the natural world and believe that food will always be available no matter what.

For many hundreds of years folk wisdom has instructed us, that the best time to make sauerkraut is during the time that the moon is new and up until the its first quarter.

Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut In A Crock With Plenty Of Juice

When you make sauerkraut during the early days of the moon’s increase there is always plenty of juice in the crock. The top layer of sauerkraut doesn’t dry out and you won’t have to add any extra brine to the crock. To find the lunar days in a particular month where the moon is beginning to wax consult any good current almanac.

Canning Grape Juice

I always prepare grape juice for canning and jelly with a steam juicer. After 40 years of home canning I’ve tried every way known to woman to get grape juice. Some ways are fun. Like putting whole grapes and sugar in a jar and covering the grapes and sugar with boiling water. And some ways are a real pain in the backside. Like boiling mashed grapes and allowing them to filter through a sieve and a flannel so they can drip..drip..drip..overnight.




Trust me. I’ve put plenty of time in with all the different ways and methods of preparing grape juice. A steam juicer is by far the quickest and easiest way to extract juice from ripe Concord grapes, berries and other soft fruits.

Hot Grape Juice

Pure Hot Grape Juice From a Steam Juicer

A stainless steel steam juicer is an expensive piece of kitchen equipment but is worth every penny.
I don’t own a microwave oven, food processor, electric coffee maker – but I do own a steam juicer.
I’ll never go back to the old way of making grape juice.
Never.

I have found that a full bushel of Concord grapes will yield approximately 18 – 20 quarts of grape juice when steam juiced.
It takes about an hour or so for all the juice to be extracted from every load of Concord grapes, and a bushel of grapes is about 4 full loads through a large steam juicer.

Ready To Steam Juice

Grapes Ready To Steam Juice

I have the best success and extract the most juice with a little trick that I employ.
I run the grapes until no more juice is dripping into the collection pan. I then empty the steam softened grapes into a large bowl and let the grape mess rest while I work on another load of grapes.
After I’ve steamed all the grapes, I take the waste grapes and place them back into the colander pan. I steam the entire bushel of waste grapes all at once (they will fit because the bulk has been reduced) for another 30 minutes or so.
The softened, waste grapes will usually yield another 1 ½ or 2 quarts of juice.
Once I’ve collected all the juice available from the grapes I sweeten the grape juice to taste with pure cane sugar before I bottle it up. I use 4 pounds of cane sugar to 18 quarts of juice. You may prefer more or less sweetening. The cane sugar readily dissolves in the hot juice and there’s never a worry about GMO corn syrup or GMO beet sugar.
Traditionally a boiling water bath canner is used to home can grape juice or apple juice.
Here’s how to do it:
Fill hot clean jars with hot juice allowing ¼” of head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and apply a lid that has been simmered and a band to the jar.

Filling Jars

Filling Jars With Hot Grape Juice

Place the jars into a gentle, but boiling water bath canner making sure the water covers at least 1”- 2” over the tops of the jars. By adding the filled jars, the water in the canner will stop boiling. Wait for the water to return to a gentle but steady boil and process according to the chart below.

Processing Time for Grape Juice in a Boiling Water Canner

Processing  Times at Altitudes of

Jar Size

Sea Level – 1,000 Ft.

1,001 – 6,000 Ft.

Above 6,000 Ft.

Pints or Quart Jars

5 minutes

10 minutes

15 minutes

Half-Gallon Jars

10 minutes

15 minutes

20 minutes

 

After the processing time is complete, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool undisturbed and free from drafts for 8-12 hrs.
When the jars are cooled, remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the jars clean, label and store in a cool dark location.
PRESSURE CANNING GRAPE JUICE
I pressure can grape juice even though there’s no food science tested or approved processing time for apple or grape juice in a pressure canner that I’m aware of.
Maybe it’s out there somewhere and I just haven’t seen it.
I live at 1250 ft. above sea level, and usually process my grape juice in a pressure canner at 5 lbs. of pressure for both pints or quarts for 5 or 6 minutes and allow for 1/2 inch of head space in the jar.
When it comes time to use the home canned grape juice, I mix it half and half with water and chill before serving.  Or sometimes for a treat I’ll mix it with club soda and serve it over ice. It’s like grape soda – but better.

Tattler Canning Lids

Tattler lids are a modern and reusable 2-piece lid system for home canning. The lids consist of a BPA free white plastic lid and a red rubber ring or gasket. The two-piece system uses a standard modern jar band to keep the lid and gasket securely on the jar while it is being processed in the canner.

Tattler Canning Lids

Tattler 2-Piece Reusable Canning Lid System

Tattler lids work in principal a little like the old-time zinc lids or wire bail jars. Some of you may be too young to remember, but old-time canning jars used to use a rubber ring or gasket that was attached to the lip or shoulder of a jar, and a zinc lid or glass top was attached to the Mason jar with a bail wire assembly or screw threads.

Wire Bail Jar

Old Fashioned Wire Bail Jar With Rubber and Glass Lid

In those days instead of tightening the bail wire or zinc lid firmly onto the jar before processing in the canner, the lid was left a little loose or the bail wire was left up, so that the food in the jar could vent.

Vent Position

Wire Bail Jar In Vent Position

After the jars were removed from the canner the lid or the wire bail was tighten or clamped down immediately so that a vacuum in the jar could be formed.

Bail Jar in Closed Position

Wire Bail Jar In Closed Position

Reusable canning lids are the ultimate in sustainability and semi self-reliance. Tattler lids are much more expensive than regular one trip lids but will easily pay for themselves over time.





I don’t exclusively use Tattler lids for all my canning needs, but I do keep at least half of my canning jars mated with reusable canning lids.
That’s because I’m old enough to remember the canning lid shortage of 1976 and I don’t ever want to go through that again if I can help it.

Because the lids are reusable I use a wax pencil or a small piece of freezer tape across the top of the lid to mark the date and contents instead of directly on the top of the lid.

Below is a short video that I made the demonstrating the use of Tattler lids.

Can Whole Apple Applesauce With A Pressure Canner

This past weekend I made home canned applesauce and thought you might like to see how I make it.
I almost always make canned applesauce over the course of two days and use a pressure canner to can it. On the first day the applesauce is made and on the second day I can it.




My applesauce is a “whole apple” applesauce. That means the entire apple is used except for the core. I frankly don’t have the time or patience to peel apples for applesauce and I prefer the rosy or caramel color of whole apple applesauce. If you want white applesauce you’ll have to peel the apples to get it.

Whole Apple Applesauce

Whole Apple Applesauce Isn’t White

I save time and cooking fuel by pressure canning applesauce instead of water bath canning it. By pressure canning applesauce the canning processing time is cut by more than half.

WHOLE APPLE APPLESAUCE

First apples are gathered and washed in warm soapy water and thoroughly rinsed. You’d be shocked at how dirty fresh picked apples can be. If you are buying apples from a farm stand or from a grocery store, your apples are probably already washed and you can skip this step. I get about  25 pints of applesauce from a bushel of apples.

Washing Apples

Washing Fresh Picked Organic Apples

After washing, the apples are cored and any bad spots are cut away. Then the apples are placed in a large pot with just enough water so that they won’t stick to the  bottom of the pan. About a cup of water is a good place to start.

The apples then are heated slowly and cooked until they are soft and mushy. It is usually a good idea to stir the pot every now and then to prevent burning or scorching the apples. It takes a few hours to properly cook down about a half bushel of apples. And about another 4 – 5 hours to cool down the apples enough to comfortably handle them and proceed to the next step.

Cooked Apples

Cooked Apples For Applesauce

This is where I often stop for the day. Unless I happened to have started my day very early, the apples are put some place cool overnight like a refrigerator or on a cold porch.
The next day I pick up where I left off, and use a food mill to puree the cooled apples into a large pot.

I suppose if you didn’t have a food mill you could use an electric blender or food processor.

Using A Food Mill

Using A Food Mill To Puree Cooked Apples

I never sweeten my applesauce. But if you prefer sweet applesauce this is the point to add sugar to your personal taste. The applesauce is next heated to very hot. Be mindful and stir it often because it will burn.

Once the applesauce is very hot, it is ladled into pint or quart jars leaving a ½” of head space. I slide a non-metallic object down the side of the jar (I use my trusty wooden chop stick) to release any trapped air bubbles. The rim of the jar is carefully wiped clean and a hot lid and band is applied to the jar.

Lid & Band

A Lid & Band Are Applied To A Filled Jar

The jars are then placed into a pressure canner and the pressure canner is vented according to the manufacturer’s instructions – usually about 7 – 10 minutes. After the canner has been vented the weighted gauge is applied.

The processing time for hot pack applesauce in a weighted gauge pressure canner is:

Jar Size Process Time Sea Level – 1000ft Above 1000ft
Pint 8 Minutes 5 lb. 10 lb.
Quart 10 Minutes 5 lb. 10 lb.

Processing time is counted from the moment the first “jiggle” of the weight gauge is heard.

After the processing time is complete, the canner is allowed to return to normal pressure. The jars are then removed from the canner and allowed to cool away from a draft and undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours.

Cooling Jars

Allow The Jars To Cool For 8 – 12 Hours

After jars are cooled remove bands and check the seals. Wipe the jars clean, label and date the jars and store in a cool dark location.

****

You can most definitely water bath can applesauce. The processing time is 20 minutes for both pints and quarts.  Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil after the jars have been placed in the canner. Applesauce can also be frozen for up to 9 -12 months.

The Final Steps Of Skillful Home Canning

Lots of different types of home canned foods benefit from being wiped clean after the bands are removed from the jars and the seals are tested. And all home canned foods benefit from a date and labeling the contents.




Very often the outside of a home processed canning jar will be sticky or greasy. That’s because during the actual canning process most jars will vent a little allowing some of the contents of the jar to escape.
It’s one of the reasons that sometimes fluid is lost in a jar during processing and is the reason that it is important to maintain a proper “head space” for the particular food product that is being canned. Too much or too little head space can result in a loss of liquid and failure of the jar to seal.

Canning Peaches

Labeling Peaches Before Storage

After canning I always wipe my jars clean with warm soapy water and label and date them. A clean jar will not grow fuzzy mold in storage or attract rodents. Large rodents can and will take the lid off of a canning jar.
In a cool dark root cellar or basement, mold will often grow around the threads of a canning jar that is left sticky or dirty. Mold can make its way from the jar threads, to the rim of the jar, and under the lid and cause a lid to pop off and a seal to fail.

Labeling and dating the contents of a jar makes for an easy inventory and food storage rotation.

Not to mention that labeling helps to distinguish food that appear similar –  like cranberry sauce and cherry jam.

How to Can Grapefruit or Orange Sections

Home canning grapefruit or orange sections is easy. It results in a superior product when compared to commercially canned grapefruit or orange sections.
Canning grapefruit or orange sections yourself  is a cost-effective way to increase variety in your long-term food storage.

 Red Grapefruit Sections

Home Canned Red Grapefruit Sections

Grapefruit, oranges and other citrus fruits are considered to be high acid foods.  High acid foods are safely canned by using the water bath method of canning.
Grapefruit can be home canned in a jar alone. But orange sections will taste better if canned they are canned with equal parts of grapefruit sections in the jar.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT
First gather and assemble the water bath canner, jars, lids, bands, canning funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, large tea kettle, sauce pan and white sugar for making a light syrup.
Begin to heat the water bath canner. Wash the canning jars and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Keep the jars hot.
Simmer the canning lids and keep them warm. Do not allow them to boil.
Wash and rinse the grapefruit in warm soapy water and rinse well.
Next the grapefruit or oranges need to be peeled. When canning oranges or grapefruit sections it’s important that all of the white and fibrous parts of the grapefruit and the seeds be removed.




Only the “heart” of the citrus sections should be used that’s because the white stuff on the grapefruit is bitter and pulpy when canned.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit Sections Being Prepared For Home Canning

When peeling large quantities of citrus fruit for canning I use a special serrated sandwich knife and a smaller paring knife.

I first make a cut in the rind and then proceed around the entire fruit until it has been peeled.

Easy Grapefruit Preparation

Cutting The Peel From A Grapefruit

I then use a small paring knife to free the individual wedges or sections.

Grapefruit Sections are Separated

Paring Knife Is Used To Separate Sections

Once all the sections are removed I squeeze out the empty fruit. The video below will help to more clearly illustrate the process.

There are a couple of different ways to fill canning jars with grapefruit.
Some recipes call for heating the grapefruit sections in light sugar syrup.
Others suggest filling the jars with cold grapefruit sections and then pouring heated light syrup over the sections.
Still others use heated orange juice or heated grapefruit juice poured over the grapefruit sections.

I usually pack cold grapefruit sections into a jar and use the juice that was made by squeezing the grapefruit when I peeled it. If I need more liquid I will pour a small amount of heated light syrup over the sections to achieve a 1/2″ head space.
To make light syrup for canning:
Dissolve 1 ½ cups of cane sugar into 6 cups of water. Heat the sugar and water stirring until the syrup is very hot and all the sugar is dissolved.

Add the grapefruit or orange sections into a clean hot jar. Next pour grapefruit juice, orange juice or light syrup to within a 1/2″ of the rim.

Remove all air pockets or air bubbles with a non-metallic object. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth and apply a hot simmered lid.
Apply the band to the jar.

One by one as the jars are filled they are placed into the hot water bath canner on the stove.

Once all the jars have been filled and placed in the canner turn up the heat to bring the water in the canner to a full rolling boil.
This may take a while if the fruit was cold packed. It is normal for the water in a water bath canner to lose some heat while new jars are being added. It may take some time for the heat to build back up and the water begin to boil.

Processing time is counted from the time the water in the canner comes to a full boil. Once the water begins to boil put the lid on the water bath canner and adjust the heat if necessary to maintain a gentle boil.

Processing time for pints and quarts of grapefruit or orange sections in a water bath canner is:

  • 10 minutes  for altitudes of 1,000ft. sea level or less.
  • 15 minutes for altitudes between 1,000 ft – 6,000 ft.
  • 20 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 ft sea level

Once processing time is complete the jars are removed from the canner and allowed to cool undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.

When the jars are completely cooled the bands are removed. Check the seals and wiped the jars clean with a damp cloth. Label and store in a dark cool location.

The 20 pounds of grapefruit will yield approximately 6 quarts or 12 pints.
Home canned citrus will store about 12-15 months before any noticeable loss of flavor or color. For best taste chill canned grapefruit or orange sections at least overnight before opening and serving. Enjoy!

The Home Canning Of Rabbit, Chicken & Small Game

Home canning meat, chicken, rabbit or small game can help families economically achieve sensible food storage goals. Raising a part of your own food is not complicated and a good amount of food can be produced yourself whether you live on a small town lot or in the suburbs.




Chickens and rabbits are usually the first meat animals that a new small holder or garden farmer will acquire. They are small animals and easily managed. Both animals are a good fit with backyard gardens. I’m surprised that more people don’t keep them. Rabbits and chickens require less daily care than 1 or 2 neurotic house cats.

Meat Chicken

Cornish X Rock Meat Chicken

While not all towns or municipalities permit keeping chickens, many people find a way to raise rabbits for food. Fact is your neighbors do not need to know that the rabbits in your basement or garage are for food and are not pets. Rabbits reproduce very quickly and can be harvested with little trouble several times in a year. By canning rabbit you can meet some of your food storage goals.

Meat Rabbit

A California Giant Meat Rabbit

For the most part, rabbit and chicken recipes are interchangeable except a rabbit has less fat than a chicken. Keep that in mind for recipes when you are cooking a fresh rabbit. Like chicken, if you cook rabbit too fast the meat can end up tough and stringy. Except for frying, try to use the slower methods when cooking rabbit. When using canned rabbit or chicken you don’t have to worry about tough meat. That’s because the meat was already pressured cooked and is very tender and moist. Canned chicken or rabbit on the pantry shelf is a tremendous time saver. I use canned chicken or rabbit in salads, casseroles, barbecue, in white gravies and sauces;  over biscuits and in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken. Chicken pot pie is one of my favorites as is rabbit stew. You can interchange rabbit and chicken in recipes. So a recipe for chicken soup becomes rabbit soup. White chili made with rabbit or chicken is very good and is easily canned. Pick any recipe that calls for chicken and use rabbit instead. The variations in recipes are endless and depend only upon the cook’s imagination and ingenuity.

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad Made From Home Canned Chicken

There are a couple of different ways to home can chicken, rabbit or small game. You have a choice between the “hot pack “and the “raw/cold pack methods”, and a choice between “bone-in” and “bone-out”. I think best way to can backyard butchered rabbit or chicken is with the hot pack, bone-out method. Hot pack  bone-out produces a product that is ready to use right off the pantry shelf with liquid for gravy or sauce. It is the method that I most often use when I can whole rabbits or a whole chicken. When leaving the bone in the favor of the meat is just a bit stronger. I don’t notice it too much with rabbit but it is noticeable with chicken or squirrel.
The difference in flavor is not a bad difference – just different. To me it’s like the difference between mild, white meat chicken and really dark meat chicken. In certain recipes I don’t care for the stronger flavor from the bone-in method.

Bone-In Chicken

Canned Bone-In Chicken

The bone-in method is most often used in canning chicken, rabbit, squirrel and other small game animals where it may be too much trouble to remove the bones or when extended refrigeration is lacking. Canned meat is a quick and convenient food, but when I’m in a hurry I want to just open the jar, drain it and dump it. I’d rather do the work of boning while I’m canning and not later when I’m in hurry and cooking.
But no matter which method is chosen canning meat with the bone-in or bone-out is a pretty simple affair.
EQUIPMENT
You’ll need a good working pressure canner, canning jars, lids, a jar lifter, hot mitts and the usual kitchen equipment that you’d need for canning.

I find that wide mouth jars work best when canning meat. I try to can all my meat in wide mouth jars if I have enough available to me. That’s because wide mouth jars are easier to fill, empty and clean.
A wide mouth jar is easier to pack and this is especially important when canning meat with the bone left in it.
When bone-in chicken or rabbit is being packed into a canning jar, often you’ll have to fiddle with the pieces and sometimes rearrange them so they fit in jar without wasting too much space in the jar.
No sense packing just one chicken leg into a quart jar, when you actually could have fit a chicken leg, another thigh and two wings in the jar.

Also wide mouth jars are easier to clean after they’ve been used. Sometimes the inside of a jar becomes coated with bits of cooked meat and that makes the jar hard to scrub out even with a bottle brush. With a wide mouth jar it’s much easier to put your hand inside the jar and scrub it clean.
Meat sometimes will pack into a solid, dense mass when canned. With a wide mouth jar removing the meat is much easier. With a regular mouth jar it can be a real struggle to get the meat out of the jar.

YIELD

The number of jars that any given amount of meat will yield varies with the manner and method by which the jars were packed. The size of the meat pieces, whether or not a raw or hot pack was used; and or whether or not the bone was left in will be factors that determine jar yield and outcome. As a general rule of thumb, allow 2 to 2 ½ pounds of boneless meat per quart. When canning bone in chicken or rabbit, plan to allow for between 2 ½ to 4 ½ pounds of meat per quart. The bone is heavier than you’d think

A WORD ABOUT GIBLETS
If you are processing a large batch of rabbits or chickens and want to can the heart, livers or gizzards, set them aside to be canned in separate jars.
It’s also a good idea to can the livers in their own jar because the liver taste will transfer to the other giblets.
I always save the livers, kidneys, hearts and other bits when processing harvested animals. Even if I don’t eat those parts, my dogs and cats will. To my way of thinking it’s a sin to waste any part of an animal if another animal can use it.

HOT PACK METHOD

FOR CANNING CHICKEN, RABBIT or SMALL GAME WITH BONE IN or BONE OUT

BONE-IN METHOD

Cut the rabbit, chicken or squirrel into pieces that will fit inside the jar. Trim off any fat. You probably won’t have any fat on a rabbit but you will on a chicken,duck,raccoon and turkey. Place the raw pieces into a pan and cover with water or any hot broth of your choosing. The broth can be seasoned. But I would caution you to go easy on the spices and seasoning. Canning will intensify some flavors and not for the good.
Place a lid on the pan and cook the rabbit or chicken over medium heat until the meat just loses its pink color when cut at the meatier parts.

Par Cooked Chicken

Par-Cooked Chicken For Hot Pack Method Of Canning

Pack the chicken or rabbit loosely into a hot jar leaving a 1” head space.Place the big pieces in the center of the jar and fit the smaller pieces around it.

Fitting Chicken In

Fitting Chicken In Canning Jar

Add salt if you like:
½ Teaspoon for pints
1 Teaspoon for quarts
Cover the rabbit or chicken with boiling hot broth and maintain the 1″ head space in the jar.

Pouring Broth Over Chicken Pieces

Pouring Hot Broth Over Chicken Pieces

Wipe the rim of the jar.This is especially important with fatty poultry and some fall harvested small game animals.With rabbit or squirrel it isn’t usually a problem unless you added some type of fat in the broth. Grease on the rim of the jar may prevent a seal. Apply a lid and band to the jar.

Wipe Rim

Wipe Grease Off The Rim Of The Jar

BONE-OUT METHOD
Partially cook the animal just like the above. Remove the pieces from the broth until they are cool enough to handle. Pick the meat from the bones and discard the skin from the chicken (unless you want to can it separately for pets). Pack the hot/warm meat into hot jars, add salt if you like and cover the meat with broth leaving a 1″ head space. Wipe the rim and apply a lid and band.

PROCESSING & TIMING FOR BONE-IN MEAT
You will notice that the processing time for bone in meat is less than that of bone out. It is not a mistake.
This is because it takes less time for the inner core of the jar to reach 240°F when the bones are present. Bone out meat packs solid whereas bone in meat does not. Whether you use the raw or hot pack method for bone in meat the processing time is the same. Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) in a pressure canner for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less.
You will need to adjust pressure accordingly for higher altitudes depending on the type of pressure canner system you are using.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

PROCESSING TIME FOR BONE-IN HOT PACK
Pints – 65 Minutes
Quarts – 75 Minutes

PROCESSING TIME FOR BONE-OUT HOT PACK
Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) in a pressure canner for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less.Processing time for bone-out is:
Pints – 75 Minutes
Quarts – 90 Minutes
You will need to adjust  pressure accordingly if you live much above 1000 ft. of sea level depending on the type of pressure canner you are using. When processing time is complete, remove the canner from the heat and allow the pressure to return to normal on its own. Don’t hurry the cooling or you may prevent jars from sealing or have a loss of liquid in the jars.
When pressure has returned to normal inside the canner, remove the jars. Place the jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out-of-the-way of drafts and allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs.
After jars have cooled remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the outside of the jar if it has become greasy.
Label, date, and store the jars in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight.

RAW or COLD PACK BONE-OUT METHOD

For the most part, the raw/cold pack method of canning chicken or rabbit is identical to the hot pack method except you don’t pre-cook the meat or cover it with broth. This method is the preferred method for people who don’t have a source of home-grown chicken or rabbit.

Grocery Store Chicken

Grocery Store Chicken

During the fall months, boneless chicken breasts and thighs can often be found for a good price at the grocery store. Basically the raw pack method is just cold, raw boneless meat packed tightly into a canning jar, and then it’s processed in a pressure canner. It’s unbelievably simple. Learn to can it yourself and you’ll never have to pay outrageous prices for canned chicken again. Same for beef, pork, venison and fish.

RAW or COLD PACK METHOD
Cut the rabbit or chicken into jar size pieces and pack the pieces into a jar.
Add salt if you like:
½ Teaspoon for pints
1 Teaspoon for quarts

Leave a 1″ head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and apply the lid and band to the jar.

Jars Go Into Pressure Canner

Placing Filled Jars In Pressure Canner

Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) for altitudes at 1000ft. sea level or less. Don’t forget you may need an altitude adjustment.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

The processing time for all raw pack meat, poultry or fish is:
75 Minutes For Pints
90 Minutes For Quarts
Remove jars from the canner when processing time is complete.
Place the jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out-of-the-way of drafts and allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs.
After jars have cooled remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the outside jar if it has become greasy. Label the jars and store away from heat and direct sunlight.

  • The advantage to the raw pack method is that it is a time saver.
  • The advantage to the hot pack method is that there is plenty of broth to work with when you open the jar.

Choose whichever method you prefer according to the recipes you will use and your family’s food preferences.

Why A Canning Jar Lid Will Come Unsealed

A canning jar with a failed lid is something I’ll come across once in a blue moon. It’s a fairly rare occurrence and is always a rude surprise.




When I find a jar of home canned food in my pantry with a breached lid I dispose of the food carefully. Well out of the way of people or animals.

Unsealed Lid

A Failed Lid On A Jar Of Lentil Soup

After the offending jar is emptied, it’s thoroughly washed and then closely examined for nicks around the rim or hairline cracks. A Mason jar must be near perfect for a lid to make a good strong seal.

With a faulty jar the vacuum inside the jar is eventually breached and allows spoilage to occur. Bacteria and yeast will begin to grow inside a jar causing fermentation and gas. Sometimes the force of the gas will blow a lid off and sometimes knock the lid to the side of a jar.
Slime and  mold on top of any food product tells me that the jar has been opened for a while.

Failed Lid

The Lid Failed On This Jar

Usually if there is a sealing failure with a jar I’ll catch it with my “lift test” after the jars cool from processing.
My lift test consists of me lifting a jar about 2″ above a table or countertop by the rim of the lid. If the lid holds and doesn’t come loose the seal is good.

Lift Test

Testing A Jar Seal

There are many reasons for a faulty seal on home canned foods.

  • Sometimes jars will not seal properly if the rim of the jar is not wiped perfectly clean before the lid and band are applied.
  • Also if the one trip lids are not simmered long enough problems can occur. The red rubber lining on the lid must soften up a bit for a really strong seal. I simmer lids 3 -5 minutes.
  • If grease or some other material from the food product becomes forced under the lid while processing, many times the lid will not give a good seal. This past summer I had 4 or 5 quart jars of ham & bean soup, from 2 different batches, that gave that kind of trouble. Grease had been forced between the lids and rim of the jars and prevented sealing. When I get food that doesn’t seal or pass the “lift test” I simply freeze it. It’s too much trouble and a waste of LP gas or wood to re-process it.
  • Canning jars that have not been kept hot enough before packing or suffer inadequate processing time will sometimes cause a lid failure. This is especially true when processing cold pack food.
  • Sometimes there is an unseen hairline crack in the jar or a nick on the rim. This is I believe what happened to the jar of green beans above.
  • Often the reason will remain unknown and it can be a guessing game.

Crystals In Canned Grape & Jelly Juice

Sometimes when opening a jar of home canned grape juice or grape jelly you will find small sharp crystals inside the jar or in the actual food product. These crystals are tartrate crystals and are formed by the naturally occurring tartaric acid in the grape juice. The crystals are perfectly harmless and in no way affect the safety of the food product.

Tartate Crystals

Tartate Crystals In Grape Juice

Tartrate crystals in grape products are formed by sediment in grape juice or other grape based products like wine or jelly. Many canners and jelly makers don’t like them and sometimes novice canners are upset to see them sitting in the bottom of a jar of grape juice.




The way that tartrate crystals can be prevented in home canning is by allowing the grape juice to rest or sit overnight in a refrigerator so all the sediment can collect at the bottom of the container.
In the morning carefully pour off only the clear juice and try not to disturb the sediment.

By keeping the grape sediment out of the juice before it is canned, clear grape juice without little crunchy things floating around is almost guaranteed. And a beautiful and sparkling blue ribbon jelly is within your reach.

Basket Of Concord Grapes

A Basket Of Concord Grapes

In nature grapes are the richest source of tartaric acid. The kitchen helper known as Cream of Tartar is obtained from grape sediment and is made from byproducts that are leftover from wine making. All grapes contain tartaric acid but some varsities of grapes have more of it than others. Foods and wine from Concord grapes are notorious for forming crystals.
Cream of Tartar is a very old substance. In fact traces of calcium tartrate have been found in ancient pottery in northern Iran at the site of Hajji Firuz Tepe . This suggests that the art of wine making is at least 7,000 years old.
Because it’s acidic, Cream of Tartar will clean brass or copper the same way lemon juice or vinegar will. Cream of Tartar is used in the kitchen to help stabilize and give more volume to beaten egg whites. It helps to produce a creamier texture to certain candies and frosting because it retards the formation of sugar crystals. Often Cream of Tartar is used in the place of lemon juice or vinegar by to produce a lighter textured cake with a finer grain.
So if you should ever happen upon crystals in your home canned grape jelly or grape juice – don’t be alarmed they’re natural.

How To Can & Freeze Green Beans

Green beans and yellow wax beans  are easy to grow and easy to can or freeze. They’re a favorite vegetable for many people.

Selecting Green Beans

Always try to obtain the freshest and most tender green beans possible. Reject beans that are over mature, hollow, tough, limp or floppy.
It takes approximately 1 ½ pounds of raw unsnapped green beans to produce a finished quart.

Picking Wax Beans

Too Much Of A Good Thing. Wax Bean Plants Are Pulled Up and Picked

Snapping and Washing Green Beans

Green beans fresh picked from the garden or purchased at a farm stand or market will need to be washed and trimmed before they are canned or frozen. Trimming or snapping beans is easy but is time-consuming.




The old saying ” Many hands make light work” applies here. Snapping or beans goes much faster with good company and conversation. The stem end on the bean needs to be removed. The bean is  snapped or cut  into half or into thirds. Snapped bean are faster.  But cut beans look better. Either is fine. It just depends upon preference.

Green Beans

Fresh Snapped Green Beans

After the beans are cut or snapped, place them into a sink of cold water to rinse and clean them. You may have to swish or rub the beans with your hands to remove any clinging dirt or grass.Drain the sink, rinse the beans under running water and remove the beans to a bowl. The beans are now ready to be canned or frozen.

Canning Green Beans
Green beans are a low acid food. The only dependably safe method of home canning low acid foods is with a pressure canner. Green beans can be pressure canned using either the raw pack or hot pack method.


The are two different ways to can green beans: raw pack or hot pack. The raw pack method is presented here and is the method that I prefer. The raw pack method saves time and energy. With the raw pack method fresh raw green beans are packed into a Mason jar and then boiling water is poured over them. The jar is then sealed and processed in a pressure canner.
The hot pack method is basically the same as the raw pack except the beans are cooked or blanched before they are packed hot into a canning jar. The advantage of hot pack is that more beans can be put into a jar and the beans don’t tend to float in the jar.
The disadvantage with the hot pack method is that the beans can become mushy if cooked for too long.
Usually green beans are canned with salt for added flavor. But salt is not a necessary ingredient for successful home canning of green beans or any other canned food. People on low sodium diets may prefer to skip the salt completely. If you choose to add salt, the standard measure is:
1 teaspoon salt for quarts
½ teaspoon salt for pints.
I use half those amounts in my beans.

The Process
Gather and assemble the jars, lids, bands, jar lifter, funnel and the pressure canner  before the canning day. Nothing is worse than stopping in the middle of  canning to go and hunt for something you forgot or replace equipment that doesn’t work properly.

Check to make sure that everything is in good working order. Visually examine all jars and rims for cracks, nicks or sharp edges. Examine the pressure canner and gasket carefully.Only prepare enough green beans for one canner load at a time.
Wash the jars and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry the bands and set aside. Keep the jars hot. An automatic dishwasher is perfect for this. But a sink full of hot water works just as well, as does pouring very hot water into upright jars as they stand in a sink or in a shallow pan.
Place the rack in the pressure canner and add the recommended amount of water according to your canner’s manufacturer.
Begin to heat the canner and a kettle of full of water while you are working. The water in the kettle will be poured into the jars to cover the beans. Simmer lids for 3 -5 minutes and keep hot until ready to use. Don’t boil them.

Filling The Jars

Fill a hot jar with green beans.

Green Beans

Jar Filled With Green Beans

Pour boiling water into the jar and over the beans. Leave a 1″ head space. A jar funnel is an easy way to help you to determine head space. The distance from the bottom of the jar funnel as it sits inside the jar is 1″.

1" Head Space

A 1″ Head Space Is Measured From The Bottom OF The Funnel

It is necessary to remove the air bubbles and air pockets from the jar. Do this by sliding a non-metallic object or spatula down the sides of the jar.

Releasing Air Bubbles

Releasing Trapped Air Bubbles In A Filled Jar

You will see tiny air bubbles come to the top of the jar and the beans will float a little. This is normal. Wipe the rim of the jar and jar threads with a clean damp cloth. The rim must be clean and free of food particles so that the lid makes a good strong seal.
Remove a lid from the hot water and center the lid on the jar with the sealing compound next to the jar rim.

Apply Lid To Jar

Apply A Lid To The Jar

Screw the lid band down evenly and firmly, but don’t over tighten.

Put Band On JAr

Applying A Band To The Jar

Place the sealed jar into the canner. Fill the remaining jars one at a time with green beans and place the jars into the canner after they have been filled.

Filling The Canner

Green Beans Waiting In The Canner For More Jars

By this time the water in the canner should be very hot and simmering. You want the filled jars to remain hot while the other jars are being filled. When all the jars are filled put the lid on the canner and close it. Heat the canner with the pressure control weight off and heat it until a steady stream of steam comes out of the vent.

Venting Canner

Canner Venting Before The Pressure Regulator Weight Is Put On

Allow the steam to vent from the canner for about 5 -10 minutes or according to your canner manufacturer’s directions. It is important to drive all of the air out of the canner especially if you are using a dial gauge.
Air pressure and steam pressure together may give a faulty reading on a dial gauge. Once the canner has been properly vented, apply the control weight or close the petcock valve.
Processing time for green beans is:
25 minutes for quarts
20 minutes for pints
at 10 pounds of pressure at  1000 feet of sea level or less.You must make an adjustment for higher altitudes.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

With a dial gauge pressure canner the processing time is counted from the time the proper pressure is reach. With a control weight the proper pressure is counted from the time the weight first begins to jiggle. A jiggle of 1 to 4 times a minute is about right. With a dial gauge the aim is to keep the heat steady so that the pressure remains stable. Some pressure canners have both a dial gauge and a regulator control weight.
Adjust the heat on the stove if necessary to keep and even and correct pressure throughout the entire processing time. It may take some trial and error to determine the heat setting on your stove to keep the pressure steady.
If at any time pressure goes below the recommended amount, bring the canner back up to the correct pressure and begin the timing from the beginning .
When the processing time is complete, you can either turn off the heat under the canner and allow the canner to stay on the burner to cool or you can carefully remove the canner from the heat. Allow the canner to cool naturally. Do not try to hasten the cooling process by using cold water or a fan. Only after canner pressure has returned to normal is it safe to open the lid .
For a control weight canner the pressure will have returned to normal when the vent stops hissing. If the control weight hisses at all when you touch it too much pressure is still inside the canner. Leave it alone and give it more time to cool.For a dial gauge canner when the gauge reads “0″ it is safe to open the canner.
Take care and use caution while opening the canner lid. All surfaces of the canner will be extremely hot. Always open the canner with the lid facing away from you and allow the hot water to run off inside the pot.

Open Canner

Always Open The Canner Lid Facing Away From You

Very carefully remove the hot jars with a jar lifter and place the jars on a dry towel or board well out of the way of drafts.Leave the jars undisturbed for 8 -12 hours.
It is normal for the food inside the jar to be boiling when they are removed from the canner. Often a pinging sound is heard as the jars begin to cool. The pinging is the lid being pulled down and indicates that a vacuum seal has been achieved. After the jars have thoroughly cooled it is important to check the seal.

Cooled Green Beans

Cooled Green Beans

Remove the screw band before checking the seal. Check the seals by gently lifting the jars by the lid and notice if the center of the lid has been pulled down creating a slightly concave surface. If you are not sure if a jar’s lid has been pulled down push down into the center of the lid. If the lid springs up and down the jar has not sealed and the food should be re-processed within 24 hours, frozen or eaten promptly. Jars should be wiped clean if necessary, labeled and store in a cool dark place.

Freezing Green Beans
Green beans can be easily frozen. Freezing results in beans that have better color retention and a fresher taste. Frozen green beans are much preferred over canned beans in many recipes.
Preservation by freezing does not sterilize food; it only retards the growth of microorganisms and slows down enzyme activity and oxidation. Green beans like most vegetables must be scalded or blanched before freezing. Scalding cleanses the surface of dirt, reduces the action of enzymes and brightens the color of vegetables. Without proper blanching or scalding vegetables will begin to deteriorate in the freezer after about 4 weeks.
How To Do It
Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil. Place the snapped beans into the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. After 2 or 3 minutes remove the beans from the boiling water, drain them and then rapidly cool the beans by placing them in a sink of cold water and ice.

Cooling Green Beans

Cooling Down Blanched Green Beans

Once the beans are cool, drain them and package into vacuum sealed packages, rigid freezer containers or freezer bags. Freeze immediately. Frozen green beans will last between 12 – 18 months in a freezer under good freezer conditions.

Canning Mushrooms

Home canning fresh mushrooms is easy. Like all low acid vegetables (mushrooms are actually fungi) mushrooms must be canned with a pressure canner. Mushrooms are usually packed in ½ pint or full pint jars. When selecting mushrooms for home canning it’s best to choose only firm, bright and small to medium size domestic mushrooms.

You can tell if a mushroom is fresh by the clean color and an unopened veil or cap. Reject mushrooms that are old, darken, bruised or imperfect in any way. It takes approximately ½ pound (8 oz.) of fresh mushrooms to fill a ½ pint jar. I personally never can or eat wild mushrooms.

GET READY
Gather and assembled all canning equipment ahead of time and make sure your pressure canner is in good working order.
Wash the jars in hot soapy water; rinse them well and keep them hot.




A dishwasher is perfect for this, but so is a sink full of hot water. Jars can also be stood up in a sink or shallow pan and filled with hot water until ready to use. Begin to heat the canner and a kettle of fresh clean water. The water in the kettle will be poured into the jars and over the mushrooms. Put lids on to simmer.

PREPARE THE MUSHROOMS
Trim mushroom stems and any discolored areas. Slice medium size mushrooms evenly but leave the smaller ones whole. Soak mushrooms in cool water for about 3 minutes to remove any dirt that may cling to them.

Cleaning Mushrooms

Cleaning Mushrooms In Water

Rinse well in cool water. Place mushrooms in a large pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a gentle boil for about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and drain. Begin filling hot jars with hot mushrooms.

Mushrooms In Jars

Mushroom Packed Into Half-Pint Jars

Salt may be added to the jars if desired. I use:
⅛ of a teaspoon for ½ pints
¼  of a teaspoon for pints
But some people prefer twice as much salt.
Pour hot water from the tea kettle over mushrooms leaving a 1” head space.

Pouring Boiling Water Over Mushrooms

Pouring Boiling Water Over Packed Mushrooms

One inch head space in a jar can be easily determined by the canning funnel. It is 1″ to the bottom of the funnel as it sits in the jar. My finger is pointing to the correct head space.

 Proper Head Space

Mushrooms With Proper Head Space

Remove any air pockets from the jar by sliding a non-metallic object along the sides of the jars.

Removing Air Bubbles

Removing Air Bubbles From The Jar With A Wooden Chopstick

Wipe rims and apply lids and bands. Place jars in canner. Close the lid of the pressure canner and increase the heat. Allow the steam to vent from the canner for about 5 -10 minutes or according to your canner manufacturer’s directions. It is important to drive all of the air out of the canner especially if you are using a dial gauge. Air pressure and steam pressure together may give a faulty reading on a dial gauge.

Venting Canner

Canner Venting Before The Pressure Regulator Weight Is Put On

Once the canner has been properly vented, apply the control weight or close the petcock valve.
Processing time for BOTH ½ pints and full pints is 45 minutes.

Remember – You must make an adjustment for higher altitudes.Keep the processing time the same but adjust the pressure.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

With a dial gauge pressure canner the processing time is counted from the time the proper pressure is reach. With a control weight the proper pressure is counted from the time the weight first begins to jiggle. A jiggle of 1 to 4 times a minute is about right. With a dial gauge the aim is to keep the heat steady so that the pressure remains stable. Some pressure canners have both a dial gauge and a regulator control weight. Adjust the heat on the stove if necessary to keep and even and correct pressure throughout the entire processing time. It may take some trial and error to determine the heat setting on your stove to keep the pressure steady. If at any time pressure goes below the recommended amount, bring the canner back up to the correct pressure and begin the timing from the beginning.

Pressure Gauge Dial

Pressure Gauge Dial

When the processing time is complete, you can either turn off the heat under the canner and allow the canner to stay on the burner to cool or you can carefully remove the canner from the heat. Allow the canner to cool naturally. Don’t try to hasten the cooling process by using cold water or a fan. Only after pressure inside the canner has returned to normal is it safe to open the lid .
For a control weight canner the pressure will have returned to normal when the vent stops hissing. If the control weight hisses at all when you touch it too much pressure is still inside the canner. Leave it alone and give it more time to cool. For a dial gauge canner when the gauge reads “0″ it is safe to open the canner.
Take care and use caution while opening the canner lid. All surfaces of the canner will be extremely hot.
Open the canner carefully keeping the lid away from your face. Remove jars with a jar lifter and place on a dry padded surface or wooden board. Leave undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours.

Mushrooms Cooling

Newly Processed Mushrooms Cooling

Remove bands and check seals. Mark the jars with the date and store in a cool dry place.

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin butter made from fresh pumpkins is delicious. It doesn’t taste the same nor does it have the bland texture that pumpkin butter made from commercial packed  pumpkin has. It’s extra effort to cook and prepare the fresh pumpkin instead of just opening a can, but I think that the finished product is more than worth it.




If you want to make pumpkin butter from fresh pumpkins it is done in two parts.

  • In the first part of the process you must cook the pumpkin and puree it.
  • The second part is the actual cooking of the butter.

There are a few different ways that you can cook and peel pumpkin. I cook pumpkin in a pressure cooker because it’s the fastest and the easiest way. Some people use a microwave oven but boiling the pumpkin will work too. So will cooking it in a conventional oven until it’s soft. The point is to cook the pumpkin and then get the rind off so you can easily puree it. Use whatever method works best for you.
With that said here’s I make pumpkin butter.
Gather fresh pumpkins from the garden.The smaller pie type pumpkins taste the best. So save the big ones for Jack ‘O Lanterns.

The Right Size For Pumpkin Butter

Small Pumpkins

Wash the pumpkins well and cut them in half. Scoop out the seeds and cut them into pieces big enough to fit inside a 6 quart pressure cooker.

Cut Pumpkin In Pressure Cooker

Cut Pumpkins To A Size To Fit In A Pressure Cooker

Pressure cook the pumpkin pieces for 9 minutes at 15 pounds of pressure. Quick cool the pressure cooker by placing it in the sink and run cold water over it.
The pressure cooker method is very quick and cooks the pumpkin to perfection and the rind easily peels off.
Place the cooked pumpkin into a bowl and mash it.

Cooked Pumpkin

Cooked Pumpkin

Then put it through a food mill to puree it. Some cooks prefer to use a food processor or a blender to puree pumpkin because it makes it smoother and creamier. But I use a food mill because it’s what’s in my kitchen.
Once the pumpkin is puree it’s time to move on to the second step.
In a large pot mix together:

  • 3 cups of puree pumpkin
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • and just a bit of red pepper for bite.

Depending upon the thickness of the mixture cook the pumpkin mixture over a low to medium heat for about 30 – 45 minutes or until it rounds up nicely on a spoon. Stir it occasionally to prevent it from sticking or scorching.

Rounding Up On A Spoon

Pumpkin Butter Rounding Up On A Spoon

When thick as you like, ladle it while boiling hot into clean and hot 1/2 pints jars. Leave a 1/4″ head space in the jar.
Apply a band and a new lid to the jar. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
After 15 minutes remove the jars and allow them to cool on a towel undisturbed for 8 hours.
When the jars are completely cooled remove the band and check the seal.

Most often I will triple or quadruple the above recipe. The yield is about 4 half pints of pumpkin butter for every 3 cups of pumpkin that I use.

Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin Butter and Apple Butter Cool After Canning

Just so you know since the mid 1990′s there has been a controversy in regards to the safety of home canning pumpkin butter. Nowadays home canning pumpkin butter is not recommended by canning authorities and experts.
As far as I can tell the safety issue is a theoretical one. In theory because pumpkin is a low acid food, the only safe way to can it would be with a pressure canner. But the difference with pumpkin butter is that the pH is radically altered with the addition of lots of sugar and lemon juice.

The heavy sugar content and acidic lemon juice makes the pumpkin butter safe to can via the boiling water bath method – or at least that’s what everybody thought and did before somebody wrote a food science paper in the late 1970′s and then again in the 1990′s and freaked out home canners everywhere.
Apparently there is a possibility that you could get botulism from water bathed pumpkin butter. So these days experts are telling home canners to freeze their pumpkin butter or store it in the refrigerator.
You do what you think is best with your pumpkin butter. But as for me, I’m hopelessly stuck in my ways and haven’t died yet from poisoned pumpkin butter.

How To Can & Freeze Sweet Corn

Sweet corn like most vegetables is a low acid food and is only safely and dependably processed via a pressure canner. If you understand the basic principles of pressure canning you should have no trouble canning it.

Sweet Corn

Gathering Fresh Sweet Corn

The are two different ways to can sweet corn: raw pack or hot pack. The raw pack method is presented here and is the method that I prefer. The raw pack method saves time and energy.




With the raw pack method fresh raw corn kernels are packed into a Mason jar and then boiling water is poured into the jar.The jar is then sealed and processed in a pressure canner.The hot pack method is basically the same as the raw pack except the corn is pre-cooked or blanched before it is packed hot into a canning jar. The advantage of hot pack is that more corn can be put into a jar and the corn doesn’t tend to loose liquid in the jar during processing.
GET READY
Gather and assemble the jars, lids, bands, jar lifter, funnel and the pressure canner before canning day. Nothing is worse than stopping in the middle of canning to go and hunt for something you forgot or replace equipment that doesn’t work properly.Check to make sure that everything is in good working order.

Visually examine all jars and rims for cracks, nicks or sharp edges. Examine the pressure canner and gasket carefully. Wash the jars and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry the bands and set aside. Keep the jars hot. An automatic dishwasher is perfect for this. But a sink full of hot water works just as well, as does pouring very hot water into upright jars as they stand in a sink or in a shallow pan.

Place the rack in the pressure canner and add the recommended amount of water according to your canner’s manufacturer.

Add Water To Canner

Add The Recommended Amount Of Water Into The Canner

Begin to heat the canner and heat a kettle of full of water while you are working. The water in the kettle will be poured into the jars to cover the corn. Simmer lids for 3 -5 minutes and keep hot until ready to use. Don’t boil them.
Try and time the simmering of the lids, hot water in the kettle and canner to coincide with when you will be ready to pack the jars.
PREPARE THE SWEET CORN
Collect fresh picked sweet corn. Be careful not to try to do more than one canner load at a time. Corn is very perishable and will sour if left out for too long after being cut off the cob. Husk the corn, remove the silk and rinse well with cold water.

Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn Husked And Ready For Processing

While working quickly and without delay, cut the corn kernels from the cob and place into a bowl. Do not scrape the cobs.

Cutting Corn

A Nail Driven In At a Slight Angle Into a Wooden Cutting Board Holds the Corn in Place.

By now the water in the canner should be hot, the lids should be simmered and the kettle of water should be simmering too.
FILL THE JARS
If you chose to add salt to your corn the standard measure is:
1 teaspoon for quarts
1/2 teaspoon for pints.
I use less than half those amounts for my corn. Fill a hot jar with corn taking care not to pack it in too tight or press it down leaving a 1″ head space. Pour boiling water into the jar and over the corn to 1/2″ of the top.

Pouring Water Over Corn

Pour Boiling Water Over Packed Sweet Corn

Slide a non-metallic object down the sides of the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Carefully wipe the rim and sides of the jar with a clean wet cloth.

Wipe Jar Rim

Carefully Wipe The Rim Of The Canning Jar

Apply a lid and band.

Apply Lid

Apply A New Fresh Lid

Place the jar into the canner so it will remain hot while you work on filling the other jars.

Filling The Canner

Filling A Pressure Canner With Pint Jars Of Sweet Corn

Keep the water in the canner just at a simmer while you are working. When all the jars are filled put the lid on the canner and close it.
PROCESS THE JARS
Heat the canner with the pressure control weight off and heat it until a steady stream of steam comes out of the vent. Allow the steam to vent from the canner for about 5 -10 minutes or according to your canner manufacturer’s directions. It is important to drive all of the air out of the canner especially if you are using a dial gauge. Air pressure and steam pressure together may give a faulty reading on a dial gauge.

Venting Canner

Canner Venting Before The Pressure Regulator Weight Is Put On

Once the canner has been properly vented, apply the control weight or close the petcock valve.Processing time is counted from the time the weight first begins to juggle or when 10 pounds of pressure is reached on the dial. A jiggle of 1 to 4 times a minute is about right. With a dial gauge the aim is to keep the heat steady so that the pressure remains stable. Some pressure canners have both a dial gauge and a regulator control weight.
Adjust the heat on the stove if necessary to keep and even and correct pressure throughout the entire processing time. It may take some trial and error to determine the heat setting on your stove to keep the pressure steady. If at any time pressure goes below the recommended amount, bring the canner back up to the correct pressure and begin the timing from the beginning .
Processing time for corn is:
55 minutes for Pints
1 hour and 25 minutes for Quarts
at 10 pounds of pressure.
Don’t forget to make adjustments in the processing time or pressure if you are above 1000 feet sea level.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

When the processing time is complete, you can either turn off the heat under the canner and allow the canner to stay on the burner to cool or you can carefully remove the canner from the heat. Allow the canner to cool naturally. Do not try to hasten the cooling process by using cold water or a fan. Only after canner pressure has returned to normal is it safe to open the lid .
For a control weight canner the pressure will have returned to normal when the vent stops hissing. If the control weight hisses at all when you touch it too much pressure is still inside the canner. Leave it alone and give it more time to cool.For a dial gauge canner when the gauge reads “0″ it is safe to open the canner.
Take care and use caution while opening the canner lid. All surfaces of the canner will be extremely hot. Always open the canner with the lid facing away from you and allow the hot water to run off inside the pot.

Remove Canner Lid Facing Away From You

Remove The Canner Lid Facing Away From You

Remove the jars from the canner and place the jars on a towel, board or thick layer of newspaper well out of the way of drafts.

COOL JARS & CHECK THE SEAL
Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours. When the jars are completely cooled check the seal. Remove the screw band before checking the seal.

Corn Cooling

Sweet Corn Cooling After Processing

The seal is checked by gently lifting the jar by the lid and pushing down into the center of the lid. The lid should be slightly concave and have no spring to it.

Testing The Seal

Testing A Jar Seal

  • If the lid bounces up and down the jar has not seal and the corn should be frozen, reprocessed or eaten promptly.
    Jars should be wiped clean and stored in a cool dark place.
    ** A couple of hints about working with sweet corn**
    If at all possible cut sweet corn off the cob outdoors. Sweet corn is messy and sticky squirts everywhere when you cut if off the cob. Be sure to have plenty of wet cloths while you work to wipe your hands.You’ll probably have to clean off your knife a couple of times.
    Don’t work near a window or wall if you can help it. If you do, you’ll be cleaning windows and washing walls when you’re done. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
    Sometimes liquid is lost in the canning jar. Don’t be concerned. As long as the seal is good the food will not spoil.
    FREEZING CORN
    Freezing corn is much simpler than canning corn and results in a product that is much fresher tasting.
    When I have leftover corn from canning that is not enough to make another full canner load I always freeze it. Corn for freezing is prepared exactly the same way as for canning; cut from the cob and handled in small amounts.There are several different ways to freeze corn.
    Here’s what works for me:
    Place the corn in a saucepan and add a small amount of water to it – just enough to barely cover the corn.Heat the corn over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. You want the corn to simmer just a bit and to partially cook. The corn will probably thicken a little and that’s okay.

    Blanching Corn

    Blanching Sweet Corn Before Freezing

    After about 5 minutes drain the corn into a sink and add ice to the corn after it has drained.After the corn has cooled you may have to pick out some ice if it hasn’t already melted.

    Cooling Sweet Corn

    Cooling Down Blanched Sweet Corn Quickly With Ice

    Pack the cooled corn into rigid containers, into freezer bags or into vacuumed sealed bags. Corn will last in the freezer for 12 -16 months depending upon freezer conditions.

Easy Way To Peel & Section Grapefruit or Oranges

Please join me in my kitchen while I share the fastest and the easiest way to peel whole grapefruit or oranges for either home canning or fruit salad. The secret is in the serrated knife.
It’s the only method that I use when canning or freezing a large amount of citrus.

A Guide To Canning & Freezing Tomatoes

Most tomatoes are a high acid food and are safely process in a water bath canner. Some modern tomatoes should be processed with lemon juice to insure acidity.
Always select firm, red ripe tomatoes. Don’t use overripe tomatoes.




It’s important that the tomatoes not be too ripe because the acidity of tomatoes declines the riper they become. Also, extremely soft or too ripe tomatoes can turn into a mushy, overcooked mess during processing if you’re not careful.

Table Full Of tomatoes

2 Bushels Of Tomatoes

It’s my opinion that overripe tomatoes are much better suited for juice or for tomato sauce.
Here’s a short tutorial:

GET READY
Collect and assemble the jars, bands, lids, jar lifter, a non metallic bubble release tool, large bowls, knife, wooden spoon and the water bath canner.
Visually examine all jars and rims for cracks, nicks or sharp edges.

Check Jars

Examine Jar For Nicks or Cracks

Wash the jars and bands in hot soapy water. Dry the bands and set them aside. Keep the jars hot until ready to fill. I use a dishwasher for this, but you can use a sink or dish pan full of hot water, or pour boiling water into the jars and stand them in a sink or shallow pan until ready to use.

WASH THE TOMATOES

Prepare only one canner load of tomatoes at a time.
Getting the tomatoes ready for canning will take a bit of time depending upon the size of the jars and the size canner you intend to use.
The tomatoes should be washed in cool, soapy water and then rinsed to remove any garden dirt.
This can be done well ahead of time.

PEELING THE TOMATOES

The tomatoes will need to be peeled before they are canned.
Peeling tomatoes is a messy job but an easy one. It will take a bit of time. Try and coincide the heating of the water in the canner, the simmering of the jar lids and your usual canning routine for when you’ll be finished prepping the tomatoes. It may take some task juggling between preparing the tomatoes, filling and heating the water in the canner to get the timing just right.
The important thing is to have the water in the canner simmering hot at the time when you will be filling the jars.

Here’s how to peel and remove the skin from tomatoes:
To remove the skins from the tomatoes, place just a few at a time into a pot of rapidly boiling water.
Keep them in the pot until their skins begin to crack or split.

Skinning Tomatoes

Tomatoes Are Placed In Boiling Water To Remove The Skins

It usually takes between 1 – 3 minutes for the skin to split but sometimes it will take longer. After the skin splits on the tomatoes remove them from the boiling water and place them into a sink or very large bowl of cold water to cool down.

Cooling Tomatoes

Cooling Tomatoes In A Sink Full Of Cold Water

Peel the tomatoes and remove the core and any green parts.

Peeling Tomatoes

Peeling Skin From Tomatoes

Small tomatoes may be kept whole, but large tomatoes should be quartered or cut into smaller pieces so they will fit in the jar.
After the tomatoes have been prepared, and the lids have been simmered and the water in the canner is hot – it is time to fill the jars.
Salt is optional when canning tomatoes. The standard measure is 1 teaspoon for quarts and 1/2 teaspoon for pints. I use those amounts with my tomatoes.
For extra safety if you are unsure about the acidity of the tomatoes, add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice per quart and 1 tablespoon bottle lemon juice per pint.

Filling A Jar

Filling A Quart Jar With Fresh Tomatoes

Fill a hot jar with tomatoes leaving a 1/2 inch head space.
It may be necessary to squeeze the tomatoes while filling the jars to release more juice from them.
The juice helps to achieve the proper head space. I have a small wooden masher that I use for this but a wooden spoon will work just fine.
Tomatoes tend to collect air pockets and bubbles in the jar and it’s very important to release them.
I do this by running a non metallic object or spatula down the sides of the jar.

Air Bubbles Are removed

Removing Air Bubbles From A Filled Jar

After the air bubbles have been released, wipe the rim and threads of the jar with a clean damp cloth.
When working with tomatoes extra care needs to be taken when cleaning the rim and threads.
It is very easy to miss a seed or small piece of tomato and if a seed gets between the rim of the jar and the lid, the jar will fail to seal.

Wiping Jar Rim

The Rim Of The Jar Must Be Wiped Perfectly Clean

After the jar rim and threads are perfectly clean apply the lid and the screw band. Don’t over tighten the band – finger tight is good.
Place the filled jar into the simmering canner to wait on the other jars.
Fill the rest of the jars and place them one at a time into the canner until the load is complete.

Tomatoes In A Canner

Jars Full Of Tomatoes In A Water Bath Canner

Now put the lid on the canner and turn up the heat so the water can begin to boil.
With water bath canning it is important that boiling water completely cover the jars by 1-2 inches.
If more water needs to be added to the canner make sure that it is boiling water and is poured along the sides of the canner and not directly over the jars.
Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil. A gentle but steady boil is what you’re trying for.
Processing time for tomatoes is 45 minutes for quarts and 35 minutes for pints for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less. If your location is higher you will need to make an adjustment in processing time.

Removing Jar From Water Bath Canner

Removing A Jar Of Tomatoes From AWater Bath Canner

Once the processing time is complete remove the jars immediately from the canner and place them on a wooden board, thick towel or heavy newspaper to cool. Leave the jars undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs. After the jars have cooled it is important to check the seal. Remove the screw band before checking the seal.
The seal is checked by gently lifting the jar by the lid or pushing down into the center of the lid.
The lid should be slightly concave and have no spring to it.
If the lid bounces up and down the jar has not sealed and the tomatoes should be frozen, reprocessed or eaten promptly.
Often the sides of the jars will be sticky and need to be wiped clean.
As with all home canned food, store your tomatoes in a cool dark place.

*********************
Hints:
Every summer I manage to get a few jars of tomatoes that don’t seal.

Unsealed JAr

A Jar That Didn’t Seal Due To Food Getting Between Rim & Lid

Most often it is caused by seeds or bits of tomato being pushed up under the lid during processing.
Above is a jar that failed to seal. If you click on the picture you’ll notice that seeds and tomato stuff is on the lid and jar rim. No wonder it didn’t seal.
When I get one that doesn’t seal, I just freeze the tomatoes by emptying the jar into in a rigid container or freezer bag.

Into A Freezer Bag

Contents From A Jar Contents From A Jar That Didn’t Seal Being Saved In A Freezer Bag

Frozen tomatoes are wonderful in chili and in other dishes. Often tomatoes (and other fruits or vegetables) packed by the raw pack method, will tend to float in the canning jar. This is normal and no cause for concern.
Raw vegetables, fruits, meat and other foods are more dense when they are raw than when cooked.
When raw food is packed into a hot jar it doesn’t take up as much space.
The floating occurs because the vegetable cooks during processing and shrinkage occurs.
If I turn the jars pictured below is turned upside down, the tomatoes will reincorporate and there will be no floating or separation.

Floating Tomatoes

Tomatoes Flat In A Sealed Jar

Floating is overcome by heating or semi cooking the food product before it’s packed into the jar.
Heating food before filling the jars is called “hot pack” and many people prefer it when canning.
The advantages to hot pack is that you can fit more food into a jar and consequently don’t need as many jars.
This is good to know if you are short on jars.
However, if you heat or cook tomatoes before filling the jars they then to fall apart and are harder to handle.
Raw packing tomatoes results in a superior product and most people use it.

FREEZING TOMATOES
You can freeze tomatoes if you don’t care to be bothered with canning or don’t have the equipment.
Prepare the tomatoes exactly as if you were going to can them – wash,peel and core them.
But instead of canning them place them into freezer bags or rigid containers. Frozen tomatoes have a much fresher taste and make for an excellent cream of tomato soup.
When frozen tomatoes are defrosted there will be separation of the tomato flesh and liquid.
You can either pour off the liquid and have a dryer tomato product, or you can turn the freezer bag or container upside down a couple of times and the tomatoes will reincorporate.

Tomatoes To Be Frozen

Fresh Tomatoes For Freezing

I often freeze tomatoes at the beginning and at the end of the tomato season.
That’s because when tomatoes first come on in the garden there usually isn’t enough to make a full canner load. Same thing at the end of the season.
Freezing rather than canning tomatoes is a much more sensible and energy-saving option if you have just a few pounds of tomatoes to work with.

August Tomatoes

A Bumper Crop Of Tomatoes In August

How To Use A Steam Juicer

I have found that the easiest way to make juice for drinking or for jelly is with a steam juicer.
The first time I used one was when my neighbor offered me the use of his. After using it just one time I knew there was no going back to the old way of making juice.

A stream juicer is very low tech kitchen equipment.  It is simply a 4 piece pot.
The parts of the pots are:
A capped tube with a clamp. The clamp prevents the juice from flowing while it’s being extracted. The tube will begin to fill with hot juice as soon as the collection pan is filled 1″.

Steam Juicer Tube Clamp

The Clamp On The Tube Prevents Hot Juice From Flowing

There is a collection pan. Notice the little hole on the inside of the pan at about the “10 o’clock” position.




That’s where the juice comes out and flows into the tube.

Collection Pan

The Juice Collection Pan

There is a colander basket which holds the fruit.

 Ready To Steam Juice

Grapes Ready To Steam Juice

Then there’s a lower pan for boiling water. The boiling makes the steam.

Lower Water Pan

Lower Water Pan of the Steam Juicer

And then there’s a lid. The whole rig looks a little like a whiskey still to me when it is assembled.

Steam Juicer In Kitchen

Steam Juicer Set Up In The Kitchen

The way that the steam juicer works is that the boiling water in the lower pan produces steam. That seam is driven into the fruit held in the colander basket located directly above to soften it. The juice then trickles down into a collection pan and is siphoned off into hot jars or pitcher via the tube.
I have found that jelly made from the juice is especially clear and sparkles. It works great for soft fruits like elderberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and black berries. I’m sure other types of soft fruit will work but I have no direct experience using them.

HOW TO USE A STEAM JUICER

  • Fill the bottom part of the steam pan with water to about 1″ from the top. Be careful  about over filling. Because if you overfill sometimes the water will spit out of the bottom pan during a rapid boil.
  • Next place collection pan on top of the water pan.
  • Then place colander basket with fruit on top of the collection pan.
  • And lastly place the cover on the pan and turn on the heat to high.

It will take about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to steam all of the juice out of most fruit.  I’ve found that cranberries are very stingy about releasing their juice.
It is very important that the water does not boil dry in the lower pan. I try to check the lower pan every 30 minutes or so.
Take care to keep the siphon tube in a jar or container while the juice is being distilled. That’s because sometimes hot juice will trickle out if the tube hangs alongside the stove even with the clamp shut and the cap on. The juice that is collected is concentrated and can be canned immediately and processed by the water bath canning method.

 Juice Flows

Releasing the Clamp So That Juice Flows

I add about 1 cup of white sugar to every quart of juice. You can adjust the sweetness to your own tastes. It is really nice not to have to drink juice that is sweetened with corn syrup.
When I reconstitute the juice I add 1 quart of water to 1 quart of juice.
Chill and serve.

FAQ Canning Questions

What’s The Difference Between A Boiling Water Bath Canner And A Pressure Canner?

For the purposes of home canning, foods are divided into 2 distinct categories.
• High Acid Foods
• Low Acid Foods
High acid foods are those foods which have naturally occurring acids. Most fruits and most tomatoes are considered to be high acid foods.

Foods like pickles, sauerkraut and other foods to which vinegar or lemon juice has been added to, are also considered to be high acid foods.

 Water Bath Canners

2 Water Bath Canners On A Camp Stove

Low acid foods are those foods, which have little naturally occurring acid. All common vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, mushrooms and milk are all considered to be low acid foods. The only dependably safe method to home can low acid foods is with a tested recipe and a pressure canner in good working order.

Pressure CAnner

All-American 915 Pressure Canner

It’s the level of acidity in food that determines whether or not certain harmful organisms can survive and reproduce in a sealed canning jar.
With high acid foods, bacteria can be dependably killed at 212º F in a water bath canner.




However with low acid foods, bacteria cannot be killed at 212º.
For all low acid foods the temperature MUST reach at least 240ºF. into the inner core of the food for the recommended amount of time for the particular food.

Boiling water can never reach that temperature. It is steam under pressure that drives the temperature to above the point of boiling water.

What’s A Mason Jar?
A Mason jar is the vernacular term for a glass jar made especially for home canning. It is a brand name of sorts. The term comes from a type of glass jar that was patented by John L. Mason in 1858. There are many other brands of jars – Atlas, Ball, Sure Pak, Kerr – just to name a few. Mason jar is to canning jars what Kleenex is to facial tissues.

Is It Safe To Can Food Without Salt?
Yes. Salt is use only to enhanced flavor. I fact one of the great bonuses of home canning is the ability to custom design foods for people who wish to restrict their sodium intake. Commercial canned food product have a tremendous about of salt added to them. What’s more, over the last 20 years there has been a significant rise in the amount of sugar and corn syrup that is added to commercially canned foods. The salt sugar and corn syrup is added to conceal the taste of inferior quality food.

Grandma Didn’t Use A Pressure Canner And Nobody Got Sick. Why Should I Use One?
Your grandmother was lucky. The fact of the matter is at one time low acid foods were processed without a pressure canner. The way it was done back then was that the food was cooked until it was almost mush. In those days canning jars were filled and placed in a boiling water bath canner for 3 hours. The resulting food was of poor quality but it was a whole lot better than starving to death during the winter months.
In those days the risk of botulism was ever-present and I’ll bet your grandma can recall stories of entire families and church socials being sicken by botulism.

Wath Bath Canning

Tomatoes In A Water Bath

The risk of contaminated food is the reason you can still find canning recipes that recommend that all home canned foods be boiled for 10 to 15 minutes at a full rolling boil and caution feeding spoiled food to animals. That’s because botulism can sicken or kill Fido just as fast as it can sicken or kill you. Using a pressure canner properly absolutely will give a 100% bacteria kill in low acid foods.

Why Is Liquid Sometimes Lost From Glass Jars During Processing?
The loss of liquid from jars during processing occurs for a few different reasons.
Liquid can be lost because the temperature in the pressure canner was fluctuating. Liquid can also be lost if the jars were packed too full, if the food was not heated before packing, air bubbles in the jar or if the pressure was lower too suddenly. Sometimes starchy food, such as corn, will absorb the liquid in the jar. It is not necessary to replace the lost liquid.

Canned Sweet Corn

Notice The Slight Loss Of Liquid In The Canned Sweet Corn

Sometimes the food will darken in the jar but it is still safe to eat.
Must Glass Mason Jars Be Sterilized By Boiling Water Before Canning?
No. The jars only need to be clean.

Why Do My Peaches Float In The Jar?
Sometimes fruit will float in a jar if it was packed too loose or the syrup was too heavy. It is also possible that air has remained in the cell tissues of the fruit.

Can I Use My Pressure Canner For Processing Fruits And Tomatoes?
Yes. You can do it one of two ways.
Yes. You can do it one of two ways.
Method 1
If your pressure canner is deep enough, you can use it just like a water bath canner. The important thing is that the water completely covers the tops of the jars by at least 1″- 2″. With most models of pressure canner this is easily done with ½ pint and pint jars. If your pressure canner isn’t deep enough to use like a water bath canner you can still use it. Process both pints and ½ pints for 40 minutes
Method 2
You may use a pressure canner to process fruit and tomatoes at 10 pounds of pressure for altitudes at 1,000 Sea Level or lower. See the altitude charts above for adjustments for altitudes higher than 1,000 ft. For both tomatoes and fruit process both pints and quarts for 10 minutes. For tomatoes always add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to every quart and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to every pint.

I Opened A Jar And There Are Black Spots On The Underside Of The Lid. Is The Food Safe To Eat?
Yes. Sometimes naturally occurring compounds in the food will leave a deposit. It’s harmless.

How can I tell if a jar has sealed?
If you are using a modern 2-piece lid and band closure, the lid will pull pulled down tightly on the jar. A sealed lid will have a slightly concave profile to it. You can test the lid by pressing your finger into the center of the lid. There should be not give to it. It the lid spring up and down the jar has not sealed.
You can also test the seal by lifting the jar by the rim.
The food in a jar that has not sealed should be eaten promptly, frozen or reprocessed again for the full amount of time.
When I have a jar that doesn’t seal, I usually just freeze it and don’t bother to reprocess it again.

Why Didn’t My Canning Jar Seal?
There are a few different reasons why a jar won’t seal.
Sometimes there is a small hairline crack in the jar or a nick around the rim of the jar. In either case the jar cannot maintain a vacuum. Sometimes if food is very greasy or if a bit of food gets between the lid and the jar rim, the jar will not seal.

Tomato Seeds On Rim Of Jar

Tomato Seeds On Rim Of This Canning Jar Prevented It From Sealing

Certain foods tend to give more trouble than others. I never have problems with meat, poultry and most vegetables. But every once in a while tomatoes, chili and bean soup will give me trouble. With tomatoes seeds sometimes get under the lid and with bean soup I think the fat from the salt pork is the culprit.

Can I Reuse Canning Lids?
No. It’s not recommended to ever reuse “one trip” lids. That said some people do reuse the “one trip” lids with a varying amount of success. If you do reuse one trip lids expect losses due to improper sealing.

Tattler Lids System

The Two Piece Tattler Canning Lid

There are canning lids that are made especially to be reused. The brand is Tattler and I recommend them. They are much more expensive but will pay for themselves over time.

You will need to follow the special instructions when using the Tattler lids because they are applied a bit different from regular “one trip” lids. Tattler lids work like old-time bail jars and rubbers.