Monday, April 9, 2012

Off-Season Canning

I was going to call this blog ‘Winter Canning’ but I am too late, I guess. Did we even have winter in Michigan? I used my 2011 food stash to make meals over the past few months, and I canned them in my new pressure canner. That way I had quick Michigan meals waiting for me during busy times. A pressure canner is used to can non-acid foods and soups. Now would be the time to make up meals from what is left of your food stash – and you will find fresh additions at your local farmers market.

Here is what I learned from my first few pressure canning experiences.

- The first step is to read the instructions for the pressure canner – AND follow them completely.

- Do NOT try to remove the cover or anything on / attached to the cover while there is still pressure.

- Determine the appropriate cooking time; prep the canning jars, lids, and rings.

- Time it with your normal meal prep for efficiency.

- Plan for the additional cooking time for the canning.

- I found that when I added citric acid to a meal including my summer canned tomatoes – which already had citric acid – the food was way too tart. So, after that I left it out when using those tomatoes.

- Canning cooks the food, so you need to put raw or only slightly sautéed foods into the canner. (I am writing about vegetarian. Check your pressure canner instructions for meat.)

- You may need to have two pots going, one for that day’s meal and one for canning. But, what I did was get the meal started and then pulled some out and canned it while the meal finished cooking on the stove.

I made a large batch of MI chili recently and canned it for quick, easy meals.

 - I used my frozen Michigan sweet corn and red, green, roasted Anaheim, and serano peppers.

- I lightly sauted (about 2 minutes) a fresh, white Michigan onion.

- I added raw rice instead of the meat/meat analog. The rice cooked up just right in the pressure canner. I added 1 Tablespoon to each 12 oz. jar.

- I made sure that I had plenty of liquid from the tomatoes, because I knew that the rice would soak it up. I used the juice only from an extra jar of tomatoes and then added those left over tomatoes back into the chili that I ate for dinner that night.

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