Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's a Wrap!

According to my neighbor, I've been spending a crazy amount of time canning lately.  I suppose in today's fast paced world, a two to three-hour canning session seems like a lot of time. Multiplying that by 2, sometimes 3 times a week, and yeah, I guess I have been spending an a lot of time canning. There might be another session to make some hot sauce (got tons of Thai peppers left to deal with)  or maybe a little more applesauce, but I think that's it. My canning season is pretty much done. How sad!

When I first got the notion to start canning, I bought myself an enamel water-bath canning set that came with all the accessories,  a 12 pack of pint jars and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This  was enough to get me started and keep me satisfied for a while, but now that I'm feeling more confident (that is, we're all still alive and well!) I wanted to be able to play around with recipes and can fish, so I recently purchased a Mirro pressure canner.  I love this tool and would highly recommend it to anyone. I use it as both a water-bath and pressure canner.  It's safe, easy to use and works like it's supposed to (imagine that!). The added bonus is it comes with 3 different weights that maintain the correct pressure rather than a pressure gauge.  That means no babysitting and no having to get the gauge checked every year.  

Another tool I have found indispensable is a food mill.  It allows to me skip the tedious task of peeling and coring tomatoes. I purchased the Roma food mill and have used it to make BBQ sauce, ketchup, and tomato juice.

If you've got the notion to start canning, the season is winding down, but it's certainly not too late. You still have time to squeeze in some apple products. Or if you have some green tomatoes,  why not try green tomato relish? The recipe below is from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and I promise you, it is better than any commercially available relish!

Green Tomato Relish
6 cups finely chopped cored green tomatoes (no need to peel)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup canning salt (or a generous 1/3 cup kosher salt, but no regular table salt)
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp celery seeds
1 to 2 sticks cinnamon
2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
1.5 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs dry mustard (I used 1 tbs yellow mustard seeds)
kosher or canning salt, to taste
1/2 tsp ground ginger (this can be upped to taste)

If you are new to canning, I will refer you to the National Center for Home Food Preservation site for information on how to can. Although you may be tempted, do not change the proportion of vegetables to vinegar and do not added water to dilute the vinegar. The proportions must stay the same to make the relish shelf stable. The vinegar may seem overpowering as it's cooking, but mellows out nicely after the relish has been canned.

This is typically a two day process.  On day one, combine the finely chopped vegetables with the canning or kosher salt and let it stand for 12 hours at about 75°F.

On day two, rinse and drain the vegetables well. (Taste to be sure it's not too salty. If so, continue to rinse until you're satisfied.) Squeeze out as much water as possible. I like to do this using a clean kitchen towel or several layers of cheese cloth.

To prepare the pickling liquid, make a spice bag containing the cloves, celery seeds, and cinnamon stick. Put the spice bag, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, mustard and ginger in a large non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved then add the drained vegetables.  Bring up to a boil then reduce the heat and boil gently until the tomatoes are transparent. This should take about an hour. Be sure to stir frequently. Add extra kosher or canning salt to taste. You might not need to.  Discard the spice bag.

Can the relish in half-pint jars for 10 minutes in a water-bath canner.

So tell me, what have you put up this year?

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