Thursday, 19 August 2010
First, we talked about pressure canning. If instructions are followed, it is not something to be afraid of. Years ago, most food could be canned in the boiling water bath, however, it is now recommended that all your vegetables (with the exception of tomatoes), red meats, sea food, and poultry be processed in the pressure canner. Spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria (botulism) are found naturally in soils, and are very, very heat resistant. Even hours in the boiling water canner will not kill them if they are inside your jars. Left alive after canning, they will eventually germinate into actively growing bacterial cells which will produce the deadly human toxin when eaten. For these spores to be killed, a temperature of 240 F must be reached and that is only possible in a pressure canner. The water bath will only reach a temp. of about 210 F. Jars of improperly canned vegetables and meats can contain the deadly botulism toxin without showing signs of spoilage. To avoid this possibility, make sure you follow canning instructions, check to make sure that the flat (lid) is indented and when you open the jar, you should hear a "pop". What makes that lid seal? Well, when you fill a jar, only fill to the bottom of the neck. It is very important to have that "headspace". When the jar and food inside are heated by boiling or in the pressure canner, they expand and the air is driven out of the jar. The lid keeps more air from entering the jar. When the processed food is removed from the canner and begins to cool, the food and air contract again. The air that was in the headspace has escaped the jar and a vacuum is created as the jar cools. This vacuum is strong enough to seal the jar and pull in the lid, causing the popping sound as the jars cool. When you hear the pop, the jar is vacuum sealed. When you hear the pop sound when you open jar, it is the air being replaced.
I had 8 jars already prepared to go into pressure canner - 1 tomato, 3 plums, 3 apples. Yes, these can be water bathed, but they can be pressured as well and I wanted food that did not have to be pressured for a long period of time. These jars lost alot of liquid, which I think is due to the pressure, so I think it is better to water bath fruits. The students were able to witness the start to finish process of the pressure canner.
We then used the Victoria Strainer to make applesauce. This piece is also very nice to have around when processing food. To make applesauce, you just need to cut apple in half, remove stem and the black part of the stem at the bottom of apple. Throw the rest into a pot, add enough water to keep apples from sticking and cook till tender. When tender, spoon into the bowl of the strainer and start cranking the handle which feeds the apples into an auger which is located inside a strainer. The juice and pulp are forced through the holes of strainer, while the core and peelings are forced out the front into a garbage dish. This is great to use for tomatoes, also.
Sugar can be added to the applesauce before being ladled into jars. Jar rims are wiped cleaned, flats are placed on top and rings are then screwed on jar.
Jars are then put into the water bath kettle. The water must boil for 20 mins. (for applesauce) for the jars to seal. Remove from water and wait to hear those "pops".
We talked about drying fruits and veggies. For the class, I had dried a rack each of apples, peaches, tomatoes, green beans, red beets, and strawberry/banana leather. For any "browning" fruit, soak in a solution of 1 tablespoon lemon juice in quart of water for 5 min.. Then spread on drying rack. Drying food can take place in a food dehydrator, oven, outdoors, etc.. Once dried, store in cool, dark, dry place.
Last, we blanched (steaming for short time) broccoli to freeze. Freezing and drying are the best methods for keeping all the nutrients in the food. Freezing is also a simple and easy way of preserving food if you have freezer room.
An excellent website for canning instructions and information ishttp://www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html . We had a good time learning from each other. Thanks to all the students for making it a fun class.
Until next time..............