Canning Tips for the Harvest Season
I came home to a dinner straight from our garden last night. Fresh romaine, farmers market bacon, fresh bread and tomatoes. It was the tomatoes that had me closing my eyes and reaching across the table for more.
Tomatoes in the supermarkets can't hold a candle to the full flavored orbs of red, orange, yellow and green that I pull from my own backyard or pick up at the farmers market. It's the reason I started canning, attempting to preserve the tastes of summer well into the winter.
If you're looking to get started with canning this year, here are a few tips to successfully putting up the summer harvest:
- Sterilize your equipment before you get started and then fill your jars with hot water while they wait to be filled. This will help to prevent cracking when you introduce hot liquid to fill them or put them back in the hot water bath to process them.
- Use fresh produce. Vegetables that have been picked within the last 24 hours will make the crispest canned items, and the same holds true for fruits. The sooner after harvest you get them in the jar, the better tasting your canned foods will be.
- Use soft water to avoid reactions with minerals in tap water. You can make hard water soft by boiling it for 15 minutes and then letting it come to room temperature. Once it's cool, scoop the water from the pan, being careful not to disturb any sediment that may have collected on the bottom of the pan.
- Add grape leaves to keep vegetables crisp. One in the bottom of a quart-sized jar will help keep food snappy.
- Jars that fail to seal can be stored in the fridge and eaten or reprocessed in new sterilized jars within 24 hours of the first canning.
Do you put up any vegetables or fruits during the summer? Perhaps you have a favorite jam recipe that you make every year.