Make It & Take It Class Experience
Introduction to Canning
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a master food preserver class. Held on a small educational farm and conducted by master food preserver teachers, it was quite the fun, hands on experience! My upbringing didn’t include a lot of exposure to “the old ways” of doing things. I don’t know the first thing about canning or preserving food, but at the ripe age of 37, I thought now is as good time as any to learn.
The most wonderful thing about attending these classes is how easily I am able to retain the information. I learned quickly on that my study style is visual (just check out my Instagram) and hands on learning. I am so happy to have taken it and realize just how approachable canning really is! I will share my first experience, tips I’ve learned and the recipe we made.
Tips for First Time Canners
A few things I learned in this canning class were new to me and may be to you as well. I’ll list some key callouts to help in your canning education.
- When creating a vegetable base canning recipe, make sure to use vinegar with 5% acidity. Since vegetables are not acidic in nature, it is important that the proper vinegar is used to preserve the food. It is recommended to use white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Salt is another key ingredient when canning vegetables. The salt inhibits microbes from forming and of course acts as a flavor agent. Something you may not have known is, there is a specific “canning salt” you can use. This ensure that there are no anti-caking agents added to your salt, much like most table salts have.
- When starting your canning recipe, it is important to first heat the glass jar you will be using. The point here is that when the hot vinegar is added to your jar, the jar doesn’t get shocked and cracked from the high heat. When the jar is brought up to heat on its own, this will prevent breaking.
- When choosing spices to add to your recipe, whole spices are best. This allows for proper flavor distribution and will prevent the liquid from turning cloudy.
- Another tip I had no idea of, the ball canning jar lids come in two parts – a ring and a seal top. The ring can be used multiple times over. However, the seal top lids, once used in a canning recipe where the jar is vacuum sealed, that seal top is not recommended to be used again.
- Another thing to be sure of when making a canning recipe is to find “approved recipes” these have been tested and measured for optimal food safety.
- Using the right size jar that the recipe calls for is key. This ensures no spoiling from too much head space / air.
- Speaking of headspace, this is the amount of room at the top of the jar after it is filled with your selected ingredients. Each recipe will indicate the amount of headspace that is acceptable and there are these nifty measuring sticks with notches that can be found online to purchase so you can double check your work.
Escabeche Canning Recipe
Escabeche is a delicious pickled recipe that you most often find in Mexican and Latin American dishes. It consists of jalapeño, peppers, and other vegetables and herbs. This recipe it typically served alongside fish or used as a marinade.
- 4 red, yellow and green bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 2 large onions, halved and sliced into 1/2 sections
- 3 carrots, cut crosswise into 1/2 slices
- 5 jalapeños, quartered (seeds optional)
- 5 green tomatillos, quartered
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons mexican oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- Start by heating your glass jar, there are a few methods to achieve this. Pouring hot water into your jar, using a steamer, or water bath.
- Next, chop up the vegetables you are using.
- Combine vinegar, water, salt and garlic in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Divide the vegetables and spices evenly and begin to pack your jars.
- Pack the jars as tight as you can. Next, ladle in the hot vinegar brine over the vegetables, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles from the jar using a chop stick or butterknife by poking.
- Wipe jar rim to clean before placing your airtight jar lid.
- Tighten the lid and place the jar in a boiling water can bath or steamer pot.
- Process the jars for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let jars stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jars and let cool for 12-24 hours on a flat surface.
This recipe makes: 4 quart jars