Canning and Preserving with Lisa Vitello
Thank you for joining us Lisa! Tonight we are going to be talking about why preserve food, how to get started with preserving, pros and cons of canning, freezing, dehydrating and fermentation, what basic equipment is needed, and what foods can safely be water bath canned versus pressure canned.
My guest, Lisa Vitello, said she got interested in preserving and old fashioned skills before her first daughter was born and she knew, as a daughter of a working mom, that she wanted to learn how to scale back, save money, grow and preserve food. She started out with growing corn, tomatoes, and zucchini, vegetables usually considered "sure things".
However, Lisa is quick to point out that a garden is never a "sure thing", but if you learn to grow what your family uses, you will most likely have some things to can.
Lisa can be reached at NewHarv@aol.com, homesteadblogger.com/newharvesthomestead, where she is the editor of Putting Food By weekly column or at her website www.newharvesthomestead.com. In addition Lisa publishes a newsletter called New Harvest Homestead, with information available at her website.
Lisa suggests that canning can be done in a large stock pot with a rack on the bottom, but water bath canners are widely available.
Tray Freezing of berries and other fruits is one of the easiest things to do if you have freezer space. Just freeze the fruit on a tray (after washing) and then transfer to Zipper Topped Freezer bags when the fruit is frozen. This method insures that you can just thaw what is needed not a whole solid package.
Dry Herbs Oven Method - To dry herbs in the oven - turn on the heat for 5 minutes and turn off, place herbs in the oven on cookie sheets and leave the herbs overnight. In the morning they will be dry.
Dry Herbs Microwave Method: Using paper towel, place herbs between paper towels in a microwave and turn the microwave on. Check their "doneness" every 30 seconds until dry. About two minutes depending on the amount and type of herb.
Obtain a good book on Preserving:
Lisa's top book recommendations are: Putting Food By by Janet Green and Stocking Up,by Rodale, and Putting It Up with Honey By Susan Geiskopf, now out of print, but available in used book stores or on line.
Marilyn's top book recommendations are: Stocking Up, and Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food, and the Ball Blue Book. A book I really like about eating fresh foods in season is called Simply in Season.
Other Essentials for Canning:
Jars, of course, can often be found in thrifts stores and yard sales, of from older women who no longer are canning. Pectin for jams and jellies, Pomano's brand preferred, Ascorbic Acid to prevent browning, a good supply of canning lids, lemon juice (fresh if possible).
Canning and Preserving without Sugar: Pomona's Universal Pectin
is the pectin of choice when wanting to do jams and jellies without sugar. It is a low methoxyl pectin which means it does not require sugar to jell. Whereas a high methoxyl pectin, such as Sure Jell, requires high amounts of sugar for the jell.
Complete instructions for jam making with honey, sugar, fruit juice concentrate, or artificial sweeteners for a wide variety of fruits is included with Pomona's Pectin.
Hot Pack vs. Cold Pack:
Hot pack is when the fruit or vegetable is brought up to a boil with the canning liquid and then placed in jars for processing. Cold Pack is when cold fruit or vege is placed in jar and covered with the canning liquid. Marilyn's experience is that hot pack is essential if you do not want fruits to "float" up in the jars, and enables you to get more fruit into a jar.
Tips: Honey used in canning liquids will darken fruit.
Pickling brines used before canning cucumbers makes for "crisp pickles! Look for recipes that call for brining. Honey can be substituted for sugar in canning liquids, use half as much.
Lisa's Favorite Things to Can:
Includes green beans, apple pie filling, jams, chicken broth, tomatoes, pumpkin, apple butter, more!
Lisa's Favorite Tools:
Villa Ware Food Strainer, which used to be known as the Victoria Strainer (no longer mfg.) removes seeds and pulp and save countless hours and much effort. The Strainer is used for tomatoes, berries, pumpkins, apple sauce, salsa, grapes and more when equipped with the appropriate screens.
To get lots of jars done in a day, have at least two canners going at a time.