You ‘can’ can and seminar helped

The canning season is nearly over this year, but a canning basics session sponsored by the Jefferson County Farm Bureau Promotion and Education Committee should be quite helpful to those who attended for doing so next year and to spread the word to others.

Kate Shumaker, Ohio State University Extension of Holmes County, was the instructor who showed some new utensils to those interested in preserving and explained the water bath canning method and pressure canning instructions.

There were 35 in attendance, including five men who knew much about the basics of canning, too.

She said food preservation is not always cheaper if buying the produce and ingredients, jars and inside lids, fuel and water usage and, most important, the canning person’s time and energy, which is very important. But it is personally fulfilling, she said, with a benefit being controlling what’s in the jar. Plus, the kind of food the family likes is always on hand.

Sanitary conditions are needed so she suggested scrubbing the hands for 20 seconds and using a mild bleach sanitizing solution to make sure the cutting boards, utensils and countertops are clean. One tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach in a gallon of water will do the trick.

The boiling water canning can be used for high acid foods, those with a pH less than 4.6 which is generally all fruits, tomatoes, sauerkraut, pickles and foods to which large amounts of acid are added.

The pressure canner must be used for those with low acid, with a pH above 4.6. These foods are meats, poultry, seafood, soups, mixed canned foods and generally all vegetables.

Low acid foods must be pressure canned due to clostridium botulinum that forms protective, heat-resistant spores. Spores require a higher temperature for destruction in a reasonable amount of time. Canning in boiling water canners is absolutely unsafe because 212 Fahrenheit is not high enough to destroy C botulinum bacteria.

Shumaker showed a wand with a strong magnet on the end that can be used to pick up the inner jar lids from boiling water that has been used to sterilize them. There is a plastic large-jawed utensil to lift the jars out successfully and a plastic thin spatula with a measuring mechanism on one end to determine anything from 1/4 to 1-inch headspace at the top of the filled jar.

She had a new pressure cooker with a jiggler pressure regulator and showed that a rack was needed for the bottom of the pressure canner, as well as for the boiling water one. The steam needs to come out of the escape tube for 10 minutes before the jiggler or regulator is put on.

After canning, take the rubber gasket out, wash and place in the bottom of the canner. Do not put it back on the lid, she cautioned.

One suggestion made about canning was that if at the start of the new preserving season there are many jars of any fruit or vegetable left, or meat for that matter, too much was canned the year before. If you run out in March, more needs to be made this year.

Now a little history about the anniversary of the blue-tint Mason jars manufactured by Ball. Starting 100 years ago, jars became the vessel to hold canned vegetables, fruits, meats, jams and jellies. This was done by the housewife or cook who planted, picked, washed and peeled the produce that went into the clean glass jars. Then cooking the produce on a hot coal stove in the heat of summer in a hot water bath.

The Ball brothers introduced jars called the “perfect mason,” the “perfection” and the “improved” between 1913 and 1915. Food from the jars fed many families on cold winter nights or nourished soldiers in far away lands. Those blue-tinted jars were discontinued in years after World War I but never went out of use. Old time cooks were like that they kept and used their utensils and canning products each year.

Ball is bringing back the pint jars as a celebration now because they are a part of American history. The collector’s series is meant to honor the spirit of building, of craftsmanship and innovation of past generations. Those jars, with the name Mason imprinted on the side, represent hard work, passion and perseverance that made the country great. They are proof that while hard times may fall, a stronger America will rise again. The American spirit remains preserved in the heritage collection of jars f rom the makers of Ball brand. What was once made in America is still made there.

  • ????

Here are some recipes from the “Ball Blue Book, a Guide to Preserving.” This recipe can still be made as apples are plentiful right now. Make sure to find cinnamon red hot candies first, though.

Apple Wedges in Cinnamon Red Hot Syrup

8 to 10 pounds apples

Ball Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup red hot candies

2 sticks cinnamon

2 teaspoons whole cloves

1 teaspoon ginger

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups vinegar

2/3 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons red food coloring, optional

Wash, core and peel apples. Cut lengthwise into eighths. Treat with Fruit-Fresh to prevent darkening. Combine remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot and bring slowly to a boil. Drain apple wedges. Add apple wedges to syrup mixture; cover and simmer 4 minutes.

Pack hot apples into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes about 6 pints.

  • ????

To have apples peeled, cored, sliced very thick and ready to put into the oven for a fruity dessert is a boon in the kitchen. Here is a recipe for that type of preserved apples.

Apples for Baking

10 to 12 pounds Granny Smith apples

Ball Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector

1 cup sugar

2 cups water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Wash, core and peel apples. Cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch thick slices. Treat with Fruit-Fresh to prevent darkening. Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a large sauce pot, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat. Drain apples. Simmer apples 5 minutes in syrup. Pack hot apples into hot jars, a wide mouth might be good for these, and leave a 1/2-inch head space. Laddle hot syrup over apples, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles with plastic spatula. Adjust two-piece caps. Process quarts 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Makes about 4 quarts.

Note: You can use any variety or combination of firm baking apples for this recipe.

  • ????

Pears are still on the trees and this would make a great dessert right out of the canning jar.

Brandied Pears

10 pounds pears

Ball Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector

6 cups sugar

4 cups water

3 cups brandy

Wash, peel, halve and core pears. Treat with Fruit-Fresh to prevent darkening. Combine sugar and water in a large sauce pot; bring to a boil. Cook pears in syrup one layer at a time until just tender, about 5 minutes. Place cooked pears in a large bowl; set aside. After all pears are cooked,continue cooking syrup until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add brandy. Pack pears into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Note: Use white brandy for a clear syrup; however any brandy will flavor the pears.

Makes about 4 quarts.

(McCoy can be contacted at