Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Canning beyond the Ball Blue Book!

If you are just beginning to preserve food through canning, I highly recommend the Ball Blue Book.

It provides some great recipes, several picture tutorials for basic things like green beans and tomatoes and very simple, easy to follow directions.

But there is so much more to canning!  I wanted to help you "think outside the book" for just a minute.  What do you do if you want to can one of your own recipes?  Salsa?  Spaghetti sauce?  You do not have to limit yourself to the recipes in the Ball Blue Book!

What I have been taught is to go through your recipe and find out what the canning time is for each ingredient and then use the longest time in your list. For instance...I like to can my hot wing sauce.  The basis of the sauce is vinegar and peppers - there are herbs and spices too but we don't need to worry about those.

I know that this is a vinegar based recipe so I will be water-bath canning instead of pressure canning. I look through the Ball Blue Book and find the canning time for peppers.  My recipe has butter in it but I choose to leave that out and add it when I am heating the wing sauce to use for dinner.  Recipes for peppers indicate 10 minutes at a rolling boil. So I heat my wing sauce, without the butter, till it is simmering, prepare my jars, rings and seals as usual, ladle the hot wing sauce into the jars and finish the same as I would for any recipe.   I process for 10 minutes at a rolling boil in a water-bath canner. I can then place the jars in my pantry with my other canned goods.

Each one of these jars will prepare two dinners for my family! This saves lots of space in my freezer and makes it a quick and easy meal - no thawing out, just heat and serve!

I also wanted to remind you that there are many other books on canning - with many recipes.  Don't feel that you are locked into the Ball Blue Book!  Stay tuned next time as I share some of my favorite books on preserving food!


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