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shayre

Can Someone Give Me Info About Canning Stuff?

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I am a total newbie with cooking or canning. Can you give me the "low down" on canning? What do I need to buy? Where do I buy it? Processing the food? Cooking the food? Recipes? Does meat can well?

Off of the bat, I was thinking pasta sauce, salsa, bluerries and strawberries, maybe some jelly, loads of applesauce, chili, carrots, green beans, chick noodle soup, and whatever else. I have no knowledge of anything, except that my mom and grandma used to do it.

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Shayre, lol, First off you can start out with a water bath canner and something called The Ball Blue Book. It's what my relatives used to call the Official book on canning. And yes you can can meats.

To get started I would suggest you check out Jackie Clay's blog on Backwoodshome.com. She has recipes and everything you would need to know. On the first page she has an article on canning 101 on canning jellies, jams and whatnot.

Canning is kinda like just learning about being gluten free. Lots and lots of info you need to learn but once you get the hang it's easy. Have fun, once you figure things out it is addictive! I love it.

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You would need a pressure canner in order to safely can meats and anything with low acid. I have canned tomatoes and apple products (sauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, apple jelly) with a water bath method. Do buy the Ball canning book or see if you library has one you can check out for free. Be sure to read all the directions carefully before you begin. If you have some friends that want to also try canning you can get the costs down by just one person buying the equipment and everyone else buying their own jars/lids/rings and splitting the cost of food. It goes much faster when you have a small group of people working on everything assembly line style. My experience was that I did not really save any money the year I canned. Costs were about the same, no actually it was a little MORE than what I would spend for a jar of jelly or can of tomatoes at the store. The jars did make nice gifts at Christmas though with a little piece of cloth tied around the top and a recipe for apple cobbler. If I had a bigger garden and had lots of produce to can from it I might try again now that I have all the equipment and jars. Mostly I just freeze things instead. Pretty much anything that you can can is freezable--it just doesn't last as long as the canned stuff.

ETA: This website is very helpful: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/

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The UGA website is pretty awesome. There's also a book called Small Batch Preserving, which is a nice intro to techniques without requiring you to have 10 lbs of cucumbers or 3 bushels of strawberries.

I can less to save money (just freeze blueberries and greens for that) but instead to make things I really like but aren't readily available. At home we canned to put up food from the garden/orchard, so it did save quite a bit of money when the fruit and veg only required labor rather than $$. These days: spiced canned pears, Italian prune plums, plum compote, dilly beans, pickled cauliflower, pie filling, sometimes winter pickle or the like. The cuke pickles I like are made from the cucumbers that are the size of your thumb, so you have to have a serious row of cucumber plants to get enough and I don't really have enough space in my tiny city garden

If you're going to be serious about it, skip the hot water bath and just get a pressure canner. You can use it for a hot water bath too. I sort of wish I had just bought one when I bought my own equipment.

Canning your own can also help minimize BPA exposure, if you care about that. Canned beans are a pretty major exposure, as is canned fish. I've heard home canned tuna is incredible.

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I grew up canning. We canned everything Mom could think of. We canned pears, peaches, cherries, relish, pickled peaches, pickles (all kinds), we froze corn by the gunny sack full, french sliced beans and more cherries. Made our own grape juice. Froze a mountain of strawberry sauce and bluebeeries.

We always used the boiling water bath method. Maybe that's why we froze so many things.

I don't know why she never canned tomatoes, but we didn't have a pressure cooker. But the first time I tasted a canned green bean, I knew why Mom made us snip, parboil and french cut green beans to be frozen. We always froze peas, never canned them.

There are some veggies and fruits that are better frozen then canned. I don't know if the Ball Book points that out or not.

We canned all kinds of jams and preserves too.

I'd look at thrift stores, Craig's list or garage sales for canners and jars. If you want to seriously can, I'd go for a PC. Then you can can anything you want, and it will be safer and faster.

If you want to give canning a whirl before investing money, I saw that Ball has a little mini canner with 3 pint jars and lids and rings with a little booklet. That can be used in a stock pot. It's a lot of work, but pretty rewarding.

My aunt and uncle in their 80's raise a cow every year and can/freeze it. I can't imagine! But they lived through the depression, so they have gumption.

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