Canning 101: Home Canned Tomatoes

The following is a guest post from Marisa of Food in Jars. Welcome, Marisa!

Canned tomatoes are a pantry staple. However for most of us, our tomatoes come in cans from the grocery store. For a moment though, imagine what it would be like to have a pantry lined with sparkling glass jars, filled with home canned tomatoes.

It’s far easier than you might think! [Read more…]

Canning 101: The Basics

So, you’ve planted seeds or seedlings and then watered and weeded all summer. Now it’s time to harvest, and while much of your garden’s bounty ends up on your dinner plates, baked into goodies and eaten fresh as your pick it, there is generally an excess of fruits and vegetables. After all, you can only eat cucumbers at every meal for so many days in a row before you start to feel like you are, in fact, a cucumber.

This is where food preservation and canning comes in. Canning is a wonderful way to store your fruits and vegetables from the garden or the farmer’s market while they are in season and make the harvest last through winter when local and seasonal foods are scarce.

Canning in both water baths and pressure cooking heats the food, killing any microorganisms that may grow, and also creates a vacuum seal in the jar. The vacuum seal will prevent any air from coming in contact with the preserved food that could encourage cell growth and cause the food to spoil. [Read more…]

Q & A: Why Do You Can?

We’re about to kick-start our summer canning series on Simple Bites and I can’t tell you how excited I am about it! I’ve actually been canning in my sleep, if that gives you any idea.

Coming up we have nine solid days of Canning 101 with recipes, how-to’s, helpful links and discussions. I don’t yet consider myself an ‘expert’ canner, so for this series I’ve enlisted the input of several canning-savvy and very capable ladies.

You’ll see posts from experts such as this one — but I’m don’t want to give too much away. It’s going to be awesome!

Today, however, I want to do something a little different. I want to hear from YOU. Especially those of you who can, preserve and pickle all summer long with the enthusiasm of the lady in our ‘Canning 101’ button.

More specifically, I want to hear WHY you do what you do, year after year, for we don’t all can for the same reasons. Agreed?

Here are just a few reasons one might find us sweating over the stove on an August afternoon: [Read more…]

Four Simple Methods for Freezing Strawberries

Strawberry season has just started where I live and I’m already stockpiling the precious fruit. This is the first summer that I have a deep-freeze and it is standing at attention, waiting to be packed full of produce, starting with local, sun-ripened berries.

OK, so you’ve been to the U-Pick or the roadside stand, and now you’ve got more strawberries than you know what to do with. Strawberries are sensitive to both heat and cold and are very delicate, so it is wise to ‘put them up’ as quickly as possible. Yes, they are best enjoyed just as they are: fresh and sweet, or perhaps stirred into a quick Strawberry-Rhubarb Micro-Mini Jam, but the majority of your berries should be frozen so you can enjoy them all year long.

While you feast on a bowl of berries and cream, consider your options for freezing the berries. Why yes, there are options! Please don’t lump the ruby jewels together in the bottom of a plastic bag, so that they freeze into an indistinguishable lump that is destined to become freezer burnt. Freezing strawberries is about the simplest preserving you will do all season. 

Here are suggestions for a few different methods for freezing strawberries. I use all of them, as they each have their benefits. [Read more…]

How to Make Homemade Jam in 30 Minutes (with no special equipment)

What would you say if I told you that it was possible to make a small batch of homemade jam today? I imagine your schedule is already jam-packed (pardon the pun, couldn’t resist), as is mine, but I’ve discovered a new way to make jam that is quick, easy and totally doable for the busy mom, career girl or both.

OK, you’ve heard about freezer jam, but what about microwave jam? In her book, 250 Home Preserving Favorites (Robert Rose, March 2010), jam expert Yvonne Tremblay created a line of homemade jams that she called ‘Micro-Mini Jams‘: very small batches of jam, cooked in the microwave and requiring no special canning equipment.

What a fantastic concept! I’ve used the microwave to reduce liquids for sauces and such, but never thought to whip up a batch of jam. It makes perfect sense though, because the batch of jam is so small, there is no need for sterilizing or processing. Simply jar the jam and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks -if it lasts that long. [Read more…]