Join Date: May 2016
Location: Hatfield, PA
Honey is a natural antibiotic. Omitting from any canning or preserving recipe changes the characteristic of the recipe quite a bit.
Even a sealed jar when canning will bleed a little liquid. basically the pressure builds up, it breaks the seal to vent, and then you end up with that sucked down seal when everything cools down and gets sucked back in. One of the problems I see with putting jars on the side, is that instead of that venting taking place on the top of the jar, where air goes out first, then a bit of the water, and all gets sucked back in when cooling, on the side you are probably getting material sucked out which might compromise the seal.
You could end up with a 'material bridge' where you have an airtight seal, but there is a bridge of organic material stuck in it that could make a path for bacteria to get in.
To give you a perspective, I learned to cook as a campfire cook, when I was a boy scout. Later cooking for myself, and working my way through first college and then grad school in various restaurant jobs, I kind of taught myself some other cooking skills. A bit ago, I decided I wanted to start to bake for myself. Initially I did what worked well in cooking, get an idea of the recipes, and dig in. I did seek out a forum, much like this one, but focused on baking, who suggested I buy a scale, and learn a little bit about baker's math.
Ha, I thought, I am intuitive, an understanding of the principles and ingredients will suffice. I wasted about three pounds of flour before I admitted that baking had higher tolerances than simple cooking, and while a tbsp vs a tsp in chilli is a difference in taste, one throws the water/salt/flour/yeast ration in bread off at your peril.
Lead to a lot of reading and asking questions as to both the how and why of that. I can bake bread now, and sometimes skip weighing ingredients, not very often, though. Figuring that out also made me a better cook.
Canning is one of those things where there are very specific rules, probably at a higher tolerance than baking. The rules are there for a reason. I think Daw, GotG, and Jennyema, have a great point. The ratio of chilli pepper to cayenne in a chili recipe is a guideline, canning has some things that are rules. They must be taken quite serious, because they are serious, and there are serious consequences for messing up. Nobody wants to mess about with food poisoning, and there are some nasties that can get up in there very quickly. This is an area where precision, tables, and care is paramount.
That being said. I'm gonna say a couple things that are going to disconcert some people here. First off is that I have been using an electric pressure cooker for canning. This is in direct opposition to the USDA info, which is the gold standard for info. I think in this case the USDA is being conservative, there are regulatory issues in place, and they don't want a suit.
I had a buddy loan me a couple of 'breaker' shipping labels, that are designed for shipping sensitive stuff. I can't confirm exact readings, but I can confirm that my electric pressure cooker gets pressure above 83 +/- 5 Killaparscals (the range of the test device), which is about 12 psi, and above 240 degrees F same margin of error, 115 Celsius. This is well within canning ranges that can be done with a specific canning rig on a stove, and thus within the USDA guidelines.
I also an canning mainly higher acid foods. Salsa, tomato sauce, and pickled foods. Higher acid is MUCH less risk.
Hoping to can some tomatillos this weekend, for some reason the CSA I know ended up with lots of them, that nobody wants. Happens in a CSA, I'm gonna stew them nice with onions, garlic, and a little bit of spices and can them, for salsa and stew bases.
So what am I doing wrong? I am using a device that is not approved to do what I am doing with it. They make claims, and I tested them, but my jack testing does not imply consistency. Just means it had a good day.
What am I doing right? I know what I'm canning, how the process works, and my caner has flaws, but I've researched them. I'm using a high acid recipe, which cans well. I am going to take care to make everything sterile and happy. I'm not gonna put these in the root cellar, but use them within a year.
Canning is Serious Business, and I have a moderated risk I accept. Know the rules and problems before you think of breaking them is my motto. And you can break them, a bit.
*I IN NO WAY ADVOCATE ANY PERSON TO BREAK RULES INVOLVED IN CANNING EVER*
Or bend them. Lets say I know the food handling rules for Restaurants, and they are awesome for nobody getting sick, but at home, maybe the chicken is good for another day. They are designed to be the worst case scenario, chicken in a bin, if you are careful, it might last a bit longer.
I've got my gran's recipes, and a couple are designed for 'off foods'. Generally involve boiling.
So get good with the reasons. Until then be lavish about holding to the rules.
I will say if you start canning, by the rules, share it with people at work.
Emphasize how canning is hard, and that you only share proven recipes.
I sometimes, testing recipes, will get one wrong. It does tend to happen more on fridays and mondays, and once coincided with a very tight bluegrass festival in the Poconos.
If one makes a bit of salsa and sauce for co-workers, you get a little slack for a call out. Don't want to do it more than once a year (though I had yesterday a petition to cover my shift for the day if I made sauce for all, thinking about it).
Get this wrong, and get food poisoning, which happens to me at times. Yeah bad week, and could be death.
I backpack and camp a lot, so I do a bit with food that is way outside of normal food handling procedures. I've read them, know the reasons, it only occasionally bites me on the arse, and generally, when I get food poisoning it is in camp, which is not a great place to have vomiting and explosive diarrhea. But break the rules, thems the consequences.
sourdough isn't a recipe, it is a process.