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Old 06-07-2006, 01:46 PM   #1
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Canning Stewed Rhubarb

OK, my rhubarb plant is going NUTS! It is HUGE. So, I am considering making a big pile of stewed rhubarb and putting it up. Has anyone ever done this? I can't think of any reason it wouldn't be safe. There isn't much sugar in it and rhubarb is an acidic sort of thing. If I make sure to put the stuff into hot jars while it is still hot and let the lids seal themselves I think it should be OK. Any thoughts here? I can't find any info on doing this so I may have to experiment.

Stewed Rhubarb

Fresh diced rhubarb (4-6 cups)
1 cup of sugar

Put this in a non reactive pot (I use Visions) and set it on simmer until the rhubarb can be mushed with a spoon. You can blend this to make it smooth if you like but I like mine sort of chunky.

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Old 06-07-2006, 05:13 PM   #2
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Why not just freeze it,Alix? That's what I do!
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Old 06-07-2006, 05:21 PM   #3
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Hmmm...I could do that. I just have a pretty full freezer.
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Old 06-07-2006, 05:41 PM   #4
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Alix, that is called open kettle canning, and while today it's frowned upon by the powers that be, I have always found it perfectly safe for acid foods. Do be sure your jars and lids are properly sterilized. A run through the dishwasher will do it. I used to do that right before I was ready for them, and just leave them in there to keep them warm.
I have canned jars and jars of tomatoes (red, high acid), relishes, and fruits using that method, as did our mothers and grandmothers. It will be fine for your rhubarb.

Sugar is no problem, by the way, because the little beasties that get in there and make it spoil don't like sugar. It actually inhibits the growth of bacteria if used in great enough concentration. That's why we used to just seal our jelly jars with parrafin. Even if there was a little mold under the parrafin when we removed it, we just skimmed that off the top with a spoon. There's too much sugar in the jelly for it to spoil.

My Grandmother Snarr used to make a strawberry/rhubarb pie that was delicious. I liked mine warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on top.
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Old 06-07-2006, 06:02 PM   #5
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Hey Constance, thanks for the info! I would like to give this a go because as I said my freezer is a bit jammed and frankly I find canning pretty easy. I've done lots of jam and figure this is pretty close.

(Pssst! I did my jam with paraffin too! I know it isn't cool to do anymore, but then why do they sell the paraffin in the canning section??)
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Old 06-07-2006, 07:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alix
(Pssst! I did my jam with paraffin too! I know it isn't cool to do anymore, but then why do they sell the paraffin in the canning section??)
For us old fogies, I guess. I believe in modern science, but I also believe in common sense, and if a method has worked for 100+ years, how could it suddenly be unsafe?

I do know people who have canned low acid foods like green beans, using the open kettle method, believing that if they did it long enough, they would be safe. They didn't realized that the temperature for killing botulism cannot be reached that way. Many seem to have gotten away with it, but I sure wouldn't want to try it.

My Grandma White did her canning out of doors, over a wood fire, in big copper kettles with straw in the bottom to keep the jars from breaking. She even canned things like pork chops and beef stew meat, as she had no refrigeration.
The only reason I can figure as to why they didn't get poisoned was that perhaps once the wood turned to charcoal, the heat got really intense in the kettles. Of course the jars were also different than we use today. I don't know the whole method...only what my daddy told me about it. She died when I was very young.
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Old 06-07-2006, 08:37 PM   #7
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Food Science wasn't too advanced when our grandmothers were canning stuff "way back when" - but they used the most advanced technology they had available at the time. Call me over cautious, call me a wimp, call me a product of the atomic-age baby-boomer science - I'll stick to the new-age canning methods.

Using this "new-fangled" scientific approach for preserving rhubarb ...

Canning Stewed Rhubarb
Freezing Rhubarb
ALL Rhubarb references (including Strawberry-Rhubarb jam)
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Old 06-08-2006, 01:15 PM   #8
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Thanks Michael. Your reference is wonderful. I had planned to do it almost exactly that way so its nice to know that I am on track with whats "the norm" these days.

Have to say though, I'm likely STILL going to use paraffin on my jam.

Constance, I can't imagine trying to can meat. Yikes. That is one thing I am definitely going to avoid. Cool story.
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Old 06-08-2006, 07:55 PM   #9
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Alix, years ago, an older friend of mine gave me a couple of pints of home-canned, locally caught panfish...crappie, bluegill and bass, and I was EXTREMELY leary about trying it. You talk about death in a jar!
But she was an expert at canning, used a big pressure canner that she kept in good repair, and I trusted her enough to try a bite.

It was wonderful...as orgasmic as Sockeye Salmon, but with a more subtle taste. I only ate a couple of bites, as I was a bit nervous about it, but when I felt fine the next day, I dived in. The fish was great on crackers with mustard.

I took her canned head cheese to the Boccie Ball Club, and the old Italian guys ate it up. I couldn't handle it. I saw the hog's head in the cooler, and at the tender age of 23-24, it just freaked me out.

A lot of people ate a lot of G. White's canned pork chops, and lived long lives. I can't imagine how they stayed safe...unless the old fashioned jars and storage had something to do with it. G. White actually had a cave (underground storage and refuge from the many tornadoes that sweep across the plains), where she kept her canned goods, potatoes (G'pa White put in 2 acres every year), cabbage, apples, pickles and sauerkraut, etc.
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Old 06-09-2006, 05:15 PM   #10
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Y'all might find this history of the pressure cooker of interest since it also includes a timeline and history of canning. And, kind of answers at least in part the question ... "if food has been preserved in one way for 100+ years why change?"

Constance ... regardless of the glass used, or how hot the fire is under the pot, the temperature of the liquid in the jars isn't going exceed the boiling point of the water they are - basically 212-F unless a pressure cooker is used. But, I got to thinking about something I had read and I think I do have an idea of how what Grandma White did worked.

The meat was cooked, packed into the jars, the cooking liquid (which had a high fat content) was poured into the jars, the jars were processed in a boiling water bath for some amount of time, and as the jars and their contents cooled the fat rose to the top and sealed the meat from the air - and being stored in a cool dark root cellar also helped extend the preservation time. Since they wouldn't be jostled by being transported very far after the fat layer had set-up ... the fat layer would probably stay intact - and the meat was probably cooked again before eating.

I've been through all my books trying to find the specific reference and can't find the info I was looking for ... so I can only assume it was in one of my old hippie-days Foxfire books I gave my son a couple of years ago. I can't remember all the details - and I can't remember the French names (which were based on the type of critter involved) but it's basically like a form of "potted meat".

Alix - I remember when I was very young my Grandma used to seal her jams with paraffin ... but in the late 1950's she switched over to the standard 2-piece lids used today. I tried using parffin once - to try to preserve history ... and found out why Grandma switched to the newfangled lids.
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