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Old 10-20-2005, 09:49 AM   #1
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Question How are canning recipes developed?

This has been bugging me for a while. I got my Ball Blue Book and multiple times in the book they say that you should never alter any recipe and only use canning recipes that are tried and true. Basically, what it sound like they were saying was that we could only use the recipes in the book as other recipes could be dangerous to use.

How are new canning recipes developed? Who decides they are safe to use? What if I have a recipe that is not a canning recipe, but I want to safely can it? Can it be done? How?

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Old 10-20-2005, 10:31 AM   #2
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Canning recipes are about more than the taste of the finished product. They are about preservation as well. The recipes are probably created with an eye to specific amounts of pectin for thickening or acidity for bacterial control and other stuff I don't know about.
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:54 PM   #3
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What gets me is that for years, people, including me, put away fruits, tomatoes and pickles using the open kettle method. That means you dip the hot product into a sterilized jar, wipe the rims, put on sterilized rings and heated lids, set on a thick towel on the kitchen counter and waited for the little "pings" that meant the lids were sealing. Any that didn't seal, we put in the fridge and used up.
We never got sick...go figure.
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Old 10-21-2005, 06:50 AM   #4
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Constance, you're right in that that's the way it used to be done. But I saw some studies of the % of botulism in the early 1900's as compared to -I think it was 1995 - and the incidence was way higher. So even if you and your family didn't have any bad experiences, the risks were greater.

And I think the precise measurements and ratios of ingredients in present day preserving are a result of many years of gathering information and 'experiementation'.

Remember, in our grandparents' day, their cooking knowledge was passed on from generation to generation - even tho it may not have been '1 cup of this, 1/3 cup of that', they knew from watching and helping how much vinegar/sugar/acid/ to add. Unfortunately, in our 'modern' world, we don't have that empiric knowledge passed visually and verbally down to us, so we need to rely on tested recipes.

The other thing is that 'food science' has developed so much more; and we're also not using as many ingredients grown or raised by us as our elders were, hence the chance for contamination is much higher.

Geebs - You can use other recipes than the ones Ball has in their book - Just be sure to follow the ratios they have; I speak from knowledge, lol I had a recipe from a newspaper, I think, for strawberry/ginger jam, followed that recipe to a T, and the jam didn't set. When I compared the amount of ingredients to the Ball Book's recipe for strawberry jam, I saw that my recipe didn't have nearly the sugar to fruit ratio that Ball's did; since sugar is needed also to 'set' jam, that's the reason mine didn't work.

Just my early morning, 2nd cup of coffee observations!
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Old 10-21-2005, 08:11 AM   #5
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Marm, how do you know the recipe you are following though is one to be trusted. And to take it a step further...what if I want to develop a recipe. Would it just be trial and error? Make something, can it, and see if it spoils?
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Old 10-21-2005, 12:11 PM   #6
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GB - I think you just have to read about canning from the experts and understand the acidity level that is necessary to prevent bacteria from growing. I know nothing about canning so I really can't help other than that. I agree with you - I would want to make up my own recipes too. Just follow a basic similar recipe with your own ingredients - you'll probably know what has to be in there and how much.
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Old 10-21-2005, 12:24 PM   #7
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That is what I would have thought too Kitchenelf, but everything I read puts the fear of death into you if you deviate from the recipes in any way shape or form. According to the Ball Blue Book you can not change any of the ingredients even the smallest amount. If it calls from tomatoes and green peppers then you can't sub red peppers. It goes as far as to say that you can't even change the amounts in the recipes proportionally. For instance, if you really liked a recipe you could not double the amounts and make twice as much. I can not see any reason why this would not be OK, but the books all really make you think if you do any of these things that your arms will fall off and your house will explode and all sorts of other horrible things.
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Old 10-21-2005, 01:40 PM   #8
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I have that book I guess I need to get it back out and look at it! Canning can be a deadly thing if done the wrong way. I know when I use green beans that someone has canned I always boil them for 10 minutes - no questions asked!!!! I guess they know for sure their recipes are safe - but surely they can't be the only ones that are safe. BUT, who wants their arms to fall off and their house explode!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT ME!
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Old 10-21-2005, 02:13 PM   #9
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GB, Yes, the Ball folks have done much study on the amounts of items in a product to be canned - IE the green versus red peppers; red peppers have more sugar in them than green.


So what I meant above was, look at their recipes and study what the proportions are for one of their recipes, then once you 'own' that knowledge, you can start experimenting. Kinda like baking - when you first start, you follow the recipe to a T; then as you get more familiar with how baking ingredients act, you can start 'tweaking'.

for your first projects, I'd really suggest following their recipe - remember, you're going to be learning about the whole canning process, not just the recipe. So - if you use their 'TNT' ones, and something goes wrong, the first place you'd look is your technique - was the water brought back up to the boil before you start timing, etc.

Patience, grasshopper - I have absolutely no doubt that you're going to do great things with canning!

PS - They have a hot line number - I think it's in the book - where you can call and actually talk with someone re your questions. I got a huge amount of info on canning salsa this way, and they were just great at answering my questions and helping me figure out how to accomplish what I wanted to do.
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Old 10-21-2005, 02:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmalady
Kinda like baking - when you first start, you follow the recipe to a T; then as you get more familiar with how baking ingredients act, you can start 'tweaking'.
OK this makes me feel a bit better. This helped put it into the right light for me.

Yeah I remember seeing the hotline number in the book. I think I will start picking their brains as well.

Thanks Marm and everyone else. You have all been very helpful to this canning newbie
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