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Old 05-16-2010, 05:09 PM   #1
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Small Batch Canning

Lately, I've been all kinds of homesick for things that do not exist anymore (breaking beans with grandma b/c grandma is gone), etc. Also, I'm taking more thought in the foods I eat, trying to consider the environment, and preparing for when the zombies come. (Okay, I just added zombies for Frank, who often looks at me like I need a group when I give him life-changing ideas.)

To prepare for summer's bounty, which will likely be obtained from my local farmer's markets, I bought two cookbooks on small batch preserving. Both were enjoyable reads and neither made me run screaming in fear that canning was something I should skip for this summer. In fact, both inspired.

The first book is titled The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. The book has a very nice list of preserving terminology and has some fine definitions. It goes over the differences between various processing styles and has over 300 recipes to make throughout the year.

The book is divided into Sweet Spreads, Condiments, and "Extras" which include flavored oils and vinegars, and a few freezer foods. Last of all, it has a section on some recipes to use with some of the things you can make from the book. In reading over the recipes, I felt that this book gives solid basics that a person new to canning can follow with a high probability of success. The recipes sound like what grandma used to make. Plus the book gives enough background that I feel I can safely branch off in my own direction. It was a nice read and, when I finished reading it over, I impressed Frank by telling him what the difference is between jam and preserves. (Preserves have bigger chunks of fruit.)

The second book is titled Well Preserved: recipes and techniques for putting up small batches of seasonal foods by Eugenia Bone. This book was not my grandma's cookbook and has recipes with more personal appeal to me. Like the first book, it has a nice overview of cooking styles, terminology, equipment, and encouragement. It goes over preserving fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, fungi, meats, poultry, and fish. That's right! If someone hands me a fresh tuna, I can figure out what to do with it now!

What I especially enjoyed about Ms. Bone's book is that she gives some unusual parings for canning, and then gives several suggestions as to how to use the canned recipe. For example, strawberry balsamic jam sounds delicious to me. However, I'm not a daily breakfast person, so making a bunch of jam, while appealing, would likely sit on a shelf. The recipes that followed the Strawberry Balsamic Jam recipe are: Strawberry Balsamic Panna Cotta, Rice Pudding with Strawberry Balsamic Jam, and Strawberry Balsamic Poached Pears (YUM). Also, Ms. Bone's cookbook has a lot of pictures to help firm up the vision.

Small batch canning appeals to me because we are a household of two...plus two cats. Traditional canning reminds me of a joke: Q. What is eternity? A. A ham and two people. I want to enjoy planning for zombies...or nursing my homesickness. But I don't want to have shelves of items of which we would grow weary of eating.

Just thought I would share my new inspiration sources. Will post more once I start to can some things...and strawberry season looms.

~Kathleen
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Old 05-16-2010, 07:03 PM   #2
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Thank you for the wonderful insight into small batch canning,KathleenA.

It is just my hubby and I now in our golden years, but we still like to put up jars of whatever we get the most bounty from our little garden, here in Alaska. I will take a look at the canning books you recommend here. I'm sure it will help.

Also, any amounts of food we can over what we think will do for the two of us, we give away to friends and family on special occasions. All of them love to receive our special packages.
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:38 PM   #3
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I like doing pickling recipes since I can make as much or as little as I have on hand in the specified produce....as long as I make enough of the critical part, the pickling solution in the proper ratio.
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:45 PM   #4
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Also, any amounts of food we can over what we think will do for the two of us, we give away to friends and family on special occasions. All of them love to receive our special packages.
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I like doing pickling recipes since I can make as much or as little as I have on hand in the specified produce....as long as I make enough of the critical part, the pickling solution in the proper ratio.
Thank you both for responding! I'm really excited by putting up a few items over the summer.

Ardiva, what have you canned and what do you find you use the most? I love the idea of jams and jellies, but we simply do not eat tons of jam or jelly throughout the year.

McNerd, I'm thinking of pickling some cauliflower. As a child, I remember a sweet pickled cauliflower that was just plain yummy. Have you ever pickled it?

~Kathleen
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:24 PM   #5
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McNerd, I'm thinking of pickling some cauliflower. As a child, I remember a sweet pickled cauliflower that was just plain yummy. Have you ever pickled it?
Yes, but mostly in recipes for Mustard Pickles. There is a nice recipe in the Small-Batch Book (pg 148) which is a mixed vegetable mustard pickle recipe, but I haven't tried that one yet.

The Sweet Pickled Cauliflower recipe is an old one, which is not safe for canning by modern standards, but you could try it and keep in the refrigerator for safety. I've not seen it as a tested and updated recipe.

Sweet Pickled Cauliflower

1 large Cauliflower, (about 2 lbs)
1/4 cup Canning Salt
2 cups Water
1 1/4 cups Onions
2 1/4 cups Sugar
2 cups Wine vinegar
1 Tbs Mustard seed
2 pieces cinnamon stick, short pieces
1/2 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Allspice
3 Little dried red peppers

1. Trim the cauliflower and divide it into florets. Blanch the florets in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain them and run cold water through them immediately.
Slice the onions and layer them with cauliflower into sterilized jars. Heat the vinegar with the sugar and spices, and pour the boiling mixture into the jars. The florets should be submerged. Cover and seal while hot. Stpre in the refrigerator. Ready to eat in a week.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:36 AM   #6
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That's a very nice read Kathleen! :) I hope to try this when I have time.. I'm a noob.
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:05 AM   #7
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Excellent! It's always nice to see someone wanting to put food by. I've been canning for years and canning season has already started here. I've put up 60 half-pints of jam and 12 pints of chow-chow so far. I try to make chow-chow (I use green tomatoes) early in the year and in the fall. I don't have a greenhouse, but have several Amish families that come to our farmer's market, which has already started. Yay! We also got our side of beef, so I've been putting up meat and stews this spring, as well. I really enjoy the process because it requires such detail and being meticulous, which suits my personality.

Another book I would recommend, as you do more canning is "Putting Food By", by Janet Greene. This, coupled with the Ball Blue Book of Canning, is a sort of bible for home canners. Of course, my grandma, from whom I learned to can (improperly and unsafely) back in the 70's, never used a book... but then again, she didn't do it safely.

What brand of canner did you buy? Congrats on the new venture! You'll have SO much fun and it will be very rewarding to see all those jars lined up and know that you did it yourself, healthfully!
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:26 AM   #8
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Velochic, you are so LUCKY! Canning already! We barely have flowers on trees let alone anything cannable.

What is chow chow? Is it that relishy stuff?
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:05 PM   #9
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Velochic, you are so LUCKY! Canning already! We barely have flowers on trees let alone anything cannable.

What is chow chow? Is it that relishy stuff?
We had a REALLY warm April (in the 80's), and then a frost that I was just sure would kill everything. The strawberries and blackberries survived!!!

I would call chow-chow more of a slaw because we eat it as a side dish, not as a condiment, but yeah, it's relishy. Here is my "recipe".

5 green tomatoes
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
3 jalapenos
1 small head of cabbage
5 medium onions
1.75 c. white sugar
16 oz. combo of cider and white vinegar
water
turmeric
celery seed
mustard seed
ground mustard
indian chili powder
crushed red pepper
dash of ground ginger
salt
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Old 05-21-2010, 03:09 PM   #10
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Oh wow! That sounds good! Do you need to pressure can that one or is water bath sufficient?
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