simple canning resources
October 12, 2005 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Simple canning of sauces. I like to make large batches of pasta sauce, barbecue sauce and fresh salsas. I've been freezing them, but the canning sounds like it would be a better route to go (no need to defrost, no freezer burn). Know of any resources to get me started? I've never canned a thing in my lfe.
posted by sharksandwich to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best thing to do -- get in touch with your state's cooperative Extension agency. They have people whose job it is to teach you. They'll have free handouts and things, and might even tell you when there's a demonstration. This is how I learned to can.

It's comforting to know that most of what gets taught today is high-acid canning. It requires short processing time, a pressure bath is not necessary, and there is a low, low danger of bacteria entering your food. Don't use older recipes with modern canning techniques: they may not contain enough acidic ingredients to retard bacterial growth.

It's also a lot easier than it seems, so go boldly ahead. Pledge never to eat anything that looks or smells weird. You'll do fine.
posted by Miko at 1:42 PM on October 12, 2005

Good advice and simple instructions to be found here. It is much easier than you think; this was my first summer canning, and I canned 130+ pints of relishes, pickels, salsas, peppers, beets, and whatnot for our wedding reception. It's a little time-consuming, but it's easy to do other stuff (read, clean, cook, drink copious amounts of wine) while waiting for the stuff to cook and the water to boil.

Disclaimer - probably not a good idea to drink too much, especially if you use a steam-canner (never tried it, but they can explode!).
posted by tr33hggr at 1:43 PM on October 12, 2005

You could check I've canned jams and it's pretty easy. As Miko mentiones, the right acidity is part of what makes home canning possible. For tomato-based sauces, it should be no problem. Straight vegetables may require pressure canning.
posted by GuyZero at 1:49 PM on October 12, 2005

Also consider books in the library - they're free, and there should be loads of information there.
When you get ready to buy your stuff (big pot with a jar rack, jars, jar lifter), before you pay full price, check out your local (bigger) thrift stores (think Value Village, Goodwill, St. Vincent). they often have this stuff for way way cheap. Then all you have to buy new are the jar lids and rings.
Canning is easy, and ever-so-thrifty. It's one of the best ways to make use of an over-planted (or over-abundant) garden. Have fun!
posted by dbmcd at 2:40 PM on October 12, 2005

Would it be possible just to "jar" the stuff instead? Or does that come under the same heading as canning? Only reason I ask -- my mother has been putting home-made stuff (mango chutney, mint jelly, etc) into jars for YEARS, a lot of it not overly acidic.
Doesn't seem like too complex a job, either -- the hardest part is collecting enough empty jars (with metal lids). Clean them up, pop them in the oven to sterilise, add liquid and lid. As the jars/lids cool, they naturally seal the jar (sucking the top down!).

Damnit.. now I want some of Mum's lemon butter. *whistful sigh*
posted by coriolisdave at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2005

Um, "jarring" is canning. However, unless the contents are highly acidic, they should be finished in a boiling water bath or steam bath for specified amounts of time.
Chutneys and mango stuff (as well as lemon butter) all probably have enough acid in them to work out without that step.
Also, although one can use other types of jars/lids, it is generally advisable to use actual canning jars/lids/rings. They are made for the purpose, and although the jars and rings can be reused for many years (hence my suggestion of going to thrift shops to buy them), the lids should be purchased new. Old, bent/scratched lids may not seal properly - and food poisoning from home-canning 'accidents' is no fun.
posted by dbmcd at 3:57 PM on October 12, 2005

I canned apple butter a few years ago and was amazed at how easy it was. I bought a canning kit at Target that included simple instructions, a few jars, some recipes, and all the other assorted tools (jar tongs, lid lifter, etc.). It's a little late in the season for canning (at least here in MN), so you may have trouble finding a large canning pot or the kits in stores, but Amazon has several listed.
posted by belladonna at 4:38 PM on October 12, 2005

There's a tutorial here.
posted by unknowncommand at 4:43 PM on October 12, 2005

The Ball Blue Book, available at, is *the* canning resource. My mother recently bought me my very own copy, and it was a momentous occasion.
posted by librarina at 6:12 PM on October 12, 2005

If you have a general interest in long-term food storage you might also consider investing in Stocking Up, which covers a lot of ground. I own it and I like it a lot. But second the library as a starting point as well. The Ball Blue book mentioned above is cheaper though, but neither is expensive.

On a note of humor the first time I typed the above I wrote the "Blue Ball book," which is of course a different subject entirely.
posted by nanojath at 8:42 PM on October 12, 2005

Most tomato recipes now call for adding lemon juice, because you can't tell if the original produce was a low acid tomato or not.
I will warn against using jars that you recycle from store bought products, like a pickle jars or something, because they tend to blow up when you water-bath them, or that was my experience.
I have a 22 quart pressure cooker I inherited, and I was scared to death of the thing because it's now about 70 years old. It had the type of valve with a weight on it, not a pressure gauge, and I just threw some water in it, turned the fire on, and ran out of the house in fear. When I worked up the courage to check on it, the weight was bouncing happily at the rated pressure, and I used it for years. Total cost = 1$ for a new rubber gasket. You might find one of those in a resale shop or something, and then you can do low-acid veggies as well as tomatoes, in case you want to.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 5:19 AM on October 13, 2005

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