Advice on making jams, pickles, and preserves.
July 11, 2004 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I want to learn how to make preserves, jams, pickles, and other such things. But, I don't want to die from botulism. I have a fairly basic grasp of how the sterilization process works, and I'd like some pointers to/on techniques, supplies, cookbooks, whatever anyone who's got some experience in the matter might recommend.
posted by kenko to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've only ever canned local berries I've picked myself - we live across the street from a big swath of blackberry bushes - and I've found that the instructions you get with the canning materials do the job. It's one of those things that looks complex when you read through it, but it's actually easy to do. It just takes patience.

The only tip I have is don't wear clothing you intend to wear again. If you're making jam or jelly, it's a pretty safe bet you're going to ending up wearing some of the food. This site should help you out.
posted by Salmonberry at 3:34 PM on July 11, 2004

If you can get your hands on it, check out the Good Eats episode on canning, Urban Preservation 1.
He's got some pretty good tips throughout, and as a biologist, I appreciate his take on aseptic technique.
posted by nprigoda at 3:41 PM on July 11, 2004

I remember my mom making jam when I was a kid. She'd boil the lids and jars, then freeze the jars of jam after it was made. We never got botulism. *shrug*
posted by falconred at 4:05 PM on July 11, 2004

Awesome. Anyone got recipe recommendations?
posted by kenko at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2004

One of my favourites is home pickled jalepeno slices. Pure jalepeno flavour, and if you eat them within the year (and keep the jars in the fridge) they're crispy too!
Wash the peppers with soapy water before cutting the skin. Make sure you're using nice, clean (very clean) knives and cutting boards.
Slice the peppers into rounds. Here's your chance to go thinner or thicker than the store bought brands.
Meanwhile, prepare jars & excessories as usual.
Boil a pot of water with *some* white vinegar. I go by flavour, it should be as acidic as pickle water. I don't add salt, since I think it softens the peppers. But you could add any other spice you'd like to this water (epazote would be nice, I may try that).
Fill hot jars with pepper slices, and pour boiling vinegar water over the slices. Cover, cool. Tighten. Chill. Enjoy!
posted by nprigoda at 4:59 PM on July 11, 2004

What's most important safety wise is to boil all of your utensils and jars and lids prior to canning, throw the water out and start with fresh water when you go to boil the filled jars and try not to touch anything with your clean hands during the process, use tongs and such to touch all the jars and lids. Do not ever re-use rubber seals as they can break down. Also, never eat anything from a jar that doesn't "pop" its little button upon opening. As long as you follow basic canning instructions, it really is far less dangerous than it seems. You'll know if a jar's been contaminated. If air gets in, the food will spoil and it is highly unlikely that you will want to eat something (the smell!!) that's not safe.
posted by archimago at 1:27 PM on July 12, 2004

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