Preserve Summer Fruits and Vegetables
We cook, bake, freeze, grill, poach, fry, grow some of our own herbs and vegetables, but we do not can! At least, not until now. We received the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit and, frankly, we were both thrilled and a little intimidated by it. We have been using Ball glass jars for years, but not for canning purposes. So in honor of National Can−It−Forward Day, August 13th, we decided to give it a try.
Our ancestors have, in one form or another, preserved food. In 1795, Frenchman Nicolas Appert, discovered that food sealed in glass bottles, and processed under high heat, was an effective food preservation method. Though effective, the method was messy – it involved a glass jar, sealing wax, and a flat tin lid – and the jars were not reusable. Canning was revolutionized in 1858 when an inventor and tin smith from New York City, John L. Mason, invented the Mason jar. He also invented a machine that could cut threads into lids, which made it practical to manufacture a jar with a reusable, screw–on, lid. The lid contained a sealing mechanism, a rubber ring which created a seal, and the treaded lid maintained it. His invention made canning easy, affordable, and safe and the practice of home canning spread.
Everyone recognizes the Ball branded canning glass jar. The Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, founded in Buffalo, New York in the 1880's by the five Ball brothers, manufactured glass fruit jars. After a destructive fire in the Buffalo plant, the Ball brothers and their families relocated to Muncie, Indiana. Many improvements in the canning process occurred over the years and in 1988 the USDA updated the home canning guidelines. In 1993 Ball exited the home canning business and today Ball canning products are produced by The Jarden Corporation.
There are two methods used in home canning: pressure cooker and water bath. We used the water bath method and the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit which contains:
∙ Three regular mouth pint jars with two piece closures (lids and bands)
∙ A plastic, heat resistant canning rack with lifter
∙ A recipe and instruction booklet – Beginner's Guide to Canning & Recipe Booklet.
We read the booklet, selected a recipe and we were off and running. We made Caribbean Peach Chutney. It involved precooking the chutney ingredients, ladling the chutney into the jars and covering them, lowering the jars into boiling water for fifteen minutes and letting them cool. The cooking and cooling process activates the seal. It was not a 1, 2, 3 process but it was fun and rewarding.
If you want to try your hand at home canning, this set is a good place to start. The price is right, starting at $11.00. If you find that you like canning, as we did, you can move ahead with more supplies. If you don't like it, at least you will have three jars of home canned goods and can say "I canned!"
In addition to home canning, Ball glass jars can be used in other creative ways:
∙ To store (refrigerated) homemade jam, jellies, cooked fruits, etc. KosherEye uses the jars to store, IN THE FREEZER, our homemade Spreadable Strawberry Jam.
∙ Use as drinking glasses for iced tea or lemonade.
∙ Gift Giving – fill a jar with the dry ingredients for bread, soup, pancakes, drinks, etc. and attach the recipe. Try this recipe for Dutch Baby Pancake Mix.
Properly prepared, most home canned items have a shelf life of one year and do not require refrigeration until after opening. The summer bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables can be preserved for home use or gift giving. It is important to follow the canning directions and when done correctly, home canning is safe and fun. Would we do it again? Absolutely and unequivocally YES!
For more information on Ball canning, please visit their website, FreshPreserving.com. Ball glass jars are available in multiple sizes and can be purchased at most grocery stores and Amazon.com: Ball Wide-Mouth Mason Canning Jar 1 Qt,, Ball Wide Mouth Can-or-Freeze Canning Jar 1 Pt,, Ball Regular Mason Canning Jar 1/2 Pt.
Watch the following video, Getting Started with Ball Canning.
August 7, 2011