I grew up watching my Grandma can everything possible, peaches, pears, apples, sauces, jams…you name it, she canned it. I remember always going to her house and seeing the pantry full of her bounty! I always loved the smells and how amazing the food would taste but assumed that this is how all people ate, it wasn’t until I was older and starting cooking that I realized how truly blessed I had been. My adventure into canning started for a couple of reasons, first, I cook from scratch anyways so what is one extra step? Second, reading labels is enough to make you never want to eat pre-packaged foods again. Did you know that apples are the 3rd ingredient in APPLE SAUCE??? Enough said! Third, I wanted to know what my family was eating and putting into their bodies.
So my adventure began this winter when my mom came to Georgia from Washington and could give me some hands on lessons. I began with researching what type of canner I should buy. Do I get just a plain water bath canner or spend the money and buy a pressure canner/cooker?? After looking at both I realized that the Pressure canner/cooker was a better option for my family because of the type of foods we wanted to preserve. I bought this one: Presto Pressure Canner, I bought mine from Amazon, but it can just as easily be purchased at Wal-Mart or Target. I also purchased the canning kit which you will need to also have on hand. After that I simply had to buy the jars and get ready to learn! I spent time doing reading of cook books and websites, however, I am a hands on learner and so I needed my mom to show me the practical application!
The first step was deciding what we would can and where we could buy the produce for it. Yes, yes, most people would wait until produce is at its peak freshness (ideal), however my mom was coming in January and I needed a lesson! We chose applesauce and headed off to Costco to buy our apples. We bought four to five dozen and used a variety of types. Our applesauce consisted of gala, braeburn, fuji and granny smith. The sweet and tart of the apples combined to a wonderful flavor. Next was deciding if we would cook it in water or juice, we did a mix of both apple juice and water. We grabbed the biggest pot in the kitchen and started to peel and cut our apples and add them in. Now this seems like it could be a ton of work, however, I own an apple corer/peeler from Pampered Chef so the process goes pretty smoothly. Now we did take about 3-4 apples of each kind and hand peel and chunk because in our family we prefer a chunky sauce compared to smooth. We placed everything on the stove at that point with a lid and around a cup of liquid. We covered with a lid and walked away, coming back every 8-10 minutes to stir and smash. After a good 40 minutes our apples were starting to look perfect and so we added the sweeteners. Again, you can use whatever you desire. I chose again to do a mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and honey. The combination is mouth-watering! So once the apples were smashed down and ready we began the canning process!
I purchased wide mouth jars in the quart size, but you can easily use any size that you choose depending on how your family likes applesauce. Here are the steps to canning:
1. Sterilize your jars. *I ran them alone in the dishwasher and then did a heated dry*
2. Place them on a towel and wipe down the rims.
3. In small sauce pan, take lids (not rings) and boil them to sterilize the lid correctly.
4. Place funnel on top of jar and ladle in product. Leaving the correct amount of head space (the distance from product to top of the jar)
5. After full, wipe down rims again, place hot lid on top, screw down ring with hand. *it needs to be tight but only as tight as you can by hand*
6. Place in canner which should have very hot boiling water in it.
7. Once all jars are in and the correct amount of water *each product is different* is in the canner, place lid on top and wait for water to boil.
8. Once boil has been reached, start timer.
9. When time is up remove jars (use the tool) and place on towel. Now wait to hear the pop which is the sign that you have properly sealed the product.
10. Store and enjoy.
Each item that you can or pressure can is going to be different. Apples DO NOT require a pressure can only a water bath, however items like tomato sauce REQUIRE a pressure can. I will do my next blog on spaghetti sauce and pressure canning! I hope to hear from you with any questions you may have!