Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Canning" our Autumn produce now

I have started the process of canning our extra veges for use over the winter.  This is not "preserving" a la NZ Kiwi (overflow method for fruit), but full-on pressure canning a la American style doomsday preppers!


Basically, the process of preparing the fruit/veges/meat is pretty much the same as for the overflow method.  Or you can cook your soup/meatballs/stews etc.  But from then on, rather than putting into hot jars and putting the lid on, and hoping like hell you don't get botulism, you pop them into a huge pressure cooker, rack up the pressure to the one specified for the type of food you are preparing, and keep it there for x many minutes.

Things that are great to make: meatballs in sauce, spagetti  in sauce, pasta sauces, pureed apple, tomatoes with garlic, soups etc.

The one thing you can't can is Pumpkin, which is a real shame because it is the one thing we often have heaps of.  It's puree and flesh is so dense that obtaining a high enough temperature is difficult, so it is not recommended.

So, the benefits are what?  - well, canned food keeps longer than frozen.  It does not require electricity to keep it ready to eat.  It is easier to heat up and use (there's no defrosting).  The only thing it is suseptible to is falling off the shelves during an earthquake.

STEP ONE: buy your canner.  It is just a big pressure cooker, with the addition of a pressure meter on the top.  You need the pressure meter, for different foods require different pressure.  I got mine off Amazon during a sale for US$65.00.

STEP TWO: prepare your fruit, make your soup, cut up your veges, following the instructions in the booklet that comes with the canner, or found online! (this is a useful link http://www.http://www.provident-living-today.com/Pressure-Cooking.html#ProcessingTimes)

STEP THREE: fill your AGEE jars up to 1 inch from the top, put on the lids and screw down to hand-tight.

STEP FOUR: heat up 2 inches of water in the canner.  Put in the rack, put the jars in and put the lid on.  Let steam come out the vent for 10 mins, then put on the weight.

STEP FIVE: bring up to required pressure (11lbs per square inch for pasta sauce)...keep it there for the times in your booklet.

STEP SIX: turn off the heat and let it cool completely till the valve goes down.  Then take off the lid and put the jars on the bench, being very careful not burn yourself on the jars, as the contents will still be boiling inside the jars.

This should bring all contents up to 240pressure, which is required to kill all bugs.

Your food will then keep well in the pantry.  Make sure you label and date!

Today I made Pasta Sauce with all the aubergines, courgettes, basil and tomatoes from our garden.