Tag Archives | Hot Pack Preserving

July Mastery Challenge Round-up: Hot Pack Preserving

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We closed the books on July a few days ago and so it’s time finish up another skill in our Mastery Challenge. This month, we focused on hot pack preserving and more than 130 of you reported in that you’d tried preserving something using this method.

Starring ingredients included apricots, apriums, artichokes, beets, black currants, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, carrots, cherries (both sweet and tart), corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, figs, gooseberries, green beans, jalapeños, kohlrabi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, peaches, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, shishito peppers, sour cherries, strawberries, watermelon rind, wineberries, and zucchini.

People made all sorts of products, including chutneys, fruit packed in syrup, jams, pickles, salsas, and tomato products.

According to the survey, a lot of you made more than one batch, which is always delightful. I’m happy that so many of you were inspired to dig in more deeply.

As far as satisfaction with skill goes, the results made me giggle. Most of you felt pretty friendly towards hot packed at the start of the month.

But, at the end of the month, those of you who participated were all in. Such happy, positive reactions!

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Jams, Chutneys, and Mostardas

Pickles, Relish, and Salsa

Tomatoes and Whole Fruit/Veg Preserves

And finally, a few comments from the submission form:

Lisa from Aurora, Ontario said, “Interesting to see how the hot pack played out in practice, not just theory. Peaches are a lot more work than I thought they’d be!” So true! Peaches are a beast, but so worth the work!

Ann from Vashon, Washington said, “My time was limited and produce was lagging – but the Walla Walla sweets were in so I tried the onion relish. Definitely worth while! So glad I’m learning more about hot pack. Hope to do some tomatoes soon as they are now arriving in our local markets.” Onion relish is delicious!

Tesla from Memphis, Tennessee said, “I had already done a lot of hot pack preserving, but until this month I had no idea that’s what I was doing – or the reasons why you’d use a hot pack with a particular fruit or to get a particular result. This month was an example of how the Mastery Challenges are educational for me, even when I’m not making something new!” So glad it was useful!

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July Mastery Challenge: Pickled Blistered Shishito Peppers

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones is here to with a recipe to preserve delicious shishito peppers. They’re one of my summer favorites! – Marisa

One of my favorite moments of summer eating doesn’t involve handfuls of blueberries, icy-cold slices of watermelon, or peaches so juicy you have to eat them over the sink. (Although those firsts fruits are up there on the list.) It’s when I spy the first shishito peppers at the farmers’ market.

When I first see those wrinkly, electric green peppers heaped in a basket or bursting out of a fiber pint container, I know I have to have them.

Back my kitchen with my market bounty, I’ll get my cast iron pan ripping hot with a glug of grapeseed oil and add the peppers, cooking for a few minutes on each side until the skin is blistered deep brown and the flesh is just tender. Then, they go into a bowl with a big three-finger pinch of flaky sea salt. A few flicks of the wrist to toss, and then I’ll sit down and eat them all, one by one.

But inevitably, shishito season ends, and it’s rare to find them off-season in supermarkets, so I have to wait for that smoky, salty experience until next year’s pepper feast…unless I can preserve it.

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Submit your July Mastery Challenge Projects!

July is nearly over, which means it’s time to get serious about completing this month’s hot pack preserving challenge! If you’ve already finished up your project for this month’s #fijchallenge, please use the form below to record your information and be counted in the final tally. If the embedded form isn’t working for you, click here.

If you’ve not yet tackled a batch of jam yet this month, check out this month’s introductory post for some ideas.

To be counted in the final tally, please submit your projects no later than Monday, July 31.

Oh, and if you do post to social media, make sure to use the #fijchallenge tag to help spread the word of our preserving activities!

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Hot Pack Preserving for the July Mastery Challenge

It is July and that means it’s time to introduce our Mastery Challenge skill. This month, we’re focusing on hot pack preserving. Let’s dig in.

What is hot pack preserving?

At it’s most basic, hot pack preserving is simply the act of putting food that is warm or cooked into jars and then processing them. When you pour jam, jelly, salsa, or tomato sauce into prepared jars, you are hot packing. However, the term is most often applied when a preserve or ingredients can either be packed hot or cold (if you missed it, we focused on cold pack preserving in May).

Why hot pack?

  1. When you heat fruits and vegetables they soften and shrink a bit. In the context of canning, this is useful, because it means that you can fit more into each jar (often reducing the number of jars you need to can a volume of produce) and use less water or syrup.
  2. The other thing that happens when you heat produce is that the heat helps release some of the air that is naturally contained in the flesh. Trapped air is a leading cause of fruit float and liquid siphoning. A brief cooking period can help your peaches, apricots, and tomatoes release that air, leading to a better quality finished product, with less floating and siphoning.
  3. A pre-cooking stage gives you an opportunity to infuse additional flavor. I often utilize the heating stage of hot packing to add the flavors of vanilla, star anise or basil (in the case of tomatoes) to the product I’m preserving.

What are the downsides of hot packing?

  1. Loss of texture. The more you heat your food, the softer it becomes. If texture is your main concern, think carefully before opting to hot pack peach slices or pickles.
  2. Smaller yield. If you are canning to meet a particular yield goal, opting for a hot pack process will mean it will take longer to reach your final number. Personally, I always opt for quality over quantity, but we all have different factors that drive us to can.
  3. For best results, process must be done from start to finish in one day. Often, people ask me if they can prep and cook their produce one day, chill it overnight and then reheat and can the next day. Unfortunately, with things like tomatoes, apples, and stone fruit, this breaks down the structure of the produce and leads to product separation (it’s not dangerous, just visually unappealing). If you want your diced tomatoes or applesauce to maintain a consistent appearance and not separate out into pulp and liquid, the cooking and preserving must be done in a single session.
  4. For those of you who are canning at elevation may have particular challenges with hot pack preserving. Processing times are lengthened as we move up in altitude, which means that if you’ve simmered your peaches for ten minutes and then end up processing them for an hour or more, you may have nothing but peach mush in your jars by the end.

The goal for this month…

Is to explore this skill. If it’s something you feel familiar with, perhaps challenge yourself to try it with a new variety of produce or in a new context. It’s a useful technique to understand and have in your food preservation toolbox.

A few recipes…

Some from my archives:

And some from around the internet:

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