Several weeks back, I wrote a post asking for feedback about my Canning 101 and New To Canning categories. It’s taken me a little bit of time to digest all the questions and figure out how to tackle them. I found that they shake out into about ten categories (though one is something of a catchall). Here’s what I’m finding that you’re interested in:
- Canning Basics
- Fruit Preserves
- Altitude Adjustments
- Recipe Sourcing and Development
- Pressure Canning
- Using Preserves
- Other Questions
What I’ve done is tried to pull out all the individual questions. Though I have answered many of these questions in one way or another, often those responses are buried in the middle of another post and so aren’t always easy to find. So here’s the plan. Starting next week, I’m going to start answering these questions. I probably will jump around the list a lot and will occasionally group two or three questions together if I think they are different sides of the same coin.
Some of these posts will be short and will live forever under the Canning 101 header. Others will be longer, tutorial-style posts and will get filed under the New to Canning. Hopefully, they’ll all be both useful and interesting. I’m going to use the list below as something of an index, so I will link the questions to the answers once they’re written and I may add to the list as I work.
Finally, if you have a question and don’t see it here, leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list!
- What exactly is finger-tip tight?
- Why do I have to add citric acid or lemon juice when canning tomatoes?
- If I heat an extra lid and then don’t end up using it, do I need to throw it out since the sealing compound has been “activated” or can they be dried and saved for future canning?
- Can you talk about the differences between “hot packing” and “cold packing”?
- Where can you get a water bath canner that can adequately over quart jars?
- How about a post on how to clean and maintain canning equipment.
- Should I worry about small amounts of liquid condensation on the inside of my jars?
- Is it safe to stack jars in the canner?
- How do you know when a sweet preserve is ready to be placed in the jars? Tips, tricks and visual clues would be most helpful.
- My strawberry jam is always foamy. Using a pat of butter works the best but I still have jam with a foamy “head.” Any ideas?
- Do set points vary based on the fruit you’re using?
- What should you do when the liquid doesn’t cover the top of the fruit when you’ve canned whole fruit in syrup?
- How do you get overset plum jam out of jars when it is seriously hard set? I tried heating it up in the canner for a long time, and I think it just got harder! Do I have to throw out my jars?
- What causes foaming in jams/jellies? How do you stop it?
- Using a steam juicer vs. boil-and-strain method – Is there a difference & which do you prefer?
- Is there a way to double recipes? Or should you just have two pots of jam going at once?
- How do you make pectin-free jams with frozen fruit? Can you convert a recipe to work with a different kind of fruit? Like making raspberry butter in the same manner as blueberry butter. And what about fruit blends?
- For recipes using fruit, is using ripe fruits better than those not ripe?
- If my jam is too firm, what went wrong?
- Is there any way to fix the consistency after canning it?
- I have trouble figuring out how to adjust my recipe if it was not successful. Any tips would be helpful.
- How do I know when there is “too much” stuff to pickling liquid ratio. Will packing too tight reduce the acidity and make the product unsafe?
- How do you know when home fermented products are acidic enough to can?
- Can you break down the step in canning directions that says, “pack into hot jars.” It sounds so simple, but it’s a step that I’m sure I’m getting wrong somehow. My pickles and other whole fruit or vegetable preserves always take two or three more jars than usual, and end up being more liquid than vegetable.
- I am interested in technical information regarding no sodium canning. Especially tips on retaining flavor and texture and safety in the canned results.
- How do you tell the difference between safe air bubbles and unsafe, active bubbles?
- Why do I have to add citric acid or lemon juice when canning tomatoes?
- When canning a large amount, for tomatoes for example – if you’ve packed more jars than you can fit in your water bath at once, after the first set has processed, do you dump the water out and wait for fresh water to boil before processing the rest? Or can you immediately put the second set of jars in the same water?
- How can I adjust the amount of sugar in a recipe? Can I just buy low or no sugar pectin and replace it in any recipe and reduce the amount of sugar willingly? I know sugar is important but I´m not clear how and if I can just reduce it.
- I find that the jams are a bit too sweet for my taste, and the pickles came out too vinegary. What’s the least amount of sugar I could use to have a less sweet jam, and what’s the least amount of vinegar I can use to have less acidic pickles?
- Can you give some tips or recipes on fruit preserves that are less sweet or use honey/agave instead of sugar.
- How do you use Splenda and other alternative sugars for preserving?
- We live at just over 3,000 feet and was wondering if there is a standard for adjusting for altitude beyond the adding a minute for every 1,000 feet. I know some recipes say more for larger jars such as quarts, or that it depends on the food you are canning. Do certain foods need more time and certain sizes need more time? I would like to know so that if the recipe doesn’t specifically state what to do for altitude, I can calculate correctly.
- Canning at high altitude – how does that impact the set point of jams and jellies?
Recipe Sourcing and Development:
- How can you tell that a recipe found online is safe? A guide to some other online sources of canning recipes would be great.
- How do you develop your own safe recipe?
- How do you check the acidity of a home canned food?
- Is there any guide to converting large batch recipes to small batch (one or two jars) ones?
- What is your process for developing and testing a recipe?
- Do you ever use a ph meter or strips to measure the ph?
- How can you convert a water bath process to a pressure canner process?
- When is it better to pressure can than use a hot water bath?
- Is there a simple chart that shows canning times and pressure amounts for different foods?
- How do you keep the jars from getting gross in a pressure canner?
- I would love a step by step tuna canning lesson! Years ago I had some home canned tuna and it was awesome. I need to learn how and then find an inexpensive source for the whole tuna.
- Do you have any suggestions for using alternative heating sources for pressure canners? I want to try pressure canning, but we have an induction stove, so we can’t use aluminum, and I have never seen a stainless steel pressure canner. I have a small house, so I can’t have two stoves (which was the response I got from Presto).
Using Preserves: (This question probably didn’t need its own category, but I didn’t want it to get lost elsewhere.)
- More suggestions on how to use what I’ve made as I’m always looking for ways to USE what I canned.
- What do you do with things you’ve canned and you find you don’t like them?
- When you say to add a glug of vinegar to the boiling water bath canner before you start, you mean to actually add it to the water you are boiling your jars in, correct?
- The marmalade turned very dark when I added the sugar. Is this normal?
- The little cheese cloth bundle gets thrown out before any simmering of lemons/water happens, correct?
- How do you make your own pectin?
- More tips on using one-piece lids!
- Another question I have is about food discoloration. I find that the fruit and veggies that float up tend to change color because they’re not submerged in the syrup or brine. Is it safe/good to eat the discolored parts?