Is “Oven Canning” of Dry Goods a Safe Way to Preserve?

Freezer Storage Container boxes

Airtight freezer containers are equally at home on the pantry shelf. In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Have you heard about ‘canning’ dry goods to ensure long-term storage? Today’s piece comes to us from The Ohio State University Extension in nearby Wooster, Ohio, and deals with that very topic. OSUE’s Linnette Goard, Associate Professor/Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, tells us below how to handle long-term storage of staple goods safely.

First, let me say that “oven canning” is not a safe way of preserving our food.  According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, “oven canning can be dangerous because the temperature will vary according to the accuracy of oven regulators and circulation of heat. Dry heat is very slow in penetrating into jars of food. Also, jars explode easily in the oven.” Continue reading

Homemade “Fast Food”

Ball Blue Book

The Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio. (Want one now? Click on the photo. )

During the summer months, I do a lot of canning. We have been fortunate that the garden has done well for the last 2 years. We thank the horses for that!  They keep us in clean, organic fertilizer. With the abundance of produce, I have had the opportunity to experiment with canning partial or entire meals. We try not to buy processed foods. I try to make everything. Condiments, sauces and everything else.

Meal Bases

We canned a lot of stews (vegetarian) and soups last summer in anticipation of these cold nights when I would be just too exhausted to cook. I packed stew vegetables and broth in jars with seasonings and pressure canned them. Squash, beans, potatoes, carrots, corn, and peas all went into the jars. If desired, for a more complete meal, pasta or beans could be added when the jars were opened. We made pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, salsa and spreads along with the usual pickles, kraut, jams and jelly.

When canning vegetables for stew, I don’t typically use a recipe. Since it’s just vegetables and seasonings, it’s pretty easy. Using a pressure canner, just about anything can go in.

Essential Glass Pie Plate

Essential Glass Pie Plate, available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

We don’t eat meat and although I know meat is often canned, I don’t know about canning it with vegetables. I think I would prefer to add it at the time of cooking.

When making soups for canning, I don’t use very much water. Making my soups really thick and then adding a jar of water when cooking means twice as much soup when it’s cooked. I sometimes use recipes just as a place to start. I like the Ball Blue Book of Preserving for that. It’s full of information on canning, freezing and drying food as well.

Dessert

What about dessert?  If I could make pie filling and can it, then we would have fresh pie in the winter, without much fuss at all. Apple seemed like a good start. Most of the recipes call for cornstarch. Canning cornstarch just doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. So I made my pie filling without it. A note on the jar to add the starch when I make the pie keeps me from having a very runny pie.

Proper Preparation Pays Off

Now, it’s finally winter. There are the normal chores, but I am also writing again and taking some online classes. I’m really busy and often too tired to cook. Those soups and stews are coming in handy and so are the desserts. Yesterday, I made an apple pie. Using the usual crust-lined cast iron skillet, I heated the pie filling and added the cornstarch. I filled the crust and baked it for 40 minutes. It was easy and fresh!

Although we grow a good garden and have a lot of canned food, we still purchase some fresh vegetables during the winter. We always look for sales and purchase a little extra to go into the freezer. Usually it’s vegetables I didn’t grow, like eggplant or didn’t grow enough of, like bell peppers. I found red bell peppers on sale last week and made roasted red peppers, packed them in canning jars, added olive oil and a little garlic and froze them.

I cook a few times a week. Always making more than we can eat, we freeze the leftovers so that we don’t have to eat the same thing for days. Freezing meals really helps out around here. Frozen “fast food” allows us to have more variety in our diet and keep a good supply of winter “comfort food” like sweet potato soup and chili. Freezing Canning Jars

I’m sure most of you know this, but I only found out this year that some canning jars can be FROZEN! (Click this list to see if your jars measure up. Not all jars are freezer safe. –Editor)

I pack our leftovers into jars and into the freezer they go! This keeps those canning jars in use all winter long. The LIDS* can also be re-used for freezing. I know they can’t be reused for canning, but now we get more than one use out of them by freezing them!

Since we try to reuse or repurpose as much as possible, this was a huge discovery for me!  I don’t have a big freezer, but the jars seem to fit better than other containers and there is a lot more food in my freezer. In case you didn’t know, here are the Ball/Kerr jars that can be frozen-

  • 4, 8, or 12 oz. jelly jars.
  • Wide Mouth Pints or Pint and a half- (I think they are 24 0z).
  • Don’t freeze the regular mouth jars or the quarts.

Pre-Mix Baked Goods

Another really good way to keep those canning jars working in the winter is to store pre-measured dry ingredients for cake, bread, cookies or other baked goods. I mix the dry ingredients for a few items and store them in canning jars on the shelf. Then when it’s time to bake, mix in the wet ingredients, add the dry mix and bake. It’s as easy as getting it out of a box, but it’s all homemade goodness. Canning jar lids can be reused here, too.

Just about any food can be made into “fast food. ”  It can be canned or frozen or prepared and stored. It does take some extra work, but it sure pays off in good, healthy meals that can be prepared quickly and easily. It takes the pressure off when there’s no time to cook. That’s important to me. Besides, we live 35 miles from town and we work here, at the ranch. That’s 70 miles to go to pick up a pizza.

Nobody delivers.

*Lehman’s doesn’t recommend using standard lids and bands in the freezer. Plastic Storage Caps for Canning Jars are safe for use in the freezer or refrigerator.

Simple Sourdough: Make It and Bake It!

Click here to get this national bestseller at Lehmans.com.

Click here to get this national bestseller at Lehmans.com.

Bread baking is one of those skills that it feels like a person should have.  Learning how to knead and form a loaf is a valuable, grounding process.  After all, every loaf of bread bought in a store or at a farmers’ market has gone through the same process of kneading and rising, and it’s nice to know how to create that process yourself.  I learned how to bake bread in my youth—I’m not sure exactly when—but I must confess, I was by no means an enthusiastic bread baker.  It was a very occasionally used skill.

Make A Sourdough Start Yourself
And then this past March, I moved into a new house, and somehow Wild Fermentation by Sandor Elliz Katz was the cookbook on top of my pile when I unpacked.  (His newest is The Art of Fermentation, and it’s excellent too!) Continue reading

Apples Everywhere: Cider, Slices, Sauce & Juice

Worth the investment! Cider presses are available at Lehmans.com now.

Worth the investment! Cider presses are available at Lehmans.com now.

We live in one of the most apple-rich areas of the country. The back roads are lined with abandoned apple trees and the state forests often have old orchards where apples are free for the picking. Bruce and I put in a small orchard 8 years ago and our own trees have begun to bear fruit too, so it seemed only sensible to add an apple press to our wish list of tools and equipment. But alas, the price seemed beyond us for a sturdy one that included an apple crusher as well as a heavy duty press.

Eventually, we teamed up with three other families and bought a press to share. It has turned out to be a wonderful experience for all concerned. Because we have the sheltering summer kitchen with electricity and running water, the cider press is there year-round, ready to go. Continue reading

Garden 2014: Plan To Preserve!

Put 'Em Up is in stock now at Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio and at Lehmans.com.

Put ‘Em Up is in stock now at Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio and at Lehmans.com.

Sure, we all plan to plant. But how many of us plan to preserve?

For instance, when do you figure your supplies for your jars, bands, lids, freezer boxes and other preservation supplies? And what recipes do you use? Do you stick with the tried and true because it’s the last minute? After all, the harvest isn’t predicatable, right?

Well, that may be true. But this is the year you change, because Sherri Brooks Vinton has published Put ‘Em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook and Put ‘Em Up! Fruit: A Preserving Guide and Cookbook, two fantastic collections that share some great ways to dry, freeze, can and preserve your garden’s and orchard’s harvest. Continue reading

Backstage at Lehman’s: Canning Seminar at Kinfolk!

In late September, Lehman’s was pleased to provide jars, water bath canners, jar lifters and other canning supplies for a canning workshop sponsored by Kinfolk magazine.

Many of the folks who attended have posted some great reviews (our half-pint jars were a big hit with NINE05!), and some gorgeous pictures. Thank you all so very much for the mentions and the lovely photos. We’re so glad we could help.

Photos below courtesy of Sweet Root Village–thank you for letting us share with Country Life readers.

A gorgeous table, ready for the workshop dinner. Check out the country-classy touches: jars as glasses and vases, favors (how cute are the spoons?) tied with twine

Puppy on the porch, guarding a lovely potting bench (that looks like this one).

Tomatoes ready for processing.

Want to see more?

Check out these links:

http://www.adailysomething.com/2013/10/kinfolk-preserving-season-workshop.html
http://healthfullyeverafter.co/blog/2013/9/29/kinfolk-canning-workshop-virginia
http://1000threadsblog.com/2013/10/01/canning-with-kinfolk/

Fall Foraging Yields Tasty, Juicy Results

Our Harvest Apron makes it easy to pick fall fruit! In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Our Harvest Apron makes it easy to pick fall fruit! In stock now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Fall in New England has a multitude of treasures available nowhere else. The air is clear and the sky a cerulean blue. The first hints of orange, red and yellow show on the maple leaves and a faint smell of apple and wood smoke remind of the season to come. It’s the season of foraging. The woods are full of mushrooms. Hunting for Chanterelles, Chicken of the Woods, fall Oysters and Black Trumpets is more fun than panning for gold and you’re far more likely to be successful. The nuts are dropping but beating the squirrels to them is no easy feat.

My favorite foraging trips involve grapes. Fox grapes are easy to spot. The deep purple globes stand out amidst the large green leaves. They tend to grow in accessible spots too. Along stone walls is a likely location. The stored up heat helps the grapes ripen, I suppose. Continue reading

My Kitchen Is Alive!

My countertop fermenation farm:

My countertop fermenation farm: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, the pizza dough and apple cider.

There’s something to be said for a quick and easy meal, that can make a hurried, hungry person happy in a matter of minutes.  A fried egg, for example, or a peanut butter sandwich, or a handful of cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine. 

But there’s something very different and just as beautiful to be said for foods that take a long time to create. Fermentation is a hobby of mine, I have to say—I get more excited about creating vast quantities of sauerkraut than consuming it, as delicious as it may be.

When, the other night, I looked at my counter and saw a total of 5 different cultured foods fermenting away (fyi: sour pickles, red cabbage kraut, kefir, sourdough pizza dough, and apple cider), I decided I had to write about it. Continue reading

Save Seeds, Plan Ahead: How B. Girard Does Garden 2014

Tasty fall harvest!

Tasty fall harvest!

Our seed order has been placed and major braggathon on the frugal me. This is the end of the fourth year of gardening for us, and in true form I have gone big already for year five!

And by go big I don’t mean that I am growing a garden that would feed the masses, since I don’t, and don’t intend to. This is about us, after all and about being frugal and sustainable, which I am learning are two things that are so completely intertwined in so many ways that they are practically impossible to separate. Continue reading

Easy Bread And Butter Pickles Simply Delicious

Saving the Seasons is available now at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Saving the Seasons is available now at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Canning holds a lot of sentimental value for me—the popping lids and steaming kettles of food evoke warm memories of my mother’s and grandmothers’ cozy kitchens and home-canned goodies. That alone makes it worthwhile, but canning has other benefits as well. Buying large quantities of fruits and vegetables in season saves money on our yearly grocery bill. I like knowing where my food comes from and what’s in it.

Pickles are one of my must-can items every year. Home-canned pickles delicious and easy to make, they are considerably cheaper than store-bought pickles and free of the corn syrup, preservatives and artificial colors often found in commercial brands. Continue reading