• Strawberry Season is here!

    Come check out all the amazing recipes you can do besides jam and jelly!

  • Herb Jellies

    Steeping lavendar, rose petals, and other edible herbs and flowers create unique tasty jellies. You can add amazing flavor to jams when paired with fruit combinations!

  • Grape Juice - It's just that simple!

    A great and easy way to create a flavorful juice using grapes and can be done with Cranberries and other fruits.

  • SB Canning Pre-Season 10% off Apron and Dishtowel Sale!

    Don't miss the opportunity to get yours on Sale!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

One Pineapple but so many ways to use it!

I thought that I would take another look at canning pineapple since many of you have become very excited about what you can do with it. I am sharing pics from Kelly, one of my followers, to show that you can can it in rings, chunked, and also diced just like any other commercial brand "can" you find in the grocery store. In addition I have added a pineapple jam recipe from the Ball Blue Book, a pineapple butter done in a crockpot, and a canning pineapple juice.

One of the short cuts I found a few years ago is using a pineapple corer. I am adding a video I found on youtube for you to see how cool this simple gadget is and how quickly it will help with your processing of pineapple in chunks and rings. I am also attaching at the bottom of this post a link of how to purchase it.


Two tricks to testing a pineapple sweetness and ripeness:
1. Sweet pineapple is best to smell it. 
2. The trick to ripe pineapple is to pull out one of the frons from the top. If it comes out easily its ready!
 
Pineapple Chunks, Rings, Diced
Average is 3 lbs per quart or  1.5 lbs per pint


If you are going to use the pineapple corer from the video you will just need to then cut the rings into chunks or cut one side to get them into rings.  To cut it the conventional way: (See step by step below)

Using a sharp knife peel and remove eyes and tough fiber. Cube or slice the pineapple and set aside.  Pineapple may be packed in water, apple juice, white grape juice, or in very light, light, or medium syrup. For the syrup mixture see the combination here. 

In a large saucepan heat syrup, water, or juice, and simmer for 10 minutes. Fill hot jars with pineapple pieces and cover with hot cooking liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove 
air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper 
towel. Adjust lids and process in a water bath for 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.

Slices, Chunks, and diced



Pineapple Jam
(Use the diced bits of left over pineapples if you do a large batch of rings or chunks) (New Ball Blue Book)

5 lbs of pineapple (1 large pineapple - recipe only uses 1 quart chopped)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 lemon thinly sliced
1 cup water
From www.littlemisscruciferous.com

Preparation : Prepare 3 half pint jars, lids, and rings. Sterilize the jars and keep them in the hot water till its time for processing. Make sure to fill your water bath canner and get the water to a simmer. Dice pineapple, measure 1 quart chopped. Cut lemon in half and remove seeds. Thinly slice 1/2 lemon, discarding the ends
Cooking: In a stainless steel or enameled dutch pot combine all ingredients. Bring mixture slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to 220 degrees stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and test for gel. Use Sheet test below

Filling the jars:  On a dishtowel place your hot jars and fill with the the mixture.  Using your funnel ladle into each of the jars leaving 1/4” headspace. Remove air bubbles and refill to the proper headspace if necessary. Taking a clean paper towel wet it with warm water and wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal. Using your magic wand extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "fingertight".


Processing: Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 10 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.

Sealing: Some time in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal.

Pineapple Butter

1 lbs of pineapple scraps or diced pineapple
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. vanilla
1 T. ground cardamom (optional)

Preparation : Prepare 3 half pint jars, lids, and rings (this may vary depending on how much you cook down the mixture). Sterilize the jars and keep them in the hot water till its time for processing. Make sure to fill your water bath canner and get the water to a simmer. Dice pineapple if not already scraps.
Cooking: In a crockpot combine all ingredients. Bring mixture slowly to a medium and allow to cook for at least 6 hours to overnight until mixture mounds on spoon. Stir occasionally and prop lid up with spoon so that condensation doesn't drip water back into the mixture.  

Filling the jars:  On a dishtowel place your hot jars and fill with the the mixture.  Using your funnel ladle into each of the jars leaving 1/4” headspace. Remove air bubbles and refill to the proper headspace if necessary. Taking a clean paper towel wet it with warm water and

wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal. Using your magic wand extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "fingertight".
Processing: Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 10 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.

Sealing: Some time in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal.


Pineapple Juice

Preparation : Dice pineapple and extract juice by either pressing through a fine mesh strainer or using a steam juicer. Strain out all pulp to have a clear juice.
Cooking: You can use sugar but that is optional. Bring mixture slowly to 190 degrees for 5 minutes. DO NOT BOIL.  

Filling the jars:  On a dishtowel place your pints or quart hot jars and fill with the juice leaving 1/4” headspace.  Taking a clean paper towel wet it with warm water and

wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal. Using your magic wand extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "fingertight".

Processing: Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 15 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.

Sealing: Some time in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal.


Dehydrating
Another great trick for pineapple that has been cut perfectly with the pineapple corer is to dehydrate the rings. They are all equal size so they will dry evenly.
Dry at 135 degrees

Dry time: 6-8 hours
Here is a link to Notes about Drying Fruits in a dehydrator 
Before


    After









     Step by step to cut a pineapple:



    SHEET TEST

    Dip a cold metal spoon into the boiling


    soft spread. Lift the spoon and hold it horizontally with edge down so that the syrup runs off the edge. As the mixture cooks, the drops will become heavier and will drop off the spoon separately but two at a time. When the two drops join together and “sheet” off the spoon, the gel stage has been reached.

    FREEZER TEST
    (Note: To prevent overcooking or scorching, remove the soft spread from the heat before performing this test.)

    Chill a small saucers in the free
    zer. Place a teaspoonful of soft spread on the chilled saucer and place in the freezer for 1 minute. Remove the saucer from the freezer and push the edge of the spread with your finger. A mixture that has reached the gel stage will be set, and the surface will wrinkle when the edge is pushed.




     

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Pickling your veggies - Is there a difference in Vinegars?


    For canning recipes that require pickling you should always use a type of vinegar that is at least 5% acidity. All vinegars will give you their tested acidity on the bottle or jug so make sure you are using the minimum percentage.

    In all pickling recipes the type of vinegar can be interchanged. You can use an apple cider vinegar in place of a white. The flavor will differ but as long as they are both at least 5% acidity your canning will be safe.


    There are a few vinegars that I have researched that do not come commercially in 5% acidity. Rice vinegar is one of them. Yes there are rice vinegars that to meet the minimum but they are combined with other acids to bring up the percentage. The highest rice vinegar on the market is 4.3% from Marukan. I have called the company and explained that canners would use Rice Vinegar at a higher percentage, but sales would need to be higher for them to consider producing this bottle.  You may think that its only 1% difference but the level of acidity is key in preserving the food in the jars without creating a growth of bacteria.  


    Below are the most common types of vinegars on the market. Any brand will work as long as you are checking the label for the 5% acidity!



    White Vinegar

    White vinegar can be made by oxidizing a distilled alcohol. It can be used for cleaning as well as culinary and canning uses. Most brands are 5% acidity – perfect for pickling cucumbers, vegetables, and fermentation.  



     







    Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar is made from cider or apple. Most brands are 5% acidity – perfect for pickling fruits and vegetables, and often used in fermentation for a sweeter taste.  







    Wine Vinegar

    Wine vinegar is made from red wine or white wine. It is widely used in Central Europe and Mediterranean countries. Most brands are 5% acidity – is great for pickling strawberries andmelons and gives a great taste to pickled beets. 







    Rice Vinegar

    Rice vinegar is available in red, white and black. It is widely used in Japan and China mainly for the preparation of salad dressings. Rice vinegar does not come in 5% acidity straight out of the bottle. You can find some combination rice vinegars that have added some additional ingredients to increase the acidity. Leaves a flowery flavor to foods that are pickled. 

     


    Fruit Vinegar

    Fruit vinegar is made from fruits without additional flavors. Apple, tomato, raspberry, pomegranate and quince are some of the fruit flavors used for making this vinegar. Each of these types of vinegars will vary in their acidity but all are over the 5%. These varieties added in canning chutneys give off some amazing flavors after they have mellowed in the jars for several months.



     




    Malt Vinegar

    Malt vinegar is made by malting barley. Most brands are 5% acidity or higher. Great for pickling. Popular in the UK for pickling walnut meats.


     



    Balsamic Vinegar

    Balsamic vinegar is made from cooked grapes. It is widely used in Italian cuisines. Also fantastic to use in fruit jams as an added flavor. Balsamic is at least 5% acidity but not recommended in brine pickling your cucumbers, fruits, or in fermentation, as the flavor is very sweet.


     

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Pickling & Canning salt - What is it an why use it?


    There is a common question that keeps coming up when we talk or teach about pickling, “What the heck is Pickling Salt? Why can’t I use the salt in my shaker from the kitchen table?” 

    Pickling or Canning
    salt is a particular variety of salt that is used in canning. Canning salt is a fine-grained salt and is iodine-free. It also does not have the anti-caking ingredients used in regular table salt. They add this agent to regular table salt so it will pour freely through a salt shaker. For those of you that don't know what “anti-caking” means the best explanation is if you let pickling/canning salt sit in humid or wet place it will bind together like a rock. Many people use this salt as "all purpose" in the kitchen and in humid areas they add grains of rice to the salt shakers to keep it from clumping together. The rice absorbs any moisture.

    The important reason to use a Canning/Pickling salt is the lack of additives.
    If you look at the ingredients it will only say, "SALT".  Canning/Pickling salt will not turn vegetables, especially pickles a dark color. This type of salt will also keep pickling liquids or brines from getting cloudy. One of the ways that you can tell that a pickled vegetable jar has gone bad is a cloudy liquid that is created when bacteria is present.  Canning/Pickling salt will create clear brine that is perfect for pickling. One of the other main uses for canning salt is in preserving meats like salt-cured ham or sausage.

    Like pickling salt, kosher salt is also free of iodine and also does not have the anti-caking ingredients. It can be substituted but because of the larger grain size there is an adjustment to the quantity.  Most recipes if they call for kosher salt will have already been adjusted.







    Other Salts: 
    Sea salt is evaporated sea water and contains various minerals.  It is safe to eat but minerals in the salt may cause canned foods to discolor.
    Rock salt, ice cream salt, and solar salt are used to melt ice, freeze homemade ice cream, and to soften water. Since they are not considered suitable for human consumption, do not use them for home food preservation.







    It is vital the cook use the specified amount of salt called for in the recipe so the pickles or meat will be safely preserved. 

    Things to remember about Canning/Pickling salt when canning:

    Canning/Pickling Salt has no effect on the natural color and texture of canned foods, perfect for pickles and cured or smoked foods.

    The main reason for using table salt in canning is to enhance flavor. For recipes that are not pickled or cured the salt can be omitted for people on a low-salt diet.

    Do not use salt substitutes in canning. They may cause the color or the flavor of the food to change. Also, they may give jar liquids/foods a cloudy appearance.

    Here are some other ways to enhance flavor without salt:

    Try adding one tablespoon of lemon or orange juice to each pint of carrots, beets, or asparagus. For green beans and peas, add one-half teaspoon of mace, nutmeg, or curry powder per pint.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Concord Grape Pie Filling - It looks amazing!

    I have had this recipe in my folder for over a year but just have not gotten around to making it or posting it. It's hard to find the Concord Grape variety here in Santa Barbara so I will have to leave it to those that have these readily available to give it a whirl. 

    If you need Clear Jel you can order it from the SB Canning Store!
     
    Concord Grape Pie Filling
    Yields 4 Quarts

    22 cups Concord seedless grapes, washed
    4 cups granulated sugar
    1/4 cup lemon juice (or 1 t. citric acid)
    1 cup Clear Jel
    1 cup water or 1 cup of grape juice from pulp
    Preparation: Working over two pots or bowls, take a grape in each hand and gently squeeze it over the first pot. Deposit the grape skins in the second pot. Continue until you have separated all of the grape pulps from the grape skins. You can discard the skins in your compost.
    Cooking: Place the pot with the grape pulps (do not add water!) over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently, allowing it to boil for 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside - Do not put them through a food mill or colander. You just separated the skins and you want to keep the pulp as in tacked as possible.Combine water or grape juice, sugar, and Clear Jel in a stainless steel pot. Stir using a whisk and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. It will come to a smooth texture. Add lemon juice and boil sauce 1 minute more, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat! 

    Filling: Fold in the grape pulp gently till well mixed and immediately fill hot quart jars.
    Place a canning funnel over the opening of a clean, sterilized quart jar and ladle in the hot pie filling leaving 1 1/2 inch of headspace. Using a plastic spatula remove air bubbles and refill to proper headspace if necessary.  Moisten a paper towel and wipe the rims of the jars so they are spotless. Center a hot lid on the jar and screw the ring in place until fingertip-tight.
    Processing: Place the jars in a water bath canning pot and ensure they are completely covered with water by 1-2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and process for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes are up, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and let the jars rest for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack or a towel on the counter. Let cool, undisturbed, overnight before removing rings, wiping clean and labeling. Store the jars in a cool, dark place. Store jars with the rings removed.

     To Make the Pie:
    Pour a quart of the filling into an unbaked 9" pie crust and add a lattice or decorative top.
    Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes.  Let cool before serving. Great with a little vanilla ice cream!
    Pie from Bakepedia
     Pie from happierthanapiginmud


      
    For a twist... Concord Grape Pie Filling with a Peanut Butter Crust  

    For the peanut butter crust

    3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
    1/2 cup cold peanut butter
    2/3 cup ice cold water
    1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for egg wash

    Make the peanut butter crust by placing the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and sprinkle it over the flour. Toss the butter until each piece is coated with flour. Add the peanut butter and cut it up into 1/2-inch chunks as well. Toss to coat.
    Using your hands, squeeze the butter and peanut butter in the flour, until all the pieces are smashed. Then start rubbing and squeezing flour, butter and peanut butter together until the ingredients start to become sandy and clump together a bit when you grab a handful and squeeze. Sprinkle the water over the mixture and toss with a wooden spoon or spatula until a shaggy dough forms. Using your hands, start kneading the dough until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Split the dough into two disks, flatten and wrap securely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
    Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Roll out one disk of the dough on a generously floured surface and move it to the pie tin. Prick the bottom of the tin with a fork and line it with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the tin with pie weights, dry beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the pie crust from the oven, and gently lift the parchment paper filled with the pie weights off the pie crust. Brush bottom and sides of the crust with the egg wash and place back in the oven for 5 more minutes or until the crust look dry and shiny. Remove and let cool on a rack. Add your filling and cook at 350 degrees for 35 minutes until the filling is bubbling. 
    Irvin Lin Peanut Butter Crust
    with Concord Grape Pie filling!

      


     

    Black Spots on the undersides of your Lids? Might not be harmful!

    A few of my Facebook followers have shared some concern about opening jars and finding black or brown spots on the underside of their canning lids. I have done some research on the problem and in many of the cases I read it was clearly from canners who state that their jars were sealed tight and when they removed the lids they had resistance and heard the vacuum seal or "whoosh". To their dismay there were black spots on the back side of the lid. 

    To assess these lids first you should do some quick checking;
    1. The black or brown spots do not have hairs and with a simple scratch of a utensil it appears more like a "soot".
    2. There is no strong off odor to the contents of the jar.
    3. Appears that these spots are concentrated on the lid of the jar.
    4.  When you opened the jar there was resistance in opening the lid. 
    If all these are true it could be harmless. 
    The underside of canning metal lids are protected by an enamel coating. If there are any imperfections in the enamel like tiny scratches or pinholes there can be a chemical reaction. The natural compounds in food can react with the metal in the lid to form brown or black deposits. These reactive compounds are associated with proteins in the food. When subjected to the heat of processing in a water bath or pressure canner these compounds are released. The black sulfide deposits are not harmful; they are just unattractive. Many times this reaction happens with tomatoes as the acidity is a common reactor. Unfortunately, there is nothing that will prevent these spots in future canning.

     

     
      
    If you look at the two pictures you can see there are scratches in the lid and also notice that the spots are localized to a specific place where there is an imperfection in the enamel. 

    I hope that this helps those of you that have had some concerns about why this is happening to your jars.