Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23, 2011: Vegetable Canning Recipe

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When it comes down to it, canning vegetables like green beans, peas, and corn is quite easy. You just need to have the right equipment and follow the formula for success.
Canned corn in half pint, pint and quart size jars; jar vise for placing filled jars in your pressure cooker and taking them out, and corn shucker device.

The first step is preparing the vegetables. This year I bought a corn shucker device, shown in the photo above. It makes the process of removing the kernels from the ears of corn a breeze and it was worth every penny (I bought this one locally from a kitchen supply store for $12). Green beans need to have the stem removed, as well as the tough vein along its length, if possible. Then snap the beans into pieces that will fit in your jars, no more than 2 inches in length. For peas, you simply need to remove them from the pods. Carrots should be peeled and cut into slices about half an inch thick.

Now is a good time to get your pressure cooker going. Place a canning rack in the bottom and fill the pot halfway with water. Bring it to a gentle boil. While you’re at it, start a teapot full of water to boiling because you’ll need it soon.

Now comes the fun part. Simply place your vegetables in sterilized Mason jars (use your dishwasher since the temperature gets higher than you can stand washing by hand). Make sure you leave a half inch head space, which is about at the bottom of the screw channels at the top of the jar.

Now it’s time to add a bit of salt; use one half teaspoon for pint jars, one teaspoon for quarts. If you want to cut down on your sodium intake, halve those measurements. Take the boiling water in your teapot and fill up each jar to within half an inch of the top. Make sure the contents of your jars are covered.

Place new lids on the top of each jar and screw on a band, tightening just to finger tight.

Use a jar vise to grab each jar and carefully place it in your pressure cooker. Leave at least a tiny amount of space in between each jar. If you’re using half pint jars, you can place one on top of another to make more room. Fasten the lid on your pressure cooker but don’t yet put the pressure regulator (I call this the “jigger”) on top yet. You need to let hot steam exhaust from the whole where the jigger goes for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes of exhausting, place the pressure regulator on top. Now follow directions in your pressure cooker’s booklet for the amount of pressure required to cook at your altitude. Vegetables like those I described above shouldn’t take more than 20 to 30 minutes to process but since I live at a high elevation, I have to use 14 pounds of pressure; if you live below 2,000 feet in elevation you can use 11 pounds of pressure. After the pot gets up to the correct amount of pressure, reduce the heat to keep it steady.

Set a timer for the appropriate number of processing minutes. When the time is complete, turn the heat off and allow the cooker to reduce pressure to zero. You can slightly speed up this process by gently swishing a wet rag across the top of the pressure cooker. When no more pressure is left, remove the lid. Your jars of vegetables will still be boiling, so be very careful as you remove them with the jar vise. Place the jars on a cloth in an area where they won’t be disturbed for at least 12 hours.

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