Yes You Can Can

Historic U.S. Government Poster

Back in Rosie’s day home canning made food stretch further and helped save money. This is also true today. Whether it’s fresh fruit grown in your home garden or on sale at your local supermarket, home canning can be a lot of fun, as well as a nice family activity.

Home canning may seem mysterious or intimidating at first, but there really isn’t much to it. You’ll need to invest in a few basic supplies to get started; a canner, which is a large, oversized stockpot with a special rack inside, a jar lifter, and a set of mason jars, all of which can be found at Ace Hardware. You’ll also need some canning pectin, which is available at your local supermarket. From there you simply follow the recipes inside the pectin box. Here’s how I do it.

Start with the prep work

I begin by filling my canner with water, placing the rack inside, and turning the burner on medium-high. (If for some reason your canner does not have a rack, place a folded tea towel on the bottom of the canner before filling it.) The canner uses a lot of water, and it may take as long as forty-five minutes, perhaps longer, before it reaches the boiling point. You’ll need to fill your canner with enough water to cover the tops of your jars by at least one inch. Water gets heavy, so I use a pitcher to fill mine.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and wash your jars, caps and rings. Place the jars on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven. Drop the caps and rings in a saucepan filled with water. Heat the water until it begins to boil, and then turn the heat down to low.

Prepare the fruit

Prepare your fruit as directed by the recipes inside the pectin box. Do not deviate from the recipes. Once you’ve filled your jars, wipe away any excess that may have dripped on the top of the jar. Place a cap on the top and make sure the ring secure. Then, once the water in the canner has begun to boil, gently place the jar inside the canner with the jar lifter. Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and never place a jar directly on the bottom of the canner. Cover and boil the cans for the time stated in the recipe.

And finally

Once you’ve finished cooking your jars carefully remove them from the canner using the jar lifter, and set them on a dish towel.  As your jars begin to cool you’ll hear popping sounds. This means the caps are sealing. To test the caps once they’ve cooled press your finger down on the center. If the cap doesn’t move it’s sealed. However, if the cap should move it means it didn’t seal properly. Sometimes this happens, and if it does simply place the jar in the refrigerator once it’s completely cooled and use the contents promptly.

DO NOT try to lift the canner until it has completely cooled. A full canner will be extremely heavy, so you may need to bail out some of the water with a pitcher before lifting.

And, finally, the rings and mason jars are reusable, so be sure to hang onto them once the jar is empty. The only thing that needs to be replaced are the caps.

Gayle Martin

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A Super Simple Thanksgiving Side Dish

I love cooking a full-course Thanksgiving dinner, even though it’s a lot of work. So much food to prepare in so little time. I have, however, figured out one quick little shortcut that helps save time, and confusion, in the kitchen.

I first discovered baked sweet potatoes at a buffet restaurant. The friend I was dining with pointed them out to me and raved about how delicious they were. While not a huge sweet potato fan myself, I noticed what an easy side dish it would be to prepare. Simply take a sweet potato, or a yam, quarter it, wrap it in foil, and bake it like a regular potato.

I tried it myself a couple of Thanksgivings ago, and it was a big hit. Much less prep time and less hassle than candied yams, with no added sugars or preservatives, no casserole dish to wash, and fewer calories to boot. Best of all, my guests loved them.

Gayle Martin

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Orange Chocolate Chip Loaf

Here in southern Arizona we have an abundant supply of citrus. So, what do you do when someone gives you a big bag full of fresh oranges? You do what Rosie would have done. Use them to create something wonderful. This recipe is easy and delicious, and I had a dear friend who adored it. 

Gayle Martin

ORANGE CHOCOLATE CHIP LOAF

  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest *
  • 1/2 cup orange just
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

OPTIONAL GLAZE

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add orange zest and orange juice. Mix until well blended. Add flour mixture, a little at time. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Bake for one hour.

If desired, make glaze by stirring sugar and orange juice together in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour over loaf. Let stand for 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan.

  • Orange zest is a term for grated orange peel.
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Asian Cabbage Salad

Chopped cabbage on a cutting board.
© Can Stock Photo / tycoon

I got this recipe years ago from a friend of a friend, at whose home I once had Christmas dinner. She served the most delicious salad with her meal, and she was happy to write down her recipe for me. It’s economical and oh so simple to make. Add chicken or shrimp and make it a meal.

GM

Asian Cabbage Salad

  • 1 head cabbage, (green or red) shredded
  • 1 package Ramen Oriental flavor soup
  • 4 to 6 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 1 small package sliced almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Place cabbage, green onions and almonds in a salad bowl. Break ramen noodles into small pieces and place on a baking dish. Add sesame seeds and toast in broiler until the noodles turn golden brown and crisp. Add to salad mixture.

DRESSING

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ramen soup seasoning packet
  • salt and pepper

Blend all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Pour over salad mixture and toss.

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