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"The oldest task in human history: to live on a piece of land without spoiling it."
- Aldo Leopold
MOF&G Cover Summer 2008
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A Brief History of Canning

Canning is only about 200 years old. It began when Parisian Nicolas Appert set out, in 1795, to win a reward from Napoleon Bonaparte for preserving food by vacuum-packing. By 1804, he’d learned to boil meat and vegetables in jars, seal them with corks and tar, and soon opened the world’s first factory for his method. In 1809, he won Napoleon’s prize of 12,000 francs.

In 1810, the first British patent for a tin-plated steel container was issued, to Peter Durand. By 1812, Bryan Donkin had opened two canneries that soon produced thousands of cases of tinned foods for England’s Royal Navy and military forces.

In 1822, vacuum-canning came to America with English immigrant William Underwood, who established a spice company in Boston. But seafood beckoned: In 1834, sardines were canned for the first time in Europe, and in 1846, Underwood began packing lobster, clams, mackerel and chowders at canneries in West Jonesport and Southwest Harbor.

The first successful American sardine cannery was established in 1876 by New York importer Julius Wolff, and soon canneries opened at Eastport, Lubec and other points along the Maine coast. In 1881, the Underwood Company established a sardine cannery at West Jonesport.



by Jean Ann Pollard

Life in Maine (and beyond) is changing. Our romance with a non-renewable, polluting, petroleum-gulping lifestyle is fini. We’ve eased up the slippery slope, hit the top, now we’re sliding down the other side.

In the face of change, and with concerns about safe, healthy food and the long distances it often travels, what can the everyday, nervous individual do?
One recommendation is to grow your own or purchase locally-grown organic produce – and ‘can’ it. Forget freezers. In case of another ice storm, flood or hurricane, power outages can’t affect satisfying glass jars on cellar shelves.

Basic Canning Pointers

Canning demands care and cleanliness. If you’re new to utensils and procedures, use only jars manufactured especially for home canning and get the Ball Company's Ball Blue Book of Preserving.

A pressure canner is mandatory for processing nonacidic foods, but a pot large enough to hold seven 1-quart jars standing upright is fine for highly acidic produce, and for everything pickled with vinegar. A classic porcelain-coated canner is best.

Jars need care. Before use wash them in hot, soapy water and rinse with boiling water. Keep them hot in a large pot of hot water as you proceed.

Always check home-canned foods before eating. Interior mold and/or loose lids mean spoilage: Discard the contents.

Recipes

Home-canned, Red, Ripe Tomatoes
(7 quarts)

Simple home-canned tomatoes are a Maine staple. Serve heated as a small side dish to any lunch or main meal, possibly sweetened with a little maple syrup and seasoned with sea salt. Use it as the base for soups or casseroles.

1) Prepare seven large-mouth quart jars as described in Basic Canning Pointers.
2) Place a rack in your big canner. Fill the canner halfway with water. Heat the water and keep it simmering.
3) Pick or purchase:
    about 24 pounds of firm, ripe, blemish-free tomatoes
Rinse them gently but thoroughly.
4) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have ready a second large pot of cold water. Drop a few tomatoes into the boiling water. The water should cover the tomatoes. When the skins begin to peel, after 5 to 10 seconds, use a large, slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes, and plunge them immediately into the cold water.
5) When cool enough to handle, cut the top ‘cores’ from each tomato, and remove the skins and any remaining blemishes. Halve or quarter if necessary. Set aside.
6) Place seven hot, 1-quart jars on a towel-covered counter. With a wide-mouth jar funnel in place, add to each:
    1 tsp. canning salt
    1 Tbsp. 5% cider vinegar
7) Pack in the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Press them to squeeze out juice until the jar is filled to within 1/2 inch of the top with fruit and juice. If the tomatoes are very watery, pour out some of the liquid and replace it with more tomatoes.
8) Poke a chopstick along the sides of each jar to remove air bubbles.
9) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of hot water, heat the metal bands and lids to just under boiling. When you’re ready to place them on your filled jars, drop them into a sieve to drain.
10) Using a clean cloth, wipe the rims of the hot, filled jars. Place the hot lids and bands on the jars, screwing the bands down until they’re just tight (so that air bubbles can escape).
11) With tongs, lower the hot, filled jars onto the rack in the simmering water in the canner. Add enough hot water to cover all the jars by about 2 inches.
12) Cover the canner, bring the water to a boil, and process the jars in this boiling-water bath for 45 minutes from when a steady boil begins.
13) After 45 minutes, use tongs to remove the jars; place them on a rack to cool.
14) When cool enough to handle, unscrew the metal bands, check to see that each jar is safely sealed – the metal lid will feel slightly concave when you press it – rinse, wipe dry and label.
15) Store in a cool, dark place.

JA’s Dilled String Beans
(7 pints)

Canned string beans are a long-standing winter necessity. Pickling them adds new taste, and salt and vinegar give added protection from botulinus

1) Prepare seven large-mouth pint jars as described in Basic Canning Pointers.
2) Place a rack in a big canner. Half fill the canner with water, heat the water, and keep it simmering.
3) Pick or purchase:
    4 pounds of tender, young string beans
Rinse them well, drain them, remove the stem ends, ‘string’ them if necessary and trim handfuls to measure 1 inch below the rim of a pint canning jar, keeping all lengths equal.
4) Stand the trimmed beans in the hot jars that have been prepared as in Basic Canning Pointers.
5) To each jar of beans, add:
    3 peppercorns
    4 Tbsp. dill seed or 1 fresh dill head
    1/4 tsp. cayenne powder (optional)
    1 garlic clove
6) In a 4-quart porcelainized saucepan, combine and heat to boiling:
    3 c. white distilled vinegar
    3 c. 5% cider vinegar
    6 c. water
    2/3 c. canning salt
7) Pour the hot vinegar mixture through a jar funnel and over the beans to within 1/2 inch of each jar rim.
8) Poke a chopstick along the sides of each jar to remove air bubbles.
9) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of hot water, heat metal bands and lids to just under boiling. When ready to place them on filled jars, drop them into a sieve to drain.
10) With a clean cloth, wipe the rims of the filled jars. Place hot lids and bands on the jars, screwing the bands down until they’re just tight (so that air bubbles can escape).
11) Using tongs, lower the hot, filled jars onto the rack in the canner of simmering water. Add more hot water if necessary to come 2 inches above the jar tops. Cover, bring the water to a boil, and process the jars in this boiling-water bath for 10 minutes from when a rolling boil begins.
12) After 10 minutes, remove the jars with tongs. Let them cool on a rack.
13) When jars are cool enough to handle, unscrew the metal bands, check to see that each jar is safely sealed – the metal lid will feel slightly concave when you press it – rinse gently, wipe dry and label.
14) Store in a cool, dark place.

JA's Pickled Ruby Red Beets
(3 quarts or 6 to 7 pints)

Pickling beets is a favorite way of preserving ruby-red color and vitamin A. Due to their long, cylindrical shape, ‘Formanova’ beets are best for this process. If your beets are round, cut them into halves or quarters and slice.
1) Cook until barely tender:
  about 15 pounds of beets
2) Once they’re tender, plunge them into cold water. Slip off the skins, drain, slice and set them aside.
You should have:
    about 12 c. of 1/4-inch-thick slices
3) Place a rack in a canner, half fill the canner with water and bring the water to a simmer.
4) Prepare seven large-mouth, 1-quart jars as described under Basic Canning Pointers.
5) In a porcelainized or stainless steel saucepan, combine:
    5 c. 5% cider vinegar
    5 c. refined, white sugar
Heat the syrup to boiling.
6) Pack sliced beets into the clean, hot canning jars, using a jar funnel, leaving a bit more than 1/2-inch of headroom.
7) To each quart jar add:
    1 tsp. canning salt
8) Cover the beets with the boiling syrup, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom. If you run short of syrup, make more.
9) Poke a chopstick along the sides of each jar to remove air bubbles.
10) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of water, heat the metal bands and lids to just under boiling. When ready to place them on your filled jars, drop them into a sieve to drain.
11) With a clean cloth, wipe the rims of the beet-filled jars. Place the hot lids and bands on the jars, screwing the bands down until they’re just tight (so that air bubbles can escape).
12) Using tongs, place the hot, filled jars into the simmering water in the canner. Add more hot water if necessary to come 2 inches above the jar tops. Cover the canner, bring the water to a boil, and process the jars in this boiling-water bath for 30 minutes from when a rolling boil begins.
13) When 30 minutes are up, remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on a rack.
14) When cool enough to handle, unscrew the metal bands, check to see that each jar is safely sealed – the metal lid will feel slightly concave when you press it – rinse gently, wipe dry and label.
15) Store in a cool, dark place.
 
Canned Carrots
(7 or 8 pints)

Canned carrots are especially helpful for making quick winter soups. They should be processed in a pressure canner. Be SURE to check your pressure canner’s directions before using!

1) Select:
    carrots 1 to 1 1/4 inches in diameter
Wash and peel them.
2) Rinse and slice them into quarter-inch disks. (Each pint jar will hold about 2 cups of carrot disks.)
3) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the carrot disks, bring to a boil again, reduce the heat, and simmer the carrots for about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking water.
4) Using a jar funnel, pack the carrot disks into sterilized, hot pint jars, leaving 1 inch of head room.
5) To each jar add:
    1/2 tsp. canning salt
Leaving 1 inch of head room, cover with:
    the boiling carrot water or fresh boiling water
6) Poke a chopstick along jar sides to release air bubbles.
7) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of water, heat the metal bands and lids to just under boiling. When ready to place them on your filled jars, drop them into a sieve to drain.
8) With a clean cloth, wipe the rims of the carrot-filled jars. Place the hot lids and bands on the jars, screwing the bands down until they’re just tight (so that air bubbles can escape).
9) Using tongs, place the hot, filled jars on the rack in the large pressure canner and process them for 30 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. Be sure to read your pressure canner directions before removing the jars. Then, using tongs, remove them to a rack to cool. Store them in a cool, dark place.

Great Cucumber Pickles
(7 or 8 pints)

This recipe is based on a New England favorite. Yellow ‘Boothby Blonde’ heirloom cukes give splendid results, especially when mixed with a green variety.

1) Buy or pick:
    6 pounds of 4-inch long, fresh cucumbers
2) Rinse them thoroughly but do not peel. Slice off both ends and cut the remainder into 1/4-inch disks.
3) Remove the skins from:
    1 lb. medium-sized onions
 Rinse, then cut the onions into 1/8-inch slices to measure 1 1/2 cups.
4) In a very large stainless steel or ceramic bowl, combine:
    cucumbers
    onions
    4 large, peeled garlic cloves, crushed
    1/3 c. canning salt
Mix them gently but thoroughly.
5) Cover with:
    2 to 3 trays of ice cubes
Let stand for 3 hours.
6) When you’re ready to can, place a rack in your canner, fill the canner halfway with water, and bring the water to a simmer.
7) Prepare 7 or 8 large-mouth pint jars as described under Basic Canning Pointers.
8) Drain the cucumbers completely and remove the garlic.
9) While the cucumbers drain, combine in a large, porcelainized pot:
    4 1/2 c. refined white sugar
    1 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
    1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
    2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices
    3 c. white vinegar
Bring the mixture nearly to a boil. Then add and heat for 5 minutes:
    drained cucumbers and onions
10) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of water, heat the metal bands and lids to just under boiling. When ready to place them on the filled jars, drop them into a sieve to drain.
11) Place the clean, hot jars on a towel-covered counter. Ladle the hot pickles through a jar funnel into each jar, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom.
12) Poke a wooden chopstick gently along the sides of each to remove air bubbles.
13) Wipe the rims of the filled jars. Place hot lids and bands on the jars, screwing the bands down until they’re just tight (so that air bubbles can escape).
13) Using tongs, place the hot, filled jars on a rack in the simmering water in the canner. Add more hot water if necessary to come at least 1 inch above the jar tops. Cover the canner, bring the water to a boil, and process the jars in this boiling water bath for 5 minutes from when a rolling boil begins.
15) When 5 minutes are up, remove the jars with tongs and place them on a rack to cool.
16) When they’re cool enough to handle, unscrew the metal bands, check to see that each jar is safely sealed – the metal lid will feel slightly concave when you press it – rinse, wipe dry, label and store in a cool, dark place.



    

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