Think Twice Before You “Tweak”

0512 Homepage Photo - Shirley CampNo, that headline isn’t advice to over-enthusiastic youngsters when they hit the dance floor – it’s just a little common sense to the home canner who is wondering if they can just add an extra ingredient to their next batch when they’re canning in the kitchen.

The short answer is “no” – the longer answer is “know when it’s time to add your creativity and still keep the food safe for consumption.”

Continue reading

The litmus test for tomato acidity

3.08-Left-Inset-ImageThere are many varieties of tomatoes available for us to choose from – heirlooms to the newer hybrid varieties. Over the years, the acidity level of tomatoes has been researched, and data collected resulted in the United States Department of Agriculture issuing a statement in 1976 that certain varieties of tomatoes were considered low acid foods and that they must be processed as low acid foods. Since that time, recommendations are to add acid to all tomato products being processed at home.

Continue reading

Pickle Problems? Shirley Has Answers.

CucumbersI get great questions about canning and, specifically, about pickles.  Susie wrote in the other day:

I process about 90lbs of dill pickles each summer.  I discovered Mrs Wages pickle mix a few years ago and love it!  I’ve tried several of the Wages mixes.
One in particular I’d like help with is the pickled mixed veggies.  I’ve tried twice and both times the carrots and cauliflower turn out so mushy!  I want them crisp like when you buy them in the store.  What am I doing wrong?
Also, when I have extra dill pickle brine, I put up several pints of dill carrot sticks. They are so yummy!!!
I look forward to hearing from you!
Susie

Here’s what I sent back to her via email: Continue reading

How Full is Full Enough?

vegetables series: cucumbers pickles

I received a very practical canning question from Bonnie the other day and thought I’d try to share a little practical experience to help clear things up.

Bonnie’s question is about pickles. Specifically, packing a jar with cukes before adding the pickling liquid. She wrote:

Can  you  please  explain   or show how to  tightly fill a canning jar with cucumbers when  making  pickles.

I will try to explain because I have no way to video this.

Continue reading

Stirring Things Up After Letting Things Sit

Jam-and-Jelly-Preserving-Pectins-101A long-time canner and blog reader, Ramona, wrote in the other day with a good question about why jams tend to separate – meaning the fruit goes to the top of the jam rather than being evenly distributed through the jell.

Here’s her question:

I noticed on the mixed berry and rhubarb jam recipe you suggested letting the jam set before putting into jars and the water bath canner. You said this will help keep the fruit mixed. Does this help with other jam recipes?  I have done canning for years, I am 76 years old and started canning with my Grandmother when I was a child. I have had several different jams to separate after the canning process. Would it help to let it set a few minutes before putting into jars? Pepper jelly especially separates.

Here’s something to consider … Continue reading