Home cold-pack canning[edit | edit source]
To save vegetables and fruits by canning is a patriotic duty. The war makes the need for food conservation more imperative than at any time in history. America is mainly responsible for the food supply of the world. In this way the abundance of the summer may be made to supply the needs of the winter.
By the modern cold-pack method it is as easy to can vegetables as to can fruits. Some authorities say it is easier. At any rate, it is more useful.
In the cold-pack method of canning, sterilization does away with the danger of spoilage by fermentation or "working." Sterilization consists in raising the temperature of the filled jar or can to a germ-killing point and holding it there until bacterial life is destroyed.
The word "container" is used to designate either the tin can or the glass jar.
Single-period cold-pack canning, as distinguished from old-fashioned preserving, offers a saving in time, labor, and expense, and satisfactory results. As the foodstuffs are placed in the containers before sterilization, they are cold and may be handled quickly and easily. Then the sterilization period is frequently short. This is time-saving. Finally, no rich preservatives, such as thick syrups or heavily spiced solutions, are required. Fruits may be put up in thin syrups. Vegetables require only salt for flavoring and water to fill the container.
Another advantage of this method is that it is practicable to put up food in small quantities. It pays to put up even a single container.
Thus, when there is a small surplus of some garden crop, or something left over from the order from the grocer's, one can take the short time necessary to place this food in a container and store it for future use. This is true household efficiency--the kind which, if practiced on a national scale, will conserve our war food supply and will, after the war, cut heavily into the high cost of living.
There are five principal methods of canning: (1) the cold-pack,single-period method; (2) the intermittent, or fractional sterilization method; (3) the cold-water method; (4) the open kettle or hot-pack method; and (5) the vacuum-seal method. Of these the one worked out on scientific lines by leading experts and used by many commercial canners is so much the best method for home canning,because of its simplicity and effectiveness, that it is recommended by the National Emergency Food Commission and the details are explained in their manual.
The cold-water method can be used effectively in putting up rhubarb,green gooseberries, and a few other sour berry fruits. The process is simple. The fruit is first prepared and washed and then blanched,and finally packed practically raw in containers, which are next filled with cold water and then sealed. Some sour fruits packed in this way will keep indefinitely.
A serviceable outfit may be made of materials found in any household. All that is necessary is a vessel to hold the jars or cans--such as a wash boiler or a large tin pail. This should have a tight-fitting cover. Provide a false bottom of wood or a wire rack to allow for free circulation of water under the containers.
While suburban gardeners with large surplus of vegetables find it desirable to use tin cans, being more easily handled for commercial purposes, most of us find glass jars the more satisfactory and economical containers for canned vegetables and fruits. This is especially true when there is a shortage of tin cans. All types of jars that seal perfectly may be used. Use may be made of those to which one is accustomed or which may be already on hand. The rubbers must be sound but the glass jars may be used indefinitely. Glass jars are adapted for use in any of the cold-pack canning outfits. Be sure that no jar is defective.
For use in the storing of products which are already sterilized,such as jellies, jams, and preserves, and the bottling of fruit juices, housewives may practice effective thrift by saving all jars in which they receive dried beef, bacon, peanut butter, and other products and bottles that have contained olives, catsup, and kindred goods.
Blanching is important with most vegetables and many fruits. It consists of plunging them into boiling water for a short time.
Spinach and other greens should be blanched in steam. To do this,place them in an ordinary steamer or suspend them in a tightly closed vessel above an inch or two of boiling water.
Blanching should be followed by the cold dip, plunging into cold water after removal from the hot water. Cold dipping hardens the pulp and preserves the original color, enhancing the appearance.
Blanching cleanses the articles and removes excess acids and strong flavors and odors. It also causes shrinkage, so that a larger quantity may be packed in a container. After blanching and cold dipping, surface moisture should be removed by placing the vegetables or fruits between two towels or by exposure to the sun.
All this is so simple and the directions so easily followed that the average 12-year-old may successfully can vegetables or fruits. The steps and the precautions are:
1. Select sound vegetables and fruits. (If possible can them the same day they are picked.) Wash, clean, and prepare them.
2. Have ready, on the stove, a can or pail of boiling water.
3. Place the vegetables or fruits in cheesecloth, or in some other porous receptacle--a wire basket is excellent--for dipping and blanching them in the boiling water.
4. Put them whole into the boiling water. The Commission gives a time-table for blanching. After the water begins to boil, begin to count the blanching time; this varies from one to twenty minutes,according to the vegetable or fruit.
5. When the blanching is complete, remove the vegetables or fruits from the boiling water and plunge them a number of times into cold water, to harden the pulp and check the flow of coloring matter. Do not leave them in cold water.
6. The containers must be thoroughly clean. It is not necessary to sterilize them in steam or boiling water before filling them, as in the cold-pack process both the insides of containers and the contents are sterilized. The jars should be heated before being filled, in order to avoid breakage.
7. Pack the product into the containers, leaving about a quarter of an inch of space at the top.
8. With vegetables add one level teaspoonful of salt to each quart container and fill with boiling water. With fruits use syrups.
9. With glass jars always use a good rubber. Test the rubber by stretching or turning inside out. Fit on the rubber and put the lid in place. If the container has a screw top do not screw up as hard as possible, but use only the thumb and little finger in tightening it. This makes it possible for the steam to escape and prevents breakage. If a glass top jar is used, snap the top bail only,leaving the lower bail loose during sterilization. Tin cans should be completely sealed.
10. Place the filled and capped containers on the rack in the sterilizer. If the homemade or commercial hot-water bath outfit is used, enough water should be in the boiler to come at least one inch above the tops of the containers, and the water, in boiling out,should never be allowed to drop to the level of these tops. Begin to count processing time when the water begins to boil.
At the end of the sterilizing period remove the containers from the sterilizer. Fasten covers on tightly at once, turn the containers upside down to test for leakage, leave in this position until cold,and then store in a cool, dry place. Be sure that no draft is allowed to blow on glass jars, as it may cause breakage.
11. If jars are to be stored where there is strong light, wrap them in paper, preferably brown, as light will fade the color of products canned in glass jars, and sometimes deteriorate the food value.
That's the whole trick.