First canning attempt

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I hope no one would use my blog as the expert guide to canning, but just in case, please don't use my blog as the expert guide to canning. This might seem somewhat instructional, but buy a book (this one seems good so far) and read the manual that came with your equipment in advance. I assume no responsibility for botulism caused by using this blog as a guide.

I picked a recipe a few days ago - Pickled Hot Peppers (from Ball book in the first paragraph). It is a simple recipe - banana peppers, jalepeno peppers, serrano peppers, vinegar, water and garlic. Plus, it accomplishes one of my goals for wanting to can in the first place - to do SOMETHING with our abundant jalapeno crop. So, knowing I wouldn't get any schoolwork done tomorrow if I didn't get this first canning event out of the way, I set out to do it about 9pm tonight.

First and most importantly, you gotta keep the riff-raff out of your food. Riff-raff=contaminants. Contaminants are bad.

Here is my crop. Well, the smaller jalapenos on the right came directly from my garden. I had to buy the serranos and banana peppers. I sliced up (according to the recipe) 3 cups of banana peppers, 1.5 cups jalapenos, and 1/2 cup serranos into about 1/2 inch slices.

Here is my hardware. The famed canner, the canner lid, and the 3 mason jars. See, not too much to get overwhelmed about. Although you must admit the shine on that beautiful pot is pretty spectacular.

Here is my documentation. The book I mentioned, and my canner manual.

Apparently, you're supposed to put your jars in the bottom of the pot and fill the pot AND the jars with water until the jars are about 2/3 full.

Then you let em hang out in the pot in simmering (not boiling) water. They'll be hot when you are ready to pack em.

The lids go in a simmering pot as well. The separate screw on lids aren't as important to keep hot, so just set them aside til later.

Canning got a little intense between these two pictures. With my peppers chopped and my jars waiting, I prepared the recipe. That is, 3 cups white vinegar, 1 cup water, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Bring it to a boil, then simmer it for 5 minutes until the liquid is infused with the garlic flavor.

In that five minutes, I layered up my peppers. Jalepenos on the bottom, banana in the middle, and a sprinkling of serrano on top. After the 5 minutes, I started pouring the liquid into the jars. I didn't have enough! I must've done something wrong, maybe didn't pack the peppers in enough so there was too much empty space. So I quickly got together more liquid and put it in the remaining jar.

There they are waiting for lids.

Tom helped me get the lids out so I could do it quickly. You just get the hot lids out of the pot and center them on the jar, then screw on the screw-on part. Don't force it too tight, just normal screwing something shut.

Then I put the jars in the pot and filled it up so the water is at least an inch over the top of the jars. See the stand on the bottom? It lifts the jars up off the bottom of the pan so the water circulates all around.

Take another picture, put the lid on, and wait for it to boil

And wait, and wait, and wait. FINALLY, it boiled, and I set the timer for 10 minutes and covered it back up.

Really, you may not have to take off the lid, you can hear the water boil and the steam really starts coming out of that hole. BTW, if you are actually pressure canning (which I would be if it were low-acid food like meat or something), that hole would be plugged, and a pressure regulator would be in the middle controlling whether I'm at 5 lbs, 10 lbs, or 15 lbs of pressure.

Oooh so shiny.

After 10 minutes, you turn off the heat, take off the lid, and wait 5 minutes for the jars to get their bearings. Then, if you're prepared, you have a jar lifter that helps you pull the stinkin' hot jars out. Or, if you are like me today, you try to get em out with tongs and a potholder. OWWW! I will get a jar lifted before I go again.

So here we have a jar of peppers. I knew from reading that I'd have to wait 24 hours for it to cool before I could test the seal of the lid. The cooling process is supposed to create a vacuum that makes sure that lid isn't going anywhere.

But, after Tom and I cleaned up the kitchen, we both heard a loud pop! It was the seal popping inward! You know how if you buy spaghetti sauce or something and that button pops up when you open it? My button got sucked down so when I open these bad boys, it will pop up. That is a good sign, I think! We waited for all three of them to pop. It was so cool!

After 24 hours, I can play around with the lid and make sure it doesn't come off easily. Then, these have to hang out for 4-6 weeks for the best flavor to develop. This definitely isn't about instant gratification. It's about enjoying food and cooking and trying a new way to enjoy it even more. And not wasting jalapeno peppers!

***UPDATE*** My seals are sealed! I did the test about 3pm today and those suckers aren't coming off. I did everything they said to do to make sure you did it right, and it all seems to have worked. Woo hoo!


Lady Blachly said...

I am not a jalapeno gal but still that all looked good. Can't wait to hear what they taste like. Maybe you can sell your crop to people who want salmonella free japs.

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