venerdì 28 marzo 2008

Canning Vegetables, Part II

Canning your own vegetables is a great way to preserve any extra veggies you might have gotten from your garden without them going to waste. It’s actually not a difficult process, and it’s pretty easy to do right at home with a few basic materials. The most common way to preserve fruits or vegetables is by using a pressure canner. It’s a special pot that holds your jars and basically seals them tight to prevent air getting in, which will cause spoilage.

Jars are most commonly used for canning. It’s easy to see what vegetable is inside, and it’s also easy to tell if the jar has become compromised and should be thrown away. These clear glass jars can be purchased in large packs at Wal-Mart or other similar stores. Usually they come with a sealing lid and a metal ring. The flat lid, usually porcelain-lined, has a special rubber ring at the top that will actually seal the jar. The metal ring goes over top of this lid and screws onto the top of the jar, keeping the lid in place. You will also need a set of tongs to remove the jars from the pressure canner, a good set of oven mitts to use to handle the hot jars, a kitchen timer and an area to cool the jars.

When canning vegetables, be sure to use only pieces that are pretty perfect. Fruits or veggies that are overly ripe or really bruised can lead to spoiling. Wash all the food thoroughly, and then cut it up, coring or removing seeds if necessary or if you prefer. You then fill the jars with the fruits or vegetables and add whatever other ingredients you choose. There are many, many canning recipes out there depending on what taste you are going for and what you plan to use the food for later. Most involve using pickling salt (available at most grocery stores) and an olive oil of some sort, at least for canning vegetables.

After you’ve prepared your jars using your recipe, it’s pretty simple. Your recipe should probably include some information about how long you need to cook your jars for, because the time varies depending on what vegetable you are canning. You want to fill the bottom of the pressure cooker with a couple inches of water, and place the jars inside, but spaced apart. Then you simply heat up the pressure cooker, to a certain amount of pressure, and time it out based on your recipe. Remove the jars and cool. Now you’re all set to have fresh vegetables grown right in your very own garden to use year-round in all the great recipes you’ll have in your copy of The Italian Kitchen! Look for the book to be available for purchase in the coming weeks, both here and at

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