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Food Preservation


Food Preservation

How-To's on putting food aside: canning, freezing, drying, much more...

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Comment by Lynda Reynolds on June 21, 2011 at 4:41pm

Janice: I use an old Amish recipe for baked beans then pressure can them up for 75 minutes.  I like them nice and thick.  I can all sorts of dried beans so I always have the jars ready for last minute meals. 

Comment by Pat Johnson on June 21, 2011 at 4:14pm
Janice...baked beans means different thngs to different people. Baked beans to me means the thick & sweet cassarole beans that are so thick you gotta cut em with a spoon or knife. I hate the soupy ones that get your hamburger soggy when on the same plate.
The baked beans you buy are always soupy. Thats because they want to save money and time by doing the entire cooking, flavoring and canning process all at the same time. The beans woudn't cook if the sauce was thick so they settle for soupy. If you want to get thick beans from the can you got to cook the beans first and then work with them. The simplest thing to do is simply buy a large gallon size can of baked beans and put them in the crockpot and cook them down till they are thick and then can them from that point. Otherwise pick any Baked Bean recipe from a reliable source and follow it to the end and then hot pack them into the jars and pressure can them (75 minutes for pints if you add any kind of meat for flavoring).
Comment by Pat Johnson on June 21, 2011 at 4:07pm
Harriet is definately right (again). Heating the blueberries up in the syrup would ensure that ALL the jars seal (assuming everything else is done right). I agree that you should eat them since they didn't seal. Not because you couldn't process them againbut becuase it's an oportunity to et them berries NOW! If we only had a way to highlight in red all the actual reasons we must do some things (like Harriet points out) it would allow us to make sure we get the important stuff right and the rest would be the stuff we can play around with and not jepordize our health or the product we're trying to preserve. I alway get my knowledge the hard way but at the end of the day you got to get it one way or the other. Trial and error is OK on things that won't kill you or make you sick (I'm pretty good on those kinds of thing). The rest is all up to the individul personality of the person doing it. Some folks like to research, study and do everything by the book and others of us like to make sure we know enough to keep us from any real danger but after that we push the envelope and learn as we go. Thats why Cornelia calls me the Jack of all trades (master of none).
Comment by Janice Carpenter on June 21, 2011 at 1:39pm
When I first signed up (last week I think) a gal had commented on canning baked beans.  I would love to get the recipe so I could have some on hand.  Thanks!
Comment by Lynda Reynolds on June 21, 2011 at 12:39pm
I'm with you Harriet.  I've been cooking since I was 9.   I believe in clean food and clean cooking, canning and baking...simple is better.  I think that is why I'm so attracted to Alton Brown's cooking style...there are valid reasons for the way he does things.  I often wonder why so many people are impressed by those that *muddy* the waters when it comes to putting together a meal.  Give me a beautiful fresh dug potato baked with hand crafted butter and sour cream: YUM!
Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on June 21, 2011 at 12:02pm

Thanks Christine. Archive away.

You know, I have come to realize that so much of food preservation starts with simple cooking knowledge.  I don't mean that to sound dismissive in the least but I do think recipes (as opposed to cooking basics) can obscure some of the logic of basic cooking.  We follow recipes slavishly when often they are created by folks who know only a little bit more than we do about cooking.  The internet has bombarded us with so many that it is darn near impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Particularly when we are new ourselves.

It is the basic science and techniques of cooking that helps be think through jam making or syrup making.  I think about it.  I think about what is happening to the structure of my ingredients by the techniques of my cooking.   That thinking is the same with food preservation as it is any other cooking technique except with food pres. I needed to learn a few new rules - what will and won't be safe in boiling water canning.  What needs to be pressure canned.  Why more salt in full fermentation when you want to can your pickles and why you can play with the salt amount if you are not canning it.   What is really happening in fermentation - dairy, vegetable, fruit.   The role of vinegar in acidifying vegetables and when I can use lower acid vinegars like rice wine and when I can't.  Why I want to pick berries after a few dry days of good sunshine.  What fruits store better and on and on and on.  

The point is, taking the time to think through these things, learn those things, will give you so much power and strength in the kitchen - canning or otherwise.  

Sometimes folks say I come off like a know it all and I hate that. I just know what it takes and given that I advocate for returning to a life of skilled home artisan traditions (not for market but for our homes) there is no real way around it.  I mean, with so few mothers or fathers  in the kitchen to teach us, so little education in the schools (no more home ec), and with so many blogs, cook books, recipes and opinions on the internet,  we can often miss out on the fundamentals. Recipes are the flourishes of the thing - not the thing itself.  We think we can just follow a recipe and it will come out well.  We forget, or never knew, what stands for sound and good cooking, how ingredients function.  Why a potato at the first of season will cook differently then at the end.  Why what you are seeing now in the markets are stored apples and that if you are wanting to make sauce - and you are on a strict budget - this is the time to do it.  They will be soft from the storage and you can or should get them for cheap from any farmer. But all too often I see them priced high at the farmer's market when I know they have been stored and it makes me mad.  

But more to the householding point - I think we imagine that learning these tricks will be easy or fast or that they do not deserve the lifetime of effort that allows for running a great householding kitchen.  Yes, not everyone wants to know all this stuff but for those who do, well, its a lovely life. 


Comment by Christene on June 21, 2011 at 11:30am
Thanks Harriet yep I already did those blueberries but will be getting more.  I need some how archive all this information it is great advice.  My littlest son looked so longingly at the jar I popped it open for him.  I am a sucker but how can I deny my child fresh fruit.  I need to get a picture of him with eat his fruit.
Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on June 21, 2011 at 11:00am
Seeping liquid is not a problem if the jar sealed.  It can happen if you fill the jar too full with liquid.  If you put the berries in raw, could be the liquid that came out of them in the cooking created the overflow.  If it didn't seal I would just store in fridge and eat.  But here is something else.  To make a nice syrup I would heat your blueberries with the sugar (and the smallest bit of water) in a pot (and here I would want a pan not a wide saucepan given I want the juice) and cook a bit before bottling up.  Think of the juice from the blueberries as the liquid for your syrup instead of actually making a heavy syrup (or light syrup) with water.  I guess I would use 1/4 to 1/2 sugar for each cup of blueberries in a pot with no more than a 1/2 cup of water for the entire pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil slowly with the lid on to start rendering the juice from the berries and so you don't scorch it, remove lid, stir and see how much liquid you got in the pot.  If dry add some water or juice (apple?) but I doubt you'll need it.  With the lid off cook on a very low simmer till you get a nice blueberry sauce.  The longer you cook it the more the blueberries would cook down and the more sauce or syrup you can get in the jar.  At least that's how I would do it.  It would allow for more blueberries in the jar given that they would be cooked down a bit and would impart a bigger blueberry bang for your syrup buck.  Does that make sense?  Of course this may be a day late and a dollar short but you sure can do the same with other berries and what the heck would be wrong with wild blackberry syrup?  What indeed!!!!!
Comment by Christene on June 21, 2011 at 10:43am
Thanks Pat - ok I did my blueberries but have not taken a picture for my records yet.  I had one jar seal but seep blueberries juice out.  Is this one still good or should I just eat it. (which would be a real hardship for littlest son - NOT)
Comment by Pat Johnson on June 21, 2011 at 8:34am
Looks like the Garden of Eden Christene! I like the sapling and branch idea. Too many people spend more than they save buying commercial poles and stuff. An oriental lady came by and went through my yard clippings not too long ago. She had a machetti and was happily chopping away and getting free poles for her beans and other veggies from my waste. I like that kind of recycling.

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