Preserving the Plenty

What Wikipedia dubs “the process of treating and handling food to stop spoilage,” we like to think of as “the safeguard of nature’s bounty”: food preservation. On Thursday night, fhKing took a swing at preservation, hoping to fill our mason jars with a few better-than-average delicacies. With Darin Ripp in the culinary spotlight, we crowded into the Crossing kitchen on a quest to eat seasonally, live self-sustainably, and learn unceasingly.

First introduced to canning by his grandmother, Darin continues to avidly preserve an unbelievable range of food – everything from beets and salsa to cabbage and herbs.  He walked us through five types of preservation: boiling water bath canning, freezing, drying, fermentation, and refrigeration (yes, even refrigeration is a type of preservation…thanks, Kenmore!).

As you all may or may not know, National Pickle Day is quickly approaching. With that, fhKing would like to suggest two things. First, we suggest that you mark the date – Wednesday, November 14 – on your calendars (but let’s be honest, you probably already have). Secondly, we suggest that you take a swing at canning with Darin’s step-by-step instructions.

Supplies Needed:

Mason Jars with lids and bands

A large pot with some sort of bottom rack (ideally a canning pot)

Large tongs or jar lifter

A second pot for boiling water to sterilize lids/bands

Fresh food, spices, vinegar, salt, etc

A third pot to make a brine or food concoction

Clean towels, a funnel of sorts, ladles

Steps to successful canning:

1) Place un-chipped/un-cracked jars in large canning pot with rack on bottom. Pour water over the top, cover, and turn up the heat to bring to a boil.

2) Put lids/bands in small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer on the back burner to sterilize them.

3) While the canning pot comes to boil, prepare your food.

4) When your food is ready, remove jars from the pot using tongs and place on clean towel. Do the same with the lids and bands.

5) Carefully fill the jars with food, being mindful to leave ¼ to ½ inch headspace depending on recipe.

6) Carefully wipe the rims of jars with a clean dampened towel. **important**

7) Place clean lids onto jars followed by bands.

8) Place jars of freshly filled food into canning pot, making sure the jars sit on top of the rack while not touching one another. Maintain ½ inch space between all jars and one inch of water covering jars.

9) Process jars in water bath for the allotted time as determined by the recipe. Start the timer once the water begins to boil.

10) Remove jars with tongs and place on clean towel to dry.

11) After some time, the jars will seal and your food is safe. Let sit for 24 hours before moving. Label jars with date and contents.

12) Store at room temperature or below until it’s time to om nom nom!