Just mention the word “canning,” and many women shake their heads, thinking “I can’t do it.” Well, Extension agent Hilda Lytle and her co-instructor and avid canner Mary Cantrell say, “Yes, you can.”
They are in the middle of holding canning classes in the kitchen of First United Methodist Church, just having completed a green bean and tomato and salsa session, where several ladies now feel more confident tackling the task. Next week they will make grape jelly and preserves. The Extension service tries to offer the classes each summer in an effort to inform and educate would-be canners, and to those just wanting a refresher course.
“Home canning is a matter of following instructions as directed and definitely monitoring during the process,” said Lytle. “It’s not hard, but requires your complete attention. I feel it’s a wonderful way to enjoy the fruits of your labor throughout the year.”
Student Tara Hanson is attending the sessions to learn a new type of cooking, and to educate herself about pressure canning.
“My husband, John, was raised on this type of food, and I want to replicate that for our family,” said Tara. “The most interesting thing I have learned about is the pressure cooker, and I’m going to purchase one, and will definitely make some salsa.”
Cantrell has been canning and preserving foods for many years, and hopes others will come to realize just how delicious, nutritious and healthy foods are that you preserve yourself.
“I feel canning is a dying art, and that’s one of the reasons I encourage it so much,” said Cantrell. “The other reason the pride I feel when I’m able to take a product from ground and place it on the table to feed family and friends.”
Two processing methods are recommended for canning foods. These are the boiling water bath and the steam pressure canner. All other methods are unsafe and should be avoided by the home canner.
The boiling water bath may be used to process high-acid foods, such as fruits, tomatoes, and foods with added vinegar and fermented foods. Jams, butters, marmalades and preserves also process well in the water bath canner. They can be safely processed at 212 degrees for various amounts of time according to item being prepared.
The steam pressure canner is used to process foods under pressure at a temperature of 240 degrees, safely processing low-acid foods. This group includes all vegetables except tomatoes, protein foods such as meat, poultry or fish, mushrooms, soups and mixed vegetable recipes containing tomatoes.
Different types of steam pressure canners are available, and the home canner is encouraged to carefully read the manufacturer’s directions for a safe canning experience.
The following recipe for Cantrell’s salsa:
Mary Cantrell’s Salsa
2 gallon tomatoes (diced)
4 large onions
4 large green peppers
5-6 hot peppers
1 quart white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons canning salt
Combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat for 30 - 40 minutes. Ladle in jars and pressure at 5 pounds for 5 minutes.
UT Extension can test dual gauge canners for accuracy, and may be tested annually. Call 473-8484 to set up a time, or the canner may be left at the office to be tested. Questions concerning canning and freezing may be directed to Lytle at the Extension office.