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Ask Patch Pros: Canning And Preserving

Want to know more about stocking up on summer? Make the harvest last by asking this week’s experts how to put some garden goodness aside for later.

For two days at Patch, a few folks who know a lot about canning and preserving are ready to field your questions:

  • Tammy Winter operates Red Barn Farm of Northfield and participates in the weekly Riverwalk Market Fair in Northfield.
  • George and Patricia Scott of Fridley are mad canners who put up 90 quarts of tomatoes a couple weeks ago before moving on to green beans.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, and Wednesday, Sept. 26, they’ll field canning- and preserving-related questions from Patch users. 

So go ahead and ask away! Leave your questions in the comments area below and they’ll check back regularly until 3 p.m. Wednesday to answer your questions.

P. Scott September 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Just a word on purchasing new jars, stay with Kerr or Ball, I found them at Fleet Farm, be wary of the Wal-Mart jars, they are made in China and the word from the canning community is they are not American made and they are not the best. The Kerr/Ball jars will last 10-15 years, there is no history on the Wal-Mart jars.
Jay Whiting September 25, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Heres a tip; add 1/4 cup white vinegar to your canning water bath to avoid mineral deposits on your jars.
Jay Whiting September 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Tip #2; Chokecheery jelly is one of my favorites and a very dificult one to get right. You will either get a door stop or syrup. You can find good recipes online. But to get a nice clear jelly, can the juice and let set for a couple months untill the solids have fallen to the bottom of the jar, then rack of the clear juice to make your jelly. (works good for grape also)
P. Scott September 25, 2012 at 05:18 PM
GREAT tip! never thought of that, and you are so right!!
A. Meisner September 25, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Patsy, would ever consider making a YouTube video, or blog (with pictures) for a simple demo? I put canning in the same category as baking... I don't do it (scary!). I really like the advice and resources you've given. See, I told you, you ARE an expert!!!
P. Scott September 25, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Ha! Expert, I don't consider myself an expert in anything, but thanks for the compliment. I enjoy doing things for my family, and I love to cook, bake and helping George can. A YouTube video, I don't know that I am ready for the camera, but I think George would be a great candidate, he loves technology and canning! You are funny Mandy!!!
Paul Whackernutz September 25, 2012 at 05:40 PM
How long do canned items keep? Does it vary by what it is that's being canned?
Tammy Winter September 25, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Hello Paul, it is recommended that canned items be used by 1 year of the processing date. This ensures the flavor and quality to be retained.
P. Scott September 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
From experience, I don't usually have anything that is over two years old, but according to the web sites (and my mother) you can keep some items up to 3/4 years. ALWAYS, make sure it doesn't smell strange, or have any hint of spoilage, if it is green beans or meat I cook at a high temperature (bring to a boil) for at least 20 minutes. In the years with my mother, and the years with George and I canning, we have not had one incidence of anything spoiled that we weren't aware. If in doubt, toss it - with that said, we have had to toss only two jars. I realize that is a long answer, but check around for different times on web sites, and trust your instincts.
Craig T September 25, 2012 at 07:55 PM
I can a lot but have never canned meat. Can you tell me how I would can slices of chuck roast in quart jars?
P. Scott September 25, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Craig, this has to be in a pressure canner, and I would cube, strips or chunks it up and place it in the jar raw, I usually put some beef soup base or salt (to taste 2 tsp. recommended) for a stronger flavor, and then process it in a pressure canner for 90 minutes for quarts, 10 pounds of pressure. Let it cool on its own. DO NOT ADD liquid. If you precook the meat, add water to 1inch to the top, and I would add the bouillon or the soup base. Hope this was helpful! I think you will be happy with the results. Check this site for more information: http://www.simplycanning.com/canning-meat.html
Heyitsme September 25, 2012 at 09:13 PM
When canning green beans and you have a water softener...you will need to use bottled distilled water. I had two batches of green beans go bad days after canning them. At first because I used table salt instead of canning salt. Changed that and they still went bad. Found out it's because I used tap water and ours has water softening salts in the water.
Margaret Wachholz September 25, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Hi Chris, great subject...thank YOU! And, thanks to the folks writing in with tips. Jay, I've been canning for years and always end up with the mineral deposits on the outsides of jars. It would be quite a bonus for me to rid myself of that. Such an excellent tip, thanks! I make raspberry jam, apple butter and crab apple jelly. Don't feel like a real woman until I've made dozens and dozens of jars (...perhaps guilt - not wanting to let the fruit rot). My problem is making grape jelly. I never have mastered it. I sowed grapes about 16 years ago from bare-root. One was an Edelweiss grape (a Uof MN variety - hardy,vigorous growers) & I cannot recall the second variety. Both have grown & produced grapes for years. One green, one red. I began picking when they were slightly under-ripe, otherwise they are gone ...it is a battle between me and the birds! They are out picking before me. My jelly has been so bad I wondered if I had varieties that were not suitable for jelly making - perhaps I need to begin making wine instead?! Or, leave them for the birds as poison is all I can produce so far. Would anyone have any insight on my grape woes.
Jay Whiting September 26, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Margaret, I have ruined a lot of wine. Keep trying the jelly. Always let your juice sit in the fridge for a minnimum of a day (two days better). The tartate crystals will coagulate in the bottom of the piture. You should then filter the the juice through a cloth. Then make your jelly. Gritty jelly = no good. I use wild Minnesota Fox grapes for the best jelly ever.
Jay Whiting September 26, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Never use tap water. Use distilled water or spring water for pickles or other canned vegetables.
Jesse Lykken September 26, 2012 at 08:59 AM
There are huge numbers of ripe crab apples all over Lakewood Cemetary. My late mom used to use them to make jelly every year. She'd go with the grandchildren and bring home a yard bag full from the low hanging branches. I was there a couple of weeks ago and the trees are laden with fruit. I imagine the geese will eat all that fall to the ground, but it seems like there should be plenty for all. My mom helped herself for over 40 years and the Lakewood folks never objected (although I cannot swear that they knew). Crab apple jelly is the finest jelly in the world. I'm just saying ...
Margaret Wachholz September 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM
I will keep trying to make the grape jelly - I like the idea of leaving it in the fridge to allow the crystals to coagulate - wonderful. If nothing else the grape vines during the summer make a great fence and provides lots of privacy, shelter and birds build their nest occasionally. Then, in fall & winter the mature vines make crafts and wreaths. Thanks for your time Jay and everyone.
Margaret Wachholz September 26, 2012 at 10:25 AM
I love when folks return mason jars to me. I have close friends that will return their empty jar to me. In return I replace it with a full jar of something. For many of us, it is a love of the process...(I don't eat jams) The jars are expensive. So, when you can, it is a nice gesture to return as many jars as possible to the giver.
Margaret Wachholz September 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Jesse, you are giving me an idea. I have 6 crab apple trees and never can and will never be able to keep up the fruit. Much of it falls to the ground and rot. (Even though some summers, I will make up to 60 small pots). Next year, I'll leave bushels of crab apples out the side of the road, with a printed recipes and see if anyone cares to take them. With huge producers of apples, it is a shame to waste.
Shannon September 26, 2012 at 11:21 AM
I gather all my tomatoes at the end of the season and dip them in boiling water for 1 minute. Then peel the skins, take the seeds out and dice into small chunks. Then put them in freezer bags to have over the winter. There great in chili and whatever else you would buy canned tomatoes for.
Janitta Irwin September 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Hello! Me and my 12 year old are just starting out on our canning journey. Is there any place near the twin cities besides me bards and fleet farm that carry canning supplies? My grandmother used to have pretty jars and a variety of stickers for them. Now I can't find any stickers except the ones at Walmart that dissolve. Also would be great to know where to get the wax from grandma used to pour in the jelly jars or do people not do that anymore? Thanks from Janitta and Azhane!
P. Scott September 26, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Janitta, you can purchase canning supplies at most hardware stores, I haven't seen the stickers for quite some time. The wax is sold in grocery stores - the same wax used when making candies. Hope this helps.
HHF34 September 26, 2012 at 01:41 PM
It's a food safety issue for why they do not to use parafin wax in canning anymore and should avoid it in candymaking as well. Parafin isn't actually edible! With it being super easy to use the canning lids and just put the jars into a water bath for a few minutes (whatever time the recipe/directions call for), there's no reason to risk it. As for canning supplies, Walmart and Fleet Farm are where we typically end up going...
Heyitsme September 26, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Occasionally, Ace Hardware has canning supplies.
Heyitsme September 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Jay, my mom, grandma used tap water, one was town and one was well and never had a problem. The canning books do not say that you can't use tap water...it is assumed. I ended up asking canning experts -- from one of the blogs and one from an extension agency. They both said tap is good to use as long as the water isn't treated with softening salts. It would be cost prohibitive to buy distilled and spring water.
Susan September 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Janitta, you might want to try a craft supply store for stickers to decorate your jars. The scrapbook sections at JoAnn's and Michaels have a ton of stickers.
Jay Whiting September 26, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I would avoid tap water if you can. I have found that my pickled items turn a bit mushy using it. Maybe it is just my city water. I don't have softened water. I may be just spreading an old wives-tale, but I swear by it and have a box of blue ribons to think I'm doing it right.
Anita LopezDickey September 26, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I am trying a new recipe this year and need some help. I was planning on making Pickled Habaneros, http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/2011/08/pickled-habanero-peppers-recipereceta.html, but they don't have a time listed for the water bath. I was planning on 15min. anyone have an other tips?
P. Scott September 26, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Anita, I usually process my pickled corn relish for 10/15 minutes in the water bath, if in doubt go with the longer time. Jay may have more information on this, I always go for the longer processing time when canning/preserving a mixture of ingredients, just to be safe.
Craig T September 28, 2012 at 02:11 AM
This helps a lot. Thanks!

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