Turtle’s Canning Tips

October 7, 2010


I’ve been learning a lot about canning lately, and thought I would share some of my observations with you. Please don’t miss the two-part quiz at the end of this entry!

1. To ensure a proper seal, jars must not be tilted. Use the tongs to carry them upright into the heated canner, and out from the boiling water onto the table.

2. If too few jars are being processed at a time, one or two jars will tip over in the canner. It is very difficult to right them. The wet glass is slippery, and the water is boiling.

3. Your batch will yield the amount that the recipe states only 10 per cent of the time. Once in every twenty recipes, it will yield two jars more than was stated.  The other 85 per cent of the time, the recipe will make 1/4 to 1/3 less than stated.

The ugly truth about relish

4. In order to have enough jars to fill the canner, you need to follow several recipes — at least one more than originally planned — simultaneously.

5. Different foods require different lengths of time to process.

6. Different sizes of jar may also require different processing times.

7. To process safely, jars must sit on a rack in the canner, and be covered by at least one inch of boiling water. Once brought to a rolling boil, the canner will work best if its lid is not removed nor its contents disturbed.

8. A large canner will process only pint or quart jars; the spacing in its rack is too wide to hold smaller jars.

9. A small canner will process only half-pint or 4-ounce jars; there is insufficient headroom for larger jars.

10. The heat generated by the canner,  the boiling vinegar pickle syrup, the bubbling jam, and the pot of warmed snaptop jar lids, slows mental responses considerably.

Got that? Good! Here’s your homework.

1. You have harvested the last of the green tomatoes, cucumbers, and thyme from your veggie patch before frost. You have decided to make three recipes: the one for 7 pints of German Green-Tomato Relish, the one for 6 cups of South-Asian-Style Pickles, and the one for 6 cups of Thyme Herb Jelly. At your disposal you have 8 wide-mouth and 2 standard pint jars, 11 8-ounce jars, and 9 125-ml jars, all with suitable tops and jar rings. Your larger canner holds up to 9 pint jars, while your smaller canner holds 9 jars of either 250-ml or half-cup size. You want to fill the appropriate canners as full as possible, while using the maximum number of smallest jars for the herb jelly and the maximum number of mid-sized jars for the South Asian pickles. Knowing that the relish takes 10 minutes to process for pint jars, the pickle takes 15 minutes for pint jars or 10 minutes for half-pint jars, and the jelly takes 5 minutes for half-pint jars (the recipe doesn’t mention half-cup jars), how will you proceed?

2. Given the odds in Tip #3 above, what is the probability of your solution being a workable one?