Turtle’s Canning Tips


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?

11 Responses to Turtle’s Canning Tips

  1. Seabrooke says:

    Heehee. It reminds me of the complicated math/logic questions that appear on high school math tests (especially the competitions that were province-wide and given outside of the main curriculum). Probably there is an actual numerical answer for this question, but since I’m not competing for anything, I think I’ll let someone else figure it out. 😉

  2. eyegillian says:

    Pickles are good, but peanut butter is easier.

  3. lavenderbay says:

    Oh good, Seabrooke, ’cause it was supposed to sound like a math word problem. It certainly felt like one — took me a full half-hour to work it out on paper! And that was only for the hypothetical amounts.

    You’re too kind, Eyegillian! But are you sure you want to take the easy way out, and give me all two dozen jars of those blueberry, gooseberry, rhubarb, raspberry, currant, and apple jams and jellies and butters we made this summer?

  4. pennycat says:

    Ok, first off I have never been good at “word problems” So, if I was contemplating a feat such as yours, I would also consider finding a good recipe for sangria or cranberry vodka…(but that’s just me)

  5. Alyson says:

    The answer is eleventy four to both questions. Of course.

  6. lavenderbay says:

    I’m with you there, Pennycat! Come over and help me make strawberry jam next June; the dandelion wine will have matured by then.

    It might as well have been, Alyson! Sometimes my insistence that there be a logical answer borders on the irrational.

  7. I just have one question. What will you charge to process all my green tomatoes in any of your recipes if I mail them all to you via Canada Post?

  8. lavenderbay says:

    I’d think a commission of 10 per cent would be fair, Barefootheart, but instead of sending them here, maybe you should drive two towns away and mail them back to yourself. The postage would be less, and by the time they arrive, they’ll have all ripened.

  9. Tony says:

    I’m not sure what a canner is. We wash our jars in hot soapy water then put them in a hot oven for about 15 minutes (I think) to sterilise. Then fill & cap. There just aint nothing like home made pickles & relish. We have still got jars of tomato relish, pickled cucumbers & pasta sauce left from last season.

  10. livingisdetail says:

    At what time does the train arrive again? Owww, the flashbacks…42?

  11. lavenderbay says:

    Hi, Tony! A canner is simply a big pot, usually black enamel-coated steel, with a lid and a removable rack, of a size to comfortably hold a certain number of standard glass canning jars (like the ones in this entry’s photo). Jar lids are in two parts, the screwband and the top which has a thin rubber gasket (when we were kids, the tops were glass and the rubber gasket was a separate piece called a jar ring). Canning kills pathogens with the boiling water and sucks some of the air out of the jar, creating a vacuum.
    Around here, if people don’t use a canner they sterilize the jars like you do, and then usually seal out the air by pouring some melted paraffin over the product before capping the jar.
    We missed tomato season here, so only put up a few jars of pasta sauce. Just wait till next year, though!

    Oh dear, didn’t mean to awaken bad memories, Livingisdetail. At least you can be grateful you’re not there anymore! Forty-two sounds like a perfectly acceptable answer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: