22 November, 2010

Can it.

My mother doesn't have a garden, she doesn't knit, and I've yet to see her can anything. I have grown up in a generation where I know at one point people did these things, but that was a long time ago. Perhaps that is why I look to these antiquated chores as demonstrations of domestic mastery and overall productive uses of time; I'd like to call this the Modern Female Fallacy; welcome.

Step one: Canning.
Canning is a way of preserving organic material by creating a vacuum within a can. In this case, mason jars. You can can many things, but while creating the vacuum the cans must be heated and thus the insides of the can will be heated also, so don't add anything that would ruin once heated.
What you'll need:
Something to can..
Jars with two piece lids
large pot or canning pan

Step two: Pickling.
Pickling is a way of using salt and vinegar to preserve organic matter. Pickling allows for improvisation, as long as you have the basics of white vinegar and salt the rest of the seasonings are up to you. You can really pickle anything, limes, okra, pigs feet, but lets not sink into vulgarity, here's a recipe for pickled okra.
4 canning jars
2lbs of fresh okra
1 cup white vinegar
2 cups water
1/3 cup pickling salt
1 tbsp dill
1 tbsp peppercorns
4 chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds (or powder)
Using mustard powder instead of seeds will cause your pickling brine to be cloudy, which is apparently undesirable, but I don't really mind either way.
Arrange the okra, pepper, peppercorns, and mustard in the sterilized jars. Boil the vinegar, water, and dill for 5 minutes. Once finished fill the jars with the vinegar brine, fill up to 1/8 inch below the lip. Carefully apply the lids and tighten. Wipe the jars and place in a large pot, fill the pot with water so that the lids are submerged by at least an inch of water.
This is easier accomplished by adding the water with the cans already in the pot, so that you don't heat more water than you need.
Boil for 5-10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and let sit. If the lids dimple in the canning has worked, if the lid puffs, then you need to refrigerate the cans and eat the contents within the week.

Up next, marmalade.