Here we are at the height of summer; and if you find yourself immersed in more luscious summer berries and fresh vegetables than you can eat fresh, preserve them! You’ll be grateful you did in the bleak months of winter (if you can wait that long to crack the jars open), or when you’re searching for a perfect holiday, birthday, or “just because” gift for a friend or family member. The Co-op can help you with what you need to get preserving!
Put a Lid on It
One of the most widely known aspects of canning is that the lid can only be safely used once for preserving, and after that, they are destined for years of being the cap on a jar of bulk items in the pantry, or worse—the trash. However, one company has found success in creating a truly reusable canning lid. Tattler canning lids are made from non-BPA plastic, and along with its rubber gasket counterpart, they are indefinitely reusable in water bath and pressure canning. They fit with standard metal rings and regular mouth Mason jars—both of which you’ll need to have on hand, or purchase separately. Just be aware that if you use these stark white lids with tomatoes, they will be stained a light red color—although the stain will in no way affect the safety of its reuse.
Find Tattler reusable canning lids at both Co-op locations, as well as the traditional Ball lids, rings, and jars in both wide and regular mouth.
Tools of the Trade
You’ll also find gadgets and tools at the Co-op. Canning funnels, jar lifting tongs, kitchen timers, and important ingredients such as pectin—Sure-Jell and Pomona’s Universal Pectin. What’s great about Pomona’s pectin? In addition to being vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO, it allows you to use less sugar in your preserves. Further still, you can substitute sugar for another sweetener like honey, agave, maple syrup, frozen juice concentrate, stevia, or xylitol. Find some great recipes online at: www.pomonapectin.com.
While there is no shortage of food blogs on the Internet offering recipes and inspiration, check out the Co-op for great books on preserving. A few years ago—with no prior canning experience, I followed the illustrated directions in the bright and easy-to-use Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, and my very first batch of water-bath canned tomatoes turned out perfectly. Last year, I added Marisa McClellan’s excellent Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round—a gorgeous hardcover book with lots of appetizing photos—to my kitchen and have used a number of pickle recipes from it since. Inside, a recipe for exquisitely spiced (think cumin, mustard seed, dill, and turmeric) pickled zucchini that made excellent use of all the summer squash I found myself drowning in.
Keep in mind that unlike cooking, canning and preserving recipes allow no room for creativity—they need to be followed exactly as written. It is just as important to source recipes that are “tried and true”—especially in the case of recipes found on the Internet—so that they are safe for you and your family. Enjoy the bounty!