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Feature Tue Aug 30 2011
By now, many of you have heard of canning, putting up, etc. Well, it's that time of year to start thinking of ways to have fresh tomatoes in mid-January or enjoy strawberry preserves that are actually red and not reddish-brown!
According to the ever-authentic Wikipedia, canning is a method of preserving food in which the food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a typical shelf life ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances, a freeze-dried canned product can last as long as 30 years in an edible state. The process was first developed for the French military by a chef and inventor named Nicolas Appert in 1810. The packaging prevents microorganisms from entering and proliferating inside.
I know what you're thinking. Wait, what about botulism? Can't you harm someone (or even worse, multiple people) if you take canning into your own hands? The key to preventing any of that from happening is having a little patience and a little time.
I can a lot. I wanted to conquer any fears, so last summer, I learned the process by taking a class at The Chopping Block in Lincoln Square (who will be holding a Summer Canning and Preserving demonstration this Saturday at 10am).
I will admit that canning is a tedious process, but once you do it a few times, everything will just flow. Take a look at this video from the (in my humble opinion) source of canning, Ball:
That video should give you a brief synopsis into what the process entails. Although the video doesn't "scream" fun, it actually is. The best part is that it's so rewarding to have these things on hand--that you made with your own hands! It's also great to give these edible gifts to friends & family. They will love you for it.
Yes, you may feel like an older individual (say, like your grandma), but this is a new generation of canners. I think it's on its way to losing the stigma.
Let me get right to it. Below is a recipe for Strawberry Preserves that I make all the time. This is one of the first recipes I received from The Chopping Block. It's consistently delicious and consistently easy. I have adapted this to make a small batch. That means that it only makes a few half-pint jars of preserves.
You can pick up jars with lids and screws from most hardware stores and the price for 12 jars should be about $8.
Quart & 1/2 of strawberries
1 cup of sugar
Hull and slice the strawberries. Add in the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Boil the fruit until it gets to a consistency you like.
Once the preserves are to your liking, transfer to jars.
Boil in a water bath for about 10 minutes.
Once the jars are properly sealed, the jars are shelf stable for up to a year.
Your preserves are ready to enjoy after 1 day.
If you start to do any research on the adventures of canning, let me suggest a few books and websites.