Friday, October 5, 2012

CSA Marinara: Jeweled Jars

So, we finally had to learn to can this year due to the (awesome! unbelievable!) volume of fresh, delicious organic tomatoes we've been getting from our CSA for several weeks.  

Pressure Canned CSA Marinara. And the only two Scarlet Runner Beans I grew this year!
Damn Groundhogs!

 To me, canning sounds crude, ugly, utilitarian, unpleasant.  Any process that produces these bright jewels, these cherished mosaics of winter should have a much more apt name. Jarring, anyone?  But, then, there's that.  So, I need a new name.  'Bastian, give me new name!  

How to do it?  I started by ordering this pressure canner:

I LOVE this thing.  And, it's perfect as a water bath canner, too.  I figured out that if you simply remove the rubber gasket, you can close it without it coming to pressure. I wish they just said that in the directions! But, anyway, there you have it. A great water bath canner or just a nice, 16 quart pot, or giant pressure cooker to use as you wish.  Cook a hill of beans in it!  

So, how do you can stuff?

You could read the book, it's not so bad.

Generally, you prepare something (cooked or raw) and put it into clean, hot jars and top off with hot liquid, put the seal on, and then put it in boiling water (water bath) or steam (pressure).  Tomatoes and tomato sauce are about 15 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure (after a ten minute period where you must vent the air/steam from the cooker so your jars don't explode haha, but I know you guys will read up on it).

If you are into canning specifically, there are some great folks doing a canning and/or preserving theme this year at MoFo, check out the Canning Round Up!  Great minds think alike.  I knew my pal Tami from Vegan Appetite was doing a Canning Theme, and I was psyched to find the other folks in the round up.  It's funny because I (very unexpectedly!) made it into the Taco Round Up! Thank you, Lazysmurf!
I love surprises, YEEEEEEEHAH!  
 So, anyway.

Some Canning Resources I dig:

Pressure vs. Water Bath Canning by The Canning Granny 

Presto's Own FAQ Page.  Very helpful.  

Pick Your Own is always a great resource despite it's kinda crazy, all over the place, cartoonish vibe. Look at the left hand margin under "Resources," and you will see the links for pickling, canning, freezing, etc. This Fig Jam is a good post if you have a fig tree (like me!).  

I got my accessories from amazon, the Presto 7 Function Canning Kit.  I love it, but wish it had a stainless steel vs. a plastic funnel.  I just need to get a metal funnel, I don't want hot canning liquids leaching out BPA from some plastic funnel!  

You can also order jars, lids, etc. on Amazon, or actually, many grocery stores have them!  Like my favorite store in all the land, Wegmans :-)

Next up...How to Candy Some Cowboys!  

Homesteading it, October 1st through October 31st, 2012


  1. Oof, I'm kind of interested in canning but not all the contraptions and potential explosions and boiling water and botulism... I'm too paranoid to do it myself. But kudos!
    Too bad about yr runner beans!

    1. We kinda had to jump in because of all that produce! Didn't want to waste it and were interested enough in canning and preserving to go for it.

      I KNOW. The groundhogs ate all the leaves when the runners first came up. They re-grew, but didn't fruit out very well (obviously!). I just got one more huge bean, though, it's right next to my computer :-)


  2. How 'bout just "preserving" sounds all lovely and homey and ol' fashioned. "Look at my lovely preserves!" I've never used a pressure canner - the one I use is a Fowlers's Vacola, which brings the water to the boil like a giant saucepan and then you leave it to cool. Is the pressure method easy?

    1. I like it! You would just have to distinguish the context as preserving refers to drying, canning, freezing, salting, sugaring, covering in olive oil, fermenting, burying in the ground and scrapbooking :-) many of which we will be discussing here throughout October! Yeay!

      Basically, pressure canning is faster and more efficient than a water bath (you are heating much less water and using much shorter processing times), but it does get very hot and could over process things you'd want to be crispy, like, for example pickles or something. And you can do low-acid ingredients in a pressure canner because of the higher heat/pressure. It's no harder than water bath canning, method-wise, that's for sure!


  3. This is super helpful! I like the idea of having my own canned goods, jarred at the peak of ripeness, but the process has always intimidated me. Thanks for breaking it down!

    1. Oh, great, I'm so glad, Cadry! I also forgot to mention that jars don't need to be "sterilized," ever for canning! You just need them to be clean (I run them in the dishwasher) and pre-warmed if you are adding like very hot sauce to them. I just put my clean jars in a low oven (225 degrees) to hold them for like 10 minutes when I'm getting ready to use them. Then I use them right out of the oven.

      Try it!

  4. Canning is so unintimidating; I don't know why I don't already do it. :( Blergh. Thanks for all the great tips, though. And I agree with you 100% that it needs a better name than "canning". It just doesn't speak to the beauty and deliciousness that you end up with!

    1. Well, it does take investing in specialized equipment (though you can make-do with certain items you may already have!) and then learning the process, so, I can see (haha CAN see) why some folks wouldn't be interested in doing it.

      BUT, if you are so inclined, go for it! We love it. And we'll think of something else to call it eventually. "Canning" totally needs a name makeover.


  5. I'm a little scared of canning and I worry that here, where I can't grow anything & pick your own farms are expensive, that it may not be worth it.

    Your canning efforts look awesome though & I'm jealous of your marinara stash!

    1. Poor JoJo! We definitely embarked on canning to save money by preserving our (often very large) CSA hauls, free CSA Member-Only pick-your owns, and our garden and fig tree yields. Without canning, we'd be composting half our share every week, mostly precious tomatoes! It's totally not scary once you educate yourself about the process and practice a few times. It's really fun!

      But, TOTALLY, if I didn't have easy access to tons of fresh, organic, seasonal produce, I would definitely think twice about canning!

      I wish I could send you some jars of marinara!