Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bottling Rhubarb

Whenever I teach canning I always teach about canning small batches. I love small batches!

Don't get me wrong, I love big batches, too.

There are advantages to small batches which include trying a new recipe or being short on time or being short on produce.

Today I canned 2 quarts of rhubarb. That's it, just 2 quarts. I didn't have to get out my big pots, which is also a nice benefit to a small batch.

2 Quarts of rhubarb took me about 1 hour 20 minutes, including harvesting the rhubarb.

We'll be using this for pie at Thanksgiving so we don't really need that much. If I had more, I would have bottled more because the pot I used would have held another quart or two and it wouldn't have added more than 5 minutes to my time.

Here is the recipe I used. It is from the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning and is found on page 2-22. You can find the entire guide at the above link. It's a great canning resource, and it's free!
I trimmed the leaves from the stalks before I cut the stalks from the ground. You can clip the stems and then trim the leaves, but I wanted to make sure there was no oxalic acid backwashing into the stems. We've had that problem before and it was no fun!

Here is my pile of leaves ready for the trash. Here is a great tutorial on how to harvest rhubarb.

Washed stems ready to cut into 1" or 1 1/2" sections.

Chopped and ready for the pan. This is about 8 cups of rhubarb, which will be about 2 quarts.

Add 1/2 cup sugar per quart of rhubarb. Let it sit until juices appear. That will take about 30 minutes or so. After the juices start flowing, slowly bring the pan to a boil.

Quickly fill hot quart (or pint) jars with rhubarb and juice. Leave 1/2" headspace (that's what the green thing is for.) It's important to have the right amount of headspace to insure a good seal and prevent the food from spilling out over the top. I didn't have quite enough liquid so I added a little bit of very light syrup to make sure I had the right amount of headspace.
Screw on the hot lids and bands so that the bands are finger tip tight.

Since this isn't my normal canning pot, I use an old cake stand in the bottom of the pan to keep the jars from touching the bottom.

As long as the pot is deep enough to cover the jars with 1"-2" of water, you can use the pot for canning. I use my headspace measurement wand to make sure that the water is at least 1" above the top of the jars.

This is the pan I use for small batches. It is filled with water that is already at 140˚F.
Bring the water to a boil and start your timer. At my altitude, I process the rhubarb for 20 minutes.

Pull the jars out with a jar lifter and sit on a towel on the counter. If your kitchen is cold, then cover the jars with a towel so they will cool slowly and not crack.

All done and ready for the rings to be removed and the labels to be put on!
You'll probably notice that my liquid level is low. This usually happens when my water is boiling too hard as I'm processing the food. It was this time, I was out of the kitchen and when I came in to check, I had to turn down the heat. The only thing that will happen is that the food above the liquid line will discolor, there isn't anything wrong with the food itself. Since these will be stored in a dark, cool room and they will be used within 6 weeks, there may not be any discoloring at all.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Snowman Dish Towels

One of our favorite things to do is to help out. My friend's church is having an old fashioned bazaar and quilt show November 7, 8, and 9th. They are raising money to replace their crumbling stained glass windows. Here's a link to an article about the fundraiser.

This beautiful church was established in 1877. It was used as a mission church to Utah Valley, and it has been the center a center for worship for the Presbyterian Church for 135 years! It has also been used as a school and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I love hearing the bells strike every hour. It doesn't matter what the weather is, if I'm close to the church and hear the bells ringing, I roll down my car windows.

I've got a few things planned to donate. Here is the first batch.

You can find these free snowman designs along with many others at Charming Station. Join their Yahoo group, too! It's a wonderful group of machine embroidery enthusiasts!

If you live close by, be sure to stop in to their Quilt Show and Old Fashioned Bazaar on November 7th, 8th, and 9th. (75 North 100 East in American Fork) Just in time for the holidays!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grape Juice

I've been bottling the last few weeks. Today I'm processing grape juice. I have a juicer that my mother-in-law gave me many years ago. I've used it almost every year. That's the kind of investment I like!

Here are the directions I use.
Grape Juice

I USED to use the open kettle method of bottling grape juice. Open kettle means that you put the hot product in a hot jar, put a lid and ring on the jar, and call it 'done'.

Not done! "True home canning is when the food is heated enough to destroy or sufficiently acid enough to prevent growth of all spores of Clostridium botulinum (that causes botulism) and other pathogens during room temperature storage on the shelf."

I process everything properly after learning more about botulism. I met a woman last week who is a nurse. When she lived in Idaho she took care of 3 members of a family that died from botulism from eating home canned food.

I rinse the grapes and make sure there are no spiders and no grapes with mold on them. Then put them in the steam juicer.

I add lids and rings and let the jars sit in the hot water until I have gotten all the juice from one juicer load of grapes.
At our altitude I process the grape juice for 20 minutes since I don't sterilize the jars before I start (although they have been washed in the dishwasher).

It's important to keep the juice hot since the processing time includes the juice beginning at a higher temperature.

I usually get about 5 quarts of juice from one juicer load of grapes.