Posts Tagged Canning
Writer’s block descended upon me early this morning. It is not so much writer’s block as having too many ideas for too many topics all at once and not being able to decide between them. Then there were several interruptions. It is one of those days when people assume that I can do as I please since I am self-employed. They are right. I can do as I please, and what pleases me is to be doing my work, right here, at this keyboard, to research topics and concoct articles, to read, to learn.
The interruptions today brought me to a pause, much like when we have placed all our skill and energy into preparing a special meal and reach a moment when all that remains is to wait for guests to arrive. We lose ourselves in the process until a change of pace makes us keenly aware of every detail again.
Perhaps everything we do is like that. Yes. Now that I think about it, every single action or process leads to a pause, many in fact, when we look at what we have accomplished so far and cannot help but give in to a few philosophical musings. This mind shift is what turns our daily activities into living poetry. It connects us to everything in a fresh new way. Some call this epiphany. It is at the source of our greatest moments of gratitude. It comes upon us through the senses, triggered by an object, a color, a smell. The poetry goes like this…
After installing a weed mat, kneeling by this year’s new garden plot - There is a place and time for weeds and a place and time for sustenance, just as there is a time for rambunctious humor and a time for serious, down to business living.
Looking back at the garden, after seeding the first rows – Now the wait. We do not want to wait, yet it is in the waiting, as much as in harvesting, that nourishment is found. Waiting grows our sense of awe. It makes it impossible for us to take anything for granted.
While cleaning the pressure canner and putting away the canning accessories and recipe book - There is much reassurance in knowing that a fresh store of wholesome food awaits. There is much reassurance in realizing that, in spite of our technological advancements, we persist in digging our own hands in the ground to give birth to our own nourishment. This, perhaps, is one of the surest signs of our immutable humanity.
As we disassemble the juicer or blender and take great, carefree gulps of the refreshing, living liquid - If only we could drink in each moment with such a sense of renewal. Each moment is renewal; it is only the observer who refuses, or fails, to know this. Maybe we should drink a fresh gulp of juice, or at least water, every time we lose faith in the possibility of renewal. Maybe that is all it takes to shift our thoughts and find hope again.
My writer’s block is gone at the moment. So I’ll pause while I’m ahead!
Canning jars are a cultural icon. They represent more than survival; they represent freshness and wholesomeness. Whatever food is stored within, the sight of a canning jar awakens the senses as well as memories.
They immediately bring to mind the aroma and flavor of their contents. If we are involved in the canning process, they connect us with this experience and everything it entails: Fulfilling time spent in the kitchen transforming the harvest into a display of color and a reserve of nourishment for survival, or for mere enjoyment; memories of mothers and grandmothers spending entire afternoons in the kitchen chatting and cooperating to create sustenance for the family and passing this skill down to newer generations.
With all that the canning jar means to us emotionally and historically, why would we choose to preserve foods in tin cans? It is a matter of choice, circumstances, and purpose. Here is a rule of thumb: Use the canning jars for moderate-term preserving of foods you will consume in the course of the year, little by little. Opt for tin cans for long-term, survival-based preserving. Also, the canning jar is re-usable, with a new lid and seal band. This is convenient for subsequent canning projects throughout the year, for an ongoing and frequently renewed supply. While it is very much recyclable, the tin can is not used repeatedly for canning. Its versatility lends itself to many other uses, however.
Survivalists, then, opt for the tin can. It is ideal for long-term food storage. Besides being non-permeable to gas and vapors (changing atmospheric conditions), and difficult for rodents to break through, unlike glass jars, tin cans are exceptionally well-suited to rough handling and transportation.
Of course, different methods demand different equipment. If you have never used a can sealer (also called can seamer), you may wonder, “How does it do that?”
First of all, if you do any canning, you already know how simple it is. And if you think about it, you have probably been using the same equipment for years, if not decades. That is because this sort of equipment is built to last. I’ve pointed this out in previous articles, but notice the design and style of a can sealer. It seems to come from another era, and it does. It looks solid, and it is. And it works, well, seamlessly! Here’s how:
A can sealer creates a seal by crimping. What this means, in effect, is that it “deforms” the edge of a metal plate that serves as the lid. It does this by compressing it around the mouth of the can while the device turns and presses down on the metal plate.
As with canning jars, once filled and sealed the tin cans are processed with heat. A pressure canner is used in this case. Processing temperature, time and specifications vary depending on the nature of the foods within the cans and also depending on the pressure canner’s manufacturer’s recommendations. It is that simple.
A final rule of thumb (I am making this one up, but I think you will agree): Choose canning jars for foods you will see daily in your pantry and use on a regular basis throughout the year. Why? Because the visual cues you get from those irresistible jars will make your heart leap with joy every time you catch a glimpse. Choose tin cans for your canning projects that are intended for “rainy days.” There, all your bases covered. Food for the senses and food for a sense of security.
More on Canning
More on Can Sealers