Today, upstate NY, in Rhinebeck I went to a-most-enlightening Canning workshop where I learned how to preserve fruits and vegetables by processing them and then sealing into airtight containers. By doing this; for up to 12 months (from the canning date) my family will enjoy our summer-garden-wonders captured at the peak of freshness. Love That!
THE BENEFITS OF CANNING FOODS
* Healthier for you– By being able to control exactly what you are eating, by knowing what you are putting in your food and where it is coming from, means you can reduce toxins going into your body. You can also control the additives most processed foods have in them like colors, sugar and salt. Not to mention Genetically Modified Organisms….. did you know that about 70% of processed food in the USA has GMO’s – so scary! For example, I just looked at a jar of bought beetroot that we have in our pantry and it contains high fructose corn syrup, sugar and a high amount of salt. Needless to say, now that I have this skill I will never be buying beetroot from the supermarket again!
* Healthier for our Earth – The last 2 years in our Veggie, Fruit & Herb garden we have had times where we have had so much food we could not eat all of it. Sure, I love to juice, but even with that added in we still had so many tomatoes and beans left over. This year we will Can everything we cannot immediately use, thus not producing rubbish. Also, the jars that we will use to house our canned produce can be reused over and over for more Canning projects. Not to mention, the amount of fuel etc transporting foods to you locally from places where they are in season has a detrimental toll on the environment.
* Available All Year Round & Cheaper –Canning your own foods gives you the opportunity to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables all year around without having to pay the extra costs that off-season foods demand in the winter/colder months. Sure, there is the one time cost that you will pay for your canning setup (you can get complete canning kits in the $60 range) but really when you compare that to how much more expensive, say blueberries, are in winter compared to summer as well as the quantity you can buy in summer compared to winter, it makes it worth it.
* Self Esteem – What a fulfilling feeling to Can foods and then eat them further into the year, especially if you grew it in your own garden. I am very much looking forward to going into our pantry and being able to announce to our dinner guests “We grew this and we Canned this”. Personally, I feel pretty proud about that, and I love that I will be able to pass this skill on to my Son as well. It is a very healthy addition to our already exceptional eating habits.
SPICY PICKLED BEETROOT RECIPE
**It is advisable that you buy a Canning setup to make the process easier. As mentioned earlier, you can pick up a complete set for around $60 which will include a 21 quart water-bath canner pot, 6 Mason Jars, Ball lid wand, canning funnel, jar lifter and bubble remover.
Here is the recipe that was used in the Canning Workshop I attended –
YOU WILL NEED
- 6 pounds of organic beetroot
- 4 cups of organic apple cider vinegar (must have 5% acidity)
- 4 cups of water
- 4 tablespoon of Pickling Salt or Sea Salt
FOR THE PICKLING SPICE YOU WILL NEED
- 2 tablespoons mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon of dried red pepper
- 1 bay leaf crumbled
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Boil the beetroot until tender. This is usually somewhere in the 30 minute mark. You will know the beetroot is ready if you can easily stick a knife into the center, and if the skin peels off when you rub the fruit with your hands.
- Rinse in cool water and let sit for 15 minutes so they cool somewhat.
- Peel the beetroot, you can do this either with your hands or by using a vegetable peeler.
- Cut beetroot in half and then into quarter-inch slices.
- While the beetroot is cooking, mix the apple cider vinegar, water and salt into a medium pot – this is called the brine. Bring the Brine to a boil before you begin packing the jars.
- Divide the dry pickling spice mixture evenly into the glass jars. Then, gently pack the prepared beetroot pieces in on top of the spices. It is important to leave half an inch of headspace at the top so the vacuuming can occur (more on that later).
HOT WATER BATH METHOD
- With a stick such as chopstick gently poke into the jar releasing any air that may be in there. Generally 6 pokes will suffice.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a paper towel as to make sure there is no food there that may turn into bacteria.
- Lightly tighten the lid.
- Lower the jars into the boiling water pot and heat for 30 minutes, this is the time that it takes for the vacuuming of the jars to take place. Turn off heat, and let sit for 5 minutes before removing jars.
- Remove jars and let sit for at least 24 hours before moving to dry and dark area for 3 weeks before opening and serving.
- Do not forget to label with date and eat within a 12 month period.