Monday, August 22, 2011

D.I.Y. Home-Canning or "Screw You, Vlasic!"

Yo yo yo, Friends and Fans, this X-Country Road and Farm Adventure Fun(d) Drive is rounding third and heading for home.  Nine days left to scoop up the remaining $520, and then it's Goodbye Pledge Central, Hello Road! Until then, there's work to be done.   

Fear is a huge part of our food culture. First time I canned spicy beans, I nibbled the end off one bean and immediately called my parents to warn them that I might be dead by morning.  "Don't cry, Ma," I said, "Botulism's as good a way to go as any."  I was in the dark and afraid.  Fear is rampant in our food culture, and the giant industrial food producers love it this way.  I'm not sure that The Man created this fear, but you can be pretty damn sure that he has zero interest in making you feel empowered.  He wants you to think that P**si and Chicken nuggs are safe and that home canning is demonic.  But it's the other way around.  Home canning is glorious and safe.  It's a helluva lot safer than driving.  Check out this video, and then keep reading. 

The Low-Down on canning high-acid foods:

You don't need any special equipment to can a few pints or quarts.  You only need a big pot, some mason jars, some canning salt (which you can find at any grocery store), and some tongs to lift the jars out of the pot.  You should also read up on home canning and use a recipe to make yourself feel more comfortable and confident with the process.  It's really about the confidence: the confidence that you can make your own pickled peppers, that you don't need a monolithic corporation to do it for you.  This is about wrestling power from greedy hands.  Here are some basic things to do:

1) Do sterilize your jars and two-piece lids in boiling water for the required time 
2) Do follow the recipe, especially when it comes to vinegar-to-water ratio of your brine
3) Do "process" your stuffed jars for the required time
4) Do watch those lids:

If the lids suck down and stay down, you're in business. Processing the jars in boiling water causes gasses in the jars to spew out.  As the jars cool, a vacuum will be created inside the jar.  Yes, the botulism bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, does require an anaerobic environment, which is exactly what you create when you process the jars, which is why you should sterilize your jars and process them for the required amount of time, i.e. to kill any bacteria that might be present.  REMEMBER: the botulism bacteria must be present in the first place.  If there are live cultures in your jars, you will soon find out.  The bacteria will produce gas as a by-product of their existence in your jars, and thus the lids of your jars might bulge.  There is some risk.  THE REAL TRUTH, THOUGH, IS THAT THE PERCEIVED RISK OF HOME-CANNING IS MUCH HIGHER THAN THE ACTUAL RISK, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE CANNING HIGH-ACID FOODS.  It's this artificially high, perceived risk that the industrial food mofos want.  They want you to think that you can't can, because if you can't can, then you gotta buy their crap, and crap is what it is.  Between me an you, we all know that the megalithic food giants don't give a flying f**k about us or our health.


Sarah Reaves said...

I love this post and love to can my own stuff. So glad I found your blog. I have a post on my blog about making and canning grape jelly.

BJClikesHadleyjrHigh said...

Hello, my friend Joe Fitz has recently started canning and now I am thinking he is just taking it off this blog. I didn't know where this idea stemmed from but now I do.

This blog is FUNctional.