Thursday, September 06, 2007

No Canning Do's Just Canning Dont's!

If you can, can, can!

picture photograph image what not to do when you are canning not how to can 2007 copyright of sam breach
"Cause you can can can!
Yes, you can can can!
Or you can’t can’t can’t!"
Moulin Rouge 2001 Lyrics

Because September 2007 is a Locavore Eat Local month and the emphasis is on preserving, mark my words, food blog upon food blog will be offering you tips on how you can can can. Not me, no siree, I already can can can. What I can can can also do is give you a few pointers on what you can't can't can't...

- Don't buy a pressure canner without first checking you have some enormous empty space in your home in which to store it.

- Don't start your first ever pressure canning project from scratch at 8.00pm on a school night.

- Don't swear.

- Don't pack as many tomatoes as you possibly can into your largest saucepan and turn on the heat. Instead add a few tomatoes at a time and make sure the lower ones break down to juice before adding more on top. Otherwise you will burn the bottom of your pan.

- Don't grow up in Europe otherwise you will not have the proper respect for botulism and the myriad of other things that could go terribly wrong if you can your own food.

- Don't curse.

- Don't wait until Labor Day to buy your canning jars. On Labor Day all the hardware stores and other thrifty suppliers of such equipment like the Rainbow Grocery are closed for the holiday.

- Don't install the disk of your food mill upside down. It is possible, but not recommended.

- Don't say bad words.

- Don't try to fill your kettle with the three quarts of water specified by your pressure canner and then try to boil it. Sure - 3 quarts do just about squeeze into your kettle but be warned - it will make a big watery mess everywhere when you try and bring the water to a boil.

-Don't wish it was last year, B.C. (Before extreme Canning knowledge) when you were blissfully naive, innocent and merrily canning your tomato chutney without a care in the world, using the simpler rolling boiling water method or whatever it is called.

- Don't decide you are going to can this year in order to save room in your freezer, when your freezer has acres of empty space but your bulging pantry doesn't have room to even accept one more jar.

- Don't embark on a canning project unless you think you will get extreme satisfaction from a loud popping noise in your kitchen that almost sounds like someone has been shot but is, in fact, just indication that your lid has concaved, your vacuum has sealed, you can safely remove the screw band and that the operation was a complete success...

San Marzano Local Resources
Tomatoes for canning from Mariquita

Other Resources & Further Reading
10 Tips for First Time Canners
Photo Essay Canning Tomato Sauce
Canning Day
Can you Can?
Redcurrant Jelly
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Eat Local Month September 2007

2004 | Ha! What a dated post!

© 2007 Sam Breach
No Canning Do's Just Canning Dont's!


  • At 6/9/07 23:44, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    I think you're right that this is going to start popping up all over the place - I'm planning to go out and buy some jars tomorrow, but I'm not going to do anything nearly as ambitious as canning tomato chutney. I'm thinking more along the lines of making some pickles - which I will keep in the fridge. Baby steps, people.

  • At 7/9/07 00:44, Blogger Dagny said…

    I knew there was a reason (or is that reasons) why I never tried canning.

  • At 7/9/07 02:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I ain't screwing with removing no bands, Miss Sam. I'm a canning n00b, after all. Although yours sure are pretty that way.

    Your canning don'ts is too funny, but c'mon, tell us how you made tomato've given me an idea to try and replicate a tomato-habanero jelly I bought at the Phoenix farmers market last year. When my thumb recovers from the bread-and-butter pickles, I think.

    Did Blogger word verification know it was me? It asked me to spell "go to sleep"... ;-)

  • At 7/9/07 05:29, Blogger ChrisB said…

    But despite the 'don't' you got there in the end!!

  • At 7/9/07 06:14, Blogger Erin S. said…

    I did tomatoes last summer and didn't pressure cook them, and I'm still alive ;) I figure I could tell if it's full of botchulism. Anyway, hope you enjoy the final product enough to forget the pain of making it!!

  • At 7/9/07 06:53, Blogger Kevin Kossowan said…

    Until that glorious day that I have my own cellar, I'm sticking with jams only.

  • At 7/9/07 09:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The American South is another place where no healthy respect for botulism or other evils of canning is present --- or at least not in my family, and they've been doing it for generations by boiling, filling, and letting that be that. I have to admit that their lack of trepidation has rubbed off on me, and your hilarious reasons not to can remind me how much trouble the whole pressure-cooker ordeal is. Thanks for making me laugh!

  • At 7/9/07 10:56, Blogger Rose said…

    Hee hee - how apropos, I have 8 bags of apples and pears that need canning starting today . . .

  • At 7/9/07 12:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I LOVE that popping noise. But the fear of felling those I love with botulism (I always fantasize about giving out homemade pickles for the holidays, until I picture everyone keeling over and realizing it was my pickles they all had in common!) outweighs the joy. So I bought a bigger freezer. ;-)

    Hysterical post. Thanks for the laugh!

  • At 7/9/07 12:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sam -- Your post brought back a childhood memory of lying in bed and hearing my mother's summer canning lids pop -- first one, then another, lovely little percussive sounds. Congratulations on your initiation. You're a brave one (and no swearing aloud allowed)!

  • At 8/9/07 07:24, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Sam,
    After spending my own Labor Day weekend canning, I would only add:
    -Don't, in a fit of zealotry, embark on 4 different canning and pickling projects on the same day. You will be up for the next 48 hours.
    -Do respect the culinary wisdom of your grandmothers. I didn't follow all the disinfection procedures for my tomato pickle, but garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilies have all since been proved to have anti-bacterial properties.

    I let you know if I survive eating my own pickles!

  • At 9/9/07 11:41, Blogger Kyla said…

    I was preserving every week until we moved up here to La Honda and it took me a week just to unpack and organize the kitchen. We put up (lovely old phrase!) plum jam, apricot conserve (ie jam with too little sugar); apricots in light syrup and lebanese pickled turnips. We tried apricot liqueur but it was too hot in our apartment in Pasadena and the whole thing went bad.

    However my absolute favorite thing we made, though it's about a week from ready, is drupe fruit stone liqueur aka something like amaretto. I have to drain it and add simple syrup on the 15th.

    Love the pic, as usual.

  • At 9/9/07 11:42, Blogger Kyla said…

    Also, love the manifesto of a few weeks back. It really is almost impossible to write with pleasure when there are too many voices going on around you. Brava for shutting them out.

  • At 9/9/07 13:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's always so nice to learn from the mistakes of others. xo

    P.S. You can can plain tomatoes in a boiling water canner--just add a Tablespoon (or maybe it's two, I forget) of lemon juice or vinegar to each quart jar to ensure acidity. But then you probably already knew that; you're just always up for a new challenge and obviously couldn't resist the call of the pressure canner. Mine is upstairs in storage collecting a lovely layer of dust. Of course the boiling water canner hasn't been called into service much either since I started collecting chest freezers. ; )

  • At 9/9/07 14:15, Blogger Erin said…

    I'm about to head to Ghana for seven months where I will be, by default, eating very local for seven months, so I'm currently glorying in my last week of nonlocal consumption. But I have a long fascination with canning, that my mother has repeatedly cautioned me against. very funny post.

  • At 11/9/07 23:58, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    love this post, sam. très witty. and have a great time in europe!

  • At 26/9/07 06:15, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Hilarious! And reminded me why I don't really do canning. Felt pretty ambitious last week just slow roasting tomatoes and bottling them in olive oil in the fridge - I think it's definitely babysteps all the way for me...


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