Tis the season for peaches and tomatoes! Pies, jams, sauces and soups...are you ready to can these wonderful fruits?
Water-bath or boiling-water methods of canning can be used for high acid foods such as pickles, gooseberries, apricots, plums, apples, blackberries, sour cherries, peaches, sauerkraut, pears and tomatoes. Water-bath canning cannot be used for low acid foods such as green beans, peas, corn, carrots, meat, etc. Pressure canners are required for low acid foods.
The water-bath canner features a lid, a pot that is deep enough to allow the jars being processed to be covered with 2 inches of water, and a rack to hold the jars off of the bottom of the canner and to keep them upright. These canners are commonly made of porcelain-coated steel or aluminum.
Once you've purchased your equipment, find a recipe from a reliable source. The Ball Blue Book of Preserving provides very reliable, safe recipes that have been tested. The USDA also has a wonderful canning guide - USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, which can be easily accessed on the internet. http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/publications_usda.html
It is very important to follow the recipe and canning directions to the "T." By following the recipe, you can feel confident that your product is safe for consumption later on.
Can with less sugar. Peaches can be canned in unsweetened apple or white grape juice. Non-sugar sweeteners may be used as a replacement for sugar when making jams and jellies. Look for the pectins made specifically for this purpose, and follow the directions carefully.
Tomatoes can be canned whole for later use in soups, spaghetti sauce, or stews. It is recommended that bottled lemon juice be added during the canning process to increase the acidity of the tomatoes. Today, many tomatoes are low acid. Adding lemon juice makes tomatoes safe for water-bath canning. Tomato sauces and salsas can be prepared and canned. Again, always follow the recipe to achieve a safe and reliable product.
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Frederick County will be offering a water-bath canning class on how to preserve tomatoes on Saturday, Aug. 6, at Linda's Mercantile and Farm Market in Winchester. For more information and to register, call Karen Ridings, FCS Agent, VCE-Frederick County, 540-665-5699.