Pandan-flavored Cereal Bars

I know, I know … what-the-heck is she eating now? :)

Why, it’s Pandan-flavor Cereal Snack!

I know, the name doesn’t help much … does it? :)

Let’s break it down, shall we? First, Pandan (aka: screwpine) is an herb/flavorant that’s as popular in certain Asian cuisines as vanilla is in American cuisine. I went looking for a way to describe the taste, hoping someone else had come up with a better way to explain it other than my own “it kinda tastes herbal and coconutty at the same time” description … but apparently most other people seem to have the same problem I do. Like so many other unusual and exotic things I (and others) have tried, when someone says “soOOooo … what does pandan taste like” … we just pretty much have to say “um? … well … it tastes like pandan” :)

Beyond the pandan flavor, the “Cereal Snack” is basically made up of puffed grains of rice and sesame seeds, held together by a slightly sweet/slightly sticky sugary substance. In other words, they’re kinda like the Asian version of Rice Krispy Treats. They’re crispy and chewy and sweet and pandanny … all at the same time! I’m totally addicted to them … but–unfortunately, like so many other international foods–I’ve only found them in one store. Worse news, it’s a small Asian grocery in Chattanooga, TN … close to 3,000 miles away from where I live :(

So I’ll get them when I can, but I highly recommend that you try the Pandan-flavor Cereal Bars if you find them near you! You may love them as much as I do!

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What can you do when you have open spaces in your canner … part 2 :)

Someone in the Home Canning Yahoo group asked recently about how she could fill the remaining slots in her canner. It seems the green beans in her garden were only producing about three quarts at a time, and she hated to run a canner less than half full. I don’t blame her for that, so I tried to help her … but I kinda hit a snag on the green bean issue … thanks to the fact that green beans only take 20 minutes in the pressure canner. Honestly, there’s not a lot of pressure canner foods that only require 20 minutes, so I had trouble offering her a quick alternate suggestion.

It brought back memories of my earlier post entitled “What can you do when you have open spaces in your pressure canner?” … and got me thinking … there’s no way to sort the NCHFP recipes, so there’s no way to do a quick look to see what you could potentially add to your canner when you’ve got a few holes unfilled.

An old boss of mine wrote me a letter of recommendation many years ago, and I’ve always loved one of his comments. He said: “Lane has the innate ability to spot the problem in any sort of system: computer, operational, structural, more … but she never walks into my office to tell me about a problem … without already having a solution in-hand to fix it.”

Voila, your solution! Now when you have three or four slots left in a canner, here’s a listing of the NCHFP-approved canning recipes … broken out by type of canner … and length of processing time. Find your time, and see what else you can include in that same batch when you have space left! :)

NCHFP times for your BWB, grouped by time

food size jar time
apple butter half-pints and pints 5/10/15
apple juice pints or quarts 5/10/15
grape juice pints and quarts 5/10/15
******** ******** ********
apple butter quarts 10/15/20
apple juice half-gallons 10/15/20
apple rings, spiced half-pints and pints 10/15/20
berry syrup half-pints and pints 10/15/20
cayenne pepper sauce pints 10/15/20
easy hot-sauce half-pints 10/15/20
grape juice half-gallons 10/15/20
grapefruit and orange sections pints and quarts 10/15/20
mango salsa half-pints 10/15/20
mayhaw juice pints or quarts 10/15/20
mayhaw syrup half-pints and pints 10/15/20
spicy cranberry salsa half-pints or pints 10/15/20
******** ******** ********
grapes, whole, hot pack pints and quarts 10/15/15/20
******** ******** ********
apple butter, reduced sugar half-pints and pints 15/20/25
blender ketchup pints 15/20/25
cherry (sweet) topping half-pints or pints 15/20/25
chilie salsa pints 15/20/25
chilie salsa II pints 15/20/25
country western ketchup pints 15/20/25
fruit purees pints and quarts 15/20/25
green tomato pie filling quarts 15/20/25
lemon curd half-pints 15/20/25
mango sauce half-pints 15/20/25
peach fruit topping half-pints and pints 15/20/25
peach-apple salsa pints 15/20/25
rhubarb pints or quarts 15/20/25
tomatilla green salsa pints 15/20/25
tomato and green chile salsa pints 15/20/25
tomato ketchup pints 15/20/25
tomato salsa with paste tomatoes pints 15/20/25
tomato taco sauce pints 15/20/25
tomato/tomato paste salsa pints 15/20/25
zucchini-pineapple half-pints and pints 15/20/25
******** ******** ********
applesauce pints 15/20/20/25
berries, whole, hot pack pints or quarts 15/20/20/25
berries, whole, raw pack pints 15/20/20/25
cherries, whole, hot pack pints 15/20/20/25
cranberries pints and quarts 15/20/20/25
cranberry sauce pints and quarts 15/20/20/25
grapes, whole, raw pack pints 15/20/20/25
mangoes, green pints 15/20/20/25
papaya pints 15/20/20/25
pineapple pints 15/20/20/25
******** ******** ********
apples, sliced pints or quarts 20/25/30/35
mixed fruit cocktail half-pints and pints 20/25/30/35
nectarines, hot pack pints 20/25/30/35
papaya quarts 20/25/30/35
peaches, hot pack pints 20/25/30/35
pears, Asian pints 20/25/30/35
pears, halves pints 20/25/30/35
pineapple quarts 20/25/30/35
plum pints 20/25/30/35
spicy jicama relish pints 20/25/30/35
******** ******** ********
apple pie filling pints or quarts 25/30/35/40
apricots, hot pack quarts 25/30/35/40
apricots, raw pack pints 25/30/35/40
cherries whole, raw pack pints or quarts 25/30/35/40
nectarines, hot pack quarts 25/30/35/40
nectarines, raw pack pints 25/30/35/40
peaches, hot pack quarts 25/30/35/40
peaches, raw pack pints 25/30/35/40
pears, Asian quarts 25/30/35/40
pears, halves pints or quarts 25/30/35/40
plum quarts 25/30/35/40
******** ******** ********
apricots, raw pack quarts 30/35/40/45
blueberry pie filling pints or quarts 30/35/40/45
cherry pie filling pints or quarts 30/35/40/45
nectarines, raw pack quarts 30/35/40/45
nut meats half-pints or pints 30/35/40/45
peach pie filling pints or quarts 30/35/40/45
peaches, raw pack quarts 30/35/40/45
******** ******** ********
crushed tomatoes pints 35/40/45/50
standard tomato sauce pints 35/40/45/50
tomato juice pints 35/40/45/50
tomato veggie juice pints 35/40/45/50
******** ******** ********
standard tomato sauce quarts 40/45/50/55
tomato juice quarts 40/45/50/55
tomato veggie juice pints 40/45/50/55
tomatoes, whole or half in water pints 40/45/50/55
******** ******** ********
crushed tomatoes quarts 45/50/55/60
figs pints 45/50/55/60
tomato paste half-pints 45/50/55/60
tomatoes, whole or half in water quarts 45/50/55/60
******** ******** ********
figs quarts 50/55/60/65
******** ******** ********
tomatoes, whole or half in tomato juice pints or quarts 85/90/95/100
tomatoes, whole or half raw, no added water pints or quarts 85/90/95/100

——

And now, the same thing for Pressure Canners:

NCHFP times for your Pressure Canner, grouped by time

food size jars time
tomatoes, whole or halved in water, @  15lbs pints or quarts 5
******** ******** ********
apples, sliced pints or quarts 8
applesauce pints 8
berries, whole, hot pack pints or quarts 8
berries, whole, raw pack pints 8
cherries, whole, hot pack pints 8
fruit purees pints or quarts 8
grapefruit and orange sections, hot pack pints or quarts 8
grapefruit and orange sections, raw pack pints 8
rhubarb pints or quarts 8
******** ******** ********
applesauce quarts 10
apricots pints or quarts 10
berries, whole, raw pack quarts 10
cherries, raw pack pints or quarts 10
cherries, whole, hot pack quarts 10
crushed tomatoes @ 15lbs pints or quarts 10
grapefruit and orange sections, raw pack quarts 10
nectarines pints or quarts 10
nut meats half-pints or pints 10
peaches pints or quarts 10
pears pints or quarts 10
plum pints or quarts 10
standard tomato sauce @ 15lbs pints or quarts 10
tomato juice @15lbs pints or quarts 10
tomato veggie juice @ 15lbs pints or quarts 10
tomatoes, whole or halved in water, @ 10lbs pints or quarts 10
tomatoes, whole or halved in water, @ 11lbs pints or quarts 10
******** ******** ********
crushed tomatoes @ 10lbs pints or quarts 15
crushed tomatoes @ 11lbs pints or quarts 15
standard tomato sauce @ 10lbs pints or quarts 15
standard tomato sauce @ 11lbs pints or quarts 15
tomato juice @ 10lbs pints or quarts 15
tomato juice @ 11lbs pints or quarts 15
tomato veggie juice @ 10lbs pints or quarts 15
tomato veggie juice @ 11lbs pints or quarts 15
tomatoes, whole or halved in tomato juice, @ 15lbs pints or quarts 15
tomatoes, whole or halved in water, @ 5lbs pints or quarts 15
tomatoes, whole or halved in water, @ 6lbs pints or quarts 15
tomatoes, whole or halved, raw with no added water, @ 15lbs pints or quarts 15
******** ******** ********
beans, snap and Italian pints 20
chicken or turkey stock pints 20
crushed tomatoes @ 5lbs pints or quarts 20
crushed tomatoes @ 6lbs pints or quarts 20
meat stock pints 20
Mexican tomato sauce pints 20
spaghetti sauce without meat pints 20
standard tomato sauce @ 5lbs pints or quarts 20
standard tomato sauce @ 6lbs pints or quarts 20
tomato juice @ 5lbs pints or quarts 20
tomato juice at 6lbs pints or quarts 20
tomato veggie juice @ 5lbs pints or quarts 20
tomato veggie juice @ 6lbs pints or quarts 20
******** ******** ********
beans, snap and Italian quarts 25
carrots pints 25
chicken or turkey stock quarts 25
meat stock quarts 25
Mexican tomato sauce quarts 25
okra pints 25
spaghetti sauce without meat quarts 25
tomatoes, whole or halved in tomato juice, @ 11lbs pints or quarts 25
tomatoes, whole or halved in tomato juice, @10lbs pints or quarts 25
tomatoes, whole or halved, raw with no added water, @ 10lbs pints or quarts 25
tomatoes, whole or halved, raw with no added water, @ 11lbs pints or quarts 25
******** ******** ********
asparagus pints 30
beets pints 30
carrots quarts 30
tomatoes with okra or zucchini pints 30
******** ******** ********
beets quarts 35
peppers half-pints or pints 35
potatoes, white pints 35
tomatoes with okra or zucchini quarts 35
******** ******** ********
asparagus quarts 40
beans, fresh lima pints 40
okra quarts 40
peas, English or green pints or quarts 40
potatoes, white quarts 40
tomatoes, whole or halved in tomato juice, @ 6lbs pints or quarts 40
tomatoes, whole or halved in tomato juice, @5lbs pints or quarts 40
tomatoes, whole or halved, raw with no added water, @ 5lbs pints or quarts 40
tomatoes, whole or halved, raw with no added water, @ 6lbs pints or quarts 40
******** ******** ********
green peanuts pints 45
mushrooms half-pints or pints 45
******** ******** ********
beans, fresh lima quarts 50
green peanuts quarts 50
******** ******** ********
corn, whole kernel pints 55
pumpkins and winter squash pints 55
winter squash and pumpkins pints 55
******** ******** ********
clams half-pints 60
soups (except seafood) pints 60
spaghetti sauce with meat pints 60
succotash pints 60
******** ******** ********
beans, baked pints 65
beans, dry with tomato or molasses sauce pints 65
chicken or rabbit, with bones pints 65
potatoes, sweet pints 65
******** ******** ********
clams pints 70
crab meat half-pints 70
spaghetti sauce with meat quarts 70
spinach and other greens pints 70
******** ******** ********
beans or peas, shelled, dried, all varieties pints 75
beans, baked quarts 75
beans, dry with tomato or molasses sauce quarts 75
chicken or rabbit, with bones quarts 75
chicken or rabbit, without bones pints 75
chili con carne pints 75
meat, ground or chopped pints 75
meat, strips/cubes/chunks pints 75
mixed vegetables pints 75
oysters half-pints or pints 75
soups (except seafood) quarts 75
******** ******** ********
crab meat pints 80
******** ******** ********
corn whole kernel quarts 85
corn, creamed pints 85
succotash quarts 85
******** ******** ********
beans or peas, shelled, dried, all varieties quarts 90
chicken or rabbit, without bones quarts 90
meat, ground or chopped quarts 90
meat, strips/cubes/chunks quarts 90
mincemeat pie filling quarts 90
mixed vegetables quarts 90
potatoes, sweet quarts 90
pumpkins and winter squash quarts 90
spinach and other greens quarts 90
winter squash and pumpkins quarts 90
******** ******** ********
fish pints 100
soups (seafood) pints 100
soups (seafood) quarts 100
tuna half-pints or pints 100
******** ******** ********
fish, smoked pints 110
******** ******** ********
fish quarts 160

——-

Bookmark the list! Never leave a space in a canner again! :)

The next question is … can you process something for longer than required … just so you can fill a canner?

The answer to that is YES! It’s a really bad idea to process a food for less time than the NCHFP recommends … and your food will suffer from some nutritional degradation the longer you process it … but you’re not going to create problems with food safety if you process a jar of food longer than required. I wouldn’t suggest adding more than 5 additional minutes to a pressure canner load, or 10 minutes to a BWB load … but sometimes that little bit of flexibility can help you fill a canner. We don’t want to waste energy … but just remember, you should ONLY add more time than the NCHFP suggests … NEVER, EVER use less.

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Don’t buy the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit! :(

Again today, I heard of someone who’d bought the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit, aka: Ball Small Batch Canning Kit. It made me cringe when she said it, because–in my personal opinion–that’s one of the biggest wastes of money in the world of home canning ……

…… unless, of course, you’re canning your first three pints of jam/jelly … and you never plan to can more than three jars of jam/jelly at a time from here on.

If you’d ever like to can anything beyond that … then don’t buy the Canning Discovery Kit … because it’s a waste of money.

Here’s the straight story. If you’re looking to buy an inexpensive starter kit that will cover you for ANYTHING you want to can (from the allowed foods list, that is) for the rest of your life … then buy:

  • one 16-quart pressure canner: your choice of dial or weight gauge … one that can double as a BWB canner … $65 at WalMart.
  • one jar lifter: $5.03 at Amazon … but I’ve bought them for a LOT less, including $.69 at thrift stores.
  • “Mason” type jars (that fit the two-part canning lids) with two-piece canning lids: a case will cost you $8-15/depending on size and where you buy them.

Voila! In addition to ‘food’ and ‘time’ …. that’s all you need to can pretty much ANYTHING you’d like to learn how to can :)

If I had an extra few dollars in my pocket, I’d also add:

… because funnels like that can help you keep the lips of your jars cleaner as you fill them … and cleaner lips mean less to clean before you put your lids on.

With that minimum amount of equipment … you’ll have the ability to can
to your heart’s content … boiling water bath canning AND pressure canning … now, and 50 years from now :)

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If you look through thrift stores long enough …….

….. you’ll find anything you’ll ever need :)

Case in point … guess what I found sitting outside of a thrift store here in Chattanooga?

Yes, Dear Readers … that’s a real coffin!

I didn’t ask them what they wanted for it … but my friends and I had a blast talking about what we could do with it … including using it as a prop for some midnight photographs ‘-)

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I’ve been quiet, but I’m okay … and a quick update :)

Sorry for the radio silence, Dear Readers. In addition to having blog admin problems for the last few weeks, your faithful blogger has been on a mission of mercy for almost a month now, staying down in TN and helping my sister (and her four dogs) get settled into her new home. Then, right as I started to head home last week … this country was hit with some of the most horrific tornadoes on record. My flights were delayed four days in a row, so I finally decided to let them push me back another week … just so I could escape the stress of carrying my bags to the airport in Nashville every morning … and then having to carry them back to yet another hotel from there.

Instead, I’m back at my sister’s now … sleeping in the pack bed with her and her dogs, and being much more relaxed than all that. And, of course, I’m lucky because my flights were just delayed … but I have a home to go home to. None of my friends or family were hurt in all that bad weather. And I had the money to pay for hotels, unlike the people I saw sleeping on the floors at the airport.

I’ve got a ton of restaurant reviews from this trip that I need to get busy on. Now that whatever was hosing my blog has righted itself, I can start cranking them out.

So … she’s baaacccckkk! :)

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Reposting “How to operate a pressure canner the right way”

In my my time on Yahoo groups dedicated to the canning arts, I’ve noticed a trend. Canner manufacturers give BAD advice 😯

What do I mean by that? Okay, here’s what it says in the All American Pressure Canner manuals about starting up a canner: Pour 1-1/2 inches of water into the pot … Place lid on cooker [sic], place pressure cooker over heat source on high heat and allow steam to escape from the Vent Pipe for 7 minutes before placing the selective Pressure Regulator Weight on Vent Pipe.

Then here’s what the Presto manual says: Place 3 quarts of boiling water, canning rack, and jars in canner … Using a relatively high heat setting, heat the pressure canner until a steady flow of steam can be seen, heard, or felt coming from the vent pipe. Exhaust air from the canner for 10 minutes by allowing steam to flow from the vent pipe. Reduce heat, if necessary, to maintain a steady, moderate flow of steam.

So … what’s the problem with this advice?

Well, first off … it’s vague … but the biggest problem is … if you’re canning boiling hot food in pre-heated jars, then there’s not a single thing wrong with that advice. Use it, and your jars will come out perfect every time.

The problem is … a lot of the things we set out to can aren’t necessarily going into the jar boiling hot. We raw-pack all sorts of foods as a matter of course these days, and–more and more, just like other canners–I’m doing more in the way of “cooked in the jar” sorts of foods myself … convenience foods created by combining raw and cooked foods, many that go into the jar at various temperatures. And when you’re starting out with less than boiling hot food instead … all that boiling hot water and start it out on HIGH stuff is really bad advice.

Why? you ask. Because–if you put cold food in jars … put them into a canner with 1.5 inches of boiling hot water … turn the heat on HIGH … that water can boil around those jars a lot faster than the food in the jars will heat up. This is especially prevalent at the higher elevations (where water boils at lower temperatures) but it can happen at dead sea level, too. In fact–in some cases–you can get 10 minutes worth of “steam” out of the top of the vent pipe (more on that in a second) … then seal the pot … yet, the food in the middle of your jars may STILL not be up to full temperature at that point. And if you seal the pot before the food in the jars is up to the same temperature as the water/pot … then you run the risk of broken jars … or–at least–of jars venting food right along with the steam, which could cause seal failures … both immediately … and later, too, after those jars have sat on your shelf a couple of months, and the microscopic food particles stuck between the rubber gasket and the glass lip of your canning jar start to rot.

So, how do you prevent all this uneven heating from ruining your canning batch?

The trick to even heating in your pressure canner is two-fold: one, start everything at approximately the same temperature … and two, TAKE YOUR TIME! When most people describe their seal failures/blown jars full of food to me, the #1 reason I’ve seen for failure is that they either tried to rush or shortcut the canning process … or, unfortunately, they tried to follow that boiling hot water/start it on HIGH advice from the canner manuals. It’s frustrating to keep ending up with broken jars, or jars that lose a large percentage of their contents in the canner … only to have the seal–that you thought was okay, despite the blow-out–come back and fail six months later … in the back of your cabinet … where your nose finds it before your eyes do 😮

On the flip side of that experience, I’ve just spent the last few days canning a bunch of meals for my husband, in preparation to go on the road again soon (more later :)) … so–since Wednesday–I’ve canned the following items, all of them “cooked in the jar” and created by combining different temperatures of food together, to create a jar that’s no where near full of boiling hot food when it goes in the canner. I made:

  • 16 pints of ham and bean soup,
  • 16 pints of sausage stew,
  • 30 pints of beef vegetable soup, and
  • 14 pints of hot wings.

How many of those 76 jars failed to seal?

Zero :)

I didn’t lose a single jar … because I’ve figured out how to start everything at the same temperature … and how to take my time :)

Here’s the sequence I use. I won’t claim it has a 100% success rate, but it’s currently sitting at a solid 99.5% rate for me:

  1. fill your canner to the proper depth (3 quarts, up to the line, whatever your canner recommends) with water that’s approx. the same temperature of the food you’re going to can. This means if you’re canning cold, raw-packed food, you start with cold water. If you’re canning a mix of raw-pack and hot-pack foods, you should start with warm water. And, as the canner manufacturers recommend, if you’re canning boiling hot food, then start with boiling hot water.
  2. load the pot with properly-prepared jars of food, whatever that means for your recipe.
  3. put the top on your pot, but do NOT put the weight on the vent stem yet.
  4. if you started with something other than boiling hot food poured into hot jars, then start your pot on medium or medium-high. If you start with boiling hot food, boiling hot jars, and boiling hot water … then you should start the canner on HIGH … and skip straight to #6 when it boils inside the canner.
  5. once you turn the heat on under your pot … you need to wait–sometimes 20-30 minutes (or more) depending on how hot/cold it was to start with–until the steam is beginning to rush out of the vent pipe in a solid stream …
  6. … then–once it hits that boiling point–THEN turn your pot on HIGH … and let it boil HARD like that for another 3-4 minutes more, just to be sure … BEFORE you start your 10-minute timer. Don’t start it until being on HIGH has the steam running like gangbusters. How do you know it’s time to start the timer? The steam should be coming out of the vent pipe at this point so HOT/FAST that you can’t hold your hand over the top of it (within 1-2″) for any length of time … and it should have been running at MAX like that for at least 3-4 minutes BEFORE you start your 10-minute vent timer, just so you can be sure you’re getting a solid “Old Faithful” kinda steam jet FIRST, before you set that 10 minute timer to vent your canner. And–yes–I know that AA suggests seven minutes. I don’t have one … so I can’t speak for how fast/evenly it heats up … but when I eventually get one, I’ll probably still vent it 10 minutes … just to be extra sure. Like I said: take your time.
  7. once that 10-minute timer goes off, put the weight on the top of the vent stem–set to either 5, 10, or 15PSI … or the one-part weight on a dial canner–and leave the pot on HIGH until either the weight starts to jiggle, or the pressure on that gauge reaches the level you need.
  8. once the weight starts to jiggle/your gauge reaches the proper pressure, start your ‘canning cycle duration’ timer (based on your elevation, and the recommendations on the type of food from the NCHFP) and then turn the heat down slowly, to the point that the burner heat maintains the appropriate jiggle, based on your canner manufacturer, or the dial maintains the appropriate pressure, based on the NCHFP recommendations. REMEMBER, if you turn the heat down too fast … and either the jiggle stops, or the pressure drops below the recommended level … EVEN FOR A MINUTE! …then you’re going to have to bring the pot back up to temperature … and then start that timer over from the very beginning again … else, you can’t be guaranteed that your food’s safe … since it takes a certain level of heat held for a certain DURATION to be safe. And if you miss that duration by as little as one minute … you need to start that timer allllll over again to be safe.

Make sense? :)

Finally, the #1 problem with the vague language in most canner manuals is that they can’t show you what I can show you here with video. So, if you’ve ever wondered what a canner looks like when it’s ready for you to start the timer … and to vent your canner for 10 minutes … then this is it. I put an old cork board behind the column of steam to help you see it better … but what I really want you to do is turn on your speakers … and listen to this column of steam while you look at it. This is what you’re shooting for:

If it doesn’t look like that … then you’re not ready to start your timer for the vent cycle yet.

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Adjust for Elevation: Jellies, Jams, Butters, Conserves, Preserves, all things fruit-spready, and more!

Last–but certainly not least–we look at all of the possibility in the fruit spread category: jellies, jams, butters, conserves, preserves, and more :)

When it comes to adjusting this category for elevation … this is the easiest category of all. All fruit spreads (with the exception of chutneys, which I covered in a separate category) should be processed according to the following chart:

So–as far as fruit spreads go–it’s as simple as 5, 10, 15 :)

As far as creating your own fruit spread goes, that’s far more art than I can go into in one small blog post. However, suffice it to say that … if you find a fruit spread recipe that will gel–one with acid, pectin, and sugar on-board–then it’s probably one that will work for you if you process it in a BWB canner for the appropriate number of minutes listed above, based on your elevation. At some point in the future, I’ll go deeper into the trials and tribulations of creating your own fruit spreads …. but–for now–stick with good recipes … and remember to ALWAYS sterilize/seal your jars in a BWB to protect yourself and your goodies from those pesky canning cooties :)

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Adjust for Elevation, and more: Chutneys!

By this point, chutney should be easy … right :)

Chutney is a spread normally made of either fruits or vegetables–or a combo of both–with vinegar included in the mix … that’s then jelled like a fruit butter or preserve. The NCHFP gives you four basic chutney recipes–Apple, Mango, Tomato-Apple, and Cranberry-Orange–but as any chutney fan will tell you, that only scratches the surface when it comes to chutney potential.

In general, a good, safe canned chutney should include at least one cup of 5% vinegar (white, cider, malt, wine, etc.) for every five cups of chopped fruit and vegetables. This mixture should also include a minimum of one cup of sugar (white or brown) for every five cups of chopped fruit and vegetables. This inclusion of vinegar and sugar will help extend the life of your chutney … no matter what the main players may be … and more is always better than less when it comes to longevity :)

As far as processing goes, all chutneys should be processed based on the same 10/15/20 scale as that group of pickles … namely:

  • 10 minutes at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft
  • 15 minutes for 1,001 ft to 6,000 ft
  • 20 minutes for altitudes of over 6,000 ft

Beyond that, compare your chutney recipe with these parameters, and adjust where necessary.

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Adjust for Elevation, and more: pickles!

Other Processes

Pickling:

First, for fermented pickles, sauerkraut, etc. — use the Low Temperature Pasteurization Process outlined by the NCHFP. Because this process uses water between 180-185 degrees–which is below the boiling point–and a thermometer to determine/maintain temperature, there is no elevation adjustment for this process.

Second, pickles and pickled products fall into a several basic groups when it comes to elevation adjustments. The majority of them fall into various groups that can be split out on a three-stage elevation chart, which gives the elevation adjustment in easy five-minute increments:

Different recipes start with different amounts of basic time, then each goes up in increments of five minutes at a time, based on elevation. The time is increased once you go higher than 1,000 feet, and then once again when you go higher than 6,000 feet. See the chart above for a visual representation of where those breaking lines fall.

These three elevation-zone pickle recipes can easily be divided into three groups.

Then you have the problem children, the recipes that have different processing profiles than the ones I just listed, despite the fact that they also fall into the same basic pickled food category. First, there’s the group that divides elevation up into four categories rather than three:

  • 20 minutes for under 1,000 ft
  • 25 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 ft
  • 30 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 ft
  • 35 minutes for over 6,000 ft

This group includes: half-pints of Marinated Whole Mushrooms, pints of Spiced Crabapples (either recipe one and recipe two), pints of Pear Pickles, and pints of Pear Relish.

And, finally, we have Pickled Beets, which defy being plugged into any of the other groups … probably because beets are a root crop … and root crops are notorious for being hosts to some of the worst canning cooties. Because of that, pints or quarts of Pickled Beets both process the longest canning times of any pickles, namely:

  • 30 minutes for under 1,000 ft
  • 35 minutes for 1,001 – 3,000 ft
  • 40 minutes for 3,001 – 6,000 ft
  • 45 minutes for over 6,000 ft

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What does all this mean? Well–first–it means that a lot of people have tried to pickle a lot of different things :)

Second, it means that … if you have a pickle that doesn’t fit into any of the standard NCHFP pickles … then you need to try to find one that uses similar ingredients. Spices are freebes in this category, too … so what you need to look at beyond the vegetable/fruit is the ratio of vinegar to produce. Sugar–if included–also helps keep your pickled foods safe long-term … but this is one of the areas where–if you use undiluted vinegar–you can easily substitute Splenda or other artificial sweeteners … and still be assured of maintaining food safety. And–as always–when in doubt, and when you can’t find any approved pickle recipe that looks anything like yours … try to adjust what you have to be closer to an approved recipe … and always use the greater amount, be it vinegar, sugar, or processing time … just to be safe. Don’t be afraid to try older family recipes, too … just remember, more acidity = a safer pickle … so–when in doubt–don’t dilute your vinegar with water … even if the old recipe says it’s safe to do so. Vinegar is cheap, and using it full-strength won’t change your flavor all that much. Better safe than sorry, right? :)

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Adjust for Elevation, and more: meat!

From vegetables, we’re now going to move over to meat, which–honestly–is even easier than vegetables. There are fewer categories, again, listed with the required pint/quart processing times.

  • chicken and rabbit, without bones — 75/90; with bones – 65/75
  • chicken and rabbit stock — 20/25
  • chili — 75 (pints only)
  • ground meat — 75/90
  • meat strips/cubes/chunks — 75/90
  • meat stock — 20/25
  • soup — 60/75
  • mincemeat — 90 (quarts only)
  • clams — 60/70
  • crab — 70/80
  • fish, pints — 100
  • fish, quarts — 160***
  • fish, smoked — 110 (pints only)
  • oysters — 75 (1/2-pints or pints)
  • tuna — 110 (1/2-pints or pints)

Interesting, huh? :)

By far, meat makes more sense than any of the other categories.

  • It makes sense that chicken and rabbit with bones–which are hollow and porous, therefore they transfer heat easier than the meat around them–will reach an internal temperature where all the canning cooties are killed well before solid hunks of chicken or rabbit will, correct?
  • It makes sense that chili should can for the same amount of time as ground meat … and meat strips/cubes/chunks. They’re all roughly the same density in the jar, right?
  • There’s no real difference between the texture and consistency of chicken stock, beef stock, veal stock, turkey stock, etc. … right? … so there’s no difference between the timing of the two.
  • The soup here is the same soup recipe from the vegetable discussion, since there’s no difference between the outcomes if you approach the meat first … or the vegetables.
  • The seafood even seems to line up the same way I would have lined it up, starting at the least density … clams (because they’re small) … crab (which is flaky) … followed by oysters (which contain a lot of water … which will boil at about the same rate as the water around it … but it also contains some more solid structures that I would think would take longer for the heat to reach completely through) … and then the various size jars of fish, which has the most dense meat of the group.
  • Tuna is a ‘redder’ meat than most fish. The meat is more firm, and there is actual red blood in their bodies … so it’s not your normal fish … so it doesn’t surprise me that tuna meat takes a little extra time to process.

The only part I really didn’t quite understand was the extra 10 minutes for smoked fish … but, like I said, that’s why we rely on the NCHFP. There’s obviously some physical/chemical/scientific reason why smoking the fish first makes it take longer to pressure can … I just don’t know what it is. Regardless, it was also not surprising that the NCHFP has us covered in that area … and not surprising to discover that the adjustments for elevation were pretty standard in this category, too … both in dial-gauge canners:

… and in weight-gauge canners:

Again, considering that you can season your meats in any way you like spice-wise … and you can add any sort of legal, can-able sauce to your meat as well, then–when you’re canning meat–there’s not much need for you to venture away from these tried & true NCHFP recipes and pressure canning instructions.

Converting your own recipes to can-able recipes just got a lot easier, didn’t it? :)

As long as you stay away from those nasty canning No-No’s … if you add vegetables to your meat … it’s “soup.”

If your meat and vegetables are thicker than soup … like, oh … I don’t know … chili … *grin* … then can it like “chili” … unless, of course, it has seafood in it, and then I’d can it more like “fish” … or, if it’s really thick … like “tuna.”

This is getting easier and easier, isn’t it? :)

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