The Art of Canning Vegetables

This is the first article in June of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on June 2, 1907, and is the second of two talk on the art of canning fruits and vegetables.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the Boston Sunday Post.

The Art of Canning Vegetables

USE glass jars always. Apart from the danger that the acid of the vegetables will make a poisonous combination with the metal can, the amateur who undertakes to solder the top to make it air-tight is likely to do the work unskillfully. Moreover, should the fruit ferment, the housewife cannot detect the beginning of the mischief, and check it by cooking the contents of the can a second time.

You cannot be too careful in preparing jars, tops and rubbers to do their part in the delicate process. It is never safe to use last year’s rubber bands for this season’s canning. They are cheap, but were they three times as expensive, the loss of two cans of fruit would be more than the price you would pay for the assurance that makes success doubly sure.

Sterilize jars, tops and bands by laying the first two in boiling water and not taking them out until you wish to fill the jars and clamp down the covers. Dip the rings into the boiling water just before they are fitted into place. Neglect of preliminary sterilizing ruins many a fine batch of “canned goods.”

To Can Tomatoes.

Select ripe tomatoes. The hard, whitish-green portions interfere with the good looks and the general integrity of the rest of the tomatoes. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes; cover the pan in which they are, to keep in the heat, and leave thus for five or, six minutes. Then strip off the skins and cut out defective or unripe parts.

When all are ready, set over a quick fire. Long and slow boiling injures color and flavor. Cover the kettle, that the boil may begin sooner than if the air were freely admitted. Boil for one minute, lift the kettle from the fire and rub the tomatoes through sterilized colander into a scalded bowl. This done, return to the kettle, and cook fast for ten minutes after the boil begins again.

The cans should be put now into fresh boiling water, and the pan containing them set on a table or chair near enough to the range to enable you to transfer the contents of the kettle directly to the cans, and while the pot is still bubbling. Dip out each ladleful from the kettle, and pour into the can which has been emptied that instant by an assistant. The jar must be filled to overflowing, the rubber being already in place. The cover is clapped on without the delay of a second and screwed down tightly. Now wash and wipe the jar, and set where the light will not strike it. When perfectly cold, wrapping paper and set away in a cool place.

Light is a serious disadvantage to canned fruits and vegetables. The forgoing directions apply to all kinds of canning, so far as the sterilization of the jars and rubbers, the actual boiling point at which the kettle must stand while the contents are transferred to the jars, the rapidity with which this is done, the scaling, cooling and the wrapping of the filled jars are concerned.

To Can Tomatoes Whole.

Scald and strip as directed in last recipe. As you peel the tomatoes, lay them in a colander to drain off superfluous juice. Have ready a kettle of really boiling water. When the tomatoes are all skinned, put them into the boiling water and leave them eight minutes, or until the boil begins again. Take out a few at a time—just enough to fill one jar; fill this up with boiling water from the kettle, seal, set aside and go on with the second jar. Proceed thus until all the tomatoes are used up.

Select the finest and firmest tomatoes for this purpose. Break them as little as possible, dipping them out with a wooden spoon.

To Can Tomatoes for Stuffing.

Peel and stew tomatoes of ordinary size, and strain through double cheese-cloth without pressing. Set the liquor aside to be used as I shall presently indicate.

Choose large, smooth tomatoes of uniform size. Do not take off the skins, but with as small,, keen-bladed knife extract the cores neatly. Arrange them in large baking pans; cover them entirely with cold water; cover the pans and leave them in the oven until the water begins to boil. Meanwhile, bring the reserved juice of the stewed tomatoes to a fast boil, and have the saucepan containing it close at hand and still boiling. Put the whole tomatoes with care into large-mouthed quart jars, fill these to overflowing with the hot juice and seal at once.

Tomatoes thus prepared may be stuffed and baked in the winter, and can hardly be distinguished from fresh.

One housewife assures me that she has used them as salad, filling them with celery or with shrimps and disposing upon lettuce leaves, then covering with mayonnaise dressing, and that they are almost equal to raw fruit. I do not vouch for the truth of her story. Tastes differ as to degrees of excellence. I do know that my stuffed tomatoes—warmed to the heart—are good.

To Can Asparagus.

Put the stalks to within two inches of the tips. There rest of the stem is wood. It will not be eaten, and takes up room in the jar that might be occupied to more advantage. Lay the asparagus, thus abbreviated, evenly and close together in a boiler and cover with cold water slightly salted. Put the cover on the boiler and set over the fire. Bring to a slow boil, and keep it up ten minutes, never letting the bubble become violent. Remove the asparagus gently with a wooden ladle; put into the jars, the tops in orderly array, uppermost; fill with boiling salt water and seal.

To Can Spinach.

Pick over the spinach when you have washed it and strip the leaves from the main stems without bruising them. Cover with cold water and leave this to freshen and crisp them. In an hour’s time transfer the leaves, dripping wet, to a granite or porcelain pot, adding no water except that which drips from the spinach. Set this pot or jar in a larger vessel of cold water. Cover the inner vessel closely to keep in the steam and set both over the fire. When the water in the outer pot begins to boil, open the inner and stir the contents gently with your wooden ladle to make sure that they are heated to the center. Cover again and let the boil go on for half an hour more. There should be enough liquid from the succulent leaves to cover the spinach when packed into the jars. Seal immediately.

To Can Beets.

Small beets are the best for canning. Wash as for present use, and leave an inch of stalk at top to prevent bleeding. Boil in slightly salted water; peel as for the table. Have ready in a neighboring saucepan enough cider vinegar to cover the beets. You must use your own judgment as to quantity. To each quart of vinegar add two tablespoonfuls of sugar, a teaspoonful of strained onion juice and a teaspoonful each of pepper and salt. Bring the vinegar to the boil. Pack the beets while hot into heated cans can cover with the vinegar from the boiling saucepan.

To Can String Beans.

The beans must be young, and newly gathered. If toughened by long keeping, or if old and stringy, they are not available for our purpose. With a sharp knife remove the strings from both sides of the beans. As you do this let the prepared beans fall into ice-cold water. Now, cut them into inch-lengths, still dropping the bits into water. Put over the fire covered with cold water, slightly salted and peppered. Boil until soft, but not broken. Transfer to heated jars, cover with boiling salted water from the kettle and seal.

Okra.

Can as you would string beans. It is absolutely essential that pods be young and tender.

Stale vegetables are unfit for canning.

A paper upon canning fruit will Appear during the summer. To give it before the height of the ripening time is upon us would be premature.

OTHER ARTICLES ALSO PUBLISHED…
Family Meals for a Week
Housemothers’ Exchange
Advertisement

A Revival of the Art of Preserving

This is the final article in May of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on May 26, 1907, and is the first of two talk on the art of canning fruits and vegetables.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the Boston Sunday Post.

A Revival of the Art of Preserving

IF THE agitation and alarm excited by “food scandals” with the details of which the newspapers have reeked lately have no other permanent result, they have revived the custom of domestic preserving in thousand of households.

Canning is hardly fifty years old. It made its way but slowly for time. We paid fifty cents apiece for cans of fresh tomatoes, and $1 for a quart of canned peaches. Then factories of “canned goods” started up like mushrooms after a summer shower all over the country; prices came down on the run under the weight of competition, old-fashioned preserves went out of favor. They were expensive; they took time and thought that might better be bestowed upon worthier objects, and they were less wholesome than fresh, ripe fruits which retained, when canned, the flavor of the “real thing.” Here and there a housewife who learned her trade in the late forties and early fifties was stubborn in the belief that preserves, properly made, hurt nobody, and that the canned fruits were insipid caricatures of the ripe originals.

By degrees thoughtful women with more advanced ideas upon most subjects have swung around to her standpoint. with regard to conserves of fruit. We have learned that much sugar and long cooking prevent the generation of mischievous germs, and that where there is a modicum of sugar, and that little, when combined with acid fruits, is not cooked long, other agencies must be called in to secure sterilization. Hence—by a natural process of reasoning—the lavish use of “chemicals” in canning factories. This admitted, much become clear to the housemotherly perceptions that had puzzled her heretofore. We knew that canned fruits needed the addition of sugar and cream to make them presentable to our palates as desserts. We were aware, even after they were thus qualified and dressed for the table of a slightly bitter flavor in the “chemical blondes” and a certain roughness left upon the tongue.

Thanks to scientific sleuths we know now the full (and the fell) meaning of these peculiar features of the cheap and convenient substitutes for our grandmothers’ preserves, and we have resolved—thousands of us—to do our canning and other kinds of preserving fruits and vegetables. The health of our children is of more value than our time—precious as that may be.

In the practical directions for putting up fruits which will follow will be found some for canning. During the winter, which is now, we fondly hope, “over and gone,” at last, have had so much solid comfort in the store of fruits put up last summer under my own eyes that I am in good heart for the recommendation to fellow-housewives to do likewise. The “canned things” of unrighteous commerce have long been proscribed from our bills of fare. Home-made jellies, marmalades, and preserves are more delicious and indubitably more wholesome.

The “system” of which we spoke last week is eminently desirable in this branch of cookery. Have everything that will be required in the work laid to your hand before you begin.

In dutiful and affectionate imitation of my own grandmother’s and my mother’s methods, I do the bulk of my preserving in the early morning. Every utensil is set in order on kitchen table; if jellying be the business in hand, the fruit, preserved last night, was put into a covered crock and set in a pot of hot water at bedtime, the fire being kept low all night. By the time I (and the sun) am ready for work, the currants, quinces, or crab apples are cooked soft in their own juice and ready for straining. By 9 o’clock the jelly is in glasses, and the cooking utensils washed. Preserving at high noon is what our English sisters call “beastly work.”

Preserved Strawberries.

Choose fine, firm berries for preserving. The smaller and less sweet may be made into marmalade. It is well, on this account, to make marmalade on the same day. Cap the berries, handling lightly, not to bruise them. Allow a of fruit to one of sugar. Use the best grade of sugar in preserving.

Wash and drain the berries, not shaking the colander, yet letting all the water drip that will come away. Put a layer of fruit into the kettle; cover thickly with sugar, and fill the kettle in this order. Cover and set at the side of the range, where it will heat slowly for the first hour. Quicken the boil and cook steadily half an hour. Take out the berries, a few at a time, not to crush them, with a broad, perforated skimmer. Spread upon large platters and set in the sun you boil the syrup left in the kettle fast and hard. It should be quite thick in half an hour unless the berries were too watery. Return the berries to the syrup, and let all boil up once. Fill small glass jars with the hot preserves. Have them full, as the contents will shrink in cooling. Seal while hot.

Preserved Raspberries.

The large yellow and red varieties are best for preserving, although the smaller kinds and wild “black caps” make good marmalade. Cook exactly as directed in the recipe for preserving strawberries.

German Preserved Strawberries.

By this name are known to sellers and buyers the singularly delicious strawberries put up in narrow, tall jars.

Prepare the berries as for preserving in the usual way, and put them with an equal number of pounds of sugar in the kettle. Bring to a gentle boil, keep this up for one minute, and transfer the fruit with a broad, perforated skimmer to several large platters. Cover with panes of glass and set in the full heat of the sun. Leave them there all day; take in sunset and put out again on the morrow. Meanwhile, boil down the syrup until rich and clear, set away and on the third day put it back on the fire. When hot add thee berries, boil for five minutes and seal in small jars.

Berry Marmalade.

For each pound of capped and weighted berries allow three-quarters of a pound of white sugar. Put the berries into the kettle and to a steady boil. Keep up for half an hour, then dip out all the juice that will come away without squeezing the fruit and add the sugar to the berries left in the kettle. Do not be afraid of getting the marmalade too dry. The sugar will make syrup enough. Cook for half an hour after the contents of the kettle begin to boil again and turn, boiling hot, into tumblers or jars, sealing at once.

Make jelly of the surplus juice you have dipped out.

Both manufactures may be carried on at the same time.

Preserved Cherries.

Get large tart cherries. Extract the stones, saving the juice that escapes in the operation. Put the sugar into the kettle with the juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Then add the fruit, cook for half an hour, take the cherries out with a skimmer and spread on broad platters in the sun. Boil the juice thick, skimming as the scum rises. In an hour’s time return the cherries to the syrup, cook slowly for fifteen minutes after the boll begins, anew, and turn hot into jars.

Orange Marmalade.

Take the skin from twelves large oranges. Before the skins have time to harden into dryness, remove the thick white lining and shred the outer yellow peel with sharp scissors into thin strips an inch long. Leave these in cold while you slice the pulp of the fruit thin, removing the tougher membrane and all seed. While you are about the work an assistant should prepare two large grape fruit and one lemon in like manner. Leave the skins in water—which must be very cold—until the prepared pulp is ready. Put pulp and peel together, draining the peel free of water, and set in a cold place all night.

In the morning measure the juice, straining the pulp through a colander, and mix with the liquid a pound of sugar for every pint. Return the juice to skins and pulp. Put them over the fire and bring to a slow boil. Simmer quietly until the peel is clear and tender. Then add the sugar and cook steadily for forty-five minutes longer. The peel should be translucent and the marmalade a clear golden jelly.

This is a truly exquisite conserve if properly made. Not even the famous Dundee marmalades surpasses it.

Marion Harland

OTHER ARTICLES ALSO PUBLISHED…
Family Meals for a Week
Housemothers’ Exchange