I’ve been doing some of these things for decades. Mostly I stick with the “approved” processes from the “government” and other “authorities”; but some things I’ve done do not meet with their approval. Some I’d learned were the Old Ways and were handed down as lore by parents, aunts, uncles, or just old folks in my old farm town. (Water Bath with long times for low acid things was still ‘approved’ as late as the ’70s, for example, so was common when I was growing up.) Some I’d found in old books. In particular a write up of how folks were to home can and preserve the produce of their Victory Gardens from World War II (when commercial food production was being shipped off to the armies of the world and folks back home were encouraged to turn their yards into food gardens. And very few folks had pressure canners so it was all water bath). Some things I just did because the “approved” method seemed stupid or gave unpleasant results.
Over time, I came to have my own Style of prepping and canning.
Only now have I discovered that not only am I “not alone”, but there’s a whole lot of “us” and we have a name. “Rebel Canners“. Some folks use other names like “traditional” or even “Amish Canning”, but what it comes down to is the same thing. People looking at the Authoritarian Government telling them “Thou Shalt Not!” (often with an implied “because thou art stupid…”) and saying “A-hem. I have a brain and I’m empowered to use it. STFU Government.” Sometimes, like the Amish, just saying “been doing it for generations and it has worked fine.” Note that there are even books on Rebel Canning (and I’m going to get some of them before they are banned by the Cancel Thought & Culture crowd).
In large part the “thou shalt not” comes down to just a few things.
1) You are too stupid to adjust for altitude.
2) You are too stupid to know about pH or adjust it (and no way you can use a pH strip or meter).
3) WE, the authorities, have not been paid to test that particular method, process or product, and until someone pays us a LOT of money to use our Scientific Equipment to do the testing, we will not approve. So cough up the money.
4) Products or procedures that need special care or are just not something you are smart enough to do.
I’d also assert there’s some amount of industrial influence of the form:
5) THAT would result in reduced sales of stuff from our favored industrial “contributor” so no way we can say that practice is OK. Go out and buy a lot of new stuff and don’t even think about ways to avoid spending that money.
There’s plenty of room to use your brain and common sense to do perfectly fine canning of products that are safe to eat and NOT USDA / FDA or anyone else “approved”. How do I know this? Because folks have been doing it for generations. The Amish, in particular, have been “Water Bath Canning” everything for generations and are not dropping like flies from poisoning. (My Grandma included…)
So the rest of this posting will be taking about how to can things that you are forbidden to can in ways that are forbidden (by Authorities). So I have to put in a Requisite Disclaimer: Anyone who does any of this stuff is on their own. I’m not recommending that anyone do it, nor am I saying it is Just Fine For You. I’m saying “this is what I do” for me in my location. (And location matters. More below). So proceed at your own risk. Do it wrong or against the “advice of authorities” and it can kill you.
(I find it slightly funny that every YouTube video showing these things has such a disclaimer…)
So with that out of the way, let’s look at some of these “Rebel” techniques and products.
First off, why do it? Well, my interest started out as a “Prepper” thing with a bit of “Wait a mo… I remember stories of folks saying they did it for decades or generations…” historical perspective. It branched out a bit into “how can I put up foods more cheaply or re-use materials that might not be available in an Aw Shit catastrophe. Then I also found that some products just worked better or tasted a lot better.
With that, let’s look at some of the Forbidden Things, and how they are done anyway by Rebels like me and like others.
Starting with #5:
You are forbidden to reuse canning lids, or to reuse commercial jars & lids from products you bought at the store. Why? Because they may fail to seal, have a defect in the coating under the lid that can spoil your food, and for commercial lids, they are not the “designed for home use 2 part lids” but are a one piece for machine application at controlled tension – and you are too stupid to do what the machine does. That’s the theory anyway.
My wandering down this stray path started with reusing 2 part lids, and reusing Atlas Mason Jars from Classico pasta sauce. The Classico pasta sauce was advertised as having real canning jars for your re-use, so that was not actually an act of rebellion… much. For the 2 part lids, I started out just reusing them for “test batches”. IF a product was new to me, I’d can a jar or two and as soon as cooled, open and test it / eat some. Failure to seal wasn’t a problem (and everyone has some jars that fail to seal, even with new lids, from time to time). A nick in the lacquer of the lid would not have time to corrode either. I even used some of the old glass mayonnaise jars that you were constantly admonished not to use. (Now they have moved on to plastic mayo jars so that’s no longer an issue of complaint… very old mayo jars had regular threads and an in between step was a move to shallower threads that didn’t fit canning lids well. But that’s all ancient history now.)
Over time, I found other brands of pasta sauce in jars with standard lids and I’ve reused some of them, too. From there, I started to reuse some jars and lids as Canister Jars. I’d put dry goods in them, for example. Why use an “approved” canning jar that cost a $1 for holding 24 oz of sugar if you could use a pasta jar you were going to throw away? That also lead to washing and re-using their lids on canister Jars.
Eventually I decided to do some of my test jar canning in such jars with the re-use of their lids. And it worked fine. Now the theory is that the lid must be screwed on to Just The Right Tension via machine precision to work properly. There’s also a thought that food residue might cause problems (and yes, getting the pasta sauce red out of the rubber / lacquer can be impossible some times). But if you are canning at “kill everything” temperatures and pressures anyway, what’s the problem with a lid that has some tomato red staining? And since hand tightening 2 piece lids is a learned art anyway (with associated failures and failure to seal, or too tight and jar breaks…) why not learn it on free jars and lids? Eh?
Now I’ve never canned very high value things (like meat or prepared soups) in reused commercial jars / lids (other than Classico Atlas Mason jars with new 2 piece lids) just because it is “worth it to me” to use a new 40 ¢ lid on a $2 jar of meat. But I’d be quite happy to do it on some 50 ¢ carrots in a cup or pint jar. You are expected to test the seal (tap to top and it ought to be a high pitch tink not a low pitch dull thunk) and when you open the jar look for spoilage or funny smells anyway. Then boiling for 10 minutes will destroy any botulism toxin if any did grow in the jar.
So you think commercial product is all healthy, safe, and pure; and far more so than anything you can make at home? Once upon A Time in the ’70s: I worked in a peach cannery. One day a couple of us were assigned to destroy a few pallets of gallons of peaches. We had to take a rock hammer and punch 2 holes in the top of each can and toss them in the dumpster. Why? Because they had not been cooked long enough, and something was growing in the cans making them pressurized. Tops bulging up, not sucked down. Well we had a gay old time of it. Punch a hole and if the “stuff” was slopped to that side, a geyser of peaches would erupt through the hole. By the time we were done, both of us were covered head to toe in slightly fermented peaches and juice. Now if those cans had fermented a little slower, or been shipped faster, they would not have bulged in the warehouse, but on your shelf. So always inspect your commercial cans for bulging ends when you go to open them… Things have improved a lot since then, but it is still possible for commercial products to be faulty.
So since you are supposed to be aware of how to spot spoiled goods even with commercial products, DIY is not really a lot worse.
I now have a hierarchy of lid re-use.
First use is for high value canning.
2nd use is for lesser value canning. (Sometimes reused a dozen times…)
3rd use is if, after inspection, a lid is looking marginal, use it for dry goods or canisters.
After that, really crappy lids (rust inside or out, very scratched up, bent in the removal) get tossed.
I’ve also noticed that the ‘rubber stuff’ on the lid can be returned to more like original by putting the lid (seal up) in a pot of simmering water. This softens the seal compound and it tends to flow a bit back to normal. I’ve also stacked lids with slightly bent edges (not the body of the lid, just the very rim) and rolled them in a stack on the table to reform the edges. “If they were manufactured once, why can’t I re-manufacture them?” was the thought process there.
Similarly, I’m happy to use 1 piece commercial lid jars for canisters and for test canning runs. I’ve seen them used for production canning, but I’ve not done it myself (yet…). I know it works, and in a real Aw Shit if that was the jar / lid I had, I’d use it. Sadly, many products that were in glass jars have now moved to crappy plastic jars, so the opportunities to reuse commercial jars and lids are dropping. Plastics are just not as rodent and air proof as glass. They are OK for short term storage, but if you want something to protect food for many years, plastic is not ideal. Oh Well.
Un-Approved Methods or Products #4 & Untested #3:
These mostly fall into 2 categories. Thick stuff with low heat transfer, and “not the approved process”. So you are told never ever to can pumpkin / winter squash, and not to can beans without cooking them first, and not to even think about canning fish or use anything but a pressure canner for low acid foods and a water bath is ONLY for high acid foods. Those are The Official Approved Ways. ~”And if WE, the Authorities, have not tested a product in our Laboratory, it will certainly kill you if you try it.”
Well some of that’s just bogus.
You can get around the poor heat flow in pumpkin pie type squash by putting it in smaller jars, cooking it longer, or just not making it mush first but putting it in the jars in chunks with air / water flow around them.
Dry Beans will swell up when canned. OK, but they are limited by the amount of water in the jar. You might end up with beans that are too dense, but it won’t be exploding on you. The basic thing here is just to put in about 1/3 a load of beans and then water to the top. So 1/4 to 1/3 a cup of beans in a 1 cup jar. (This is a good place to use those commercial re-used jars for a test canning session. IF it fails on you, and breaks, who cares?)
I first did this with Ham & Bean soup. The small amount of beans worked fine. Later I did large amounts of just beans. However… This does not de-gas the beans. So I’ve “moved on” to a process that does “soak, change water, 1/2 cook, change water, finish cook, dump water, can the cooked beans in fresh water” as I’m just not fond of being “gassy”… I’ve seen a claim that a Tbs of baking soda in the first 1/2 cook water can help with the de-gassing but I’ve not found proof of it. I did make a batch of ham & bean soup that way that does seem to be low gas, though.
Similarly, I’ve got a couple of books (mostly aimed at folks doing hunting and fishing) that have recipes for canning game and fish. The “bottom line” seems to be that 90 minutes at 10 psi is fine for meat in cups, pints, or quarts (often 75 minutes for cups & pints) while fish must be 90 minutes and in cups or pints only. BTW, that’s why sardines are in flat cans and tuna is in small cans (mostly), so that they can more effectively heat through. So, OK, why can’t the USDA just say “Use small jars and cook a long time”? Maybe the commercial fish canning folks don’t want competition from home canned fish? Who knows…
Using that “90 minutes / 10 PSI (15 PSI at altitude) works for the highest risk” rule of thumb, I then went off reservation with my home canned soups (recipes in prior postings). The Authorities say that since THEY can’t know the pH of YOUR soup, or exactly what is in it, YOU are forbidden to can it. But…. IF you can it as though it is the hardest thing to process safely, why isn’t that good enough? Who knows… and who ain’t speaking. This, BTW, despite being a “rule” I thought up, turns up in may youtube videos of folks doing Rebel Canning. So it isn’t just me. A Lot of folks figured out “Can it like the longest time / highest temperature ingredient in the mix and it works fine”. So soup with meat in it, gets canned like it was all meat. Vegetable based soup, can go at vegetable temps and times. Etc.
One of my first steps “off the reservation” was when I bought a “Steam Canner”. A later step was when I discovered “Dry Canning”… but first a brief introduction to types of canning.
Water Bath – High Acid Stuff is put in jars,completely submerged in boiling water, and boiled for the “approved” period of time for that food.
Pressure Canning – Low Acid stuff must be canned this way. High acid stuff may be canned this way. Stuff is put in jars, put in a pressure cooker, and canned at higher pressures and temperatures for the Approved Time for that product. 10 psi was the norm at low altitude. Lately they have gone to a confusing “10 psi if a rocker / weight or 11 psi if using a gauge” (I think this is because they figure you are too stupid to read a gauge correctly) AND I’ve noticed that Presto canners now have a weight / rocker that is 11 PSI instead of 10. Paranoia runs deep in “Authorities”. IF above 1000 ft elevation, they have you go to 15 PSI. IMHO, 15 psi often overcooks the food and makes the quality worse / flavors funny and over cooked. But I’m at sea level.
Water Bath for low acid foods. You will find lots of folks, including the Amish, doing things like water bath canning meat. Instead of 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts at 10 / 11 psi, they do 3 hours in boiling water. You will also find folks going all ‘splody saying this will kill you if you do it above 1000 feet elevation. Yes, times would need to expand with altitude, and yes, doing this at 7000 feet elevation is likely to take 9 hours or so; but, applied engineering:
Altitude Above or Below Sea Level Absolute Barometer Absolute Atmospheric Pressure feet metre inches Hg mm Hg psia kg/cm2 kPa 01) 0 29.9 760 14.7 1.03 101 [...] 10000 3048 20.6 523 10.1 0.711 69.7
This is addressing “#1 adjusting for altitude“.
So you drop to 10.1 psi at 10,000 feet elevation. This means that you could just use your 5 psi weight for anything above 1000 feet elevation and proceed with what I would call “low pressure water bath” canning up to 10,000 feet. That would be “Un-Approved” and “Un-Tested”, but conforms to engineering (and science rules) and, frankly, “Authorities” do NOT “own” the Science. Science is owned by no one and is free for all to use.
Now why do this? Why not just put on that 15 psi weight and do The Right Thing? Because a lot of foods do not taste as good or fall apart too much if overcooked for too long at too high a pressure. I just did a batch of 6 quarts of Russet Potatoes in a Water Bath (Amish way). I’d done 2 x cups in a test batch, one pressure canned (11 psi / 40 minutes – yes, the small jar can be 35 minutes but I was following a published recipe) and one water bath canned ( 1 Tbs vinegar / quart, 1/2 tsp salt / quart, boiling water bath 2 hours. 3 hours if you don’t use the vinegar). Tasting the test batches, the pressure canned had a slight “over cooked” flavor. The water bath one was like a baked potato. Were I at 5000 feet elevation, I’d do the 5 psi weight and “low pressure water bath” for a better tasting product.
Commercially canned potatoes have a flavor I just don’t like. I don’t know why, but they are just “wrong”. Home canned at 15 PSI (my first attempt because then all I had was a regular pressure cooker and a 15 psi weight) tasted wrong too. But at 10 psi they are “ok, good enough” while water bath with the vinegar to adjust pH is just perfect. BUT it is Rebel Canning the Amish way.
Do note that the Amish are concentrated in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio that are near enough to sea level that they do not need to adjust for altitude in their water bath canning. At 1000 feet you are down to 14.2 psi and at 2000 feet, 13.9 psi. You ought to be able to just extend the time a little bit (if 3 hours is too short…) up to about 3000 feet elevation, as at 3500 feet you are down to 12.9 psi. Some time calculating boiling point at those pressures would be helpful. There’s also an unexplored area of adding salt to raise the boiling point:
Pure water freezes at 0 °C and boils at 100 °C (212 °F) under normal pressure conditions. When salt is added, the freezing point is lowered and the boiling point is raised.
What is the boiling point of salted water?
For example, the boiling point of pure water at 1.0atm is 100oC while the boiling point of a 2% salt-water solution is about 102oC.
So by making your canning water just a 2% salt solution, you can cover up to 2 degrees C of loss of temperature with altitude. It is about 2 F for 1000 feet. 2 C is about 3.56 F, so figure about 1750 of added altitude. Call it about 2750 elevation at least, or likely closer to 3500 feet elevation given the current paranoid safety margin in the 1000 ft elevation “Authorized Standard” (IIRC, when I was a kid, it was closer to 2k or 3k of elevation before folks were nagged, but that was then…)
Some work here would be a Very Good Thing. It would be nice to have a graph of “salt / gallon” or quart or whatever to give 212 F / 100 C boiling point by altitude. Above about 4,000 feet, I’d just use the 5 lb weight… but I’m lazy and I have a 5 lb pressure weight for my canner…
The Approved Way has jars stuck in a water bath that completely covers the jar. This has a known heat transfer property and has been tested with jars that have thermometers in their center and is Approved.
Steam Canning says basically “Steam heat is great, it condenses on cooler surfaces and moves a lot of heat fast. It is highly efficient. So why not just heat the jars with steam?” A steam canner is a shallow pan with a big thin pot upside own on top of it. Put about an inch of water in the bottom, and raise it to the boil. A small hole in the side of the inverted pot thing (about an inch above the top of the tray with the boiling water) vents a nice jet of steam and tells you it is all steam inside and start timing. Times are the same as water bath.
I bought one. I tried it. It worked FINE. It is not approved, but saves a lot of fuel by not heating up a giant pot of water. I’ve since done this with my pressure canner by the simple expedient of not putting the weight on it. Inch or two of water in the bottom, no pressure, stream of steam out the weight spigot. I’ve also seen folks doing this on YouTube videos, so I’m not alone. Plus, the engineer in me says “Steam will condense on anything lower than boiling point, so you can’t get cold spots”. And if it is at boiling point, you would not get heat transfer from boiling water anyway…
Also realize that when pressure canning, your jars are not fully under water either. They ARE being “steam canned”, just at pressure. So why would that not work at atmospheric pressure as well?
FWIW, some decades back on, IIRC, the web site of a University that does testing for the USDA, they had a Poo-Poo posting about Steam Canning saying that since nobody had paid them to do the testing, it was not approved… and the implication being a shake down of the vendor for “study money”.
IMHO, not approving steam canning is either due to the maker of them not paying up for the Academics to do “testing”, or just because said academics are not engineers so don’t understand steam heat. Just remember that in a Survival Situation where water is low, and for some reason you need to can produce, you have the option of a low water use steam canning process.
Dry Pack & Dry Canning:
You will find folks calling “Dry Pack” processing “Dry Canning”. This is a bit of confusion on the part of a lot of folks doing home canning. Don’t let it confuse you. Just remember what the terms really mean and allow that some folks use “Dry canning” to mean “Dry pack”.
Take a jar, put something in it THAT IS DRY, like rice. Put it in the oven and heat it. That’s proper “Dry Canning”.
A lot of YouTube videos call “Dry Pack” dry canning, and it technically isn’t. So what is Dry Pack?
Pretty simple, really. You put the product (a wet fruit, vegetable, or meat) in the jar, but do not add water to it. Then can it like you normally would. Some folks especially liked their potatoes this way. Not soggy mushy things floating in water, but more like a baked potato out of the jar. Chunks of potato, tossed in a jar, and then pressure canned at 10/11 PSI for 40 minutes. Water bath is harder to do as all the air space makes the jar want to float. IMHO, this is a nice example of where steam canning would apply. A jar full of air doesn’t float in steam.
So why is this Un-Approved? Would not the jar go to canning temperature and then heat the product inside of it? Yes, but… the heat flow inside the jar would be driven by hot air, not water, and the heat capacity of air is less than water. Is it enough? Judging by the folks doing it and not getting sick or dying, it looks like a “yes”. Given that ovens use air as the working fluid, we have something of an existence proof. I suppose there is a possible for some foods that the air would not heat the food enough, even with void spaces (for things like potatoes), so their is likely some risk if you go ‘off page’ from what others have done and proven by doing it for years.
I further suspect that the “wet” products steam as they reach temperature, and that steam drives the air out of the jars (why the lid seals at the end of the process is that steam condensing and pulling a partial vacuum). So really the food is, to some extent, being steam cooked in their own juices, which I think ought to be enough to prove the product is safe.
Why do it? Several folks on YouTube said the food quality and flavor is better. I’ve not done it with vegetables. I’m going to try Dry Pack vegetables at some point. I was going to do it with potatoes as the 15 psi debacle had put me off canning potatoes, but the 10 psi was OK, and the Amish Water Bath potatoes were just great, so I went that way instead. At some point, I’m going to try it with potatoes (and maybe sweet potatoes ;-) just as a proof of concept. In a real Aw Shit where water was very precious, being able to can some foods without water in the jar would be a big win. Say you had a Hurricane, and the water was out, and you had food in the fridge which would spoil in a few days… might be nice to be able to fire up the camp stove and can them up without using a lot of your water.
I have done “dry pack” with meats. These make a lot of their own juices in the canning / cooking process, so I find it a bit odd to call it Dry Pack; yet it is. Just put raw meat in the jars, put a lid on it, and pressure can it. 10 / 11 PSI 90 minutes for quarts, 75 for pints and smaller. I’ve done Little Smokeys (worked great in 1/2 cup wide mouth with them standing on end) as a better version of Vienna Sausages, hot dogs (full dogs with a wide mouth quart didn’t work so well, as the dogs swell up to stuff the whole jar. One YouTuber cooks them first, others chunk them, one guy put only 4 or 5 in a jar instead of stuffing it with 7 or 8 and that worked too), Various Sausages, chicken, turkey (though I’ve not opened the jar to test it yet, but with chicken doing fine I think it ought to be OK), and some hamburger.
So think about that for a minute. “Meat & Potatoes” just by stuffing them in the jars and running them through the canner… No added water. No added salt or vinegar. Just need a jar w/lid and a canner.
I’ve noticed that several of the Amish Water Bath recipes add a Tbs of vinegar (15 ml of 5% vinegar) to each quart of low acid vegetables. (#2, adjusting pH) I think this is an existence proof of how to adjust low acid foods to be amenable to high acid processes. Do note that various foods may neutralize different amounts of the acid in the vinegar and end up at a different final pH. You can taste acid, so in a real Aw Shit, I'd be willing to just 'calibrate' my taste via a bit of canning liquid from, say, potatoes water bathed with a Tbs of vinegar, and then use that degree of acid flavor to check that other products (in a test jar of, say, 1 cup with 1/4 Tbs vinegar) had the same degree of 'bite' to them.
Preferable would be to have a pH meter and test the food directly for pH of 4 or more acid (so 4 or down to even lemon juice level. BTW, I never quite "got it" on which way is "down" vs "up" for pH. Smaller numbers are more acid, so is that "up" due to more H ions, or "down" due to smaller numbers?)
Some folks say to can fish for 5 hours water bath. I have no idea what is best, the 4 hour folks, or the 5 or whatever. When in doubt, I'd just add some vinegar…
If doing Prepping for an Aw Shit, I’d make sure to have a few gallons of vinegar in the stash. Good for pickling, canning, cleaning, and more.
In the Stanford University Book Store ("Leland Stanford; Junior-University!" was what we UC folks would chant at the games vs them ;-) I once found a book on commercial food preparation and canning. It was $120 something at the time, so about equivalent to $600 now, so I could not buy it. But… it had a very nice nomograph for the killing of botulism spores. What kills them? A combination of TIME, pH to the acid side, and TEMPERATURE. You can swap acidity for time or temperature (limit case is room temperature pickles. Just make it all vinegar and you are good ;-), you can swap time for temperature and acidity (so 3 or 4 hours water bath vs 240 F pressure canning at 75 minutes), or you can swap temperature for time / acidity (so pressure canning at higher temperatures instead of 3 hours water bath or adding vinegar).
I've looked on the internet but not found that nomograph again. I wish I had it. Commercial canning (and all the 'approved' methods) are just done by assuring that the center of the jar reaches a high enough temperature, long enough, at the acidity of that particular food, to kill any botulism spores. With that graph and a pH meter, one ought to be able to "DIY" for any food that isn't a paste (i.e has water flow). All the "Authorities" do is put a temperature probe in the center of the jar, and watch the temperature as they do a test canning, then read off that graph when it is "safe". That is then the minimum time / temperature for that particular food. These are typically rounded up to "The Usual" recommendations for home canning (so a LOT of foods have the "same" approved time / temp despite being different foods). I'd likely buy that book today, just for that one graph. Oh Well.
IF you do Rebel Canning, remember that any food with botulism toxin in it can be made safe with a 10 minute boil (don't know if that works at 10,000 feet, but it does work near sea level, per the "authorities") There's other bacteria that can make food in a jar "go off" despite being canned, though I've never encountered them. So smell the jar when you open it. Food that's gone off will let you know, and if it smells fine, then a nice bit of simmer in the pan can assure no botulism…
Not rebel canning, but the recipe I used to can up a bunch of mini-bella mushrooms. Want something other than bland old white buttons in a can? DIY to the rescue!
Next stop for me? Whole Foods or Sprouts or an Asian Market if I can find one, and some canned Shiitake and / or Oyster Mushrooms!
There’s also a lot of folks canning “Pickled Eggs” in various ways:
Some Semi-Random Videos
These are various folks Rebel Canning recipes. I’m especially fond of “Make it Make” as she has been understudy to a traditional Amish friend and has documented their processes. It is her recipe that I used for my Amish canned potatoes ;-)
Like Beans & Franks? AKA “Beanie Wienies”? As I have to avoid beef to reduce tendency to arthritic joints, being able to “make my own” with chicken, turkey, or pure pork franks is a big win for me:
A successful ‘dogs in a jar’ approach:
Dry Packed Potatoes:
Another take on Dry Pack potatoes:
Making “Shelf Stable” pickled eggs that can keep for years. I’m likely to try this a bit later in the week as I have a big bowl of about 15 hard boiled eggs I made in preparation for the hurricane… She also goes to some length to point out that even same day fresh eggs can be easy peeled if instead of boiling, you steam them. Nice trick, that.
Lots of folks do baked beans. Technically it is Rebel Canning as there isn’t one recipe and one pH and one thing for the USDA to “approve”. But lots of folks do it:
Here’s an example of someone saying “Don’t DO IT!” largely due to altitude variation of temperatures. OK, so what about the vast bulk of everyone who lives below 1000 feet elevation? Eh? But it does give a view from “The other side” and it does point out the importance of altitude and the need to either up the temperature closer to 212 F / 100 C or to up the acid.
What to do with a 20 lb Easter Ham and a load of beans? For two people? How about canning up some soup?
Too many onions?? How about French Onion Soup?
Get the idea? Foods that you can actually eat from the jar as a meal, not just a one ingredient thing.
That’s a big part of the attraction of Rebel Canning. Yes, having some home canned meat is a nice addition to the pantry, but having your own split pea soup, your own ham & beans soup, your own NICE to eat canned potatoes; those are priceless…
Hey EM, REALLY useful posting! I was especially glad to see that video steaming and pickling eggs. Good info! I have not yet watched all the videos, but hope to. Thanks for your personal insights and info on steam canning and dry canning.
i’m glad to hear it is of worth to someone. It has a lot of information gathered over years of experience packed into it, but if you are not into canning or preserving, it’s kind of low entertainment value. OTOH, if folks are ever in an AwShit situation, it’s nice to know how to color outside the lines…
Here’s one from someone who sounds like they are Down Under where they could not get new Ball Jars (why?… it was a while back, so maybe Covid Shipping Paranoia?) so are reusing what looks like about 24 oz. pasta sauce jars with the Lug Lids. Doing Dry Pack carrots.
I’d guess that, being metric, it is likely closer to 750 ml.
She tightens the lids a lot. I’ve not done that but might be worth the experiment.
FWIW, when I do 24 oz jars (pasta sauce and others) I usually do them at the quart times, but being skinny they are likely fine at the pint times.
I also find it interesting that the “My Kitchen My Rules” folks are also on the “up yours Authority” bandwagon ;-)
In any case, I find it nice to have an example of canning produce in reused jars without extra water. A nice technique to get under your belt for a SHTF situation.
I seem to remember old timers sealing jars with melted paraffin. Certainly I remember jams and jelly being done that way. Wait a minute…
Yep, plenty of YouTube on canning jams with paraffin, but here’s one on extreme canning (literally in old cans) using wax. This guy says you can use bees wax also. Warning! The following link is for entertainment (or TEOTWAWKI) only!
My first exposure to jams and jellies using wax topping / sealing was when I was about 5? I’m not fond of it as the wax tends to pull away from the container at the edges and then you can get mold and such eating your jams. We did some of it when I was a kid, but then Mum moved on to regular canning jars…
I suppose if you got a softer wax that didn’t make a hard puck, but was more a flexible seal, it would work better. But frankly, given that we can get nice effective air seals with just a re-used old jam jar and lid, I kind of lost interest in using paraffin or other waxes. IF one were truly in an EOTWAWKI situation, I suppose it might be worth a try, but… I have to work, fairly hard, to find large lots of wax at anything other than boutique prices; while used jars are all over the place… for free.
But yeah, it’s an interesting extreme example of “the possibles”. Kind of like storing cooked meat under fats. Think “Confit”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confit
A technique I would like to practice more. I’ve done it, sort of, but chickened out after about 1/2 day and stuck it in the ‘fridge anyway ;-)
Basically slow cooked salty meat left under the fat layer in a closed container. Think jerk seasoned and salted pork or chicken slow cooked on the BBQ and left under a layer of fat. Sounds like Yum to me ;-)
I suspect that using some kind of relatively hard fat (tallow?) over salty meats or sugary jams would work as well, or perhaps even better, than paraffin wax.
FWIW, there’s a technique (who’s proper name escapes me at the moment) where you ladle “hot stuff” near the boil into jars, put the lid on fairly tightly, then invert the jar and stand it on the lid.
This has the “hot stuff” sterilize the lid.
Later after 10 to 20 minutes or more, you turn them back right side up.
There’s a limited set of stuff this is usable for. IIRC, jams and jellies are one of them as the sugar is high enough to preserve them against anything but some molds that are killed at about 200 F.
I’ve done this with various soups I’ve made, but only to extend the time in the ‘fridge. So I’d make a gallon or two of soup or stew, and then put it in 24 oz or quart jars (or, when the kids were at home and the family was larger, even 1/2 gallon jars). Jiggle a little to heat the air at the top, loosen the lid to let the pressure out, tighten the lids, then invert for 20 minutes. This would pull a partial vacuum and seal the jars.
Then I’d set them in the ‘fridge and have soup or stew “on demand” for a few weeks. Sometimes over a month+.
Not a full on preservation for things like soup with meat in it, but a lifetime extender. Kind of like pasteurization for milk.
But for jams, IIRC, it is full on preservation.
Re dry canning carrots – those are Fowler jars (Trade Name) used for a long time in Australia for preserving esp. fruits in sugar syrup which my mother did for many years. I cannot remember if she preserved anything else, but her mother was useless as a cook (and hence teacher).
They came as part of a kit with a (loose lidded) boiler for sterilising.
My mum used to use waxed-paper disks on the jams. Place the paper on top of the hot jam, then screw the lid on (re-used jam-jars and lids). The wax melted and covered the whole jam surface, and when we ate it we just had to pull the paper off first to remove the wax. Still got a fair number of “winy” jams, though, but I rather liked that flavour. Scrape the moulds off before eating the jam beneath. Doesn’t seem to have killed me….
Using full-strength vinegar, seems there’s no real need to boil the stuff, though my mum did boil the malt vinegar with pickling-spice, and then pour it over the onions once it had cooled enough. The kitchen (and the rest of the house) smelled strongly of vinegar at those times. She never really managed a first-in, first out storage system, though, so sometimes we got a jar of jam, chutney, or pickles that was a lot older than expected. I remember finding a big jar of pickled onions that must have been 10 years old or more, where the pickles melted in your mouth rather than having any crunch at all. Could have sucked them through a straw…. Still, the flavour was amazing.
@Graeme No. 3:
In the video, IIRC, she says they are pasta jars being reused. Do Fowler Jars have that one piece tab lid?
The waxed paper thing is a useful trick to know.
FWIW, one of the best words in scrabble: Zymurgy.
Basically all forms of fermentation science. There’s a LOT more to it than just booze, beer, and yogurt… So things like mold on / in cheeses (think Brie) and aged beef (that has a layer of fine mold on the outside).
So various very old “preserved” products can become quite a lot more interesting if particular molds & yeasts grow on / in them…
Then some things just chemically change with age to be more interesting. Think aged wine… scotch… cheeses… pickles… and more…
Full strength vinegar is pretty much a preservative. There’s a lower bound to how dilute you can go and have it still preserve. There’s also Lactic Acid fermentation (sauerkraut and others).
All sorts of interesting things happen when food starts to ferment based on which particular fermenting organism is working on what particular food items…
Hmmm… Facinating… Seems that in Australia they have a unique preserving system in the Flowler’s Jars:
I find it interesting they talk about the “American Hot Water Bath method”. Somehow I never thought of it as “American” but rather just a universal thing.
So basically not even “at the boil” temperature of 100 C, but with the food acidified.
Looks like they are still in business:
Looks like it is limited to acid fruits or things with a kind of pickle brine added:
Basically a variation on acidic foods hot water bath type preserving, but in a different kind of specialized jar with reusable lids.
Biggest difference looks to be that the jars are not threaded but the lids are held in place with clips. No mention of pressure canning either.
EM – the waxed disks were sold especially for doing this, and IIRC they had a thicker coating of wax than normal waxed paper. Still something that could be made, though. Here in France jamming supplies include blocks of paraffin wax for doing that, though I haven’t seen the waxed disks for a long time, not that I really looked for them. Maybe demand fell off….
Lots of different yeasts for wine-making, and they affect the final flavours a lot. Using standard brewer’s yeast would give an overly yeasty flavour. Using a yeast meant for Champagne normally gives the cleanest flavour with least yeastiness.
Having just picked a huge pumpkin (about 16″ diameter) from the garden, that would probably feed me for months, I’m figuring on ways to preserve it. Maybe clear out the old stuff from the freezer that’s been in there for years, and blanche the cubes of pumpkin for a minute in boiling water, and fill up the freezer with bags of it. Or pickled pumpkin, anyone? Pumpkin gumbo (shades of Forrest Gump here)?
My mistake re Fowler Vacola. Apologies.
I see you’ve got the essential details now. All I can add is that the jars (and lids) are sold quite quickly in Op Shops – second, even third hand charity shops.
No need for apologies! I enjoyed the discovery of an entirely different jar and preserving system! Had it not been for that diversion, I’d have never known…
Now I find myself wanting some for no good reason at all…
I need,to experiment. Canning lids are often in short supply. Can a lid be replaced with a piece or two of heavy aluminum foil if the ring is left on tight? Maybe a piece of plastic wrap to seal better, with aluminum foil on top and a tight ring?
I might try that next time…
As a vacuum is pulled as the product cools, you would need something strong enough to resist that vacuum. I fear Al foil would be too weak.
FWIW, I’ve done canning in the Euro style glass jars / lids with a metal bail and rubber reusable ring and it works well. The problem I had was that I didn’t know how to open them and you can’t just bend the glass to break the seal.
Just lately, I saw a video that pointed out how to open jars with rubber seals. You pull outward on the “tab” or “ear” that sticks out and that breaks the vacuum… So I’m going to give it a try again now that I know how to open them without knives prying on the rubber…
A major maker of similar jars, but where the lid is held on with simple metal clips, is Wex Jars. https://weckjars.com/ Theses are expensive but very pretty. I intend to order about a dozen to play with. There are also Tattler lids (plastic with rubber ring). I own about a dozen but rarely used them as I also had trouble getting them open. I’m fairly certain the same trick of “pull on the tab” will work for them (though they don’t have a tab, so some assembly required ;-). Like the Wex jars / seals, the Tattler lids are reusable; but they go on standard Ball / Kerr / Mason jars.
My solution for potential lid shortages is just:
1) Have a supply of about 24 of both standard and wide mouth lids on hand..
2) Re-use lids per my above heirarchy and remanufacturing techniques.
3) Have some Tattler Lids in inventory.
And now adding:
4) Order some Wex jars / lids / seals.
There’s also several makers of stronger thicker lids that are less likely to be bent in the removal process, such as: https://forjars.co/ The ForJars lid company. (There are others).
On My ToDo list is to also buy a dozen each of small and large stainless steel rings (as the cheap ones the jars come with eventually rust… OTOH, I have several dozens in a box as you only need one canner full at a time…): https://duckduckgo.com/?q=stainless+steel+canning+lids&atb=v346-7__&ia=web
Near as I can tell, the sealing “goo” on the lids will flow (slowly) at boiling temperatures. I’ll put a bunch of used lids in a pot (seal up) and let them simmer for a few minutes. Then stack them up (so the back of one lid pushes on the seal of another) and then press down with a pot holder or similar. This does an OK job of moving the sealing compound back into a more “like original” position and thickness.
Then, when the stack is cooled; I’ll roll the whole thing on edge. This pushes the little nick / bent out points where the can opener bent them, back into alignment with all the other lid edges, making it much more round and normal again.
Note that learning to LIFT the lid with an opener instead of BENDING it will dramatically reduce bent lids… I’m hoping the stronger ForJars lids need less car and bend less…
Only after all that would I go looking for things like plastic wrap and aluminum foil, or rubber cement and metal disks…
Per The Unknown Method:
Above I’d referenced a method who’s name had escaped me. It is “Open Kettle Method”. Now forbidden, but widely used up to about the ’80s and still used by many. https://www.simplycanning.com/canning-methods/#openkettle
It was the only way I saw jams and jellies done when growing up. I use it in a modified form with stews and soups. When I make a BIG pot of soup, we serve up one meal worth and I leave the rest, covered, simmering, on the stove (as soup doesn’t care about a longer cooking time generally). The ‘extra’ is ladled into quart jars, a hot lid (from a simmer pan of water) is applied, and then after a moment (for the air space to heat and vent) a band will be added and screwed down.
Sometimes I’ll “slosh” it a bit to increase the air heating, then “loosen to vent and re-tighten”, then invert the jar and leave it standing on the lid for about 10 minutes. (I started the added venting after doing this with one soup had the heated pressurized air push some liquid out past the not-quite-tight-enough lid..
For complex foods like soups and stews this is NOT enough to make them shelf stable. BUT it is enough to extend their “no mold on top” time in the fridge by many days to weeks… and my soups and stews rarely take longer than a month to use up ;-)
Pasteurizing instead of sterilizing.
BTW, that site confounds proper “dry canning” with Dry Pack, and calls proper Dry Canning “oven canning”. They also use “oven canning” and “oven processing” to refer to the method of doing the equivalent of a water bath process on jars. Of course, calling all of them “Unsafe!!!” as they are a fearful canner who delegates their brain to the USDA.
The reason proper Oven Canning is poo-pooed is based on 2 things:
1) Air has different thermal properties than water.
2) Ovens are not precise at temperature.
I agree with #2 as (especially older) ovens can be off by 50 F. So the “fix” is to buy an accurate digital thermometer with probe and calibrate your oven. Fixing #1 is a bit more problematic since air will not heat a half gallon of tomatoes as well as water nor as fast. But it WILL eventually do the job. In an EOTWAWKI situation, I’d be willing to give it a try with some lower value produce to calibrate my own times. Basically, put a quart of tomatoes in the oven and “take the lid off to insert thermometer to the middle” starting at the normal canning time and then at 10 minute intervals until the center reads hot enough. That would give reasonably accurate air heating times.
There’s also an assertion on proper Dry Canning (so things like dry rice) that it can introduce water into the jars. Only in an old gas oven and only if the lids are not on and only if the oven isn’t hot yet and only if the flue gasses are not properly kept out of the food area and only if you don’t bake the product long enough to exceed boiling point in the center. In other words, not in most ovens built since about 1950… But sure, if you have a wood fired oven with exhaust flowing past the jars and you just fired it up, probably not going to work too well. My electric oven with computer display? No problem.
So that, I think, now takes care of listing the other odd processes folks have used…
This is interesting – https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/60701000/FoodSafetyPublications/p328.pdf
IIRC, some relateds used vegetable or olive oil to lube the rubber seals, and I think some used some sort of wax. It made opening them easier from what I recall. I guess it would be similar to what you do with pool equipment seals and threaded joints using magic lube.
I wonder if RTV “Form A Gasket” has a food grade version ;-)
I use a sort of “Open Kettle Canning” for pickling green tomatoes and hot peppers. Pack peppers into jar with whatever spices you want. I usually do this with pints. Add scant teaspoon salt per pint, fill all air space with strong vinegar (50% to 100%) solution. Place jar into larger bowl, put bowl into microwave and nuke until boiling. Bowl will catch any overflow. Put lid and ring tightly on jar, wiping rim if needed. Invert jar onto towel on counter. Wrap rest of towel around jars to keep them hot as possible as long as possible. Let jars cool over next 3 or 4 hours. I have always gotten a tight seal doing this, and have had good results storing for 6 months or a year if unopened. I think the combination of salt, acid, and heat, all add up to good preservation. I have never tried this on other foods like soups, etc., only on vinegar pickled things.
Green Tomatoes are acid too. Oh, and they have Solinine in them, a toxin that may be rough on some bugs too ;-)
Folk Lore has it that frying green tomatoes gets rid of it, but I’ve not bothered to seek proof of heat liable action on solinine. I just salt, pepper and scoop them up with toast ;-)
Note that some of the “symptoms” might be a feature for some folks…
The article does say microwaving reduces levels by 15%…
Then again, I doubt folks can eat a whole lot of pickled green tomatoes at one sitting…
looks like Pen State approves of the Steam Canner:
Finally… I bought mine about 30 years ago…
Talk about coloring outside the lines.
This video is a way of storing meat, sauteed, then layered between dry riced, covered with boiling water, and hot water bath canned for 4 hours. Talk about making the USDA heads explode:
This one is on a kind of “bread” made mostly from seeds, oatmeal, and a can of beans (that look like Elephant beans, a kind of Runner Bean common in Greece).
Looks like the kind of thing that would keep you going on the trail for a long time…
I haven’t been able to figure out what language is being used. Something Indo-European. Maybe somewhere between Greece and Poland? Not Romance nor Germanic. But the captions in English are very good.
More of her videos here:
“I haven’t been able to figure out what language is being used.”
According to the “My kitchen Tanja” YT About page, she is in Serbia.