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Pressure Canning Corn

Pressure canned corn.

Pressure canned corn.

I thought for sure that I had documented canning corn before. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos during the preparation process and filling the jars. The process is pretty simple, though. You cut the kernels of corn from fresh corn cobbs and fill clean jars with the corn, leaving a 1″ head space. add 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint jar or 1 teaspoon salt per quart jar. (I use Kosher salt). From about 12-14 large pieces of corn, I got enough kernels to fill 8-pint jars. Next, fill the jars to the 1″ head space mark with boiling water. Pouring from a tea kettle makes it easy. Poke around and down the middle of the jars with a chopstick, skewer, or similar to remove air bubbles. Add more water, if needed. Wipe rims to make sure they are clean and top with prepared canning lids. Screw on rings until finger-tight.

Add the jars to the pressure canner, following manufacturer’s directions. I use a Presto brand 23 quart model.

Presto pressure canner.

Presto pressure canner.

For mine, after I secure the lid, I bring the water to a boil and a little piece pops up to let me know it’s ready. I set a timer for 10 minutes to purge the air out. At that point, I add the little weight that comes with the canner and allow the pressure to build to 11 pounds. The hardest part is regulating the temperature to maintain the pressure. If the pressure goes below 11 pounds, you have to raise the pressure back up and restart the time. I can relieve pressure if it goes to high, by pushing down on a little rubber button on the lid. For corn, the process time is 55 minutes for pints and 1 hour 25 minutes for quarts.

When the processing time is up, turn the heat off and remove the canner from the burner. (I do, because my burners are electric and do not quickly cool…you might not need to, if you use gas.) Allow the pressure to drop to zero, without forcing it. Carefully move jars to a kitchen towel, using a canning jar gripper tool.

Jar gripper and a chopstick (for removing air bubbles).

Jar gripper and a chopstick (for removing air bubbles).

When possible, tighten the screw rings well. (You might want to use a kitchen towel or two to avoid burns!) Allow the jars to set for 24 hours. Check seals to verify a good seal on each jar. If any did not seal, refrigerate and use within a couple of days. Sealed jars are stored in my pantry cabinet without the screw rings…I try to save them for Winter. We’ll see. Take advantage of those Summer vegetables while you “can”! Enjoy!IMG_20150726_184337436

I used this website for reference: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/whole-kernel-corn to make sure I was following safe procedures.

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aroma, funk, gut health, health benefits, healthy, scent, update

Oh, Come On! Make and Eat Sauerkraut!

 

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

Sauerkraut is in this 2 gallon fermentation bucket, in a nice out-of-the-way corner.

What do you mean, you don’t eat sauerkraut?! I know, I know. You eat your hot dogs with different toppings. That’s a New York thing. Yeah, well, me too. I do the Southern thing with mustard, chili, onions and, if I want cabbage, then slaw. I would admit to using ketchup, but that would blow my credibility with the “Foodies” crowd. Anyway, try searching “sauerkraut recipes” online and you’ll find that sauerkraut is NOT just for hot dogs. Also, if you think it’s too salty or too sour, you can give it a rinse in a colander and tone that way down. Personally, I like it pretty much full strength. Either way, you are really missing out on something, if you don’t give sauerkraut a try!

Now, this is my first attempt at fermenting sauerkraut at home. I’ve had it canned (many years ago…yuck! If this was your last experience, you definitely need to try again!), from a jar, and refrigerated from a jar or bag. Of those options, I like the “fresher” stuff from the refrigerated bag. I have been fermenting ciders and beer over the last year and have gotten more comfortable with the concept, so I decided to try making some kraut at home. The added benefit here is the lactobacillus in freshly fermented sauerkraut. It’s good for your gastro-health and immunity…like yogurt. Of course, if you home can the kraut or heat it too much, you take away that benefit, but should still be delicious.

I basically followed the process outlined here: http://www.food-skills-for-self-sufficiency.com/making-sauerkraut.html . I like to give due credit to my sources! The main things I changed concerned the cloth and rubber band cover for the container and the wooden “tamping” board.  Since I’ve been fermenting cider, I have a couple of 2 gallon fermentation buckets and airlocks. These can be purchased very inexpensively at a local home brew shop or ordered online. The benefit is not risking exposure to contamination. I also have a spray bottle of “Star-san” that I use on all my containers and utensils. It is a sanitizer that does not have to be rinsed off. Very convenient.  I don’t have a tamping board, so I sanitized my hands and pounded that cabbage with my bare fist! I feel so macho.

One other thing, I sliced the cabbage by hand, using a chef’s knife. I didn’t feel like preparing and cleaning up after my electric slicer and the mandoline slicer just seemed like it would be too slow. Yeah, mine’s a little coarser than some, but now I know anyone can do it without special equipment. Your welcome!

I didn’t get pictures up to this point, because my camera’s battery was recharging, but I’ll add some to a follow-up post. I think we can all imagine finely sliced cabbage in a bucket. ( And the link has photos.) I started with two fairly large heads of cabbage that weighed a total of about 8 lbs. After processing, I had about 7 lbs. I did need some extra brine to make sure that the cabbage was covered by liquid. I added a sanitized plate and a small canning jar (1/2 pint) on top of that, to weight down the cabbage and keep it submerged. Then I sealed the lid and added the airlock. I have read that the fresh kraut can be kept in a sealed container, in the refrigerator, for a few weeks.  Fermentation is supposed to take 4 to 6 weeks. I’ll check it regularly for mold, to keep it clean. The airlock should tell me when it’s done fermenting. Looking forward to seeing how this goes. I love roasting pork on top of a bed of kraut and letting the juices flavor it! Enjoy!

Okay, update 9/20/14 After a couple of days, there’s not too much to see, but when you lift the lid…ooo-weeee! That’s some funk! There’s no foam or any activity obvious, but the aroma tells a different story. Here’s a look inside the fermentation bucket:

Making Sauerkraut...all the cabbabe is unfer a plate, weighed down with a little canning jar and water.

Making Sauerkraut…all the cabbage is under a plate, weighed down with a little canning jar and water.

Update 10/10/14: So, there hasn’t been any airlock activity to speak of.  I guess the process for sauerkraut just doesn’t really happen fast enough to really see that kind of activity. Anyway, I sanitized around the lid and opened the bucket today to do a progress check. It’s been about 3 weeks and the liquid seems noticeably darker and the smell is pretty strong.

Inside the bucket after 3 weeks.

Inside the bucket after 3 weeks.

I went ahead and sanitized a spoon, removed the jar, and raised the plate to peek inside. The cabbage is a bit paler, but still not the color I associate with kraut. I removed a couple of shreds and resealed the bucket. The sample still has a little crunch to it, but is definitely moving from the very salty cabbage flavor towards the fermented flavor of kraut. The directions said it would take 4-6 weeks. It’s headed in the right direction, but I think this is going to take the full six weeks…and maybe more. This is probably being affected by the fact that I hand-cut the cabbage, instead of using a mandoline or slaw shredding tool. That’s okay, I’m in no rush and I kind of like the rustic look and texture.

Peeking under the weighted plate...coarse sauerkraut at 3 weeks.

Peeking under the weighted plate…coarse sauerkraut at 3 weeks.

Update:3/11/15  Made a newbatch of sauerkraut this morning. I had 1 larger and one smaller head of cabbage that combined weight was about 6 pounds. The two differences with this batch over last batch are that I used a KitchenAid rotary slicer attachment to shred the cabbage, and I have a new “tool” for pounding the cabbage, rather than using my fists!

The attachment that is normally used for fine shredding did notwork well…it was turning the cabbage to mush and very hard to push through. The slicing attachment worked better. And my new “tool” is a baseball bat that my son outgrew. It’s aluminum and has a plastic end. I washed and sanitized it, and it worked very well!

After removing cores and a little waste when I tried the wrong attachment, I wound up with just under 4lbs of cabbage. Will check back in about 4 weeks.

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Salted Baked Potatoes and Roasted Cabbage Steaks

How about some salt-baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and some Garlic-Rubbed Cabbage Steaks and maybe some soup?

How about some salt-baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and some Garlic-Rubbed Cabbage Steaks and maybe some soup?

I call this my “Nouveau Irish” combo! You can find the recipe for the Cabbage Steaks on Pinterest…basically it’s 425 degrees for 25 minutes per side. Cut them so that the root holds it all together. Brush both sides with olive oil and garlic that has been run through a garlic press or minced fine. For the potatoes, I can’t remember where I heard about coating them in salt. I’ve been doing it for ever for baked potatoes. I use kosher salt these days, but regular salt works fine. Wash your potatoes and, while still wet, pour a couple of tablespoons of salt in your hand. Roll a potato in your hand until coated. (I know, you waste some salt. So, don’t use your fancy fleur de sel or pink Himalayan salt.) Basic salt is pretty cheap. Repeat with all potatoes. If you are doing large bakers, you can bake at 450 degrees for an hour. If you are doing the cabbage combo, use smaller potatoes, like Yukon Gold or Redskin and heat your oven to 425 degrees. The 50 minutes for the cabbage works out for the potatoes, too.

Salt-Baked Yukon Gold Potatoes and Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Salt-baked Yukon Gold potatoes and Garlic Rubbed Roasted Cabbage Steaks

While you can eat the skins of the traditional bakers (usually Russet) and the salt-roasting makes them better, the smaller ones are REALLY good! I like the cabbage “as is”, but you can drizzle with a little Balsamic vinegar or pepper vinegar. Serve the potatoes with butter and sour cream or your favorite baked potato toppings. (I like salsa on them in the Summer!) If you are a meateater, some corned beef would complete the combo nicely. Enjoy!

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Did you save those pumpkin seeds when you gutted that Jack O’Lantern? I hate throwing them away, but I don’t like shelling them either. I’ve tried roasting them in the past and eating them shell and all. While I’m sure that’s a great fiber source, the roughage was just too rough for me. Then I decided to boil the seeds for ten minutes first, with about an 1/8 cup of kosher or pickling salt and enough water to float them by about an inch…maybe 1-1/2 to 2 cups? This infuses the salt into the seeds and softens the shell.

Cleaned pumpkin seeds from one pumpkin, in a sauce pan.

Cleaned pumpkin seeds from one pumpkin, in a sauce pan.

Drain, rinse and spread them on a couple of paper towels to dry (they will not dry completely). Put the pumpkin seeds in a mixing bowl, add a teaspoon of olive oil and add a pinch each of chili powder and cinnamon. The seeds will feel kind of slimy; that’s okay.

Pumpkin seeds boiled in heaviky salted water and drained.

Pumpkin seeds boiled in heaviky salted water and drained.

Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet

Seasoned and spread out to roast.

Seasoned and spread out to roast.

and roast them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, remove from oven, stir and scatter back to single layer. Roast for 5 more minutes, until toasty! Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. (They may make a crackly sound as they cool down…awesome!) Store in an airtight container.

Roasted pumpkin seeds...and the donor.

Roasted pumpkin seeds…and the donor.

Note: you can vary the spices to suit your tastes…sweeter (pumpkin pie spices), spicier (cayenne) or more savory (no cinnamon, add cumin). Be creative and enjoy!

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