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How to can and jam food from your garden

May 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many home gardeners have been blessed with hearty crops like strawberries and tomatoes that they can't possibly eat. Well, they might be generous with their neighbors, but one of the better solutions is to keep them by canning and jamming."If you have a little bit of time on the weekend or whatever, you can take a lot of these vegetables and pickle them," said executive chef Brandon Boudet from Dominick's Restaurant.

Boudet says the whole process takes just a few hours. If you can properly, you'll have produce for years if you like.

Start with sterilization. Jars, utensils, lids all get boiled to ensure there is no bacteria present.

Tomatoes also get boiled and blanched to remove skins, then it's into the jars. Water is added with a bit of acid for preservation.

"For a pint jar you're going to add one tablespoon of lemon juice," Boudet said. "For a quart jar, you're going to add two tablespoons of lemon juice."

Sterile lids are key - no touching! Then, a quick check to ensure the seal is tight.

"How you check that is by pressing the top of the jar. That clicking sound that you hear. If it's sealed properly, you won't hear that," Boudet said.

An air-tight container means a safe product. But if one or two don't seal properly, put them in the fridge and consume in a week or two.

Finally, the last step is putting them back in water at a rolling boil and then out to cool for storage.

"When we put the actual jar of preserves into the water, it only takes about 10 minutes, where Brandon's tomatoes take about 40," said pastry chef Ann Kirk.

Kirk says cooking time and sugar are the biggest differences between canning and jamming. But the process is extremely similar. Canning kits are easy to find, and the jars are often available at hardware stores.

In addition, almost any veggie can be canned; any fruit can be jammed. Follow the safety steps, and you can have produce in the pantry all year round.

Check out Little Dom's Deli. The housemade preserves cannot be purchased online, but they can be purchased at the deli for $3.75/jar.


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