When you start the raw foods diet, you want to be sure you always have access to your favorite raw fruits and vegetables. Because fruits and vegetables go in and out of season, their availability can fluctuate. One great way to ensure you always have a steady supply of your favorite foods is to can them. There is a lot of preparation that goes into canning foods. Your jars and lids need to be properly prepared, fruits and vegetables will have their preparation, and you need to ensure you are packing your jars correctly to ensure a safe canning process. We will take a look at how to can raw fruits and vegetables to ensure you have a safe final product.
- Clean Your Produce: No matter what type of fruits and vegetables you will be canning, it is important to clean your produce first. This ensures you are removing any dirt or other imperfections before canning your food. Soak and rinse fragile produce and take a soft vegetable brush to your stronger fruits and vegetables. Cleaning your produce before canning will also allow you to discover any low-quality produce that has made its way into your collection, giving you the best possible final product.
- Prepare Your Jar: Sterilizing your jar before canning is an important step to ensure no bacteria is growing within your canned produce. If you will be using a pressure canner or in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes or longer, you can skip sterilizing. Next, you will want to check the jars you will be using for any scratches, cracks, or chips. Defective jars should be discarded, because even the smallest imperfection can weaken your jar and prevent you from getting a proper seal. Next, wash your jars in the dishwasher or by hand in hot soapy water. Rinse your jars to get rid of any soap residue, whether you washed by hand or in the dishwasher. This residue can affect the flavor and color of your produce. Next, fill each jar with hot water and set your jars in a canning rack inside a canner that is half full of water. Ensure your jars are covered with at least 1 inch of water, then bring water to a boil and allow your jars to boil for 10 minutes. Finally, turn off the heat and leave your jars in the hot water until you are ready to fill them with produce.
- Prepare Your Lid: The quality of your lids is just as important as the quality of your jars. Make sure there are no defects or bends in your lids, then wash your lids in hot soapy water and rinse well. Wipe them dry and set aside. Next, place your lids in a saucepan and cover with water and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Finally, once they have come to a simmer, turn off the heat but leave the saucepan with lids on the hot burner. Leave the lids in this hot water until you are ready to use them.
- Pack Your Jars: Now that everything is prepared, you can begin packing your jars. Place your fruits or vegetables into your jars firmly, then cover in water, juice, or syrup that has been heated to a boil. Place the lid and secure it on your jar, then place your jars in the hot water in the canner. Ensure the water is not boiling when your jars are placed in the canner, or your jars could crack.
Now that we have covered the general methods for packing, let’s take a look at the preparation method for the most popular vegetable and most popular fruit to can.
- Tomatoes: Wash your tomatoes under cool running water, then slice an X on the bottom of each tomato with a utility knife. Set a large bowl with cold water to the side and have ready for use. Next, fill a large saucepan with water up to approximately 1 ½ inch from the top and bring to a rolling boil. Using a large spoon, place your tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds in order to loosen the skin. Remove your tomatoes from the boiling water and place directly into cold water to stop the cooking process. Next, core your tomatoes by removing the stem with a paring knife and removing any blemishes your tomato might have. Finally, peel away the skin of your tomatoes without injuring the flesh.
- Peaches: Throughout the process of canning peaches, ensure you handle with care to prevent any bruising. Cut a small slit in the upper portion of the peach skin. Set a large bowl with cold water to the side and have ready for use. Next, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a rolling boil. Place your peaches in a heat safe bowl, then pour the boiling water over your beaches, covering them. Let them soak in the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Remove your peaches from the water and place directly in your cold water bowl to stop the cooking process. Remove from the cold water and remove skins. Cut around the entire perimeter of your peach, following the natural indentation, and then twist the peach halves in opposite directions until they separate. Remove the pit with a knife or your fingers. Leave the peaches in halves or cut them into quarters or slices, depending on your recipe and preference.