by Tina LeBaron, Kitchen Store Specialist
‘Tis the season of ripening gardens! Be sure not to let any of the earth’s fresh goodness and your summer laboring go to waste! I’m calling out to the amateur gardeners and the first time canners. The task of supplementing your winter pantry is not as hard as you may first think. So here I’m passing along to you the basics of canning – courtesy of Wasilla’s Chef Lucy – with Alaska’s most abundant crop – rhubarb.
Begin by filling your water bath about half way full and turn up the heat to bring water to a boil. Wash and chop the rhubarb into pieces – about an inch long. Drop them into a stockpot with a fourth or so cup of water, regardless of the amount of rhubarb since it will cook down and seep out into a juicy substance.
Also add in sugar to taste, or as according to the pectin’s directions. For a flavor twist, throw in fresh or frozen fruit, like strawberries or blueberries.
Once the fruit is as broken down as desired and boiling, add your pectin to act as a thickener. Stir to incorporate and dissolve, then bring back to a boil. Allow the fruit to simmer for about five minutes. And just like that, you are ready to can!
You can warm your clean jars first, in your water bath, but Chef Lucy recommends placing the jars on a cookie sheet and warming them in a 200-degree oven for about ten minutes. Next, use a large funnel if you have one, or just ladle the fruit into your jars.
After checking that the lids are clean and dry, twist the jar lids on and you’re ready to lower them with the canning rack down into the hot water. Let them be in the covered water bath for 25 minutes. Lastly, remove the jars carefully from the pot, we suggest using a jar lifter as the lids and glass will be HOT!, and set them aside until cool. Now you’ll hear the popping of the lids and know the job is done.
Viola! You now have accomplished the basics of canning. For more, check out the Wasilla Cooking School’s schedule for Lucy’s Hot Water Canning class!
You can also explore other exciting flavor combos and current tips for preserving in one of our favorite cookbooks, Canning for a New Generation.