Mar 29, 2013

Canning Glossary

Ever bump into a canning term that leaves you scratching your head? Learn what that term means here, in Proverb's 31 Woman's Canning Glossary. Can't find a certain term listed? Be sure to email me ; I'll provide an answer and add the term to the Glossary!

Alum: In older prickling recipes, alum is sometimes called for to add crispness. However, large doses of alum can cause illness, including nasea and gastrointestinal problems. Therefore, it's no longer recommended for pickling.

Ball offers approved recipes.
Approved Recipe: A canning recipe tested and approved by the USDA. You will find approved recipes in modern day canning books, such as The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, The Ball Blue Book, at the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation - and on this blog! Following non-approved recipes, or older recipes (even from the 1980s), is not considered safe because we now know more about food acidity and temperatures needed to kill harmful bacteria. The old canning rules simply aren't as safe as the new ones.

Ascorbic Acid: The scientific name for vitamin C. When used in canning, it prevents the discoloration of fruits and vegetables.

Bacteria: Microorganisms that are found everywhere. Certain bacteria can lead to serious illness or death in humans and may thrive in low-acid, home canned foods that aren't heated to 240 degrees F. for a specific period of time. This is why low-acid foods (like vegetables and meat) must be canned in a pressure canner.

Blanch: In cooking and canning, to blanch means to place food (usually vegetables or fruit) in a pot of boiling water for a very short period of time, then immedietly place the same food in ice water. The process preserves color and texture and makes it possible to easily remove the skin or peel of certain fruits. (Removing the skin or peel isn't merely for aetetics; the outer part of certain foods is more likely to contain bacteria.)

Boil: Heating liquid until bubbles burst over the surface. See also "Boil Gently," "Simmer," "Full Rolling Boil," and "Boiling Point."

Boil Gently: See "Simmer."

Boiling Point: The temperature at which liquid reaches a boil - 212 degrees F. at sea level.

Full Rolling Boil: Boiling rapidly; stirring does not prevent the liquid from continuing to boil. To obtain a gel in jam or jelly, it's vital to cook at a full rolling boil.

Boiling qater canner
Boiling Water Method: Also called "Bath Water Method." This is one of two ways to home can food and is used only for high-acid foods such as fruits, pickles, and jams. When jars of food are surrounded by boiling water and a temperature of 212 degrees F. is maintained, harmful bacteria is killed, making the contents of the jars safe for eating.

Botulism: Food poisoning caused by eating toxins caused by the spores of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. In canning, using only approved recipes with correct processing times, and using the proper canning technique (boiling water vs. pressure canner) prevents botulism.

Brine: Salt-water (with or without added herbs) used in pickling.

Bubble Remover: A canning tool that's shaped like a stick and is not metallic. To use, it is moved straight up and down in the jar to remove most air bubbles. A handle of any non-metallic utensil (such as a spoon with a long handle) may be used instead.

Calcium Chloride: A natural mineral salt used to crisp food (especially pickles) in canning.

Candy thermometer
Candy Thermometer: A thermometer with a hook or clip on its side that's used for attaching the tool to a pot or pan. Used in canning when making soft spreads made without additional pectin.

Canner: A specially designed pot used for home canning food. "Canner" may refer to a Water Bath Canner or a Pressure Canner, both of which have very specific uses.

Canning Salt: See "Pickling Salt."

Chutney: Spiced mixtures of vegetables or fruits with vinegar, typically used as a spread for breads or meats.

Citric Acid: A natural acid found in citrus fruits like lemons. Used in canning to prevent the browning of foods or to increase acidity.

ClearJel: A brand name product used as a thickener in canning. Thickeners like flour and cornstarch break down in canning and should not be used. ClearJel does not.

Dial gauge on a pressure canner
Conserve: Similar to jam, made with two or more fruits, plus nuts or raisins.

Cold Pack: To place food inside canning jars when it is unheated and uncooked.

Dial Gauge: On a pressure canner, a regulator that indicates the amount of pressure in the canner. For safety's sake, have your gauge tested every year at a local extension office. Or, buy a weighted gauge for your pressure canner (see "Weighted Gauge").

E.coli: A type of bacteria common in human intestines. A strain, Escherichia.coli 0157:H7, produces toxins that may cause diarreah, headaches, chills, fever, or even death.

Exhausting: See "Venting."

Fermentation: Fermentation is a naturally occurring process caused by yeast. In canning, if yeasts haven't been killed during processing, the food will bubble, become scummy, and break the jar's seal. Some foods are fermented before canning, such as certain kinds of pickles or sauerkraut.
Food mill

Fingertip Tight: A phrase used to describe how snugly jar ring bands should be. To put a screwband on "fingertip tight," use your fingers to turn the band until resistance is met, then tighten just a little further. Over-tightening bands can result in buckled lids or lids that don't seal. Bands that are too loose may also cause lids to not seal.

Food Mill: A device used to puree cooked, soft food, such as tomatoes or apples.

Fruit Butter: A thick, soft spread made by slowly cooking down fruit and sugar.

Funnel: A utensil that sits on top of a canning jar to make packing food into the jar easier and less messy. For canning, it should be plastic, since some foods react with metals.

Gasket: A rubber ring that fits inside the opening of a pressure canner and creates a seal so no steam can escape.

Gel Stage: The point at which a soft spread comes to a full gel: 220 degrees F or 8 degrees F. above the boiling point of water.

Headspace: The empty space between the food in a canning jar and the top rim of the jar. Correct headspace is necessary so food can expand during the canning process, and so a strong vacuum seal can be created, sealing the jars.

Jar lifter
High Acid Food: Food that has enough acid (either naturally or because of an added ingredient) to reach a pH of 4.6 or lower. Fruit (including tomatoes), jams, jellies, and most spreads are naturally high-acid foods. Pickles, relishes, and salasas become high acid due to the addition of vinegar or citric acid. High acid foods should be processed of boiling water canners. (Compare to "Low Acid Food.")

Hot Pack Method: When hot canning jars are filled with hot food prior to processing. (Compare to "Cold Pack.")

Jam: A soft spread made with crushed fruit.

Jar Lifter: A tool designed for safely lifting canning jars in and out of hot water.

Jelly: A soft spread made with fruit, then strained so it no longer has pieces of fruit in it.

Jelly strainer with jelly bag.
Jelly Bag: A cloth bag used to strain jelly. Sometimes a type of colander or strainer lined with two layers of cheesecloth is used instead.

Jelly Strainer: A metal stand with a large ring used for holding a jelly bag over a bowl.

Jelly Thermometer: See "Candy Thermometer."

Kosher salt: A coarse salt without additives like iodine. It is sometimes used in pickling, although (due to variations in granule size) it can be difficult to measure accurately. Therefore, pickling salt is usually preferred for canning.

Canning lids in a lid rack.
Lid: The metal disc that sits on top of the canning jar and is initially held in place with a metal ring. Once the jars are cooled and sealed, the metal ring is generally removed so that if the jars loose their seal in storage they don't reseal potentially spoiled food.

Lid Lifter: A wand-like tool with a magnet at one end, designed for lifting canning lids out of hot water. Lid lifters are no longer necessary, since modern canning lids don't need to be simmered before using.

Lid Rack: A tool designed to neatly hold canning lids in pots of hot water. Lid lifters are no longer necessary, since modern canning lids don't need to be simmered before using.

Low Acid Food: Food that has a pH higher than 4.6. Meat and vegetables are low acid foods - which must be processed in a pressure canner in order to kill harmful bacteria.

Marmalade: A soft, jam-like spread made from citrus and citrus peel.

Open Kettle Canning: An old fashioned method of canning where a canner is not used. Hot jars are filled with hot food and lids are screwed on. As the jars cool, the lids seal. This method does not adequately heat foods and destroy bacteria and therefore is no longer considered safe.

Oven Canning: An old fashioned method of canning where jars are placed in the oven to process. Because it does not adequately heat foods and kill bacteria, it is no longer considered a safe method of canning.

Oxidation: When fruits and vegetables are exposed to oxygen in the air, they oxidize, or turn brown. Oxidation isn't harmful, but may cause textural changes. It can be prevented by keeping cut fruits and vegetables in a bowl of lemon juice and water as you work with them.

Paraffin Wax: A type of wax used to seal jars in an old fashioned canning method. It is no longer used because it doesn't kill all harmful bacteria.

Pectin: A carbohydrate naturally found in fruit and vegetables. In canning, a powdered or liquid form of pectin is used to gel jams, jellies, and other spreads.

Pickle Crisp: A product that uses calcium cloride (naturally found in some salts) to  make home canned pickles more crisp.

Pickling: Preserving food in a vinegar solution, often with added spices. Cucumber pickles are the most common pickled food, but many vegetables and fruits may also be pickled.

Pickling Cucumber: A type of cucumber that is small when mature - typically no longer than 6 inches. For the best pickles, they should be processed immediately after picking off the vine.

Pickling Lime: A caustic white powder (also called "slaked lime") used in some old pickle recipes and designed to add crispness. Because it burns, corrodes, and may increase the risk of botulism, it is no longer recommended for home pickling.

Pressure canner
Pickling Salt: A fine grained salt that contains no anti-caking ingredients or iodine, which can darken pickles and cloud their brine.Also called "canning salt."

Preserves: A soft spread where the fruit retains it shape and is shiny and transparent. Unlike other soft spreads, preserves do not hold their shape when spooned from the jar.

Pressure Canner: A heavy pot with a lid that locks in place and has a pressure regulator. Used to process low acid foods like vegetables and meat. Pressure cookers - similar looking pots used for cooking food - are not suitable for canning; however, some pressure canners are designed to double as pressure cookers.

Pressure Canning Method: A home canning method used to can low acid foods, like meat and vegetables, safely. Because the steam inside the canner is pressurized, it can exceed the point of boiling water (212 degrees F.), which enables the method to kill harmful bacteria in low acid foods.

Pressure Cooker: An air tight pot that cooks food with pressurized steam. Pressure cookers are not the same as pressure canners and should never be used for canning.

Processing Time: The amount of time filled jars are heated in a boiling water canner or pressure canner. Processing times are tested to ensure the contents at the center of the jar reach a temperature that kills off harmful bacteria, and vary according to jar size, contents of the jar, and whether or not the jar was hot packed or cold packed.

Raw Pack: Filling canning jars with unheated, raw food prior to processing them in a canner.

Relish: A pickled food made from chopped vegetables and/or fruits. It is cooked in vinegar and may or may not contain sugar. It is used as a condiment.

Screw bands
Reprocess: Re-can. When a canning jar fails to seal, the contents are reheated according to the original directions, a new lid is put on, and the jars are reprocessed.

Screw Band: A metal circle used to hold a canning lid in place on a canning jar while the jar is being processed. Once the jar is completely cool and sealed, it's best to remove the screw band.

Simmer: To cook just below the boiling point. Bubbles will form in the pot, but will only burst occasionally on top of the liquid.

Slacked Lime: See "Pickling Lime."

Sterilizing: Killing all microorganizsms. In canning, jars don't need to be sterilized before being processed in a canner unless the processing time is 10 minutes or less. To sterilize jars, fill them with water but don't put on lids. Place them in a canner filled with water; bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Table Salt: A fine grained salt commonly used at the dining table for seasoning. It usually includes anti-caking ingredients and iodine, which can cause cloudy brine or darkened fruit. Pickling salt is preferred for canning.

Vacuum Seal: The state of negative pressure that allows home canned jars to seal and prevent spoilage. When the jar is heated inside the canner, the food and air inside it expand, pushing air out of the jar. When the jar cools and the food inside shrinks, a vacuum forms. The sealing compound on the underside of home canning lids prevents air from re-entering the jar.

Victorio strainer
Venting: Allowing air to escape from a pressure canner OR forcing air to escape a jar during processing in a canner (see "Vacuum Seal").

Victorio Strainer: A tool that separates the skins and seeds of fruit. It also purees the "meat" of the fruit. It is commonly used for making applesauce and tomato paste.
Weighted gauge

Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner: A type of pressure canner that has a three- or one-piece weight on the lid that allows steam to vent. The steam causes the weight to rock back and forth during processing, which indicates the correct pressure has been achieved for safe canning. Unlike dial gauges, which should be tested every year for accuracy, a weighted gauge can be used without special testing.

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