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Ask Jackie Online
By Jackie Clay

June 21, 2006
Jackie Clay
Jackie Clay answers questions on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.
Click Here to learn how to Ask Jackie a question.

Canning German style cabbage

My question is about canning German style sweet and sour red cabbage. I can find it in the supermarket but am having a devil of a time finding a recipe for it. Do I treat it like a sauerkraut? Or salt it, rinse it and pressure can it with flavorings? Or should I just give up?

Leslie
Mrsdragnfly at centurytel.net

Never give up! Especially in canning. Here’s a recipe for you. If the spices don’t seem right for your taste, you may vary them a bit.

Sweet and sour red cabbage:

4 quart finely shredded red cabbage
4 tart apple, diced
1-1/2 quarts vinegar
1-2 cups water
4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper corns
2 tsp. caraway seed
1/2 tsp. mace (optional) 1/2 tsp. whole allspice
1/4 cup sugar

Place spices in a spice bag and simmer with all the ingredients but sugar in large pot for 20 minutes. Remove spice bag and add sugar. Pack hot into hot pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (unless you live at an altitude over 1,000 feet, then consult your canning manual for directions on adjusting your time to match your altitude if necessary.)

Or you can use this Dutch variety.

Dutch spiced red cabbage:

2 heads red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup salt
1 gallon vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. each mace, allspice, cinnamon
1/2 cup honey

Sprinkle shredded cabbage with salt and let stand 24 hours. Press moisture out and let stand for 3 hours. Boil the vinegar for 8 minutes with water and spices. Add honey. Pour hot over cabbage. Keep in large bowl or earthen jar or can by heating to simmering. Pack hot to 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Cover with hot juice, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes (pints) or 20 minutes (quarts) unless you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet; then consult your canning manual for directions for adjusting your time to match your altitude if necessary.

—Jackie

Favorite tomatoes and peppers

I live in rural Duluth, MN. We live in the same county! I would like to know what varieties of tomatoes and peppers that have been successful in your current home.

Becky Wood
woodcarpenterlady at msn.com

Every year I have grown many experimental tomatoes and peppers, but my old standbys for this climate and most others we have lived in are:

Tomatoes:

Early Cascade
Oregon Spring
Early Goliath
Stupice
Sungold
Bush Beefsteak

Peppers:
Big Early Hybrid
Giant Marconi
Giant Aconcagua
Fat ‘n Sassy Hybrid
Jalapeno M
NuMex Joe E. Parker
Senorita

Remember that I have lots of luck with both tomatoes and peppers due to my use of Wall’o Water plant protectors. (No, I do not have a vested interest in the company. It is simply a wonderful product for we northern gardeners.)

—Jackie

Canning tapioca

I just asked my co-op extension agent about canning tapioca. She said it cannot be done at home. Is it possible to safely can tapioca at home? Or do I start making smaller batches and more often?

Nancy M. Foster
Nanfoste at winco.net

I assume you mean tapioca pudding? If so, the problem would be the milk. Yes, you can home can milk. But when you add it to recipes that you can, as you would in tapioca pudding, the milk gets kind of curdled and looks very unappetizing.

Instead, I would make larger batches. When the pudding is still hot, pour it in a deep bowl and place a piece of wax paper on top. This prevents a “skin” from forming on the pudding and lets you make a larger batch that will stay nice in the fridge for a longer time.

—Jackie

Canning dry bread ingredients

I was wanting to can ingredients for breads, the dry ingredients and then seal them for later when you want to make them. Then all you have to do is add the wet ingredients. I was wondering would it be better to can this in a jar or in an airtight sealed bag. If I should put it in a jar, what would be the best canning style for best sterilization and long preservation life? Also if I do ingredients for yeast breads, should I put the dry yeast in with the canned dry ingredients or keep it separate until baking time?

Beverly Milliron
Tesla123 at comcast.net

If you want to pre-mix some of your dry ingredients in bread-batch size containers, fine. Flour, salt, sugar, dehydrated shortening, and dehydrated eggs may all be mixed, as can baking powder as a leavening. But consider the size of a standard two-loaf batch of plain bread. You usually have more than 8 cups of flour alone or flour that would fill two quart jars...then there are the other ingredients. Yes, you can use a vacuum-sealed bag.

Dense-packed foods such as dry flour should not be canned, as they don’t heat the food all the way through.

And yeast, even dry yeast, is a plant. To heat it, as you would in canning, would kill it, rendering it useless as a leavening agent. Even “old” yeast, more than a year old, is usually too weak to raise bread. Therefore, even if you buy bulk yeast in one-pound sealed bags, you must use it up and then replace it with new yearly to ensure you have lively yeast for your baking.

Instead of pre-mixing your bread ingredients, I would suggest just storing bulk amounts in airtight, insect-proof containers, ready at hand. I can mix the ingredients for a batch of bread in less than 10 minutes by simply having the ingredients close by. And when I can do that, I wouldn’t waste the time pre-mixing as I do make many different kinds of breads and other baked goods (rolls, coffee cakes, doughnuts, etc.).

—Jackie

You can can on ceramic cooktops

I began canning last year because of all the wonderful info I learned from you. However, I beg to differ about canning on ceramic cooktops. Yes, you can!

I only had my new ceramic stove a week when I began my first experiments. When I researched canners they all said the same thing “not for use on ceramic cooktops.” Well, I was determined, and I found a wonderful Presto, flat-bottomed pressure cooker that is just raised about a ¼ inch high on the bottom, but completely flat, no ridges.

I have produced nothing but successful products over the course of the last year.

Andrea
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The main reason you are advised not to can on a ceramic-topped range is that the weight of the full canner often cracks the finish on the stove, severely damaging it. (Owners were calling canner makers and complaining severely about this, so this is why they advise not using ceramic topped stoves.)

—Jackie

I like to sail, and I like clam chowder. But, the information I have says not to use milk in clam chowder that will be canned (they say a clam chowder base, without milk is okay, but no fresh milk is available on a sailboat. I know there must be a trick to this, since commercially canned clam chowder is available.

Tom Bertrand
Seabiscuit-82 at hotmail.com

Enjoy clam chowder at sea

Milk in canned products results in a clabbered appearance that turns people off. If you’ll read the ingredients in store-bought clam chowers and other “creamed” soups, they usually don’t have milk in them, either. What you can do is to can up your clam chowder and then carry a tin of dry milk along with you to rehydrate and add to your chowder “base” as you are cooking it to eat. This will work well, be easy, and the milk will store for years on board.

—Jackie

Flat-bottomed water bath canner

How important is it to use a flat-bottomed water bath canner when using an electric stove (conventional burner, not glass top)? The only water bath canners (except for the small ones) that I can find have ripples or ridges on the bottom. If you know where I can purchase a flat-bottomed one that is approximately 22 quarts, please let me know.

Ken
Kenneth.Belles at us.ngrid.com

It is not important to use a water bath canner that has a flat bottom when canning on an electric stove. The heat transfers very well, just as the canner is. You only need it to boil water. The top will ensure that this happens quite quickly. No problem here. Good canning! One tip I have for you with your electric stove in everyday cooking is to find an old lid off a wood kitchen range. When frying or boiling down tomato sauces or jelly, use the cast iron lid to evenly heat the bottom of your kettle. This keeps burned rings from forming on the pan where the heat coils of the stove are the hottest. This also works well on a gas range when boiling down sauces and preserves in a kettle with a thinner bottom. No more scorching.

—Jackie




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