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Canning beets, Preserving yellow pear tomatoes, and Storing dried herbs

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Canning beets

 I just harvested my Bulls Blood beets. I left 3 inches of stem and the roots on. I boiled them — probably 25 minutes — the water was red. I soaked them in cold water and peeled them. I did cut off the tops as I was peeling. I noticed that the beets had white inside some of them. After processing for 35 minutes at 13 pounds of pressure. My beets all turned white, and the water is reddish. Are they still ok to eat?

 Jacqueline Wieser

Sidney, Nebraska

 Yes, definitely. Beets are “famous” for bleeding. Some are worse than others. Were these larger beets? Sometimes canning smaller ones, so you don’t have to boil them so long to get tender and peel, works best. Often the beets, after storing a while, will re-absorb the red coloring from the canning water. — Jackie

 Preserving yellow pear tomatoes

 I’m looking for a canning recipe to use up and preserve my abundance of Yellow Pear Tomatoes. I’m not having much luck looking online, and none of the canning books in my collection have any mention of them at all.

 Lee Robertson

Webberville, Michigan

 My favorite use for yellow pear tomatoes is in tomato preserves. Mom and Grandma used to put up jars and jars of this each fall, and we’d gobble them up by spring! Here it is:

 3 quarts yellow pear tomatoes

8 cups sugar

2 cups lemon, thinly sliced and seeded

1½ cups water

1 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

 Wash and peel tomatoes by dipping them in boiling water. Tie pickling spices and lemon in a bag. Combine spice bag, sugar, lemon, water, and ground spices in a large saucepan. Simmer, stirring to prevent scorching. Add tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes become transparent. Stir often to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and cover. Let stand overnight. Remove spice bag. Gently heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process 20 minutes in a boiling water bath. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet, consult your canning book for directions on increasing your processing time to suit your altitude, if necessary.

 I’ve also used yellow pear tomatoes to make a pretty salsa, using your favorite salsa recipe. It’s tasty and different! — Jackie

 Storing dried herbs

 How long do dried herbs keep? I bagged up six gallon sized ziploc bags of lemon balm this week. I use it for lemon balm tea to keep my blood sugar down.

 Wil Scarrow

Gold Hill, Oregon

 Dried herbs keep a long time, as in years. But they retain peak potential and flavor for about a year. Then you may have to use more to get the same taste/effect. — Jackie

3 Responses to “Canning beets, Preserving yellow pear tomatoes, and Storing dried herbs”

  1. Bill Says:

    I had the same yellow pear tomato issue as well. I found a recipe for preserves from “Joy of Cooking: All about Canning and Preserving.” It came out great, although took a while.

    Half 2 lbs. yellow or orange tomatoes. Combine with 2 cups of sugar and steep the tomatoes (let stand for 4-8 hours in a cool place or 24 hours in the fridge). After steeping, peel and slice in thin strips 1/4 lb. fresh ginger. Finely grate the zest and extract the juice from 1/2 lb. lemons. Strain the tomato syrup into a saucepan, reserving the tomatoes. Mix the ginger, lemon zest and lemon juice with the tomatoes. Bring the syrup slowly to a boil. Boil it until it falls from a metal spoon in 2 heavy drops. Add the tomato mixture and boil to the jelling point. Remove from the heat, skip the foam and ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes in a water bath.

    The recipe makes 3 half pints. Since we didn’t know how it would turn out, we did them in the little 1/4 pint quilted jars so we wouldn’t have an open jar hanging around. It came out great though, so I wouldn’t hesitate to use the bigger jars next time. It has a really nice flavor of ginger and lemon with the hint of yellow tomatoes.

  2. zelda Says:

    Jacqueline, next year try growing Gladiator and Ruby Queen (both quick maturing) beets to can, instead of Bull’s Blood. Some beet varieties are more likely to lose color during canning than others, and Bull’s Blood is one of them. (If you need a non-toxic red food color, Bull’s Blood is a great source). It is a good beet for beet tops, looks good pickled fresh for salads in vinegar and olive oil, but not for canning. You can can the beet tops, which as you know have a wonderful dark red color, but I don’t know whether they will fade. I grow Shiraz Tall Top for greens, but I steam and freeze them. You can also call your county Extension Agent or contact Johnny’s, Baker Creek or other seed companies and ask what they recommend for a canning beet that won’t lose color. Beautiful red canned beets were really important to old time canners and you live in an area where canning and entering items at county fairs go back generations, so your Extension Agent should be able to help.

  3. Mary Jane Plemons Says:

    I always plant and can Detroit Red beets. Great fresh greens and beautiful, red canned beets.

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