Just a few of my shelves with canning in my cellar, I have currently have eight sets of four shelves, each shelf can hold 200 pds evenly, each shelve fits four canning box’s for a total of 48 jars per shelve in box’s and up to sixty when not in box’s, In total right now I have room for about 1200 jars.
I have to chuckle when someone wrote, “Did you sleep last week?” when I listed what I had gotten canned in the week” Don’t get me wrong on this, I was very busy and it was very much full-time work, on the other hand, I thought I might give a few tips I have learned either from my grandma/Mom/Aunts or myself over the years when it comes to canning large amounts.
1) Pick/Prep the night before, if its berries to be made into juice, make it the night before, and let it drip overnight,so its one of the first things to be done in the morning, and while its canning, you have lots of time inbetween to do a second round of prepping for what is coming next.
2) Set up your kitchen, have a routine, empty jars go here, sink full of hot soapy water is this one, draining rack goes here, This spot is where the plate/spoons go, this area has the heavy flat towels for hot jars to sit on while working by the stove.. full jars go over there on that big towel that is also draft free. Check your counter heights, are they to low, if so buy what you need to raise them up so that they are at the right cutting and working height for you. Buy anti-fatique mats for the area’s you are going to be standing on most of the time, they are not pretty and they don’t need to stay there when you don’t need them, but when you are spending hours on your feet, they are important. Keep your knifes and tools, clean, and very sharp.
3) Buy and use the right tool for the right job, if you are going to canning 12 jars of pickles, sure feel free to do it the hard way, want to do 80 plus jars, put the 20 dollars out and get a slicer, and learn how to use it well, it will make things go so much faster.. Going to make tomato sauce? or Apple Sauce? or Juice? or Salsa? Buy the right equipment, and you can produce 4x the amount in the same time frame, you not only get more product, but you get a better quality that then goes on to be finished, which again means that it takes less time. For some things.. like onions for pasta sauce.. just peel and throw in the blender, put the funds out for a powerful blender and don’t put the money out for a food proccesser(because I burn out the moter typically once a season, no matter if its high quailty or med quality). Got a couple bushels of pea’s or beans to do, get a sheller for 40 dollars, takes a hours job down to a bushel every 30 to 40 min.. Doing corn on the cob, put out the ten dollars on the corn kennel cutter.
4) Canning has a pattern, use it to your advantage, have a white board on the fridge and jot down your times for what you are processing that day, put down what ratio for your brine or your syrup, have a timer beside it,so you can set it and either hear it in the house, or can take it with you if you are heading out to pick for a few min etc, learn your stove, learn what temps are required to simmer each pot, learn what temps are required to hold the boil lid on, lid off, windy day with draft, time how long it takes to get back to a boil at what temp, example, my big hot water bath canning pot, takes 3 to 4 min at 7 with lid on to go from simmer to roiling boil after Hot packed pint jars goes in.. 5 to 6 min to go to full boil if cold pack/Hot jars goes in, I know to put this extra time on the timer for each batch, this changes just a touch for quarts.
5) Use the pattern, each food you are making is going to take a certain time, lets back it down into the parts.
a) Boil your jars -Heat-Soften your lids or boil your rubber rings for old fashion jars – I don’t use tattler lids so can’t comment there.
b) Prep your foods as required to get them to the canning stage for round one
c) Cook, heat your food, and or cold pack, make and heat your liquid, be it brine or syrup
d) Fill, bottle, lid and into either pressure canner or hot water bath for a set time
e) Time in canners
f) Cooling time for 24 hours in as draft-free spot as possable
6) The key to rapid and successfull turn over is using the time in both C and E to prep and cook the next batch, At some point you are going to want to get off your feet and sit down, doing a prepping kitchen or living room set up, get a table or a series of tables, check those heights again, you can prep while sitting for a great many things, like cutting etc. When I did peppers this past week, It took me 9 and half hours of steady non-stop work to get the dryers full, the first thing canned was the plain peppers but the first sauce was already on the stove simmering away, it was ready when the last batch of the plain peppers was ready, by the time it was ready, the prep work was done for the next batch to go on the stove to cook and simmer down, while that was happening, cleaning and tidying can happen, and it gave me time to do the pepper slices and cubes to be laid out in trays to the freezers, then finish canning the next batch, by then the ones in the freezer was able to broke apart, and bagged up for later use, and the next round ready to go in the freezer..
Use your stove to full advantage, I will waterbath everything that can be done so safely, its has a much more rapid turn around then the pressure canner does, but meat, fish, certain veggies and soup need the pressure canner to conform to the ideal safety standard, but when it comes to getting it done, the water bath canner is the speed demon compared to the pressure canner, but on the other hand, the pressure canner can hold 18 pints in one go, where my biggest waterbath canner that works to let me use the other burners on the stove, only holds half that. You can on average do two full batch’s more in the waterbath canner in the same time it will take you to do the same amount of time in the pressure canner. that heat up and cool off eats up time on the pressure canner.
7) Look at your produce, be very picky on what is used in your canning, I’m going to use pickles as my first example, I cut both ends off and into the non-canning bowl, I don’t want to need to worry if I got the right end off, its a time added that I just don’t need, into the bowl it goes.. by the end I have a big bowl of ends, now I don’t like waste, so they get ground up and made into a small batch of relish of some kind. My second example is going to be about fruit, if I have soft spots that need to be cut out, its not bad, its just not perfect, I will cut it out and put it into a different pot to make into fresh stewed fruit for house use now, the stewing stops the turning process and the cooling and into the fridge gives you a couple extra days to get it eaten and it does not go into the canning batch. What you can so be the very best of what you produced or can buy.
8) Look at large scale canning as your current full-time job, or if you work a full-time job as a very active part time job, kind of like working a part time job at xmas time.. its going to be hot, and busy and crazy and there will be times you so tired but its a job, and it needs to get done.. no stopping until the job is done! If you really need a break, put your head down for a 20 min nap with the timer, and it will go along way to refresh you, as will having a quick shower, or step outside and have a brisk walk up and down the lane, fresh air, sunshine and a short power-walk can give a stong second wind.
9) When you really hit the push come to shove time.. you have two choices- Can though the night, setting the alarm to get up and switch the jars out, or see if you can freeze certain things to do later once the push is over, examples, you can freezer whole tomato’s in bags and then put them frozen under cool running water and slip the skins off and when they thaw, they will be mushy and ready to be made into sauce of any kind. Freeze bags of berries and process them in oct/nov when you have time to do the rest of the process, or get the juice out of the berries, and then freeze the juice and finish the rest of the canning process when things have calmed down. When you have the pepper/tomato push in early fall, remember your root veggies can wait right up until first frosts and later if you bed them down before they need to be dug and put into either root cellar or processed into canning/drying or freezing. Its well worth taking the time to learn what has to come off Now! vs what can hold with no loss of quality, example corn, when it’s ready, it needs to be harvested now and processed as fast as possable, Green beans and little cucumbers, when they are ready, they need to be picked and used, but beets, cabbage, carrots, turnips.. these things can hold.. summer sqaush, uses very quickly.. winter sqaush.. know how to cure it and you have lots of time with no real loss of qaulity.
10) Wow, I got to ten already..I will wrap this up then.. Its fine to can a few jars of this or that to learn the process, and to enjoy the wonderful fresh flavors and combos of jam’s and jellies, when you are canning like that, its for fun and pleasure.. but when you are truly putting up for your family and what you get done will effect how much and how you will eat for the coming year, it becomes for me at least about will-power and doing the job right. There are more and more of us that are putting up, not because its family tradition to make those pickles or because you like grandma’s peach jam but because we are growing a large portion of our food for the year, and this is a huge part of the way to preserve it for future use.
This is a homestead Barn Hop Post.