Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Jar Meal: using the American canner and pickling lime powder

 We used tea towels as napkins, it went with the utility chic.
Inspired by Simon Hopkinson's 'The Vegetarian Option' I made this simply canned bouillon.
The hissing American canner terrified me. But I overcame my fear and pressure canned!
  • You must make sure the jars are clean with intact seals and no nicks. 
  • Then fill your jars half with solids and half with liquid.
  • There are two methods: raw packing and hot packing. Delicate fruits and vegetable can be raw packed into sterilised jars. Other foods especially those that discolour should be hot packed.
  • Hot packing, fill the jars with the very hot food then top up with hot cooking liquid.
  • Salt. We found you need far more salt than you think. I added one teaspoon of salt to each half litre jar and after canning it still wasn't enough. Obviously the process of canning in some way reduces the salt level. 
  • Make sure you have one inch clearance at the top of each jar as the contents will expand.
  • Run a plastic spatula around the inside of the jar to allow bubbles to escape.
  • Hand tighten the jar lids.
  • Fill canner with boiling water to the lowest level. Put in the jars, the water should just cover the jars.(If not using a pressure canner with a special jar rest then put newspaper or a teatowel on the bottom).
  • Put a few tablespoons of white vinegar into the canner otherwise the jars get stained.
  • Close the canner and place on the high heat until pressure starts to build up. 
  • There is a dial on top. You need to look up the amount of processing time and at what pressure each item that you are canning should be at. This also depends on the altitude. Get the dial tested regularly. Place the little steam hat thingy on top of the vent.
  • When the pressure got to 10 I moved the canner to a lower heat and maintained it at that pressure for 20 minutes.
  • Then remove the canner from the heat and wait for the pressure to go down naturally and gradually before removing the jars.
  • I should have bought a special jar remover as it's very hot and delicate work (the jars are glass!). We used tongs and lots of 'ouch' ing.
  • Leave jars to cool for 24 hours. You will hear the lids popping. If the lid does not pop, then do not use that jar.
  • You cannot put oil or dairy into home canned products. You could get botulism which is invisible and tasteless.
  • Home canning improves the flavour of vegetables and fruit. It is an ecological option requiring no refrigeration plus it means that you don't waste any excess from your garden or allotment. Once the tomato season finishes I will be canning tomatoes for my pasta sauces which will last me the year.
  • I'm building up a proper pantry.

 Salmon rillettes, potted.
 Matt Day, who helped cook the meal said he quite fancied Mrs Elswood.
I ordered baby cucumbers and made my own dill pickles using pickling lime powder that I imported from the United States. The lime adds crispness to the pickles. This is the recipe:
1 k of baby cucumbers, halfed and quartered.
I cup of pickling lime 
1 litre Sarson's pickling vinegar
1/2 k sugar
2 tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1 Tbsp of coriander seeds
1 tbsp of black peppercorns
5 tbspns of dill weed

Soak the cucumbers in the lime with 2 litres of cold water. Leave overnight.
Drain and soak in cold water for 3 hours. Rinse a couple more times.
Make a pickling solution by combining the pickling vinegar, sugar, salt together and bringing to the boil.
Then add the spices and the cucumbers.
Leave to soak overnight.
Bring to the boil for half an hour.
You may then can them.
My dill pickles with the melba toast. Pic: Paul Winch Furness
The macaroni cheese in a jar with freshly grated truffle from @Mistertruffle. This man seeks to bring truffles to the people, he will sell them literally by the gram. He sold one gram to a guy that wanted to make an impressive meal for his girlfriend. Pic: Paul Winch Furness
 I associate Prunes in Armagnac with the 1970s, when my parents owned a house in the Armagnac region, in Condom, and we had them for dessert every day.

Some of my boozy jams...
The bouquet of carrots: vegetables are as beautiful as flowers.
Chris Pople who writes the brilliant blog 'Cheese and Biscuits' with witty restaurant reviews decided to get some experience behind the scenes. He was a very good waiter and made me laugh so much. A real tonic after a week of illness where my nose is blocked so badly I can't smell anything. Impossible to cook well if you can't smell. Pic: Paul Winch Furness
 The beauty of jars
 At the end we had a singalong to Elvis Costello's My Aim is True. Pic: Paul Winch Furness
Matt looking at the Aga and thinking 'Er what oven is this?'. Matt Day is exploring canning for a wine bar/ restaurant project. He's a teacher of wine and runs very reasonably priced cooking courses in Tuscany, Italy. Pic: Paul Winch Furness

Other people are using jars for art projects.


  1. what a fascinating meal. i love the menu. x shayma

  2. Fascinating and intriguing. I'm going to have a glut of tomatoes very shortly, and was looking for an interesting way to preserve them. Thank you for an always illuminating blog!

  3. american canner? why is it american? is it an fda thing?

  4. Deva: I didn't explain properly, Matt ordered the canner from America. I don't know if we do them over here.

  5. What a very different and interesting meal. Love the idea of the Bouquet of carrots.

  6. Looks gooorgeous. Inspired me to go and put together a "confiture de vieux garcon" again this summer...

  7. This sounds like a great meal - must have taken you ages though and a lot of patience! So an American Canner...let me get this right? It helps seal stuff in jars so it keeps? But can't you just do that anyway with sterilised jars and hot contents? Am I being stupid? Confused...

  8. Sounds like it was a great event and the table looked very stylish indeed.

  9. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato.
    Cheese, the crowning ingredient, was not added until 1889, when the Royal Palace commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita.

  10. Really intriguing ideas, I'd overheard someone talking anout this when I went oout for a meal at an Ask London and almost fell off my chair trying to lean in a little closer in the hope of understanding what they were talking about. Thankfully I finally found a write up, yours, to qwell my curiosity. I've been searching the strangest things in the hopes of stumbling onto something...

  11. Hi K!
    Now that's a novel theme for a dinner! Clever idea!
    My understanding is that you absolutely can oil safely, but that you need to apply 120 C for a minimum time and that will kill the botulinum spores. Have to keep the temperature consistent though!
    As I've only canned in regular water bath at moment, not pressure cooker, I've stuck with products that are higher in acid or sugar, and can cope with canning at lower temperatures.


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