Raw packed beets in pressure canner?

tcstoehrJune 25, 2007

I always prefer to cook veggies as little as possible and was wondering if I could slice up and pack raw cylindrical beets into jars and process them in my pressure canner?

I know all the conventional wisdom says to cook them first, but I have found that not to be necessary with beans for example, which can be soaked overnight and then directly pressure canned. Though you have to allow for water absorbtion. Carrots, onions and celery are also fine this way and are less mushy and I believe better quality than if they had been cooked prior to being pressure canned. It seems that the pressure canner processing cooks vegetables quite enough.

So what do you say? Can I do it?

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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Here's a link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation (great site by the way).

They say to only cook a short time to slip the skins off, then pack and process.
Deanna

Here is a link that might be useful: NCHFP

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 3:34PM
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tcstoehr

Yeah, that's what they say to do. But is it really necessary to cook the beets before processing? Which is cooking them twice and quite possibly more than necessary. Is there a problem with raw packing them?
I don't want to mess with safety standards, I just prefer to cook things no more than they need to be.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 4:07PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Yes, it is necessary to cook them first. Heating them first is part of the processing time that constitutes proper processing. When something says hot pack, then it needs to be followed or your food will be underprocessed, which can lead to food borne illness or spoilage.
You may consider freezing your beets instead.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 4:16PM
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tcstoehr

Well... even when you cook the beets before pressure canning them, they are *cooled* before cut up and put in the pressure canner. Once cooled, the beets are considered to be completely non-sterile, especially since they get handled during cutting. So we are still talking about a cold-pack situation whether they are pre-cooked or not. So safety and processing time are not the issue IMO.
Freezing, eh? I shall look into it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 4:35PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Were you planning to peel the beets with a knife or peeler? I'm guessing that would be considerably more time-consuming.

The canning times are predicated on the assumption that it's a cooked product. Heat penetration is different with a cooked product as opposed to a raw one, especially with something as dense and fibrous as beets.

I wonder how it would be to roast beets, which are exceptionally good, and then freeze for a quick re-heat later. No added water, just pure beet and maybe a bit of olive oil.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 5:43PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Tcstoehr,they are packed hot, if you will read the instructions. It does make a difference. This was part of the discussion at the safety training I just attended.
"Fill jars with hot beets and fresh hot water, leaving 1-inch headspace." When it say hot pack, that is part of the safety of the product.
How to can beets, from National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Canning beets.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 8:06PM
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tcstoehr

Linda, the link you gave me (which I had read) also says:
"Cool, remove skins, and trim off stems and roots."
I can only guess that they're supposed to be heated up again before being packed. I don't see the point of reheating the beets just so that they can be hot-packed. Just pack them cool and adjust the processing time.
In fact, I don't even want to remove the skins, I don't like throwing out half the nutritive value of the product.

ReadingLady, point well taken about heat penetration. I had thought of that only after my previous post. But again, I have to believe that a small adjustment of the processing time would be all that's needed.

Further, I believe that the only reason that beet-canning recipes call for boiling before processing is to make the peeling and slicing easier. But I don't want to peel my cylindrical beets and I think I can slice them, cold-pack them raw and process for 45 minutes at 10PSI. I think this would be a completely safe procedure although I don't know what the quality of the finished product will be. But I will find out.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 12:58PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The skins harbor a lot of dirt and bacteria. So it's true nutritive value is lost, but it's critical to get the skins impeccably clean if you're going to leave them on and that can be a challenge.

We all have to make a personal decision regarding our tolerance for risk. If you boil the beets for 10 minutes once opened, that will kill any possible toxins. Of course, then you're right back at the same point as far as texture is concerned.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 1:29PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

You can do what you want, but you asked the question to begin with. It does make a difference if they are hot packed or not when it comes to the safety of the processing time... Each part of a process is indeed part of the safety of the product, not just for the quality of it. The directions are given for a reason. So, if you want to take the risk, that is your decision.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 5:00PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

When I did pickled beets, any that were less than an inch and a half were pickled whole. Any larger, were sliced. They do need a bit of precooking to remove the outer skin/layer. I leave part of the green stems on them, as well as the thin root. If you cut these off before a partial cooking, you loose a lot of the red color through those areas. When pickling, I make a sweet mixed pickle brine. It uses cinnamon, allspice, clove, celery seed, ginger, dill, mustard seed, and a litte coriander seed. Also, its sweetened, and some apple cider vinegar is used along with the white. The beet slices also get a few slices of onions added too. An elderly lady friend loves my beets, either fresh or pickled.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 10:04PM
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tcstoehr

Linda, that's correct. But I'm certain there is a processing time that is quite safe. I just don't know what that is yet.

ReadingLady, I've heard this before about removing skins because they harbor bacteria. In regard to peaches actually. I suppose there are bacteria in the skins but we should be assuming they are everywhere in the food we're preserving. Why are we processing with heat and pressure if not to kill the bacteria? So I don't care if they're in the skins, they're gonna die regardless. 8^)

Thanks for all of your input.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 12:50PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

My point was that the current tested processing times are based on skinned, cooked and heated beets and hot water. I just have no idea what a safe processing time for unskinned raw-pack beets would be. It's apples and oranges, and since beets are high-risk, it's not something I'm going to experiment with.

Beyond that, while I value fiber, it's nigh unto impossible to get all the dirt out of the skins of a batch of beets being prepped for canning. That's why the former practice of using the beet water for beet jelly has long been discredited. The liquid from the cooked beets is dirty (literally), gritty and disgusting. You may have better luck with the results.

Finally, for those of us philosophically opposed, it would be unconscionable to validate an untested approach to a high-risk product.

But this is just a Forum where people who share a common commitment to home food preservation discuss topics of interest. We all do what we want in our own kitchens.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 1:36PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

If I canned peaches with skins, its not very appetizing. On the other hand, a delicate skin of an apricot would be fine. Do you ever see skins left on commercially canned foods? Most are peeled off or removed somehow if they are thick, tough, or not flavorful. Beets are quite hard and because they do have many areas where dirt can hide, I would never try canning them with just a rinsing and scrubbing. Most people can to quicken the prepping later on, when they use the canned product. To just toss into a jar and process, might be fine for a few simple things, but for those who don't want to have to drain, clean, peel, wash, and such after a jar of goodies is open, isnt very practical.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 4:35PM
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tcstoehr

ksrogers, are you sure that canned peaches with skins won't work out? Have you seen it done? I haven't but I may try a test this season. It could get ugly but I think it may be worth a try. Just because commercial canners don't do it isn't necessarily a deterrent to me, or many people on this board I should think. Commercial producers have alot of concerns and constraints that do not apply to the home canner.
Whenever I cook fresh beets for the dinner table, I don't peel them, and they're great. I don't see what the big deal would be canning them unpeeled, as long as they're safely processed.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 1:03PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

On peeling foods: http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/fcs3/fcs3325/fcs3325.htm
Most bacteria, yeasts, and molds are difficult to remove from food surfaces. Washing fresh food reduces their numbers only slightly. Peeling root crops, underground stem crops, and tomatoes reduces their numbers greatly. Blanching also helps, but the vital controls are the method of canning and use of the recommended research-based processing times found in the publications of this home-canning series. These processing times ensure destruction of the largest expected number of heat-resistant microorganisms in home-canned foods.

I do know that potatoes are supposed to be peeled due to the bacteria in the peels.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 1:37PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I never see peaches in halves or sliced that have the skins still on, or even if home canned. They do tend to loosen, but end up as little clumps of unidentifable mush. Some canning makers, use high pressure water jets to peel. Apricots, which are a bit less 'fuzzy' are a bit more palletable as to texture when home canned. As to potatoes, baked is great if they are not peeled. If I had not peeled my dried potato slices, they would have ended up with lots of strands of brown within the slices, especially after they rehydrate. Beets, that I prepare, are always cooked with the skins on, then are peeled. I only partially cook them when I plan to pickle them. If I leave the peels on, I can see a lot of sand that is settling to the bottom of the pot, or jars. Some skins just don't make for a nice canning, unless your seriously into high fiber foods and don't mind pulling out loose skins between your teeth. When I can tomatoes, if I leave skins on, they roll up into little red twigs and tend to make the smooth appearance or a tomato sauce look a bit odd. Closing your eyes and chewing well is fine for some. As already pointed out, bacteria of all kinds can still linger on the surface of items you can. If you buy fresh store bought foods and they are sprayed with pesticides and fungucides, how much go into your canned product? I would expect the levels to be quite high if skins are left on..

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 7:14PM
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tcstoehr

So, am I hearing that bacteria on the skins of some fruits and vegetables are not killed by standard processing?
I have to believe they are. I also have to believe that bacteria on the skins of fruits and veggies will also be found on those items after peeling, albeit in reduced numbers. I'm assuming that appropriate heat/pressure processing will kill ALL the bacteria, no matter how many there are.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 2:09PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Yes,that is exactly what I have been taught in my food preservation safety classes. The processing procedures, times, etc. are based on them being peeled, and also cooked and packed hot, unless the directions give you an option . If done any other way will you can't be sure it will result in a safe product if you modify the procedures.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 7:44PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Maybe bacteria is killed, but what about odd things like petrolium residue, insecticides, fungicides, and any other stuff that might come from soil, and also be in the skins of the canned vegetable that is not peeled first.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2007 at 10:52PM
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tcstoehr

> what about odd things like petrolium residue, insecticides, fungicides, and any other stuff

Well... the beets are from my garden where no chemicals are used. But the apricots are not, and nobody says I should peel those.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 2:39PM
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tcstoehr

That last post of mine seems a bit rude in retrospect. Sorry, not my intent.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 2:51PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I would just not like the idea of eating something that originally had a lot of dirt on it. When I make beet soup (borshe), I always get a little mass of sand at the bottom of the pot. Even after washing the greens well, and cooking the beets, then peel and slice them. Peach skins tend to be a bit tougher compared to an apricot. Even though your garden may be safe now, are you that sure that it aways was just dirt there, and no landfills, runoff, or other contaminates. I have a small spot in my back yard where absolutely nothing will grow in. I have tried many vegetables as well as even a pear tree. The pear grew fine, but would suddenly lose all of its leaves before setting any fruit. The soil had some kind of nasty thing in it, as after that tomato plants would get covered in a black fungus and quickly die. Its been dug, ammended and all kinds of things tested, but still just doesn't like anything growing there. No factories nearby, or any chemicals stored around here.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 5:16PM
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