Modifying Pressure Canning Recipes

JessicaInOhioJune 17, 2012

I want to preface this by saying that I know the safest bet is going with the USDA's recipes. I do usually tow that party line.

But from what I understand if I pressure can foods w only veg, beans, sugar, acid, oil, I think I can assume they'll be safe (if not necessarily good). Where am I going wrong?

Or, a simpler question, if I want to *increase* the acid or sugar in a recipe, can I assume it'll be safe? I know it might mess up jelling for jam, etc, but I'm focused on the safety question here. Ideas?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

What are you missing? Density issues. It is as important as pH is.

First, not with oil. Even when pressure canning oil is allowed in only a very few tested and approved recipes. Oils coat bacteria and prevent the heat from killing them. So know you cannot add oil to a recipe and just assume that pressure canning will make it safe.

Or, a simpler question, if I want to *increase* the acid or sugar in a recipe, can I assume it'll be safe? I know it might mess up jelling for jam, etc, but I'm focused on the safety question here. Ideas?

Usually that would cause no safety issues. More acid is safer and sugar, like salt is often optional. But it would depend on the recipe you are talking about because the density could be changed. I can't think of any thing off-hand that you would do that to that would be pressure canned anyway. Jellies and jams aren't pressure canned.

But from what I understand if I pressure can foods w only veg, beans, sugar, acid, oil, I think I can assume they'll be safe (if not necessarily good). Where am I going wrong?

This is where the safety issues can come into play. If you modify the recipe you can accidentally modify the pH, the density, or the processing time required to compensate. Then it becomes nothing but guess work.

Making broad generalizations about safety in canning, making assumptions from one recipe to another, leads you down a very rocky road. So specifics please. What kind of recipes are we talking about?

Dave

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 7:13PM
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JessicaInOhio

Density! Right. Hadn't thought of that. Specifically I was thinking of beans. I'd love to add lemon juice (or vinegar) & rosemary to canned chickpeas - kind of a marinade. If I started with a USDA straight-chickpea recipe (which I haven't actually found yet) and added some acid & herbs - that would seem to be the same in terms of density, lower pH, at most the same processing time.
I know that playing w recipes is dancing with the devil, but I'm hoping to understand the principles enough that I can do so at my own risk.
Thanks!!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 8:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Chick peas instructions linked below. Adding the rosemary is no problem as long as it is dried. You can always add dried herbs and spices with no problems. Just don't over-do it as many will get very strong or even bitter during storage.

And the lemon juice is no problem either other than the effect it would have on flavor so it would have to be to taste. But no oil. That's where you'd have to draw the line.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: canning chick peas

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 9:50PM
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JessicaInOhio

Dave- Thank you very much! What a speedy & informative answer :)

I'm also reading up here, elsewhere on this forum, & it's helping me understand where I can use what's on hand, "making it up" but within bounds.

Why no fresh herbs? Is it a flavor thing or a safety thing?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 10:42PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

The fresh herbs are a safety issue. Fresh herbs are just basically the same as adding raw vegetables that change the ph level. Dried have had the water removed, so there is no water actitivy involved in them. That is how they were preserved, the water was removed in the dehydration process.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:50AM
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JessicaInOhio

Thanks Linda! I'm comfortable with the small pH chenges that might result from adding a small amount of fresh herbs to a pressure canned beans recipe. Can anyone speak to other safety or flavor issues?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:02AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You are assuming it is a small pH change when it may not be. The pH of many herbs is alkaline, easily affected by the soil in which it is grown, and pH increases exponentially.

Plus pH isn't stable during shelf like so if you are borderline on the day of processing 6 months later you are into an unsafe range. Lastly, there is no quality advantage to using fresh vs. dried. It is an appearance only benefit. But that is your risk to choose to take.

Otherwise the bacterial count is also increased substantially with the use of fresh herbs vs. dried. Flavor changes would be the same as those found anytime one subs fresh for dried. Totally different measurements, takes flavor longer to develop, etc.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 5:34PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

There are issues other than safety to keep in mind. Herbs in canning are very problematic as flavors change with processing and shelf storage. Dave mentioned rosemary as a good example, but there are others.

It is difficult to get fresh herbs clean enough to use with satisfactory results under pressure. They could disintigrate and become unappealingly slimy or cause unappetizing color changes.

Beyond that, oil has a tendency to become rancid with time, especially if shelf storage conditions are less than optimal.

Personally, I find it hard to imagine any canned chickpea "salad" would be as good as that made on-the-spot with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and herbs. It's such a simple thing anyway, it's probably more cost and time-effective to store the dried, cook up a batch in the pressure cooker, freeze the excess and make up the rest into the salad you want.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 4:04AM
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JessicaInOhio

Yes, readinglady, I'm beginning to see that you're right! I prepare & freeze chickpeas all the time now. I was trying to come up with a way to skip the marinating step on the day-of prep. But it looks like canning is not my answer :(

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 12:23AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Now that I think of it, there's no reason not to freeze a marinated chickpea salad base with the olive oil and lemon juice then add parsley or other herbs, onion, etc. just before service.

That way you get the best balance of convenience, taste and texture.

Carol

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 9:26PM
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