Another 'Can I Can It' Question

tamracloveJuly 24, 2012

Hi All!

New member/gardener/canner here. I know all the rules about only using certified recipes, but my recipe is quite close, so I just wanted to ask.

Last fall I canned the recipe for Heidi Swanson's Simple Tomato Soup. Here:

It's curried, and super yummy. I only canned 2 jars, just to see if the flavor would hold - it was perfect.

Now my tomatoes are coming in, and I want to can a lot of it. Here is the recipe:

4T butter (I can omit if necessary)

2 sliced onions

1t salt

1T curry powder

1t coriander

1t cumin

1/2t chile flakes

6C crushed/prepared tomatoes

6C water

Basic soup recipe - sautee onions, add everything else, simmer until slightly thickened.

I think the spices don't "count" towards the PH, so that leaves me with:

butter (I'd better leave that out, tho)

6C tomatoes

2 onions

6C water

1t salt

This is really similar to many of the recipes in the BBB - particularly the stewed tomatoes.

4Qt tomatoes

1C celery

1/2C onion

1/4C green pepper

1T sugar

2t salt

But my recipe leaves OUT the troublesome green peppers.

Is it close enough for me to use the same processing times? From what I've read, if I'm changing a recipe at all, I need to use the longest time required by any ingredient - in this case, the onions. I'm also wondering if the addition of water makes a difference?

Tomatoes packed in water need 10min @ 10 lbs

Stewed tomatoes need 20min @ 10 lbs

Does 20min @ 10 lbs sound safe?

Thanks All!!

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

It is a cooking recipe for fresh eating, not a canning recipe so it would be a can-at-your-own-risk recipe. All we could do is speculate.

If you are comfortable guessing at density, pH, and processing times then that is up to you.

So speculation only: no butter, it would have to be 2 small onions for a total of no more than 1/2 cup (since the recipe contains no measurement it could be almost 2 cups of onions if they were large ones and really skew the pH and density), and the onions (not the tomatoes) would be the longest processing time but there is no processing times given for pressure canning onions since most of the plain onion recipes are pickled.

The pressure canning time for mixed vegetables is 75-90 min.

So can you can it? Not in my opinion.

What you CAN do is use the BBB Stewed Tomatoes recipe, leave out the green peppers and celery, add the dried seasonings and pepper flakes and turn it into the soup after opening the jars.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Ok - so really that's not much of a change. Just make sure there are 4qts of tomatoes to 1/2C onions. There are no thickeners added at all, so all I would need to do is increase my spices to taste.

Theoretically, could I "replace" the celery and peppers with more onions, making it 1.75C onions to 4qts tomatoes?

I'm having a really hard time finding a reputable source for the PH of onions, peppers, celery - the BBB has a recipe using 1/2 tomatoes and 1/2 celery, and only processing 35 min, I think. is there a source for food PH info?

I think this recipe is basic enough to make the necessary changes, and I do want to do it right!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:28AM
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    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:32AM
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I found this USDA research paper on salsa guidelines.

They were using lemon juice to acidify salsa with higher concentrations of peppers and onions.

My reason for posting it, is that they used onions and peppers interchangeably, so I think I'm safe to "replace" the peppers with more onions in my recipe. Also, if I added the proper amount of lemon juice, I could process in a boiling bath, although that would change the flavor too much.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:45AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry but you are making just too many faulty assumptions and conclusions for me to tackle them all - other than what I posted above. Perhaps someone else can clarify all the issues for you better. All I will add is that per the guidelines you can never substitute different vegetables for each other - like for like subs are ok as long as the totals remain the same - but subbing onions for peppers is not. It is directly related to the amounts of acid used and there is none in your recipe. And the article you sourced makes that point clearly.

This recipe is not yet being recommended for public use until there is further research and peer review. Validation with more replications and in larger batch recipes and heat penetration studies are needed.

You have clearly made up your mind to do this so that is your choice, your risk to take.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 10:00AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Forgot to add the link to the pH list

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA - Food ph

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:37AM
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That chart helps a lot, thanks.

Onions - 5.37-5.85
Celery - 5.7-6
Peppers - 4.65 - 5.45

Onions are more acidic than celery, so I feel comfortable swapping them.
Onions are less acidic than peppers, so I will not swap that ingredient.

And also (duh) I just found the recipe for the BBB Spiced Tomato Soup. It has Carrots (5.6-6) and peppers but since they are less acidic, if I leave them out my soup will be more acidic, so should be safe.

I do appreciate the help - I'm just trying to figure out all the "whys". I do that with everything in my life, if I can't figure out why I'm quite frustrated until I do :-)

thank you!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 3:21PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The "whys" in canning come from training, from certified classes, and can be a simple or as complex as you want to make them. But pH of the food is only one aspect that must be considered.

The simple "why" is because it has never been tested and approved.

The complex "why" is without that extensive lab testing you have no way of knowing the actual pH of each ingredient which can vary widely (there is a big difference between a pH of 5.37 and one of 5.85) and the final pH of the product, nor the stability of that pH as it rises during shelf storage, the % of water to be found in each food, how fast or slow the cellular structure of a particular food reacts to osmosis, the density of the finished product and the amount of time required for full heat penetration of that density, etc., etc.

For example, celery contains much more water than onions and has a larger cellular structure so its pH is much less stable over time, it dilutes the pH of the mixture, and it reacts very differently under pressure than onions do. So they are not inter-changeable per the guidelines.

A trained food scientist can relate to all these important variables but the rest of us lack the training to appreciate or understand their importance.

Thus the 2 basic guidelines of home canning safety - (1) you cannot safely can your own made up recipes and (2) cooking and canning recipes are 2 different things and you cannot safely can cooking recipes.

It is up to each individual whether they abide by those guidelines or not.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 5:58PM
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See, now that's an answer that I can understand! (at least, now I understand why I can't understand!!). I have never been able to fully respect rules that are "just because". Thank you for the details!!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:03PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

If you take the vegetables and tomatoes, then leave out the butter, you could process as a soup. Half the jar of the solids, have with broth.

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

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 8:12PM
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