Canning for the first time tonight - some last minute questions!!
Hi everyone! I'm usually in the gardening forum, but I've been wanting to can this year for the first time (my mother and grandmother did) ... I've been lurking and reading for a while, especially about all the health and safety issues.
I am planning my first couple batches tonight and I had a few questions that I'd really appreciate answers to :)
I have my mother's old BWB canner. I'm planning to start with and make Annie's Salsa, Pickles, Dilled Green Beans, and Pickled Pepper Rings. Jams will come later in the fall, I think. She will be helping me learn to use the canner properly etc, but the old "tried and true" ways that she is used to in terms of health seem to be outdated.
1. Can I mix half pint and pint sized jars in the BWB at the same time? Can I mix cans of different vegetables that need to be processed for different amounts of time? If so, can I remove some partway though? ie if Jars A need 10 minutes, and Jars B need 15 minutes, can I put them all in together and just remove Jars A after 10 minutes, leaving the rest in there longer?
2. How do I cool them down? Do I just remove the jars from the water after 10 minutes? My mother remembers letting jars sit in the water after the 10 minutes are up and letting them cool down for a little while before removing? Do I take the pot off the heat? Is this right, or does this over-process them?
3. Once you pour your boiling liquid into the jars (before sealing), do you wait a couple minutes for the steam to subside before putting the lids on and processing them or do you cover immediately?
4. I have a Pickle recipe called Linda Lou's Heinz Pickle Recipe which calls for:
4 lbs pickling cukes
14 cloves garlic, peeled & split
1/4 cup salt
2 3/4 cups distilled or apple cider vinegar 5% acidity
2 3/4 cups water
12 to 14 sprigs fresh dill weed
My question about this recipe is about the spices. I know you can't change the balance of fresh herbs (eg the dill), but I was wondering if I could add Pickling Spice to this (as there isn't any) in addition to the Peppercorns? I make my own pickling spice and I'd like to use it. Does it matter how much I add? Would I add it to the Vinegar solution before boiling, or add directly to the jars afterwards (along with the fresh dill and peppercorns)?
5. Most recipes call for either regular or cider vinegar ... I have a couple interesting vinegars too (Malt, Sherry, Tarragon) and I was wondering if I could substitute ANY vinegar as long as it is at least 5% strong?
6. How long can you wait between boiling the vinegar/water brine and pouring it over the veggies and actually putting them INTO the BWB? does it have to be pretty much immediate or can I make 1 recipe, and then let it sit while I make another, and then process them both together in the BWB?
7. Is it enough to wash my jars in a hot dishwasher before using or do I have to do something stronger to prepare them?
I'm sorry about all the questions at once, but things kind of come up once you start thinking about the practicality of canning, having never done it before, that didn't occur to me earlier. Again, I'd really appreciate answers as I'm planning to try these later tonight.
Also, if there is anything else that I haven't asked that you think might be important for a newbie to keep in mind, that other people have trouble with their first time, I'd appreciate that too!!
Thank you so much! I'm really looking forward to canning, I grow loads of veggies each summer and really wanted to learn how to preserve them for the fall/winter instead of just using fresh in the summer.