Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Preserving food using the water bath method

Cooking from scratch is one of the biggest ways I can contribute to the well-being of my family. A little while ago I bought a big pot to attempt canning or preserving food and I finally got started on that last night. In the morning I went into my local fruit and veg grocer to check the discounted trolley and found about 5kgs tomatoes for $3 and 4kgs extra ripe strawberry's for $8. From that I got 10 jars diced tomato (30 cents a jar), and 10 jars or strawberry jam (80 cents a jar). So not only do I know exactly whats in the jars, they are also so much cheaper than anything I can buy in the shop. Sweet!!

Strawberry Jam, diced tomatoes, water bath and stock all on the go!

The method I used is the water bath method. I dont like to use anything fancy and also prefer to use what I already have. So I recycled jars that I have kept. One note of importance if reusing jars like this is to make sure they have no cracks and the lids are intact with no signs of wear or rust.

Items you will need:

  • A large stock pot.
  • A tea towel or a round cake rack to put under the jars to prevent them from touching the hot bottom of the pot.
  • Recycled jars.
  • Tongs and hand mittens.


Prepare the jars.

  1. Before you start check the jars for cracks or chips and the lids for rust or dents. Never use damaged jars or lids.
  2. Wash the jars and lids and boil gently for 5 minutes in a pot to sterlise. 
  3. Allow to cool slightly on a rack.

Diced tomato ready to store.

Fill the jars with goodness.
  1. Pour or spoon the hot contents you have prepared into the warm jars.
  2. Leave about 8mm from the top to allow the contents to expand when boiling.
  3. Make sure there are no air bubbles as this may allow mold to form whilst in storage.
  4. When the jar is full, screw the lids on fairly tight and wipe the jars clean.

Give the jars a bath and store.
  1. Place the jars into the pot (on top of the cake ring) and fill with warm water until the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water.
  2. Bring the water slowly to the boil. Once it is gently boiling leave for another 45 minutes for small jars and up to 1 hour for larger jars.
  3. When time is up carefully remove the jars with tongs and hand mittens and place on a tea towel to cool. The prolonged heat will form a vacuum in the jars.
  4. When the jars are cool check the lids are inverted. The jars must have a perfect seal to allow for storage in the cupboard.
  5. Store them in a dark cupboard and they will last up to a year without losing their nutrition.

Strawberry jam galore.

Now my fingers are crossed that my jam sets nicely. Yes I did use sugar (gasp!! I know), but I have tried to use a fair bit some lemon juice - supposed to help it set? Preserving food like this is so easy. My next idea is to make some curry sauces to store so that I can use them on the nights where I am a bit time poor, my own version of Chicken Tonight or Kan Tong.....

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