Pickles and jams are not at all the lot of grandmothers, although they still seem to do the best. From a forced measure, homemade preparations have turned into a grateful hobby: you can preserve not only cucumbers and tomatoes on an industrial scale in three-liter jars - now it is done gracefully and sophisticatedly. Of course, in today's consumer paradise, stocking up for the winter is no longer necessary, but when fresh local vegetables and fruits are not available, it is good to have marinades and confitures on hand without artificial preservatives and flavor enhancers. In addition, beautiful jars are nice to keep at home (up to the X-hour) or to give to friends. At the same time, canning is a difficult and time-consuming process, which frightens off many, but it is worth it. Tomorrow we will share step-by-step recipes for non-trivial vegetable preparations for the winter, but for now we will tell you what needs to be considered for the success of the enterprise.
Start simple and beloved
Simple doesn't mean banal. For pickles, jams, sauces and syrups, choose vegetables and fruits that you really love - you will eat it later. If you are indifferent to canned tomatoes and cucumbers, there is no need to pay tribute to tradition. Sweet and sour zucchini in herbs or elderberry jam - the options are much more interesting: unusual recipes will not get bored. To begin with, you can not encroach on complex sauces, but try to roll a couple of "monobanks": one key vegetable or fruit (whole or in pieces), a minimum of cooking steps, a simple marinade. Having mastered the main principles, you can take a walk.
Decide on the fixtures
It is better to choose glass jars of small volume (we will leave three-liter and five-liter in the past). Today, many people prefer to make blanks in cans with a twist-off screw cap or with the so-called euro-lock. Their quality and degree of tightness are highly dependent on the manufacturer, but such containers are perfect for jams with a small amount of sugar or marinades and sauces that you plan to store in the refrigerator and use in the foreseeable future. If you nevertheless decide to act the old fashioned way, in addition to a large sterilization pan, various ladles and other basic utensils, you will need metal lids with a rubber seal and any type of seaming wrench. You can also use autoclaves - large-sized canning machines, but they cost a lot and require additional hassle, besides, handmade blanks are more valuable and are considered tastier. A compromise for all modern fans - advanced compact canning kits.
Technology comes first
When you immerse yourself in the art of homemade preparations, the process becomes overgrown with a million wisdom and life hacks, and each culinary specialist has his own. But the most important thing is sterilization and tightness: without these two principles, all your efforts will go to the trash can. Boil jars and lids in acidified water for about 10 minutes (use citric acid or vinegar). Spoons, scoops, seamers, and other tools can be sterilized in the same way, and clean tea towels can be steamed. If using a marinade or syrup, pour boiling water into jars of vegetables or fruits and leave for 10-20 minutes, then pour all the water back into the pan, add sugar and salt according to the recipe and boil again. Send jam, confiture or stewed vegetables straight to sterilized jars. Twist-off caps are heated over steam or in hot water up to 50-60 degrees and screwed tightly, ordinary metal caps are rolled up with a key. Make sure that it is completely tight, otherwise the air trapped in the jars after swirling will provoke fermentation. Some re-sterilize the workpieces before closing - immerse jars with hot contents in a saucepan and boil.
Fill cans with imagination: it will add both taste and beauty to them. Sour fruits, fresh herbs and spices are suitable for pickles - from umbrellas of dill and peppercorns to garlic, cloves and black currant leaves. When canning fruits, also do not be afraid of combinations - add a handful of black mountain ash to apples, cardamom or cinnamon to pears. The recipe for marinade, syrup or sauce for each piece will be different - it all depends on the sweetness and acidity of fruits and vegetables, the combination of tastes and, of course, the method of preparation - you can preserve stewed, boiled or fresh fruits and vegetables in all kinds of combinations. If you are a beginner, you can safely follow the recipe, but when you get the hang of it, be sure to let your imagination run wild and try to prepare something like salted plums, hot sauce for pasta or apple confiture in tea rose syrup (for our part, we will offer a dozen of such recipes already tomorrow).
Pay attention to detail
Choose fruits and vegetables that have reached medium ripeness: under the influence of hot marinade or pressure in a jar, the skin of overripe vegetables and fruits can crack or break. So that the washed and cut fruits, vegetables or berries do not darken until the moment of heat treatment, they can be kept in slightly acidified water. It is necessary to lay the blanks so that the contents adhere to the edges of the jar as much as possible, and fill the containers to the top with marinade or syrup. The less free space in the bank and, accordingly, the air, the more likely that the workpiece will survive until winter. If, after cooling, the vegetables darken, the brine is probably not sufficiently concentrated: in this case, you can pour in a new marinade or eat the workpiece one of the first, because it will not stand for a long time.
Don't forget about post-production
Put the finished pickles and jams with the lids down and insulate, and after a day, check the tightness and remove the cans in a dark place. We advise you to sign the contents with a marker or make labels: it's not about the cute hand-made technique - after six months you simply won't remember which jar contains apple confiture and which one contains pear. A week or two after canning, inspect each container again: for successful blanks, the metal lid should slightly bend inward in the middle. A leaking or swollen lid, clouding of the brine are signs of a defective workpiece, which it is better not to rely on too much. If you've followed the instructions and the jars are behaving properly, rejoice: you've probably secured the best homemade snacks for the winter.
Photos: Alis Photo - stock.adobe.com, Paulista - stock.adobe.com, Ikea