(Photo from Chris Campbell’s Flickr photostream)
Attention all canjammers! The focus of the February Tigress Can Jam is CARROTS.
The Tigress and I made this choice with both excitement and trepidation. The excitement because vegetables are new territory for many water-bath canners; the trepidation because carrots are a low-acid food, and therefore come with certain rules. So. Let’s be clear. No matter what you find on the internets, you absolutely have to add acid to carrots to make them safe to can. In fact, a lot of acid. So much acid, in fact, that the Tigress and I strongly encourage you—nay, insist!—that you start off with a published recipe, and tweak from there. (If you have a home pH meter and/or are a master food preserver, you get a free pass.) Think pickles, relishes, and chutneys. Once you’ve found a recipe you like, feel free to tinker with the spices, the balance of salt and sugar, the exact combination of vegetables, etc. HOWEVER, be sure that you are not reducing the proportion of acid to the food.
Let’s give an entirely hypothetical (as in, don’t try this at home) example. Say you have a recipe that includes 5 cups of carrots, 2 cups of cauliflower, a handful of herbs, 1 T of salt, 1/4 c. of sugar, and 3 cups of vinegar. It would be fine to reduce the cauliflower to 1 cup and add 1 cup of peppers, throw in some mustard seeds, and add more sugar. It would not be OK, though, to just add a cup of peppers without adding more vinegar, because then you’ve lowered the acid content (that is, raised the pH).
Um, if this is at all confusing, that means you should stick with the recipe.
Have fun, be careful, and remember to post your fabulous creations between Sunday, February 14 and midnight, Friday, February 19.