My favorite thing about summer is definitely my weekend drives out to the farmers market. Call it nostalgia, but I grew up just minutes away from the same market that I take my own daughter to now. I love being able to share that same experience with my daughter. Being able to teach her to appreciate the resources we have available to us is something I absolutely cherish.
Do you have a local farmers market?
Nothing beats the taste of a home-grown tomato that ripened on the vine, or the juiciness of the sweetest peach just bursting with flavor. The quality of produce that you get from a farm is beyond compare to what you will find in most grocery stores.
Summer is also the season of grilling and, under normal circumstances, entertaining. Your local farmers market can easily up your seasonal cooking game and impress your friends with your culinary delights.
But what about the rest of the year? Don’t you wish you could hang on to that same depth of flavor, even when the snow has fallen and “fresh” produce is nowhere to be found? Well, you actually CAN!
Canning is the answer, my friends.
How many of you thought canning was a thing of centuries past? Across the nation, canning has been revived as no longer just a necessary skill, but for a fun way to connect with food. Particularly with millennials, due in part to the current wave of culinary mania, canning is becoming more popular than ever.
With so many organic options now available at farm stands there really is no healthier way to preserve that delicious food for many months to come. Particularly in the way you preserve it, and by using the best ingredients.
That is where Berkey water comes in.
The Berkey Filter system removes over 200 contaminants from your water, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, etc. Why go to the trouble of picking the most beautiful fruits and veggies that were grown without chemicals, only to store them in a swimming pool of them?!
There are some simple ways to incorporate Berkey water into your canning process, whether using a water bath canner or a pressure canner.
1. Wash your produce with Berkey water. When washing your produce at any time, using Berkey water ensures that the water you are cleaning with is itself the cleanest possible. Who wants to wash with dirty water?
2. Use Berkey water to sterilize your equipment. When canning there are guidelines that must be followed to ensure the safety of your final product. One of these rules is to sterilize your jars, lids, rings, etc. that you will use while canning. Place your equipment in your water bath canner and make sure they are covered by at least an inch of water. Boil for 10 minutes (altitudes less than 1,000 ft.). If you live at a higher elevation, boil for 1 minute extra for each additional 1,000 ft of elevation.
3. Use Berkey water to prep your lids. You will want to pre-heat your lids in a small saucepan of simmering Berkey water.
4. Berkey water should be used when “hot-packing” OR “raw-packing” your jars. There are two methods of filling your jars, and which one you use will depend on what type of food you are preserving. Hot packing requires you to heat the food to boiling and simmering for a few minutes before putting it into jars. Raw packing can also require water depending on the food, and method. Raw packing is filling the jars with the prepped, unheated food. You generally will need to add boiling water to the jar after the food is packed into it. ALWAYS follow the official recommendations for the specific food that you are canning.
It is CRITICAL to always follow a tried and true canning recipe, and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) guidelines. When not prepared properly and safely, your canned food items can be susceptible to bacterial growth, including Clostridium botulinum which in canned food may cause a deadly form of food poisoning called botulism. Certain foods CAN NOT be canned using a water bath canner. Low-acid foods, such as corn, and green beans MUST be canned using a pressure canner.
To find out more about safety guidelines while canning check out the USDA recommendations here https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html.