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Rec.Food.Preserving FAQ (v 7.08) Part4

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 )
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Archive-name: food/preserving/part4
Posting-Frequency: monthly (on or about 20th)
Last-modified: 2002/08/19
Version: 7.08
Copyright: (c) 1998-2002 Eric Decker ( and others as specified within )
Maintainer: Eric Decker <>

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                          Rec.Food.Preserving FAQ

          FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) in the newsgroup preserving

This FAQ and all its constituent parts, as a collection of information, is 
Copyright 1998-2002 by Eric Decker, as a work of literature. Distribution 
by any electronic means is granted with the understanding that the article 
not be altered in any way.  Permission to distribute in printed form must 
be obtained in writing.  The removal of this copyright notice is forbidden.

Disclaimer: No author represented in this FAQ is qualified to establish
scheduled processes nor is any author a competent processing authority in
the sense of 21 CFR 113.83 et alia.

Part 4 of 6

11 [ specific equipment questions] 


11.1.1  [I see different sized canners for sale.  Why should I get a big

from Dirk W. Howard

My wife and I have two All-American canners.  One can do a double stack of
pints and a single stack of quarts, and the other can do a triple stack of
pints and a double stack of quarts.  I like the large capacity.  It means
that in a 75 minute processing time I can do anywhere from 9 to 18 pints in
the "smaller" canner and up to 27 pints in the "large" canner.  Total would
be 45 pints if running both canners.  As opposed to 375 minutes (3 hours 15
minutes) to process 45 pints in a single 9 pint canner.  OK, this isn't fair
since I did gauge two canners on one.  Let's say that your goal was to 
process 36 pints of green beans.  In a single stack canner that is four 
different batches.  Just the processing time alone is 5 hours.  This doesn't 
count the vent time and the cool down.  A canner that can have a double stack 
of pints cuts the processing time down to 2-1/2 hours.  This can be worth the
extra price of the canner and the trouble (minimal) to work with.

11.1.2  [What do I need to know about a waterbath canner?]

Make sure you get one tall enough for your needs.  _Putting Food By_ had a
very good piece about actually measuring the height of the waterbath canner
before you buy it.  If you are going to be canning qts, you need to make
sure that you bring a quart jar with a two-piece lid on.  Get the waterbath
canner out of the box (or look for one already out), put the jar in the rack,
and make sure you have at least 3" of clearance between the top of the jar
and the top of the canner.  You want to be able to maintain a roiling boil
(full tilt, manly-man, no-holds-barred boil, not a girly simmer) of water
comfortably over the jars, with enough clearance to make sure that the 
boiling water isn't going to boil over onto your stove and into your burner.

Also need to know your stove.  If you have a gas stove, can use the waterbath
canners with ridges; if you have an electric stove, you should use flat 
bottom canners.  Also with electric stove, measure the size of your burner.
You'll get best results with a canner that overhangs the burner by less than

Lesson for the newcomer to canning: a ruler is the most important tool you'll
have.  Use it liberally. [ Can I use a pressure canner as a waterbath canner? ]

Toni <> wrote:

>>I advise AGAINST using your Pressure Canner as a container to water bath

>> After 30 years of experience with canning, using both methods, I did
>>just this and spent 3 days in the hospital.  I did not tighten the lid on
>>the canner and did not close the petcock.  I maintained the full rolling

Eric responded: 

It is not a problem if one does not use the lid but your advice is basically
sound.   BWB is usually done in an open pot so your experience is somewhat 
rare - I hope.

I am truly sorry to here of your misfortune.  Yes, you have touched on a FACT. 
Installing the lid on ANY pressure device even without locking / closing off for
pressure WILL induce a pressure proportional to the heat induced vs the escape
rate of steam.  The pressure will be quite variable but can reach up to around 3

PFB says "It has to be deep enough"   That is a reference to a pot that is deep
enough for 2" coverage of jars and an additional amount for the roll of a boil. 

That 2" depth of water above the jar is to assure the temperature at the top jar
of the jar is the maximum and not slightly lower as one gets closer to the open 
suface.  Proper BWB relies on convection and that process feeds off thermal mass
to immerse and soak the jars with heat.

Needless to say, not many pressure canners are deep enough to do quarts and
leave a good margin for safety - covers ALWAYS off. 

>>which blew off at my first touch.  A very painful experience.  Water bath
>>canners are not expensive and worth every dime they cost.

Thank you for mentioning your experience as it is quite possible for a newbie to
make that very mistake. [ Can I use a device sold as a steam canner in food processing? ]

No.  These devices which consist of a lidded pot used to be sold as a
"atmospheric  canner". Putting Food By is strictly opposed to such devices -
they do not do the job. USDA and AgCanada are strong in thier denunciation of
said devices. 

That being said, a great explanation in explaining why the device is useless
comes from Robert Matern who wrote:

"The physics is clear, and undeniable.  The only way to make convection
work faster for cooking of any form is to speed it up (forced airflow),
a sort of reverse-windchill.  This is why something like the Jetstream
Oven and similar devices work so much faster than traditional ovens,
toaster ovens, and regular convection ovens - high speed airflow, not
higher temperature.  This would speed up heat transfer with steam, also,
but none of the non-pressurized steam canners I've seen use forced
airflow.  The time differential between regular convection and a
Jet-Stream type oven is 3:1 to 4:1 or more.  For a steam canner, you'd
probably have to quadruple the processing time over boiling water
canning in order to be safe; but without standardized testing, you still
wouldn't be SURE.  Why risk it?"

Sandy from writes another great article"

I wonder what catalog you're reading.  I've seen this in the Territorial
Seed catalog, from Oregon.  I think they have great seeds for the Pacific
NW, but this claim they make is idiotic.  I've tried to get them to
remove that text, but they've refused.  I have not been able to make them
understand that on this planet, under normal atomospheric conditions,
steam is not hotter than boiling water.

Here's what I've written in the past on this question: 

When you boil water, it gets hotter and hotter until it reaches 212
degrees Fahrenheit.  At this point, no matter how long you continue to
boil, it stays the same temperature.  The water evaporates and becomes
steam.  This steam is also the same temperature, 212 degrees F.  The
only way to make the steam hotter (and/or to boil the water at a higher
temperature) is to put the system under pressure.  This is what a
pressure canner does.  (As an aside, steam heat in an apartment
building is steam that is generated under pressure and is therefore
hotter than steam generated by a pot of unpressurized boiling water.)

You can put your hand in a 200-degree F oven and it will feel warm but
tolerable.  If you put your hand in 200-degree F water (close to
boiling) you will get a severe burn.  This is due to the different
methods of heat transfer: air is a poor conductor; water is a good
conductor.  Think of being outside when it's 70 degrees F (quite
pleasant) versus being in a pool of water at 70 degrees (feels very

This transfer difference is what makes steam canners poorly suited to
canning: you need good heat transfer so that not only the outside of
the jars, but the contents at the centers of the jars get thoroughly
heated to 212 degrees F.  (This is also why smaller, narrower jars are
preferred over larger, wider ones -- the heat does not reliably reach
and cook the food at the centers.)  This will definitely happen in a
boiling-water bath when jars are processed for the prescribed times.
This will not reliably happen in a steam canner.  IF you're canning a
high-acid food, such as fruit jam, AND it's been made with a HIGH ratio
of sugar, AND you've cooked everything properly AND sterilized the
jars, a steam canner might POSSIBLY be safe to use.  However, there are
too many variables to be absolutely sure and I, for one, use the
methods that result in the lowest risk.  I'm not sure why everyone
thinks steam canning is that much easier, either.  There's a high risk
of getting burned from the steam when removing the unusually large
cover, and you're still boiling water (although a smaller amount) which
will still heat up your kitchen.  A steam canner is just a large pot
with a high lid but inverted -- the lid goes on the bottom and gets
filled with water, and the former-pot-but-now-a-lid sits on top to trap
the steam.  Why not just get a good, large pot that will be useful at
other times of the year, too?"

11.1.3  [What do I need to know about gauges and weights ?]

Dial gauges must be tested *every* year before canning season 
[Hey!  Maybe near the time of daylight saving; you're changing your 
clock and checking your smoke alarm anyway.--LEB], and sometime 
throughout the canning season, depending on the amount of use.  This
gauge should also be tested/retested if the lid was dropped, because 
a sharp jolt can cause a dial gauge to lose its calibration.

Even if you buy a brand-spanking-new dial gauge pressure canner, you
*must still* test the gauge.  I've found that nearly 50% of new dial gauges
have gross errors on the minus scale (i.e. inside doesn't get as hot as the
dial gauge would lead you to believe).

[ Dial gauge are required at elevation in excess of 10,000 the weight 
of a deadweight canner is insufficient to generate the pressure needed to 
achieve 240F. 

Weights are considered foolproof.  A few folks have reported seepage from 
jars when using dead-weight type canner. Jars lids must be clean and tightened 
properly before processing. REDUCE the heat to the minimun required to keep 
the weight rocking gently. Any more heat than this and the jars will be 
over-pressurized in relation to the pressure inside the pot - seepage will 
result. Opening a canner or inducing a sudden temperature drop will cause 
a pressure drop - seepage will result.  

Do not over-pressure ANY canner, NEVER douse a canner with cold water, and 
allow the canner to cool to 0 pressure before opening the canner. There should 
be no seepage - period.  Seepage is a sign of an imperfect seal caused by 
improper procedure or faulty equipment. --ED] 

11.1.4  [I got this pressure canner (not cooker!) for a gift.  How do I
take care of it?]

From: (Gary Phillips x397)
The two largest US manufacturers of pressure canners for home use are Mirro
and Presto. I imagine their products are available in Canada and if you can
find a hardware or cooking supply store that handles either brand they will
be able to special order these items for you even if they don't have them in

My present canner is a Mirro. It does 7 quart jars at once, operates at a
choice of 5, 10, or 15 psi, and cost me about $50 in US currency six years
ago.  It was the least expensive model offered by a local hardware store from
stock, and prices went up from there to as high as $100.  It has been well
worth the investment.

Do NOT buy a pressure *cooker* for canning.  Although most of them purport to
be suitable for doing a few jars (3 or 4) at a time, in fact they can't hold
the temperature and pressure evenly enough for really safe operation.
[ lack of thermal mass -- ED] 

From: (Gary Phillips x397)
>Yes I bet...I would love to find one at a garage sale.  BTW if I ever do,
>do you know what to look for to make sure it is still operating safely?

Sure.  Check the rim of both pan and lid to make sure there are no nicks or
damage to the interlocking tabs.  Make sure the safety pressure release
(usually a rivet-like rubber plug) is still present and soft and moving
freely in its slightly oversized hole.  Check the gasket that goes between
pan and lid for cracks or hardening.  Make sure the pressure vent is clean
and open, and that the seat for the pressure release weight is smooth and
fits well.  If there is a pressure gauge, it MUST be recalibrated.   
Contact the manufacturer for information about that.  It would probably be a
good idea to order a new gasket and a safety release at the same time.  (And
an instruction manual if you didn't get one with the canner.)

When you are satisfied that everything is present and working, run a test
with just water in the pan.  Raise pressure to 5 psi and hold it for 15 or
20 minutes, watching carefully for leaks or drips that might indicate 
problems.  If there is a safety interlock to prevent opening while pressure
is present examine it to determine whether it has activated.  Allow 
pressure to drop and make sure the interlock doesn't release (not by trying
toopen the pan under pressure, but by visual examination) until pressure is
gone and you can remove the release weight without any steam escaping.

[ For deadweight canners the checks and tests are similar with the sole 
exception of calibration which is never needed. Be sure you get the three 
weights which create the 5,10 and 15 lb pressures when used 
additively. --ED ]  

Care Of Pressure Canning Equipment

To preserve low-acid foods which are safe, good tasting and nutritious, you
need to correctly use equipment which is well-maintained and in good operating

Safety Vents or Petcocks:

    -     Be sure the vent is clear and unobstructed.  Use Q-tip or cotton
          string to clean.
    -     Be sure vent tubes are screwed tightly into lid.
    -     If it is a model with vent under the handle, be sure the lever is
          moving freely.
    -     If it is a model with a petcock, be sure it opens and closes
          freely, either by screwing or flipping the lever up and down.
    -     If there is a film from hard water on the petcock, and it can be
          unscrewed from the lid, soak the parts in vinegar, then wash and
    -     A ball and socket type petcock can be cleaned with silver polish.

Safety Overpressure Plugs:

    -     If it is a metal alloy or composition metal plug that screws into
          the lid, do not try to remove it.
    -     If it is a rubber plug, use the thumbnail test to see if the 
          rubber is still pliable enough.  If pressure with thumbnail leaves 
          a permanent dent in the rubber it is too brittle for safe use and
          should be replaced.
    -     If either type of plug has been blown out by overpressure in the
          canner, it must be replaced by a new plug.  Do not try to reuse
          the plug that blew out.


    -     Soak gasket in hot water for an hour to soften before the first
          use of the season.
    -     Insert gasket into its groove in lid.  If it is either too
          shrunken to fit to the edge, or too stretched to lie smoothly in
          the lid, it must be replaced.
    -     Use thumbnail test - if pressure with thumbnail leaves a permanent
          dent in rubber, it is too brittle and should be replaced.  Rubber
          safety plug should be replaced at the same time, since it will
          probably be too brittle also.

Presto suggests coating the rubber gasket with vegetable oil before use. I 
concur and further suggest a rubber gasket be given a little smear of oil 
{ use a brush to avoid injury to the finger} when putting it on the pot. Dry 
rubber can tear very easily due to friction against the metal. -ED] 

On or about 4/1/2000, Bob, ( Zxcvbob) sent me email sugesting:

"Mineral oil or vaseline might be a better choice than vegetable oil for
lubricating a pressure cooker or canner seal.  Especially after exposure
to heat, vegetable oils will start to "dry" and turn into a varnish.
First they get sticky, then eventually they harden like shellac.  This
could cause the gasket to stick to the lid and the rim and tear when it
is separated, or crack later in storage."  Thank you Bob.

I concur with this assesment.  Testing shows vegetable oil does indeed bond 
the rubber seal to the canner lid. 

Henceforth the official position of this FAQ is that rubber gaskets on pressure
canners shall be lubricated with petroleum jelly (aka vaseline). 

Pressure Gauge:

    -     Have dial and pop-up gauges tested every year before canning season
          at your local Cooperative Extension Office.  If it is inaccurate it
          must be replaced.
    -     Check entrance port and carefully remove any debris that may have
    -     Be sure gauge is screwed firmly into lid.  If it attaches with a
          nut on the underside of the lid, be sure the nut is tight.

Weighted Pressure Regulators:

    -     Have no moving parts so there is no need to have them tested for
    -     Be sure they are clean, with no debris or food residue encrusted
          especially in the sockets where the weight fits over its vent.
    -     Be sure the entrance port and vent pipe are open and unobstructed.
    -     Be sure there are no nicks or damage to the weight or to the tip
          of the vent pipe where the weight fits.  

[ especially the vent pipe which supports the weight. Damage here will affect 
the proper action of the weight.  Improper results may result. Note: a test run 
which shows the 5lb weight rocks evenly when manually revolved around the vent 
pipe shows a vent that is in good condition -ED] 

Canner Lids:

    -     Be sure handles are securely attached.
    -     Be sure gasket fits smoothly into its groove in the lid.
    -     Set lid on canner and turn to lock it into place.  It should turn
          on smoothly and easily.
    -     If it does not turn on easily, check to be sure gasket is properly
          seated in its groove.  Adjust if necessary.
    -     If the gasket is properly seated, check the lid.  If the lid is
          warped or bent, it might be replaceable.  Contact the manufacturer.
          If it is an old model or no longer manufactured, there may be no
          way to continue using it as a pressure canner.  It may be used as
          a regular pot for cooking.  If this is the case, remove the gasket,
          and if possible open or remove the gauge and overpressure plugs or
          petcocks, to avoid the possibility of pressure buildup.
    -     If there is no visible problem but the lid continues to be tight, a
          small amount of petroleum jelly or cooking oil may be applied to
          the gasket to lubricate it.


    -     Be sure there is a rack in the canner.
    -     Check the bottom for flatness.  Older model canners may warp if
          overheated.  If the bottom is not flat or the canner will not sit
          flat on the heating element or burner of the stove, it should not
          be used for canning.  Warped canners may be used for cooking.
          Once warped, the damage *can not* be reversed.
    -     Put 1 inch of water in the canner, close the lid, heat the water
          and pressurize the canner.  Check to see if steam is escaping at
          any point other than the petcock or safety vent.
    -     If steam is escaping around the gasket and it seems to be properly
          in place, a *small* amount of petroleum jelly or cooking oil may
          be rubbed around the gasket.

    -     With weighted gauge canners, if the weight only hisses continuously
          and does not rock or jiggle intermittently as the manufacturers'
          directions specify, check to see if the stove is level.  This type
          of weight must hang in a centered position on a vertical vent.  If
          the stove is not level the weight will not hang properly and steam
          will escape in a continuous stream from the side, so the pressure
          will not build up properly.

[ This will also happen if the pot is not properly exhausted before placing the 
weights. The resulting condition is food that is not propely processed.  A 
similar end result happens when using dail gauges if the pot is not 
exhausted. -- PFB via ED]

    -     If steam is escaping around the base of any of the vents (dial
          gauge, weight vent, safety vent, petcock) where they screw into
          the lid, and if you can screw them out of the lid, the threads can
          be wrapped with plumber's tape to seal them.  Plumber's tape is a
          stretchy, non-sticky silicon tape used to seal threads.  It is
          available in small rolls from a hardware store.  Be sure to wrap
          the tape in the right direction, so that when you screw the vent
          back into the lid, the direction of the turning does not unwrap
          the tape.

Canner Use

    -     Follow manufacturers' directions for use of your particular model.
    -     Use canner on the appropriately sized burner.  A canner should not
          hang over the edge of the burner by more than 2 inches on either
    -     Be sure to center the canner on the burner.  Some ranges do not
          allow enough space to center a large canner on rear burners.

[N.B. Those newfangled smooth-top induction burners are a *poor* idea for
either a waterbath or pressure canner, both appliances are too heavy, and
the burner can't take it.--Diane Hamilton?]

    -     Be sure lid is securely locked on (turned on, or screwed down).
    -     If your canner has six or eight large screws and wing nuts to
          close it, screw them down in opposite pairs.  If there are six,
          screw numbers 1 and 4 down part way, then 2 and 5, then 3 and 6,
          then return to the first pair to finish tightening continuing
          around the lid.

VERY IMPORTANT for Pressure Canning:  Exhaust the pot.

    -     For all models, be sure to vent the canner for 10 minutes on high
          heat with a full stream of steam escaping.  This is necessary to
          remove air from the canner.  Air remaining inside will lower the
          maximum temperature achievable, and may cause underprocessing of
          the food.  After the 10 min. venting, close the petcock, or place
          the safety weight or weighted pressure regulator on the vent.
          Allow the pressure to build to 10 psig, or to 5 or 15 psig if you
          are processing at those pressures. (psig means Pounds per Square
          Inch by Gauge, the measure of pressure.)  Be sure that you use the
          proper time for the pressure level that you are using.  Check the
          new USDA Home Canning Guide for safe recommendations.

    -     When canner reaches the specified pressure, begin counting the
          processing time.
    -     Reduce heat gradually to maintain the pressure without 
          over-pressurizing.  With a weighted pressure regulator, leaving 
          the heat on too high will not increase the pressure, but will 
          cause excess steam loss from the canner, since steam will be escaping 
          continuously.  Surpassing the specified pressure in a dial gauge 
          canner will result in soft, mushy or darkened food, and excessive 
          vitamin loss.
    -     If the pressure drops below its proper level during processing, 
          increase the heat to bring the pressure back up, then begin the
          timing over again from zero, for the full specified time.
    -     Never run cold water over a canner to cool it.  In addition, 
          excessively rapid cooling may cause jars in the canner to crack 
          or explode as the pressure in the canner drops more rapidly
          than the pressure in the jars.

[ More commonly this produces a serious seepage problem as the jars with 
high intermnal pressure are no longer restrained by an equal or greater 
pressure in the pot. Seepage means a seal that is compromised - depending
on what is canned it can be a quite serious problem.  Seepage means food is 
present in the lid gum-to jar lips junction. Seal failure will occur 
eventually and you know what that means  --ED]

    -     When the pressure has dropped to zero, wait another 1 minute before
          opening the canner.  On some models the pressure drop will be
          visible when the overpressure plug drops back into the lid, the
          rubber plug is no longer bulged, or the dial gauge will read zero.
          Smaller canners will take at least 30 minutes to cool, larger ones
          may take over an hour.
    -     Open the petcock or remove the safety weight carefully and wait
          until any rush of steam has stopped.  Then open the lid and tilt
          the back edge up first, so that it directs the steam away from
          your face. [and arms. Ouch!]
    -     Remove the jars immediately.  Do not leave jars sitting in a hot
          canner overnight, spoilage may result.

Canner Storage:

    -     Turn the lid upside down and rest it on the canner.  The weight of
          the lid should not be resting on the gasket during storage as it
          could deform it.
    -     For long-term storage at the end of the season, wash and dry the
          canner well.  Be sure all the parts (safety weight, rack, etc.)
          are in the canner.  A few crumpled newspapers in the canner will
          absorb moisture and odors.
    -     If you unscrew the gauge or vents, coat the threads lightly with
          petroleum jelly to prevent rust and make them easier to replace.
    -     Coat the gasket very lightly with petroleum jelly or oil.

Burpee, Health, National Victory and Dixie canners are no longer 
manufactured, and no parts or service are available for these canners.
Parts and service are available for Presto, Mirro and All American, and for
some models of National Presto, Kwik Kook, Steamliner and Maid of Honor.  If
you need further assistance or have other problems, contact your local
Cooperative Extension Office.

If you are thinking of buying a canner at a garage sale, check to be sure
you can open and close the petcocks.  Look for stains or drips down the
sides or on the lid near the vents, they may indicate that the lid does not
seal or leaks steam all the time.  Check that the lid twists on and off
easily.  Check the condition of the gasket.  Check that the base is flat.
A rounded base indicates that the canner is warped.  Check that there is a rack.

Buying any of the models listed above as having parts and service available
is a much better bet than one of the older ones. [I.e. Presto, Mirro, and

Prepared by Mary A. Keith, Foods and Nutrition, August, 1991
Revised by M. Susan Brewer, Foods and Nutrition, June, 1992

11.1.5   [ Weight "jiggle" questions ]

 The instructions say the appropriate pressure is being maintained
when the weight jiggles about 4 times a minute.  When I have the weight set
to 15 pounds, I cannot get this to happen.  It is either jiggling almost all
the time or only 1-2 times a minute.

Two answers from two

>From John Taylor :

Jiggling once or twice a minute is fine.  It indicates that you have full
pressure in the canner, which means it's at the desired temperature.  If
this is happening at a constant heat setting, it also indicates that the
temperature is not falling and then rising again (which you wouldn't want).
Sounds like you've got an appropriate setting for the flame.

>From Richard Nielsen :

I've had similar problems with a Mirro 12 qt.  I finally decided to let
jiggle most of the time.  I add an extra cup or two of water and I've never
had it even come close to boiling dry in a 90 min process time.

11.1.6  [cleaning my pressure canner..]

Compiled by Tracy L. Carter :
Here is a summary of the response I got for cleaning out my nasty looking
pressure canner when I forgot to add vinegar.

1.  Put in water and cream of tartar.  Bring up to pressure for a certain
number of minutes and let come back to room pressure naturally before re-
moving lid.  If you want the exact instructions, let me know, and I will go
into my other account for them.

2.  Scrub with a brillo pad.  Thought about that, but didn't know if I should
scratch the inside of it or not.

3.  Cook a batch of tomatoes/tomato juice in the pressure cooker.

11.1.7   [Where can I find canning equipment parts?]



            Liquid        Jar            Gauge    Parts   Repair
            capacity      capacity       type     avail-  service
             quarts       quarts  pints           able

  Mirro     12, 22           4    10     weight    yes      no
            (4,6,8 cookers)  7    20

  Presto    13,17,22         4     8     dial      yes      yes
                             7    16     weight

  Wisconsin Alumin. 7,10,15  4     4     dial      yes      yes

  "All-American"  21,25,30                         yes      no

  Dixie Canner (sells the All-American line)

  Canners previously made, with no available parts or service:
     National Victory         Health
     Burpee                   Dixie

Note: replacements and testing also available Presto for spring-type
"pop-up" pressure regulator.

   Presto also services and carries parts for:
     Maid of Honor, Model 620
     Kook Kwik, Models "Best Made" and "Merit"

                                         Jar capacity
                  Volume capacity       quarts    pints

  Mirro                 21              7         9

  General Housewares  12, 21            7         8

  Glashaus - Weck                       8         11
  (electric self-contained heating unit)

JARS AND LIDS  jar sizes

     jelly, 0.5, 1, 1.5 pint, quart, 0.5 gallon regular mouth
     1, 1.5 pint, quart, 0.5 gallon wide mouth

  Golden Harvest
     0.5 pint, pint, quart regular mouth
     0.5 pint, pint, quart in wide mouth

     jelly, 0.5, 1, 1.5 pint, quart regular mouth
     1, 1.5 pint, quart wide mouth

Addresses for sources:

Mirro Aluminum Corp./P.O. Box 409/Manitowoc, WI, 54220-0409/(414) 684-4421.
** also sells Foley, Earthgrown brands

National Presto Industries Inc./3925 N. Hastings Way/Eau Claire, WI 54703/
(715) 839-2209. [correction thanks to Lois Grassl

Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Co./P.O. Box 246/Manitowoc, WI 54221-0246/
(414) 682-8627

Dixie Canner Equipment Co./Box 1348/Athens, GA 30603/ (404) 549-1914

General Housewares/P.O. Box 4066/Terre Haute, IN 47804/ (812) 232-1000

Ball Corp./345 S. High St./Muncie, IN 47302/ (317) 284-8441

Kerr Glass Manufacturing Corp./2444 West 16th St./Chicago, IL 60608/

(312) 226-1700 or (800) 331-2609.  [BTW, as of March 1996, Kerr was bought
out by Ball.--phone research by the folks at r.f.p.]

Anchor Glass Container Corp./ One Anchor Plaza/4343 Anchor Plaza Parkway/
Tampa, FL 33634/ (813) 884-0000.  Golden Harvest jars.

Glashaus Inc./Crystal Lake, IL / (815) 356-8440.  Distributes Weck Products.

Other Sources:

Lemra Products/ 4331 North Dixie Highway/ Suite 4/ Boca Raton, FL 33431/
(407) 368-8781.  Makes the Squeezo juicer/press.

NASCO/ 901 Janesville Ave./ P.O.Box 901/ Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0901/

(414) 563-2446 or (800) 558-9595.  Home Ec. supplies.

Robert Bosch Corp./Household Products Div./2800 S. 25th Ave./Broadview, IL
60153/ (708) 865-5256.  Electric juicer/press.

Prepared by Mary A. Keith, Foods and Nutrition, August, 1991
Revised by  Susan Brewer, Foods and Nutrition Specialist

11.1.8 [What about zinc rings, rubber sealed jars, and other antique 
       (Out-dated or superceded are other terms) canning equipment?]
Lots of things are legal for sale but are not conducive to good health. Do not
confuse commercial availability and/or commercial use with suitability for 

Selecting Canning Jars and Lids

If you are going to invest the time, the produce, your own energy and your
electrical energy in home canning, then it should be important to you to
select the best containers for your food.  Here are some pointers to guide
you, or maybe to give you some answers about why the jars you have used in
the past broke in the canner or did not seal.

The best jars to use are standard canning jars.  There are several brands 
on the market.  They are all suitable.  However, as in any mass-produced 
product, you may find a few mistakes.  Be sure to check the rims, or sealing
surfaces.  Run your fingertip lightly around the circle to check for any
chips or bumps.  These will prevent the canning lid from sealing properly.
Also look to see that the rim is circular.  Occasionally a jar will stick
momentarily in the mold and an oval jar is the result.  These curiosities can
not be used for canning.

While the jars themselves will last for decades, until they are broken, their
safe life for canning is much shorter.  With the repeated heating and cooling
of canning, the glass gradually becomes more brittle.  Eventually, it becomes
very sensitive to even light shocks.  Older jars are often the ones that
break in the canner for no obvious reason.  Glass manufacturers generally say
that a canning jar will have a reliable life of 12 to 13 years.  After that
their tendency to break increases, and they should be replaced.  This
includes most of the blue glass jars.

[N.B: In addition to being beautiful, some of those colored glass canning
jars are valuable collectors' items.  Why bother canning with them?--LEB]
[Food in blue jars?  No thank you.  Colour is a key indicator of food 
condition.  No canner will deprive herself of that advantage. -ED]

Many of the older jars were made for use with rubber rings and zinc lids.  In
this style of lid, the seal was not on the rim of the jar mouth but on the
shoulder, below the threads.  Therefore, the smoothness of the rim was not
important.  Many of these jars have rough rims, and rims of uneven thickness.
These jars will not seal reliably with today's lids.  They can be used to
store grains and pasta, but are not a good choice for canning.
[N.B: Zinc lids are an especially bad idea for processing pickles, since
zinc is highly reactive in high salt and acid.--LEB]

Mayonnaise jars or "one-trip" commercial jars are considered by some canners

[ they make excellent feed stock in recycling for manufacture of REAL canning
jars - ED ] 

to be an inexpensive alternative to buying canning jars. ( use only for DRY or
highly acidic foods - pH proven to be lower than 4.0 ) 

they should *never* be used in a pressure canner.  The glass sides
are slightly thinner than in a standard canning jar.  When there is a 
pressure difference between the inside of the jar and its environment they 
may explode.  This occurs when the canner cools while the contents of the jar
are often still boiling.  In addition, the rims of mayonnaise jars are often
thinner than those of canning jars.   This means that there is less space
for the jar lid to properly seal onto.  It is very important that the lid be
carefully adjusted onto the jar and be exactly centered.  Otherwise, it may
not seal.

As noted, the glass geometry is different than the standard canning jar. Canning
lids and rings will not fit well and most certainly will not attain the seal
they are desinged for.  The seals of mayo-type jars are single use ONLY.  It is
a false economy to use mayo-type jars for any form of preserving. 

Prepared by Mary Keith, June, 1991
Revised by M. Susan Brewer, June, 1992
Revised by Eric Decker, January 2001

11.1.9. [1/2 gallon canning jars. How to find, and what to do with them?]

>From Emily Dashiell (
I found my first collection of half-gallons at a garage sale.  Priced at
$3/doz, it was a steal!!!  I bought several doz; then thought about it some
more, and drove back the 8 miles and bought more.  I did see new boxes of
them, in a large chain store (like Home Depot or some-such), and the price
was $15/doz and that was 5+ years ago!  Made my bargains look even better :)

You could make them into terrariums; you could build a model in one; you can
make vinegar in bulk: raspberry, orange, assorted herb types, etc.  Lotsa
uses, just use your imagination.


Generally we say: Do NOT use half-gallon jars for canning.  However if you use 
100% water-like liquids you may  use them. Canning water?  Juice?  Freeze it. 

or:  High acid foods may be stored in such jars - be SURE the aicd is full 
5% - use ONLY pickling vinegar which is clearly labeled at 5% acid. If 3 
cups 5% vinegar is used with 3 cups water - that is NOT a 5% acid solution.

Home made vinegar and / or cider vinegar are not suitable. If the acid level 
is suspect - bump it up with glacial citric acid.  If using non-standard vinegar
you MUST test the acidity - preferably by acid titration. 

The issue with using half-gallon (1/2) jars for processing is that of heat
convection.  We know full well how the viscosity of a food affects processing in
half-pints,  pints  and quarts.  We know that fish is nearly always processed in
half-pints.  Pureed pumpkin / squash is no longer recommended for home canning
as the viscosity is such that heat penetration to the core is rarely reached in
even pint sizes. 

Commercial processes that use half-gallon jars are exacting ones which use high 
temperature steam in equipment which records the temperature and time. High
temperature flash pasteurization is common also.       

Regardless of the origin of food in half-gallon jars, the issue of oxidation
rears its ugly head.  Once opened, the food degrades rapidly even when safely
processd at source.  Commercial processors then add anti-oxidants, gums,
sulfites, modified corn starch, benzoate and other 
'goodies' to stave off degrade.  

Here is an example: Commercail 4% red wine vinegar in 1 gallon glass jar from a
reputable  manufacturer. It is stored in a food cellar along with other canned
goods. Usage is over 6 months unless in canning season.  It is quite common for
the remaining two inches of depth to oxidize ( goes brown) to the point it is
useless and must be discarded.      

The wise kitchen master will procure the size that blends price effiency and
quality. Throwing out 1/4 of a large container makes little economic sense.
Container size, as all smart preserves know, is suited to serving size. 

The risks associated with jars larger than 1 quart or 1 liter are not trivial.
Due to the mass of the large jars, food may be botulitic at the core with little
visual evidence of it. Those who think the bulging lid is the tip off of content
activity can be sadly mistaken. Seldom will the lid of a large jar show any
sign. The reason for this is compressibility of gases.  The internal size of the
jar is such that gases produced by a live culture at the level of toxicity can
be easily accomodated without pressure being induced. 



Dehydrator Features to Look For 

Double wall construction of metal or high grade plastic. Wood is not 
recommended, because it is a fire hazard and is difficult to clean. 

Enclosed heating elements. 

Counter top design. 

An enclosed thermostat from 85░F to 160░F. 

Fan or blower. 

Four to 10 open mesh trays made of sturdy lightweight plastic for 
easy washing. 

UL seal of approval. 

A one-year.guarantee. 

Convenient service. 

A dial for regulating temperature. 

A timer. Often the completed drying time may occur during the night and a 
timer could turn the dehydrator off and prevent scorching. 

11.2.1  [Where can I find suppliers of premade dehydrators?]

Dehydrator Companies:

American Harvest/ 4064 Peavey Road/ PO Box 159/ Chaska, Minnesota 55318
        1-800-288-4545 and (612) 448-4400
Thanks to Joshua H Moffi

Dehydration Technology/ PO Box 864/ Coupeville WA 98239


Excalibur/ 6083 Power Inn Rd/ Sacramento CA 95824

Available from:
Clearly a superior line of dehydrators.  The 9 tray, ED-2900, model is selling 
for $US199.00 in October 1998. 

The Excalibur units are highly recommended in RFP by a lot of preservers.


Harvest Maid/ Alternative Pioneering Systems/ 7900 Computer Ave South/
Minneapolis, MN 55435.  (800) 624-2945
>From ALG: I'm pretty sure this address is no longer any good

Sun Pantry Enterprises/ 16182 Gothard St, Unit N/ Huntington Beach, CA

92647.  (714) 848-1686

A timer is handy for dehydrating.  Use one of the type for lamps and such which 
are readily available from your local hardware. 

11.2.2  [Where can I find plans for homemade dehydrators?]

These plans were painstakingly complied by Anne Louise Gockel .  Prices are
included, but are dated.  The last several items
are posts from people in and misc.consumers.frugal-living.

--Tabletop Dehydrator:
A Make it yourself dryer that is set on a table.  Described in full in
Circular #855 "How to Build a Portable Electric Food Dehydrator" by Dale E.
Kirk, Agricultural Engineer, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.

Directions for building this dryer are also contained in USDA H&G Bulletin
217, "Drying Foods at Home", 1977.  [From ALG:  This dryer offers about
8.5 feet of tray surface and handles about 18 lbs, of fruit or vegetables.
Basically it is a plywood box that holds 5 screen trays above the heat
source, which is nine 75 watt light bulbs.  The heat is dispersed by a
shield and forced upward through the trays of food by an 8" household

--Solar Dehydrator Plans:
"Solar Energized Food Dehydrator" $15.00.  Order from:  Solar Survival/
Cherry Hill Rd/ Harrisville, NH 03450

"How to Build a Solar Food Dryer" $3.00.  Order from:  Benson Institute
B-49/ Brigham Young University/ Provo UT 84602

"Drying Food", from Blair and Ketchum's Country Journal.  Sept 1981

"Build PM's Solar Food Dryer", from Popular Mechanics, Jan 1979

"A Build-It Incubator/Dryer", from Organic Gardening, July 1979

"Solar Dehydrator", from Popular Science, Oct 1976
(From ALG: I have this article; it's just a quick one-page description and
a single illustration)

--Electric Dehydrator Plans:
"How to Build a Portable Electric Food Dehydrator" (EC #855, $0.75)
Agricultural Communications Publications Orders/ Administration Building #422/
Oregon State University/ Corvallis, Oregon 97331-2119.  Reprinted in Hort-
iculture, August 1980.  (From ALG: I think this is the set of plans I have;
they are fairly complete and look like a good set of plans.  They could be
made by someone with reasonable handyman skills.  It think it requires the
cook to manually inspect the temperature and adjust the openings to adjust
the temp.)

"Step By Step to a Food Dehydrator", by David Ashe. Better Homes and
Gardens. July 1977

"Super Dehydrator Does Much More", by J Stephens. Organic Gardening and
Farming, Aug 1977

"Build Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Dryer", by R. S. Hedin. Popular Mechanics,
May 1976.  (From ALG: I have this article; this is a serious dehydrator.
Uses two 600-watt heaters to maintain a temperature of about 120 F and will
dry a load in about 12 hours; twelve screens provide a drying area of 14.5
square feet.  The drying cabinet is made of 3/8" particle board.  There's a
blower and an "air safety switch" and this is one *serious* project.)

--Dryer Plans from University Extension Services:
1. Agricultural Engineering Extension/ 325 Riley-Robb Hall (ALG:/* hmmm, does
Riley Robb still exist?)/ Cornell University/ Ithaca NY 14853.  607-256-2280
/* DEFINITELY a bad phone number!!!!

Plan No 6252: $2.00: This "Cassette Fruit Drier" is a portable cabinet 18"x
24"x21" and with a heater and fan to dry four aluminum screen trays of fruit.
Isometric drawing is shown with door and hasp removed.  Notes specify 750 to
1500 watt heater with adjustable thermostat and independent operation of fan.
1 sheet.

Plan No 6244. $2.00:  Plan shows a "Solar Fruit Drier" which is tilted box
4'x4'x1' on legs with slots for natural ventilation.  Four trays, 2" deep
inside the black box, a vinyl or polyethylene box cover and joint details
are shown. 2 sheets.

Plan No 6202. $3.00: This "Fruit Drier" has two electrical core resistance
heaters, an 80 cfm fan and five slide-out trays in a 2' cubicle plywood box.
Shown are a general view, sections, back view with removable panel to plenum
chamber and wiring diagrams.  A bill of materials and suggested fruit drying
procedure is included.  4 sheets.

2. I have this last one and it's "developed by the fruit substation, 
Clarksville, and the Agricultural Engineering Dept, University of Arkansas, 
Plan no 731001."  This model has a thermostat that will turn the heaters on 
and off.  It looks pretty sophisticated.  However I don't think it has a 
temperature control, just an "on/off" control.  It's 4 blueprint sheets of 
drawings and notes.

3. Two proud innovators in
Sorry, I have no plans, but my husband and I built a good dehydrator years
ago. We solved the problem of relatively inexpensive trays by having them
fabricated at a glass shop around the corner. They used (not sure what it is
called by pros) screen frame stock and screen fabric. These were built in the
size that we needed, and were stable enough to support the drying foods. As I
recall, they were quite inexpensive, could have been even more so if we had
bought the stock and done the work ourselves. Let me know if you use this
suggestion and how it works for you.  Betty Kohler (using my son's account)

From: Paul Opitz
After building a plywood dehydrator cabinet (2 x 2 x 4 feet!), I, too, had a
problem finding suitable trays that didn't cost the big bucks.  Found a good
solution: fluorescent light box diffusers. You can find these at lighting
supply stores or at large building supplies (I found 'em at Home Depot).
These have a 1/2-inch grid, are plastic (but are ok for relatively high
temperature), come  2 x 4 foot 'slats', and are easy to cut to size.  Also,
I've noticed absolutely no taste (like you can get from some metal screens)
and you can just toss 'em in the dishwasher to clean.

For smaller foods (peas, corn, ...) I place crochet 'cloth' (plastic sheets
about 10 x 14 inches with tiny holes) I got at Cloth World over the main
trays. For liquids I use a teflon-coated cookie sheet.  I had one problem
when I overloaded the tray and it broke (was spanning 2 feet with only end
supports and put 4 lbs of beef for jerky on the tray). I added a center sup-
port to the dehydrator, and have had no problems since.

As to dehydrator design, I just made a cube out of plywood. The pieces are
screwed into 2x2s (take the plywood away and it would look like a 2 x 2 x 4-
foot cube wireframe made out of 2x2s). Added a hot plate I got for $10 at
Incredible Universe and a surplus 6-inch computer fan I had already.  
Temperature control is achieved using a modified electronic aquarium 
thermostat (range of 90 - 160 F).

Several holes drilled at top and bottom sides for some air exchange, and
presto! The entire thing cost about $80 (mostly for the plywood) and can
simultaneously dehydrate a LOT of food.

I've made black bean soup, jerky, spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup, huevos
rancheros casserole, fruit juice leather, fruit pemmican... All turned out
much better than the freeze-dried stuff at the stores.

And finally, an amazing idea from a couple on

From: John and/or Mari Morgan
We had great fun with what we called "the rolling fruit dryer" - my 1981
Chevette hatchback. In the summer, the temp would get over 120F inside if it
was sitting in the sun.  So I put the back seat down, spread fruit on trays,
and set it in the hatch section.  I covered it with cheesecloth to keep flies
off and left one window about 1/2" open to let some air circulate.  Fruit
dried in one day, parked in the sun.  Made the car smell nice too! Try it
next summer (or if you live in a sunny climate) if you have a hatchback car.


11.3.1 [Where can I find plans for a homemade smoker?]

THE IDEAL SMOKER: from Brian Bigler .
I got introduced to smokers the same way most people do, but as a Fisheries
Scientist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, I enjoy a nearly
inexhaustible supply of salmon and other fish to experiment.  The small
smokers are okay, but the one I built is a lot more versatile.  Soon after I
got introduced to smokers, I built my own from plywood.  My present smoker is
about two feet on each side, and about five feet tall.  I have three racks
scrounged from where I could find them, and a single-burner hot plate I got
from Sears as a heat source.  I fill a 1-pound coffee can with smoker chips
intended for charcoal barbeques.  The height of my smoker allows for smoking
cheeses on the top rack where it's coolest, and warmer smoking closer to the
heat on the lower racks.  The hot-plate has to be set carefully, to a point
where there's just enough heat to smolder the chips within 5-8 minutes.  I
plug in the hotplate just long enough to see smoke wisping from the seams,
then unplug the cord and allow the chips to smolder on their own.  It takes
two loads of chips for each load of fish.

Other smoker blueprint sources. These were all compiled by Anna Louise Gockel.

"Smoking Fish at Home" #2669, $0.25
"Smoked Shark and Shark Jerky" #21121 $0.25
Sea Grant MAP Extension/ University of California/ Davis, CA 95616

"Fishery Facts 5, Sportsman's Guide to Handling, Smoking and Preserving Coho
US Dept of the Interior/ US Fish and Wildlife Service/ Bureau of Commercial
Fisheries/ Washington, DC 20240

"Home Smoking of Fish" #B-78865-S $1.00
"Smoke Your Own Poultry" #A 2732 $1.00
Agricultural Bulletin Room #245/ 30 North Murray/ Madison, WI 53715 (zip code?)

Smokehouse plans:  North Dakota State University/ Extension Agricultural
Engineering Dept./ North Dakota State University Station/ Fargo ND 58105
[found this address on the web--LEB]

(from ALG: I've looked through a copy of the following.  It includes making a
smoker out of an old discarded fridge:

TITLE:  The easy art of smoking food / Chris Dubbs and Dave Heberle; ill.
by Jay Marcinowski; photos. by Gary Thomas Sutto. Pub. New York : 
Winchester Press, 1977.  SUBJECTS:  Smoke meat. Smoked fish.
v, 180 p.  : ill. ; 23 cm.  NOTES:  Includes index.

11.3.2 - [How do I use my Little Chief?] 

From Gerry Fowler

Enjoy that little Chief, I had one and now use refridgerators for more
volume... Just got done with 10 pounds of Peppeoni sticks for schools snacks
for the kids. Here is the url for Jerry's site that may provide some more 

As of September 26, 1999 Jerry was saying:

For those interested in meat smoking, sausage making and recipes
requests that show up here frequently, like pickled eggs, pickled fish and
herring, corned beef, pastrami,
canadian bacon and gravlax. I have 490 recipes and will be adding more
as time goes by.

Jerry, keep up the good work - ED. 

12.  Tips 'N Tricks

This section was created as a compendium of tips and tricks.  In many cases,
I have not seen any of these tricks in the books and pamphlets that I have.
They can help you get around specific problems, or are easy ways to do what
you have to do. YMMV.

12.1   [The Fruit Fly Trap From: Diana Hamilton  ]

Given that a lot of people here might be working with fresh fruit, here's
an excellent way to keep the kitchen fruit fly population down. I learned
this from my brother, who works in a research lab where escaped fruit flies
are always a problem.

Materials: 1 glass jar; 1 piece of paper and a piece of tape, or a plastic
baggie and a rubber band; a little *cider* vinegar (not white vinegar), or
wine or beer; a couple of drops liquid soap or detergent.

Procedure: Tape the paper together to make a funnel shape that will rest
inside the mouth of the jar, but have a fairly broad opening. Or, tear a
hole in the corner of a baggie, put it in the jar as a funnel, and secure
it around the rim using a rubber band. Put cider vinegar (or wine or beer)
in the bottom of the jar (1/4 inch or 0.5 cm or so). Add a couple of drops
of detergent to the vinegar. Place the paper funnel on the jar.  Set on the
kitchen counter near the fruit.

How it works: Flies are attracted to the cider vinegar, which they interpret
as decaying fruit. They go into the jar (the funnel makes entry easier than
exit) and either fall onto or land on the surface of the liquid.  The 
detergent decreases the normal surface tension, so they sink and drown.  Easy 
and cheap!

We tested this at our parents' house when the apple crop came in.  A single
trap caught >100 flies in 2 days.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to who suggested the baggie
method last time I posted this, and to others who suggested beer/wine.

[Little bits of overripe fruit and cheap sherry are also irresistible to
fruit flies.--LEB].

12.1.1 [ Wax paper weight From: Kate Gregory ] 

Crumple up a square of wax paper, add the wax paper ball to the top of jars
of pickled peppers, canned cherries, etc. to keep the food down in the brine.
Seal with two piece lids, can process with wax paper ball in waterbath.

12.2.1 [chop citrus peels for marmalade ] 

From: Matt Albright
Faster way to chop citrus peels for marmalade

I usually use a vegetable peeler to strip off the zest and then run it
through the food processor. Just a few pulses are necessary. I do not use
the white part in my marmalade because it makes it too bitter and it takes
longer to set (my observation).

12.2.2 [ using ascorbic acid ]

From Michael Stallcup
Using Ascorbic Acid 

Citation from "Drying Fruit" pamphlet by Pat Kendall, Colorado State 
University Cooperative Extension foods and nutrition specialist and professor,
food science and human nutrition; Lesta Allen, retired consumer and family
education agent, Tri River Area Cooperative Extension. 8/94. ęColorado State
University Cooperative Extension. 1994.

"Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an antioxidant that keeps fruit from darkening.
Pure crystals usually are available at drug stores. Prepare a solution of 1
to 2-1/2 teaspoons of pure ascorbic acid crystals to 1 cup cold water. 
Vitamin C tablets can be crushed and used (six 500 milligram tablets equal 1 
tsp ascorbic acid). One cup treats about 5 quarts of cut fruit. Dip peeled and
cut fruit directly in ascorbic acid solution. Soak for a few minutes, remove
with a slotted spoon, drain well and dehydrate. Commercial antioxidant 
mixtures are not as effective as ascorbic acid but are more readily available 
in grocery stores.  Follow directions on the container for "fresh cut fruit."

[ ascorbic acid is a cheap and in stock item at beer and wine-making 
suppliers - ED] 
12.3.2 [ a jelly bag for emergencies]
From: Alan Blacklock
A jelly bag in a pinch...

Both legs of a fresh pair of pantyhose.  This will produce cloudy jelly,
though.  But if you are desperate for a clean jelly bag..

12.3.3 [ How to reach the jelling stage/The Fork Test]

From: Jean P. Nance
How to reach the jelling stage/The Fork Test

There are a couple of other tests for "jelling". One is "when it sheets from
a spoon", but I have found this confusing and sometimes deceptive. My 
favourite is "when it closes the tines of a fork". I have found that it really
should be a silver plate fork, not stainless steel. Dip the fork in, bring
it out and observe. If the mixture stays in a sheet between some of the
tines, the jam is pretty near done. I usually cook it a few more minutes
just to be sure. At times my jam is a little stiffer than some people would
like, but better that than runny. Experiment to see how much "closing" means
jam is at the stage you like.

12.2.4 [Keeping powdered pectin from lumping up]

From: Al Kudsi
Keeping powdered pectin from lumping up

I usually take a little cool water, mix my pectin in it, then add to the
fruit.  Think of it as corn reacts very similarly.  [Remember
that some pectins must be mixed in with the sugar for that very reason.--LEB].

12.3.5 [ canner rack - rack for under jars ]  
From: Barb Schaller
Canning Rack

Fresh from County Ag Extension Pressure Canning Class last night (6/19/96):
Make a rack by joining jar rings (regular size) together with twisties.

12.4.1 [Tips and Tricks for Drying Foods in Oven]

From: David Schwoegler
Tips and Tricks for Drying Foods in Oven

Test the temperature with an instant-read thermometer lying on the middle
oven rack with the thermostat at the lowest setting and watch the reading.
You shouldn't damage the plastic cover on the thermometer at temperatures
below 200F.

Some oven thermostats can maintain 140F using the heating element or burner;
many can't. But don't despair; there's another way. Years ago small metal
"play" ovens were manufactured as toys. The heat source was an electric light
bulb, which baked small cakes and too often burned the young owners.  You can
apply the same principal in your gas or electric oven by substituting an
larger electric bulb for the 25W appliance bulb that's already in there.
Fortunately for this purpose, bulbs are rated by their heat output in Watts,
not by their light output in lumens.

Take out the 25W. Turn on the oven light and begin with a 40W, using the
thermometer to monitor the heat gain. Move to larger sizes until you reach
the right sized bulb that gives the temperature you want when it is on

Leaving the door ajar increases the air flow, but also alters the heat loss
characteristics. This is a slow process, but it can work if you are willing
to experiment.

[ the exhaust airflow should blow out a common birthday candle at a distance
 of 3-4inches from the exhaust outlet. Increase or decrease heat independently 
 of air flow. -ED ] 

12.4.2  [Mini-dehydrator]

From: A. T. Hagen

Back when I had a very productive garden going and had more herbs than one
man who works for a living should have to deal with I dried them all in the

I have the same problem you do since I live in Florida.  The humidity in the
summer generally stays over 70%, frequently goes over 90% and I doubt there
are three basements in all of Gainesville.

I took a good sized cardboard box, made rack holders inside of it and put it
in the corner of the living room.  I took one of my shop clamp lights and put
a hundred watt bulb in it and fixed it to the bottom of the box.  I put a
metal colander over it to block most of the light and made sure that it
wouldn't overheat.  I put the racks of herbs in, turned on the light, put the
lid on so it would stay dark inside and made sure that I had plenty of vent
holes.  The house air conditioning kept the humidity down and in two to three
days I had dried herbs with color and flavor that you can't buy.  Made 
terrific Christmas gifts.  I kept a careful eye and thermometer on the whole
works for the first day to make sure that the herbs weren't overheating and
that nothing was going to catch fire.  I kept going like this for several
weeks until a truly torrential downpour put my garden under two feet of water
and put me out of business.

12.4.3 [Getting fruit leather off of the dehydrator tray]

From: (Paul F. Levine)
Getting fruit leather off of the dehydrator tray

I was having a little trouble getting my fruit leathers off the American
Harvester solid sheet trays even when they were really dry.  The booklet that
came with the dehydrator said to try to peel it off while it was still warm.
Not so I find. This is what seems to work well:

Once the leather is really dry (around 24 hours +or-) take the sheet right
from the dehydrator an put it into the refrigerator for only about 5 minutes
(too much more and the leather begins to rehydrate).  Then the leather comes
off of the sheet.

12.4.4 [ Sauerkraut fermenters ] 

>From Ross Reid:

Sauerkraut not done in an "authentic", or, "old fashioned way" does
not mean that it will be inferior. Ancient krautmeisters made kraut in
stoneware crocks or barrels because that's what they had.
For these past many years, I have made my large batches of kraut in a
large (20 gallon?) container purchased at a wine making supply shop.
In such a shop it is normally referred to as a 'primary fermenter'
but, to anyone else it looks like a white garbage pail ;-). I have my
kraut fermenter clearly marked so that it does not inadvertently get
used as a wine primary.
However, I have also made kraut in wide mouthed, 4 liter glass jars.
Firmly press the cabbage/salt mixture into the jar, up to the
shoulder, cover with a few thicknesses of cheesecloth, hold it in
place with a few popsicle sticks wedged into the shoulder, keep in the
proper temperature range and it has produced excellent results. By
employing accurate measurements (by weight), for both cabbage and
salt, it should not really matter in what container the kraut is
fermented, as long as it is non-reactive. As a matter of fact, it is
quite interesting to watch the fermentation progress in a glass jar.
First the liquid rising, next, the bubbles of fermentation, finally, a
few weeks later, all that liquid seems to have magically disappeared
and you have your own homemade, excellent tasting sauerkraut, made in
a non-chemically preservative laced brine. Everyone should try it at
least once, especially if you grow your own cabbages. 
While I agree that making kraut in a 1 liter (or quart) canning jar
will hardly produce a worthwhile quantity, when completed, it is still
Finally, the adventurous may want to try replacing the cabbage with
shredded rutabaga, in the same proportions, to produce a tangy delight
known as sauereruben.


From Eric Decker

Brined food done in a container where the scum has not been removed will 
have a reduced level of acid which will render it unsafe jar except in 
refrigeration. Depending on how much residual salt remains or if 
vinegar [ Arggh! ] is or was added, the saurkraut may be fine despite the
issue of scum. 

12.4.5  [the easy way to wash cukes] 

From: (Barb Schaller)
Easy way to scrub cukes (don't show this to your kids!)

I started scrubbing my pickles in the washer.  Cold water, no soap, and a
couple terry towels for friction.  Regular cycle for a couple minutes.

[ I wonder if Bogey would have felt different about leaches had they been 
put through the boiler of the "Queen"  - ED ] 

12.4.6 [ Skimming brine ] 

From: Eric Decker

Muslim is excellent for brining processes. Cheesecloth works almost as well. Use
an oversize piece and tuck it down between the product and the walls of the 
vessel. Skimming is dead easy now as you lift up the sides and tuck into the
forming a neat sac which contains the scum.  Do make sure to purge the scum each
as the acid level will not be correct otherwise.  

Rinse the cloth and reuse right away if you wish. 

12.4.7 [ keeping pickled peppers crish ] 

From: Scott Murman
Keeping pickled peppers crisp

If you're getting mushy peppers its likely that you're leaving them in the
water bath too long.  Peppers will get soggy quickly, try and stay in the
10-15 minute range.  You can try adding alum, but I've never been able to
find it, so I can't comment on how well it works.

[  peppers will go mushy in time no matter what you do. The only remedy is 
eat, eat, eat and eat before momma-time says, "clear the table". Other 
solutions are 'make less or give more away' - ED]

12.5.1 [Food-Grade Plastics]

>From Denis DeFigueiredo :
Food-Grade Plastics

I called Berlin and spoke to them, plus an outfit called Kirk Container (they
manufactured some 5 gallon paint buckets I saw in the local hardware store).
Both places said that buckets made from High Density Polyethylene are 
approved for food.  It has to do with the possibility of interaction between
any chemicals in the food and the plastic.  As it turns out, Kirk 
manufactures only *one* kind of bucket, and then markets it for paint, 
hardware, food, etc.  The price is right on the "paint buckets" - much cheaper 
than the local restaurant supply house.

High density Polyethylene buckets will have HDPE stamped on them, or a 
recycle symbol with a "2" in the middle.  DISCLAIMER:  I'm only passing on
information I received from the manufacturers.  I am in no way professing
these things to be absolute fact!

12.5.2 [ how can I make kimchee without compliants ..] 

from an unknown poster, the chile-heads mailing list...
Keeping outside fermenting items a secret from the neighbors

I learned to love and make kim chee while attending college in Hawaii.
I encountered the same odor problem and was forced to come up with a 
solution or get into a shooting war with the neighbors.  Obviously, tightly
closing the fermentation container is a recipe for disaster.  I actually
just cover my crocks with an unbleached muslin stretched over the top.
(Five gallon churns are the best "crocks" I have found.)  However, I deal
with the odor problem by putting six inches of charcoal in the bottom of
a plastic trash can and setting the crocks on it.  The charcoal I use is
provided by a friend at the Jack Daniels distillery, but any "raw" or 
activated charcoal will work.  Bagged charcoal briquettes, even when crushed,
are not really a good option, though.  I use a large trash can and can
actually get three crocks in at once without crowding.  I then put several
layers of burlap on top of the covered crocks. (I used laundered peanut
bags, but feed sacks would work as well.)  Finally, I put the lid on the
trash can.  The lids for these cans fit fairly tight, but will allow for
the equalization of pressure.  You can still smell the kim chee working,
but you must get very close to the trash can and sniff hard.

12.6.1 [ Sources of wood chips  ]

From Kathy Meade
Salvaging Wood Chips for smoking foods

I never buy wood chips.  We have an apple tree in our backyard and use the
prunings from that.  In addition we use the prunings from a neighbor's
grapevine.  My mother has a crab apple that needs suckers cut out.  If you
look around there should be plenty of free smoking hard wood.  It is just
another way of recycling and my neighbors love that I am willing to haul
their "trash" away.  My sons cut the wood into pieces, we dry it in the sun,
and then pack it in plastic buckets that we keep by the smoker until they
are needed.  Just don't use soft woods such as pine.  Fruit woods are the
best, but hickory and oak are good too.

12.6.2 [ beef stick tips] 

From Patricia Riddler?
Tips on making beef sticks

I use the Jerky gun from American Harvest. It is similar to a cookie press.
It comes with three tips, a flat tip for making jerky strips similar to the
jerky press, and two round tips, one small and one large. I always use the
small one because it dries faster.  It always makes perfect jerky.  You do
have to be careful not to over dry it, as it can get tough.  I squeeze out
one gun's worth in a spiral pattern, one load per tray.  After it's dry, I
cut it with scissors to the length I prefer.  I love this gun and it is so

(end of part 4) 

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM