Preserving MI Harvest-Canning Pickles and Tomatoes

March 3, 2023

More Info

This session has held as part of the Preserving MI Harvest track during the 2023 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. This virtual conference held February 27-March 10, 2023, is a two-week program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offering a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. Sessions were recorded and can be found online at

Video Transcript

Well, good afternoon. We'd like to welcome all of you to our Michigan Ag Ideas program. This afternoon. This afternoon we're going to talk about canning tomatoes and pickles. So we're about to start our program. So let's get going on this. And first off, we would like to let you know that we do have a, we want to thank our sponsors for representing our program. And if you put your if you if you took your phone and put it over this QR code, you could see the sponsors and we're very grateful for all the sponsors that we do have that get us get us our ability to do this program. So thank you once again to our sponsors. And just a little bit of information. We'd like to let you know that our food safety team does have a hotline so we can answer some questions. If you have a question that you'd like asked about canning at the moment and you're in the middle of a project and you need to have something answered or any other type of food safety question you have. You can call this number 877-643-9882, anytime Monday through Friday, 9-5. And we have one of our team members handle that call and we would get an answer to you At that point. Sometimes it takes a little research, but we will get, definitely get you an answer. And then we also have, if you're more inclined to write the question out, we have what's called Ask Extension at the location on on the Internet at the bottom of the screen and you can ask your question, type it in and someone will get back with you shortly, an expert with an answer for that question as well. So today we're gonna talk about preserving tomatoes and pickles. And it will be presented by my colleague Kara Lynch and myself. Karen Fifield. We're both food safety team educators. So any good program or good practices is to keep your food safety items clean and sanitized and washed. So to start, any foods or safe, home preserved foods begin with the good food safety practices that we advise. Always follow good food safety practices by remembering to wash your hands for 20 seconds, using soap and warm water. Prepare your kitchen for preserving food by thoroughly cleaning countertops and other areas of your kitchen. And keep canning equipment such as knives and cutting boards and clean and throughout your whole process. And then thoroughly wash all canning jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water, rinse and proceed with the directions in your recipe that you're going to follow. And then working with the freshest product that you have to fill your jars. So always keep a clean kitchen in when we're producing or preserving any items. So we're going to just briefly go over the couple of little things. So we're going to talk about high acid foods today. That's, so we're going to focus on are methods that you can use for high acid foods. On the left is an atmospheric, atmospheric steam canner, which is approved for high acid foods, just like water bath canning is, however, you can't process items that have any more time than 45 min in that manner. So if it's 45 min or less, you can use the steam canner. On the right is a water bath canner, which is also used for high acid foods, but can be used for recipes requiring longer than 45 min to process. So use only standard canning jars for these kind of things. There are brands that are out there that are available such as ball and curr. These jars are tempered and withstand temperature extremes. So that's why it's important to actually use some canning jars that are made just for that reason. Canning jars must be in perfect condition with no cracks. Chips or knicks  and we'll talk about that a little bit too. This is the expectancy for canning jars. They can last about ten years. Then you might have to replace some of those things if they're handled with care. So let's spend some time now explaining more about the water bath canning process. Some key opponents or components for your water bath canner include a rack on the bottom that's necessary to keep the canning jars off from the bottom so that it allows for proper water circulation in, underneath and around all of the jars that are in there to be processed. There needs to be a tight-fitting lid to keep the heat from processing inside. To keep the heat for processing inside that canner and the canner must be boiling the entire time. During your processing. Another important note about water bath canners' is they need to be tall enough to allow for one to 2 " of water above the canning jar that you're processing your product in. The atmospheric steam canner is a newer approved food preservation method. Only high acid foods products can be processed just like within a water bath. It needs only needs high acid foods or can process them. But it has to be processed for 45 min or less to be processed in this canner. Examples of products that can be processed in this canner include things like jams and jellies. Most fruits, cucumbers, pickles, fruit pickles, relishes, tomato and salsas. Some tomato products require a longer processing time, than 45-minute. So that means you'd have to use a water bath canner. So once again, with your jars, check for cracks or chips on jars before using them. Then wash in warm, soapy water and dry. Keep the jars hot before filling them. Either by placing them in the hot water in an extra canner or on stove in the steam canner. You will notice recipes state to place product produce into hot jars when filling them and keeping them the jars hot prior to filling them, keeps them tempered so that when you put them in the water bath or on the steam canner there, it's a little less chance of breakage if the jars already warmed as well. So we're going to talk about preserving tomatoes. You may see lots of varieties of tomatoes when visiting a farm market. To that, we wanted to point out a little bit of clarification. Heirloom tomatoes, they're treated the same as any canning tomato and they are safe to can. Tomatillos You don't have to remove the skin. The outer flaky layer of the husk does need to be removed though, acidify the same way as you would tomatoes, despite them being more acidic. Have you ever heard of the phrase canning tomato? All tomatoes can be canned. However, grape, cherry or cherry tomatoes are not ideal due to their small size and the amount of seeds that are in them and removing the skin, just follow instructions according to the research-based recipes. Being sure to acidify as you're instructed in that recipe. So you want to look for good-quality produce when you're going to can it, when you, whatever you put into jars, what you're going to get out. So select only disease-free, preferably vine ripened, firm fruit for canning. Do not can tomatoes. This is a caution from dead or frost killed vines. Green tomatoes are more acidic than ripened fruit and can be canned safely, follow the same directions as for ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes from the dead or frosted vines make tomatoes less acidic. However, you can freeze these kinds of tomatoes, so they're not a total loss. Blighted tomatoes should not be canned since it can raise the pH enough to make to allow bacteria to grow. So notice that the photo with the bad tomato. Remove the produce like this from your items to preserve so you don't want a bad tomato in there. So there's two ways to package your tomatoes in the jars. One is called Raw Pack and one is hot pack. So first we're gonna go through the raw pack method for foods that lose shape when cooked is what you would use this for. Place raw food directly in the jar, pour over boiling water or hot liquid over the food. Then pack it firmly, don't crush it. Add the jars carefully to your canner because they they're already packed. A hot pack however, it's usually a preferred method for most foods. So you're going to cook that food and liquid prior to packing. Then pour that cooking liquid over the food in that jar. Fewer jars are needed because the food gets a little more compact. Less floating of food pieces are in that jar like after it's processed.  You know how it'll sometimes float to the top. Sometimes that's less likely to happen with the hot pack. Better food color and flavor. And then it's also easier to pack. More foods in the jar because it's more pliable and the heat in preparing kills some of the microorganisms. So there's a win on both sides of that. Important point with raw versus hot pack is to make sure you allow your research-based recipe and you follow it. There are some things that you can either raw pack or you can either hot pack, it's not even an option. So you need to follow that recipe. If directions say hot pack only, you must hot pack that food only. If the recipe allows for both raw and hot, you can choose what is your preference? It is very important to acidify tomatoes to ensure safe acidity in whole crushed and juice tomatoes, add two tablespoons of bottled lemon juice, or a half a teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or a quarter teaspoon of citric acid. Acid can be added directly to the jars before filling with that product. If you feel they taste a little to a acidity, acidic. For you, a good solution is to add sugar to your food product when you are preparing your dish. So after you open the jar and you're using it, add a little bit of sugar and it cuts a little bit of that acidic taste. For tablespoons of a 5% acidic vinegar per quart may be used instead of lemon juice or the citric acid. However, vinegar may cause an undesirable flavor change because that's a lot of vinegar in there. Or if using your season packets such as Mrs. wages or ball the the acid is typically already added. Refer back to your recipe for the exact directions. And I'm going to say this. I always refer back to my recipe throughout the whole process. I read through it first, then I refer back because we have so many things going on in so many things in our minds that it's always good to make sure you're following that recipe exactly how it's recommended. It is tested for safety. So the risk of not acidifying tomatoes may result in botulinum, clostridium botulinum. So this is one warning that we'd like to give out never open kettle canned tomatoes. This may result in, it may result in a seal, but that internal temperature will not be heated to the recommended temperature, to kill the pathogens and may be unsafe. So it's not recommended at all to use an open kettle process in canning your tomatoes. You can have them heated up and put them in a jar, but always process with a water bath or a steam canning or like we'll talk a little bit. You can do some pressure canning with tomatoes, but always follow the process and use that method. There are a variety of safe methods to canned tomatoes, water bath, or atmospheric steam canned are the two that most people use. They're whole crushed, it can be juiced, non-meat spaghetti sauce, added herbs can dried herbs can be done in that, paste, salsas and ketchup are pressure canned or any of the above, plus meat sauces and stewed could be used that method. One point to remember though, is if a procedure from the USDA Complete Guide to home canning, canning tomatoes offers both boiling water and pressure canning options. All steps in the preparation are still required. Even if the pressure canning pressures processing option is chosen. This includes acidification. We get a lot of questions about acidification, but it still has to happen even if you're using a pressure canner, each process requires acidification, not just water bath or atmospheric, atmospheric steam canning. That's gonna be my forever tough word, I think. Start with the freshest tomatoes when you're going to can. You can pick them right from your garden, get them from a farmers market, but as fresh is you can put them in a jar as soon as you can put them in the jar, the best, a better recommendation that is. And then to remove the tomato skins we'll dip them in boiling water for 30 to 60 s, then pull them out of the water. One thing and I'm not sure it shows it in here even later, but we have, in the past learned I have learned in recent past that if you put an x in the bottom of the tomato, it will peel right open, right up and slide right off pretty much after it's been put into the water for that amount of time. And that just gives it a little openings so that it can make it easier to remove the skins from those tomatoes. So next what you're going to do. You'll go right into, the tomatoes, will go right into the ice water bath. And you can see how nicely those skins began to peel. They split and peel write-off after hitting that cold water. Also remove the tomato cores and trim off any bruised or discolored portions and quartere the tomatoes. Heat one-sixth of the quarters quickly in large pot, crushing them with a wooden mallet or a spoon or a potato masher or some, something else that you can crush that with. Then you're going to add those to the pan. This will exclude any juice. It'll bring the juice right out of it so that it's  its got its own juice, that it's heating and continue heating the tomatoes stirring to prevent burning. Once the tomatoes are boiling, gradually add remaining quarter tomatoes and then stir constantly. These remaining tomatoes do not need to be crushed. They will soften and with the heating and stirring. So they will they will minimize, but they don't need to be crushed. Continue until all your tomatoes are added, then boil them gently for about five-minutes. So add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to your jars. Add one teaspoon of salt per quart. That's generally optional. But remember, follow your, your recipes. So it does say optional. It is purely there for flavor. It does nothing to preserve the tomato. The salt is definitely an option. So if you are trying to decrease the sodium in your diet, you can definitely leave it out. It's your choice. It is recommended to use canning and pickling salt, though, if you are going to use some salt, this salt does not have any anticancer agents or added minerals like the iodine that table salt or other salts may have. The results is in a better, it results in a better product. So fill your jars immediately with the hot tomatoes. And remember your jars are already heating up, leaving a half-inch headspace. We do have that headspace measures in the middle. It's got steps on it. And the headspace is very, very important. So it's already tested to that amount. So you don't want anything overflowing in that. So you wanna make sure that you leave it the amount that it says and you don't want it any less than that. So definitely use a head-space, measure and leave a half-inch headspace for the tomatoes. You're going to wipe off the rim. You're going to add the lid, but the band and adjust those lids and process according to your tested recipe instructions. And here's a sample of what those instructions might be with your atmospheric steam canner, which we're going to use for this one. The process includes fill that steam canner with about two-and-a-half quarts of water as recommended in your instruction manual. Preheat the water in the steam canner. And then that's where I would I would normally have my jars on heating up. It should be approximately 140 degrees for raw pack and 180 degrees for hot pack before adding to your jars, place filled jars in the canning rack, placed the steam canner lid on the pot so that the vent hole is toward the back. Make sure you can easily read that altitude indicator knob, which is the second picture in because that's going to tell you what your where your elevation level is and what line you're going to follow? In my area, it's the dark green line at the top. Then you're going to turn your burner on high. however you 're going to monitor that? Hang on. Let me get back there. You're going to monitor that a little bit because you want to make sure that you start your timer at the right time. So bring the steam canner to a vigorous boil and then check the temperature through the vent hole with a bio metallic stem thermometer or your digital thermometer. And so you're going to just place it like the first picture is in there and make sure that it reads 212 degrees during that process. So you're, and after that, you're going to start your timer once it reaches your elevation location. And you will put the,  leave the tomatoes in there for that length of time, as long as it's not over 45 min. And then when it's done, turn it off and take the lid off after about five-minutes and then you lift a jar straight up and place them on your counter in a location that's not going to have any breeze or anything like that because you don't want to rush any of the cooling process either. And then let them rest for 12 to 24 hours undisturbed. And then you'll be able to check and see if there's a dip in the lid. Sometimes it's just matter of hearing it and then you have to That's my kids are always excited to hear the Ting. That means we have another jar safe for the winter. But you have 12 to 24 hours to let them rest there before you have to put them in a shelf or safely packaged or put them in storage. I don't, oh and  another thing, always label and  date your product. I can't tell you how many times that you think you're going to know what it is and it's not exactly that. But once again, do you remember I said, you can actually pressure can your tomatoes if you choose for some of the product, particularly if you're making, let's say, a spaghetti sauce with meat in it, but you can choose to pressure can, some people prefer that? Some recipes do call for using that pressure canner in that process for tomatoes.  In that case, you must use the pressure canner because it says, if it says that's the only option, then that's what you're going to do. Here's an example of the dial gauge pressure canner. Dial gauge pressure canner has a dial with the numbers designating, whether it's five to 15 pounds of pressure and there's lines in between. And then the lid twists on to lock in place and there's a lot of safety features on it. There's a plug that actually would blow up if something became too pressurized. But the pressure canner has a vent pipe also to exhaust the canner to create a vacuum. So you're going to want to exhaust that can or after your jars are placed in there, just like we've processed them earlier in the program. You're going to want to exhaust it for 10 min. So make sure it has a nice steam line coming out of the top and to set your timer for 10 min because that's a very important part of the whole process using a water or using a pressure canner. After that 10 min, you're going to put the vent pipe, you're going to close it or put the if you have a weight that goes on it as well. To begin your build-up of your pressure, it is necessary to watch that pressure rise to 11 pounds when you're using this type of pressure canner and then change your amount of pressure. If you, your elevation is between 0-1 thousand feet, it'll, it's 11 pounds of pressure. So know your elevation is another important factor that canner has a safety valve, once again, that would melt if there's any internal overpressuring. So if it gets too high, it would melt and it would blow. The whole lid shouldn't go anywhere. It's just going to melt that one little plugs. So when that plug melts, the interior pressure is released, so it's a safer event. So there is a safe, there are safety features on a pressure canner that does make it a good safe piece of equipment that probably didn't happen in the past and has scared some people. And that's understandably so. But if you know, in practice these methods, it's definitely a safe, safe enough tool or piece of equipment to use. So here's a little bit more about the dial gauge canner. It is recommended to have your dial checked every year and that can be done by it has to be an accurate you have to have an accurate gauge, but that can be done by your MSU Extension office, your local office, or sometimes there's smaller hardware stores or things that might be able to do that. But generally, if you can contact your local MSU Extension office, you'd be able to get that tested. It's important to have that tested at the beginning of the canning season. So if you're about ready to get started on some canning in the next few months. It's good to have that checked because we always put things away and we don't know if it got bumped or what's if It just got out of whack somehow, even though it was good last year, something might have changed. So then also check your pressure canners for if you have a rubber ring in there, if you need to replace that. Any of those kind of things and your extension office can help recommend those items too. So once again, always get your pressure canner gauge checked every year. This is example of the weighted gauge pressure canner. This is actually mine and it's my favorite canner. I've just grew up with having hearing the jiggle. I don't have to have it tested every year, but it is something that you don't you definitely don't want to lose the weight on that. And it will have a like a nice little rocking jiggle that or sound that actually lasts for the entire time that you're starting to time your pressure. Now, the difference between that is there's a circle, that circle round one. There's different holes and it says 5, 10, 15. So then if your recipe says to put it on for 10 min, ten pounds pressure, you're going to put it on that hole on the top of that canner. The other weighted gauge comes in weights at times, it stacks. So if it's five, you'd have the five-pound weight on and if it's ten, you add until you get to the correct weight that you need for that that canner. So once again, it's a steady jiggle when that pressure is where it should be. And then you're going to sit your timer and process from there. Now I know I've mentioned elevation. So as elevation increases, the temperature at which water boils decreases, so more pressure must be applied to obtain that desired temperature. So with a dial gauge, you can adjust incrementally by the pound. And so you would have to figure that out. For weighted gauge, you must increase 10-15 because there's no other choice. So PSIG is the abbreviation for the pounds per square inch on your gauge. So you will want to follow your research-based recipe and make note of the elevation adjustments that are recommended for each recipe and your location. So pressure canning process. When filling your pressure canner consider what pack you are using to can you produce? If using a hot pack jars the water in the canner should be simmering to 180 degrees. If using raw packed in your jars, the water should be warm to hot. If water is too hot, the potential is there for jars to crack. Gently place your jars on the rack in the canner, then place the lid on the canter and then lock it into place. Leave that weight off of the canner for that at this point, and turn the heat on high. So and your next step is very important. You need to exhaust all the steam out of your canner for 10 min. When water boils, steam will start to come out of the opening, open up the vent, and then wait until there's a constant strong funnel of steam that starts and then start your timer for 10 min. At the end of the 10 min, place the weight on and start to pressurizing of the canner, start counting processing time when correct pressure is reached. And once again, remember to adjust for altitude if needed. Then you're going to turn off the heat at the end of the processing time and let the pressure drop to zero before you actually try to take that lid off. I also want to mention that if you go below the pressure or the jiggles stops jiggling, you will have to bring it back up to the pressure or bring it back up to the constant jiggle on, depending on the kind of canner and start your timing all that back over again. So we definitely need to stay or pay attention when we're processing and not leave the kitchen. So it's not something that is easier to do or whatever. Just find something else in your kitchen to do for the length of time that you have to have it in processing? and then you're going to, after it comes down to zero pressure, you can remove the weight or open the petcock. Wait 10 min, then open your canner and make sure you open the lid away from you so that you don't acquire steam burn because that is not a good thing. Then you're going to remove your jars once again from the canner straight up and put it over on a pad or a breadboard or something on the counter and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours and rest. So after that's done in once again label and date everything. So after that's done, if we, if I do this once in awhile at the end of season of freezing tomatoes. So we had to through two different processes for tomatoes. And this is another option. If I get to lower amounts of tomatoes in my garden at this point, I just tend to put them in the freezer and it's just a little easier because I'll end up with one bag of tomato or something like that. So freezing is a great option to preserve your tomatoes, especially if you don't have time to can, you can leave them whole or chop. You can leave them whole, chop them, and you can freeze them with the skin on or off, and then remove that skin during or before cooking. They must be cooked when thawed as their texture, will be mushy. It's not gonna be something like you can take out a slice of a tomato. But freezing tomatoes are a great way to preserve that last, that fresh tomato flavor as well. So here's how you would remove the skin for the tomatoes. See, I mentioned earlier about the x on the bottom. So that's called scoring the bottom of that tomato. And you're going to put them in the water to boil it again in the peel, put it in ice bath, and then you're going to just peel it off. So the amount of time it's in, the water is in boiling water, 30 to 60 seconds. And then it should be about that length of time, at least into the ice bath. So after you've done all of that, you can freeze your, your whole tomatoes or whole, whole or pieces. You can freeze them in a container or bags. Or actually, I don't even know any other or just the container or the bags and then make sure you definitely leave head it a one-inch headspace because it's going to expand. So I always still use my measure for that and then I always make sure that I label and date them. I can't tell you how many times you would look in a freezer because it's going to change its appearance a little bit. You got it. So you know what's in there and also put on there. Is it one quart? Is it to quarts? Are they, is it a juice? Is it whole tomatoes? Does it have the skin's still on them so that you know exactly what you're taking out, and what you're going to use and what you're going to use it for. So that's about our tomatoes and that's really a fast route through the preserving tomatoes. But we have, there are three different options. Once again, even though it's an high acid foods, It's definitely three different options you can do to preserve your tomatoes. But now I'm going to pass this on to Kara and she's going to talk to us about pickling. Hello. Thank you, Karen. But before I get too far into it, I think there's a timely question here. Nora says, I cook my tomato sauce with the skins on the tomatoes and then blend them. Can I still can them even though I never removed the skin. Do you want to take it? Okay. Yeah. I forgot what we came up with, but it's not recommended to do that at all because there's bacteria that can be on it's on the skin, it's grown outside, that kind of thing. Our canning isn't tested that way. It's tested without the skin. And that could just add another layer of bacteria that can be held in that jar, so it's not recommended to do that. Do you have anything else? You can freeze them with the skin on? Yeah. But as far as canning, yes. That is correct. From my knowledge as well, that it's not recommended. So alright, well, let's get started with preserving pickles. I know we had a few different topics that we are focusing on and because pickles and tomatoes are kind of compliment each other a little bit, we decided to do them in the same presentation. So there are a couple of different classes of pickles. We basically have a class called fermented pickles. And then we have fresh pack pickles, which that can be broken down a little bit more. Fermented pickles are also referred to as crackpot pickles by some people. And then the fresh pack may also be referred to as a quick process pickle. Both types are preserved by acid though. That acid could be from acetic acid that we're adding to your foods such as that commercial vinegar that we're adding on our pickling items. Or the lactic acid is produced by bacterial fermentation. In our fermented pickles. Now typically the types of produce that we're using with brush pack pickles, there's, there could be quite a variety with them. The common ones, of course, are cucumbers, which we think of immediately when we say the word pickle, but also green beans, beets, asparagus. Those are some really common types of produce that we will pick up. Of course, that are usually fermented, cucumbers and cabbage. And we do usually have a class towards the end of summer, early fall on our preserving my harvest series, which we'll mention at the end of class here. But that talks specifically about fermenting refrigerator pickles. Pickles and relish are all products that do fit into that fresh pack or quick process to go category. Again, they just have that vinegar or acetic acid that's added to them to create the acidic environment that's needed. So we have two different types of pack when we're talking about preserving pickles. One is a hot pack and pack is  raw pack. And this doesn't relate just to pickling. This is also, these are terms that you see when we're talking about canning in general. But with hot pack, we are taking produce and it's added to a hot mix of vinegar, sugar, and spices So after we have heated the mixture, we're filling the jars and and also the ingredients. I'm just looking at my notes and they're kind of out of out of text here, but we're adding, we're cooking or heating up our ingredients, as well as the juice. And we're adding that into your jar. With the raw pack it's food itself. Your produce is going to be raw. It's not gonna be cooked at all. It's not going to be heated. Its gonna be added to your jars and then the juice. Will be heated up. Let's move on to fermented pickles. So we're not going to get to in detail with this as far as the step-by-step process, this does require a little bit more explanation. But again, as I mentioned, we usually have a class later in the summer, early fall. Specifically on this, if you are interested in learning more. But fermented pickles are usually made in a crock, although that's not the only container that you can make them in, but that's historically, I guess kinda where it got that name from a crock pickle as well. With fermented pickles they are using a beneficial bacteria that occur naturally in our environment, where it's converting the cucumber into a pickle by producing acid. So the good bacteria, referred to as lactic acid again, gives these pickles that familiar taste and it keeps them from spoiling as well. So it has dual role. But different containers, I mentioned this ceramic crack. Just make sure if you are using a ceramic crack because sometimes we are using one that's been passed down for generations or you've had it for a long time, make sure that there's no cracks or chips in it because that can happen. In that case, it can harbor some pathogens. So we want to make sure that that's the case. You can also use a food grade plastic bucket. Just don't use any metal. There are some, you can also use glass jars and manufacturers market some of their core jars, e.g. to use as a kind of a smaller scale fermenting and those are fine too. What is key with fermented pickles is that the amount of salt in the recipe is really, really important, both for safety and for quality. So please never alter that amount of salt in fermented pickles or sauerkraut. If you're also doing that, and follow that research-based recipe. So it'll usually guide you through instructions on the quantity of your pickles in relation to the salt. And you want to make sure that you have that accurate. Too little salt can allow for spoilage bacteria to grow. Then, on the other hand, too much salt will keep the good bacteria from growing. So it is really important to have that as accurate as possible. During fermentation, cucumbers must be kept beneath the surface of the salt brine. That is really important. It takes usually about four to eight weeks for fermentation to be completed. It does depend on the temperature. You don't want too hot or too cool of an an environment around 70 to 75 degrees is really important. You want to avoid temperatures above 80 degrees, which can be challenging. I know in the summertime when the heat does heat up, you want to make sure you're doing it. Sometimes a basement is the best area to maintain that constant temperature. Higher temperatures do promote a softening of the pickle. And most generally, people don't like a soft pickle. So you will need to water bath or steam can pickles after your fermentation is complete. If you wanted to make them shelf stable, you can keep them for up to a year. That's the recommended storage time. Pressure canning is not recommended. Karen was just talking about pressure canning, but we don't recommend that with your fermented pickles, it does ruin that cell structure. And it results in a poor quality or mushy product. Because they are acidic enough, it's water bath or atmospheric steam canning is appropriate to store it safely. Then to determine when fermentation is complete, go ahead and try a sample. During that process, take off any scum which will usually develop. Your instructions, will always tell you to check daily and remove that scum. Alternately, we talked about canning it, but you can also refrigerate it in that original container for four to six months. Okay, so pickling fresh produce, you're going to want to make sure you do select fresh and firm, high-quality vegetables and fruits. So as Karen mentioned this earlier, with selecting your produce, just making sure that it is at its peak quality. Making sure you get rid of anything that's bruised, moldy,  damaged, produce. Now with cucumbers, because these are common item that we pickle, both both types of pickling. Some varieties of cucumbers that work best are called a bush pickle or a Carolina. Usually a one to two inch in length cucumber for gherkins, or a three to five inch cucumber for dills. Doesn't take long for some of our pickles to grow a lot bigger than that. That three to  three to 5 inches. It can exceed that, usually sometimes in a short period of time when once they start growing. So if you get a bit much of a larger, bigger than that is usually recommended to make that into a relish or chunking it even for pickles. Another really important thing with cucumbers is to make sure that the cucumbers are not wax coated. The pickling solution can't penetrate the wax coating, and so it's just recommended to avoid that. And we'll talk to you about removing the blossom and have some more information on that in a few slides. But you do want to cut off the blossom end. So other fruits and vegetables, again, just make sure that they are at their peak harvest. You usually within about 24 hours of harvesting is when you want to do you're preserving. It does help your pickles to stay crisp and prevents that shrinking after pickling. If you can do that again with them at 24 hour window of harvesting, then sort and carefully wash produce before processing and just throw out anything that has any evidence of mold or damage. Okay. So there are some specific ingredients that we do use for pickling. One is you're going to be adding water and what is recommended is to use softened water for high-quality pickles. The hard water, it will of course, vary from household to household, especially when you have well water. But there is usually some minerals like calcium hydroxide, which is lime from iron, magnesium, and sulfur compounds. And all of these can lead to an off flavor and discoloration. So because of that, it is recommended to use softened water. If you do use if you don't have access to softened water, It's not really a safety issue, it's just more of a quality issue. So there might be some variation in outcomes. Your outcomes as well. Maybe you used hard water in the past and you didn't have any flavor or any discoloration. So it's a trial and error with that, again, it's not safety, but just usually a quality standard. So when we are pickling any vegetable, especially cucumbers, e.g. that are considered a low acid foods in themselves, if we were to say can green beans alone, just as a green bean, you would have to pressure them because they are a low acid vegetable. Same with cucumbers and most all of our other types of vegetables. But when we're pickling them, we're adding vinegar, which is a very acidic solution to them, and that becomes a high acid product. But what is really important is that we're using appropriate vinegar. So if you look on the label, whether it's apple cider vinegar or our white vinegar, it'll say 5% acid on the label. If you're wondering, just go look. It'll tell you there are some specialty vinegars that may not get to that standard. Rice vinegar is one that I have in my kitchen and its not a 5% in acidity. Sometimes we get questions on people that have made their own vinegar. It's not recommended to use homemade vinegar either. White vinegar is most often acceptable by our preferred, because if it's mild flavor and light color. But apple cider vinegar is good for stronger flavored pickles. Fruit pickles also usually recommend apple cider vinegar. Also one thing that's important is to not dilute vinegar. Go ahead and follow that recipe of the amount that is calling for. If you dilute it, you're going to change the acidity level. And that will affect the safety of what you're pickling. Salt is another item that is critical with pickling. We do recommend that we just, all recipes will say to use canning and pickling salt. The reason why is because they don't have what's called anti caking agents in them. When you pick up, have leftover canning salt from the year before, when you pick up your container of it, you'll notice it's probably stuck together and you'll have to break it apart. It's perfectly safe. It, it just doesn't have those anti kicking agents in it, so it will stick together over time, you just have to break it up. But when you are using something like table salt that does have those anti caking agents in it or usually iodine as well. It can lead to a cloudy brine. So again, not necessarily a safety issue, just really a quality issue, and never alter your salt concentrations. Then lastly, sugar, white or brown sugar can be used. Also, you might find honey is something that you want to substitute and it is usually appropriate when it's called for in recipes. But what is not recommended with pickling is sugar substitutes. The longer storage times, and also the heat can cause bitterness or loss of flavor over time. Okay, So you can add a lot of flavor with spices. It's just typically recommended that you're using whole spices And the reason for that is because it may be fresher and allow for a more concentrated flavor than those powdered spices which also could, the powder spices could cloudy that brine up a little bit. And again, that's just a quality issue. Fresh garlic and Dill are best for making pickles. And so you'll often see those in a lot of our recipes. But there are sometimes substitutions with those that can be made as well with your, some of your dried spaces. But limit the quality excuse me, the quantity of spices that you're using to what is specified in the recipe. Or maybe use less. Grape leaves if you have then, or maybe had family that have done much canning in the past, you may have heard of people using grape leaves when they're in their pickling process. The reason they did that was because the, the thing that it actually will make them crisper. Grape leaves contain a variety of natural inhibitors that helps prevent softening the cucumbers. But what we have found basically is that if you simply cut off the blossom end of the cucumber. So the blossom end, if you think about the, the plant growing the blossom forms and then that grows out along with the cucumber, e.g. the blossom end is going to be not the end that attaches to the stem, but the other end. So if you cut that off a 16th of an inch, you should get rid of enzymes that can lead to softening of your cucumbers. Calcium chloride. Many of you, if you've done any preserving, you may have seen this. I've used it for me. I've seen it on the shelves. It's also called pickled crisp. That is a nice product, is used for quick process pickles. There are some other affirming agents, though, that are no longer recommended. What is recommended instead of using them, you can use them in combination with that pickle crisp. But it's just a soak your cucumbers and ice water for four to 5 hours before pickling. Now, alum is one of the firming agents that used to be used. It is no longer recommended, especially it's not recommended at all for quick pack. It can be used with fermented pickles only. There might be some success with that. Again, if you soak it in ice water, you may find some success along with that. Then lime is another. Of course, this is food grade lime. There's agricultural grid line, but you can see when you drive around the countryside sometimes, but there is also a food grade lime. It can improve firmness because it does have some calcium in it. But there's just really something that you want to be cautious if you do use it. Its used 12 to 24 hours before pickling. But because we wanted to make sure you have time to remove any excess and you do that by draining, rinsing and then restocking pickles for 1 hour and then repeat that two more times. If that lime is not removed adequately, it can actually increase the risk of botulism. So that's really, it's not something that you hear used a whole lot. Okay. That's a lot of a lot of heavy verbiage in those past few slides, but just to give you some pictures and we'll go through the next few slides a little bit quicker. Again, you want to rinse cucumbers and then slice a 16th of the blossom end of it. And there's a kind of a visual here so you can see how much a 16th is. It's really like that last picture there on the right. She's had a half an inch. So it's just the very tip of the blossom end of it. So for making a slice of cucumber. You can slice them into half inch rounds. At that point, you're going to measure dry and liquid ingredients. Put the sugar and the pickle mix into a measuring cups, leveling the top of using the flat edge of the knife. Then again, use your liquid measuring cups for your vinegar. On the right side you see those difference in the flat rate measuring cups where you can scrape it off and then the liquid measuring cups. And then prepare your pickling liquid. So measuring for your vinegar, the sugar, and then the pickle mix in a saucepan that was what was used for this particular example. And then you bring it to a boil. Then at this same time, we have been letting your jars heat up. So this top left picture in the next slide does show you a jar that has been heated up in a canner and it's water is being dumped out of it. It's set aside and then it's being filled with some cucumbers. And, and this is a raw pack example here. We're packing the cucumbers into the hot jars using clean hands and then ladle packing liquid on top. This does call for a half-inch head space. So that bottom-right picture is using a head-space measure in inches. This is the second step down from there. Then it's important to have achieved a success with your canning process. You also want to make sure that you are taking time to free up and bubbles. The other end of that tool used in that bottom right picture is also a bubble freer You can also use a plastic knife or a rubber spatula, narrow rubber spatula. You can go around the edge and just make sure we're getting rid of some of those bubbles. If there is too much headspace that's left. The food that's at the top is likely to discolor. And then also the jar may not seal properly because there's not going to be enough processing time to drive all of that air out of the jar. Alright. Okay. This picture, can you go back a slide? I think maybe we weren't in sync together. They're the top left picture there does show verping or freeing the bubbles from the jar. These particular lids did have to be heated. They don't all check your manufacturer's instructions, but wipe the edge of the rim of the jar. put that lid on and then put the ring on to fingertip tight. Okay. And then we're going to process. So after we have them all in our rack, we lower them into the canner. With water bath canning, you want to make sure that there's one to 2 inches of water above the jars. And this recipe called for a process time of 15 min. So once that water starts boiling, that's when you start the timing. After it's done, turn off your heat, remove the lid, make sure to open it away from you. And then you want to wait about five-minutes just to allow some of that heat to escape. when you remove those jars, make sure that you lift them straight up and down and then put the can, or your jars onto a towel or a cooling rack, making sure that it's not a cool surface, like you wouldn't want to put it onto granite or stainless steel e.g. because that could shock the jars and cause some breakage. And then you let them sit there for 12 hours or more 12 to 24 hours  and check the seals. Then for storage it is recommended to take off the ring. You don't have to, but it can ensure safer storage environment. Label it and put it in a cool, dark place. Alright. Okay, so to touch on refrigerator or freezer, pickle recipes, this is something I do pretty much every year. We have some nice fun recipes that we make and my family always enjoys when we have such a huge quantity of cucumbers in the summertime. But you can actually make a lot of these fresh pack pickles and store them in the refrigerator for several weeks without heat processing. But over time, that quality does deteriorate and then these products do become unsafe if they are stored for extended periods. When you're making these, you want to put them into a pre-sterilized jar like you do when you're canning as well. Then don't delay getting them into that refrigerator for storage. But cucumbers and other vegetables slices packed in vinegar and sugar will remain crisp also when stored in the freezer. So if you've made extra and you don't think you're going to consume them all within that week period of time. Go ahead and put them in the freezer. There are some specific recipes that you can find for freezer pickles. You do want to make sure if you are making and putting them in the freezer. You use a freezer safe container label, date and store them for no longer, for about six months. Any  longer you might see a difference in quality. Then there are some spice mixes that you can purchase that gives you the option of making into refrigerator pickles. Or you can process them. So that jar on the left is a bread and butter mixture that was created by one of our colleagues. Okay, So just some other things to cap off this talk about pickling is to, again, reinforcing to not omit or even decrease your salt. The salt is critical for pickling. If you're following a lower sodium diet, there are, you might find a couple of recipes and some other resources will share with you that do give you instructions for making a lower sodium recipe, but don't go take it upon yourself to do and alter your own recipe. Also, don't use flake or rock salt or kosher salt or sea salt. A lot of these different forms of salt don't measure the same as granulated cell. So because of that, they could compromise that balance of ingredients that are needed to preserve pickled foods. Also, some of them do have some of these minerals we talked about that could cloudy that brine to. Sugar is added to pickles for quality, not safety. So there are some other recipes that we make, jams and jellies, e.g. where you don't want to alter the sugar from the recipe that is given. But with pickling, you can do that. The other thing is don't thicken pickles the brine with them unless you're directed to do so in a recipe. And then again, making sure that you are processing anything. Sometimes we hear people that are making a shelf-stable pickle where they're putting their produce into the jar, adding that hot brine putting the lid on and then not putting it in the canner to process. It is critical for the safety of the product that you make sure that you do process it according to the recipe guidelines. There are some often some issues that we hear about with pickles. Probably the number one is soft pickles. Why is Why are my pickles soft? What can I do differently? We've talked about some of this. So have a little repetition here. But one is making sure that you are following a tested recipe. Again, soaking those cucumbers for four to 5 hours before you pickle them. Again, remove that blossom, end by a 16th of an inch. Then you can use pickle crisp. When you're making pickles. If you are making using lime, you can do that and make sure that you're following the instructions with rinsing it repeatedly. And then also pickles should be as fresh as possible. And don't use the waxed pickles that you might find, usually at the grocery store. Sometimes with processing people have found that there might be some seeds, a lot of seeds, celery seed or some dill or something like that that we might use can get under the lid and then that can prevent the seal from forming. Making sure that you're using actual canning jars that are meant for canning. Sometimes people also will say that they have shriveled pickles. And why is that? That can be from too heavy of a syrup or too strong of vinegar or salt in your solution. So again, follow your recipe exactly. There can be caused by too long of a lapse in time between gathering and brining. Again, do our pickling within 24 hours of harvesting. Shriveled pickles can also be caused by overcooking or overprocessing and dry weather. Then again, alum is something that is only successful with fermented pickles. It doesn't have any improvement on your quick process pickles. Alright, last couple of things to talk about, are blue garlic. Sometimes people have noticed maybe their garlic in a pickling solution that's turning blue or maybe even pink. And that's just from basically they're reacting to some metals that are in your cooking pot or water, or maybe coming from your pipes. So it's not unsafe to eat. This just looks a little bit funny. Don't use I mentioned the wax cucumbers also don't use a burpless cucumber. It, it's, there's just not much success with penetrating through the skin of those. Then don't use aluminum pans for preparing the brine. Especially if you're soaking vegetables in lime. That acid solution will actually tend to leach aluminum from the pan and it can cause pitting of the pan. There's other types of metals to that you shouldn't use, like copper or brass or galvanized and iron utensils. Again, only make what you're going to use in a year because that's the recommended storage time for processed pickles. Fermented pickles are any that are kept in the refrigerator. It's advised to use those within four to six months. If you are refrigerating pickles use within about six weeks, you're going to see some variety and there's some variation in what the recommendation is for refrigerator pickles, but no more than six weeks. We will be sharing some resources with you. We have some publications on our website called Michigan Fresh. You'll see that logo in the top left hand corner of our fact sheets that we have here on the screen. We'll share with you a link to access these. We have some how-to instructional sheets like how to water bath can and how to pressure can. We also have a lot of facts sheets for all different types of produce grown in Michigan. And it will give you some guidance on how to preserve them. So they're a really great resource. And then we also have some recommended resources. You hear us say, make sure you're using a research tested recipe. But people don't always know where to find those. So these are some of the publications that we recommend. Also, if you ever have questions after you leave here about how to preserve something or just a question about food preservation. In general, maybe your power went out and you're not sure how long you can safely store food. Those are a lot of examples of questions that we might, we might get, but any food safety question you have, we encourage you to use our food safety hotline. There's also a bar at the bottom of your screen and it's a different format. It's an email format for you to reach out and ask a question. This doesn't have to be food safety related because if you submit a question to Ask Extension, they will send it to the appropriate expert. There are food safety questions that we get, but there's also gardening questions, pesticide questions, maybe of questions about specific animals. And they send those to the appropriate experts through extension. So it's a really, really great resource. And you'll find a link to that on our website and pretty much every page. Then the last resource to share with you is our Facebook page. If you're interested in any of the classes that we mentioned. If you follow us on Facebook, we on a weekly basis post all of our upcoming classes, including a link in the text and how to register. So it's a really great way to access any of our classes, as well as a lot of other food safety information that we share.