Thursday, September 3, 2009

Canning carrots

We were lucky enough to receive an entire box of bagged baby carrots (leftovers from a weekly food donation in our town). The best option is to can them.

Both daughters expressed an interest in hands-on learning about canning. I set Older Daughter to washing jars.

I set Younger Daughter to sorting carrots. Because these carrots were past their prime, some had turned to mush in the bags. Don't let the mush intimidate you! There are a lot of good carrots in there. We just needed to sort the good from the bad.

Washing the mush off the good carrots.

Mushy carrots destined for the compost pile.

When canning vegetables, it's best to hot-pack the jars, so I needed to boil the carrots.

While they were heating up, I took the time to glue together the bodies of some crooked tankards destined for shipment to the Kansas City Renaissance Faire, thus insuring an unbelievable mess on the kitchen table.

Filling the jars with carrots using a wide-mouth funnel:

Filling the jars with hot cookwater (you can see the steam rising):

Adding a teaspoon of salt to each quart:

Wiping the rims:

Putting on the lids...

And the rings:

Into the canner. While my canner holds 18 pints (in two layers), it only holds seven quarts at a time:

The pressure starting to build:

Lydia lying faithfully at our feet while we work:

Target pressure (10 lbs) achieved. We hold this for thirty minutes.

First batch out of the canner.

Testing the seals. After the jars cool a bit, press the lids. If the lid "clicks," the seal is not complete and it's best to refrigerate that jar and eat it soon. But all the seals completed.

Ultimate yield: twenty quarts. This is the sight that led my oldest daughter to exclaim, “I like this! It makes me feel happy and safe.” Out of the mouth of babes.


  1. Looks yummy! Today we are canning spicy peach jam and freezing some plum soup - the university ag school held its annual "fruit from their fields" sale and I managed to get there before it was all gone.

  2. Hi Patrice, I love reading about what you are doing, esp learning about the canning. I bought a canner last week and made peach preserves,(18 jars)-- I think you've inspired me to start doing this. Only I can't find that tool that grabs the jars out of the hot water, so I rigged up one by wrapping rubberbands around the ends of my regular tongs. It worked ok for small jelly jars.
    I left my jars sitting on the counter for a few days just to enjoy looking at them. Your pictures of the finished carrots do look great!
    Sandy in Ga
    PS I was thinking, my grandmothers used to can a lot, my mother occasionally made jelly (we lived in south Florida and had a lot of oranges for marmalade) but I have never canned anything with my daughter...we run the real risk of losing the know-how.

  3. Great way to get the girls involved! And I love how you sneaked in the puppy pic!!!

  4. Great job, Sandy! I agree, there's nothing prettier than canned fruits and vegetables. I'll often do the same thing - just stand and admire the result.

    You might look for one of those jar-grabber-thingies in hardware stores (in their kitchen aisle) or grocery stores.

    - Patrice

  5. How long would one need to cook the carrots to can them in a water bath. I know it is a longer process as I remember helping my mother back in the day but everything I find pertains to pressure cookers.
    Thanks JW

  6. JW, I do NOT recommend water-bathing carrots. Low-acid foods such as carrots need the pressure to can properly. You'll risk botulism if you water-bath carrots.
    - Patrice

  7. I've enjoyed your posts for several weeks now, thought it was about time I commented! You did a great job with the photos as well as the explanations. You make it look so easy! One question though, I have only ever seen canned veggies stored with the rings still on ...but in your last photo, it looks like you removed the rings? If they can be removed, that would cut down on the total number of rings you would need but I've never seen that before. So, do the rings stay on or off after the canned food has cooled down?

  8. Great article in WND. My wife has been canning steadily since the middle of July. She did a jar count recently and was close to 300 jars canned, mostly quarts. We still have some carrots to do, beets and cucumbers to pickle. The pears are almost ripe and some corn to freeze. The spuds were a bust. She will can all the small potatoes(most of them). We butchered 7 red cornish cross rosters today. I liked raising them much better than the white variety. They averaged 5lbs. and were either 9 or 10 wks. old.

  9. I live on a farm as well and enjoy fresh vegetables, eggs, etc. I can as well. I read your post on WND berating those who don't do as you do and wanted to point out a few things:

    First, I haul food for our local food bank weekly. I've never seen anyone turn up their nose at a single scrap of food. I've had to explain what some things are and how to cook them, the next week they're thanking me for helping them out. And our food bank NEVER has anything left over to give to people who are well off. I suggest that your food bank should advertise better or move its location closer to where the need is.

    Second, the people that use our food bank do not live on ANY form of acreage and often don't even have a balcony, so the idea that they are too lazy to grow their own foods it way off base. I'm working with the city to try to get them to develop a lot into a gardening plot. Even that is hard due to insurance, etc. But there are several of us trying to figure it out. I've comitted to providing the compost and some soil, but as you know, the planting beds need to be set up soon if they're to be of any use next Spring.

    Third, the people you're putting down often live in tight quarters on tighter budgets (think of a mom and two kids in a two bedroom apartment - fater was killed in car accident), where is she supposed to get the $200 for canning equipment and where will she store these canned goods (not to mention the equipment in the off season)? And before you go there... the people I've worked with don't have expensive electronics, their cars are genearlly purchased for under $1000 (and needing at least another $1000 in repairs) and they all hold jobs that pay minimum wage w/out any health benifits.

    So, its nice of you to write about how God has blessed your family, but completely ignorant to write on WND how those who haven't been blessed the same way (e.g. you have your husband, a large house and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars in equipment in your photos). So the next time that you get busy bashing others who don't live as you do, perhaps you could spend that time teaching canning at your local town (of course, then there is still the $150-$200 of equipment for pressure cooker and jars that they would need).. maybe you could arrange use of a community kitchen to can up stuff for this winter with your community.

    Good luck to you and may you and your family never experience any serious health issues.

  10. To "Woman Who Runs With Horses" -

    Jars that have properly sealed don't need rings anymore. The rings just keep the lids in place until the seal is complete. If the lid comes off when you remove the ring (after the jar cools down), it means the jar isn't sealed, and it should be promptly refrigerated and eaten soon.

    In fact, it's best NOT to store jars with rings on them because (especially in humid areas) the rings will rust. The nice part about this is just what you've pointed out - you don't need too many rings. Rings tend to collect so somehow I have a couple hundred of the durn things, but the reality is I could get away with about forty or fifty and be fine.
    - Patrice

  11. As a liberal who reads conservative media, I liked your WND article. The only thing I'd change is that for me, what's *expected* isn't treasured. There are things given freely to me that I treasure beyond price. I try to carry a little bit of Thanksgiving with me every day. With what I've overcome, some on my own, and some with help I didn't earn, and being brutally honest, didn't deserve, I have a lot to be grateful for.

    While I am not powerful or famous or obscenely wealthy, I now have everything I ever wanted in my family and my community, and for that I am consciously grateful every day.

    It is that gratitude that the people you spoke of in your article appear to have lost. I've been there, and I know how hard it is to be grateful when everything is going wrong in your life. It's easy to miss the things you really should be grateful for. It's also easy to blame the wrong things and people for your problems.

    I wish I could tell people how to get out of that rut the way I did, but it's such a long process and encompasses so many things, that I could write volumes and still not describe it. I can only tell people my own story and what worked for me, and hope that they haven't lost their hope.

    Now I'm going to go eat some carrots!

  12. Thanks for the info about the rings, Patrice. I definitely live in a humid area (central Texas) so that's good to know. I enjoy your page often!

  13. I read Anonymous's comment and expected to read the article on WND and be irritated by Patrice's insensitivy. I was wrong. Some points now that I have read it:

    1. Anonymous’s food bank never has anything left over, so either Patrice is lying or the local food bank is trying to stay under the radar and not help as many people as possible. No allowance is made for the fact that this is a very small town, in a rural area, therefore, there probably aren’t a lot of the typical food bank customers that you would find in a large city.

    2. Anonymous says that the “idea that people are too lazy to grow their own food is way off base”. A) Patrice never once said that in the article. B) Obviously HOMELESS people can’t grow their own food, but there are plenty of takers at the food bank that have a yard or a balcony. Giving people the benefit of the doubt has become a lost virtue. OBVIOUSLY Patrice wasn’t saying that homeless people or people who live in the projects where they are unable to grow anything should can their own carrots.

    3. Anonymous says the people in her town don’t have canning equipment nor do they have what must be a storage shed the size of a small van that is required to store the canning equipment, which is apparently how big Anonymous thinks canning equipment is. Again, comparing an urban food shelter to a rural one is a huge assumption. Most of the people where I come from are poor and below the poverty line, but most have canning equipment in their storage areas, or KNOW SOMEONE THEY COULD BORROW IT FROM.

    4. Anonymous throws around a lot of terms like “the people you’re putting down” and “bashing others”. Go off the deep end much, Anonymous? The tone of Patrice’s article wasn’t remotely chiding or holier-than-thou. It was simple frankness—a desperately scarce quality in this time.


  14. 5. And most importantly, Anonymous let these irrelevant complaints about Patrice’s article completely wipe out the very cogent argument that Patrice makes and needs to be said: people need to stand on their own two feet.

    I’ll go further, and having come from a poor family, I can say this: short of mental illness or real debilitating physical infirmity, there is absolutely no reason for someone to be living in poverty and taking things from the government, especially after one generation. I was poor, studied hard, got a scholarship that helped me pay for college, worked all the way through school, and now I’m an accountant. Everyone has this chance.

    Even if you are so stupid you can’t do something intellectual, you can work hard. You can have two jobs, not buy cigarettes and booze or eat out, look for ways to make money on the side and SAVE. So you have to start in a rent-by-the-week hotel. Anyone, yes ANYONE, can get a job at minimum wage that pays enough to cover the rent for that hotel. Use the excess to save for a car. Walk to work (we have). Buy a bicycle. After enough time you will have enough saved to put in a deposit on a real apartment. Continue to work. Save up enough to buy a cheap car that will get you from point A to B. After a while you will have saved up enough to buy a better car, to go to night school, to put a down payment on a home, to invest in materials to start your own painting/lawncare/moving business. IT IS POSSIBLE, if people just have the gumption to do it.

    But why do all that hard work when the government will take care of you (by taking the money I have worked so hard to earn)?

  15. Wow, Katie - what a great defense! I meant to respond to the comments left by "Anonymous" and never got around to it. You did it for me, and I thank you.

    A bit of clarity on your first point, namely the idea of the food distributors having food left over. You hit the nail right on the head - we live in a deeply rural area, and quite literally there is no where else to distribute any leftover food without driving thirty miles into the next town.

    You also defended another point, which is the myth that poor people are victims unable to do *anything* to rise above their circumstances. Ever. Ever. Ever. Anonymous's comments left me thinking about whether it's possible to ever rise above poverty. Yes, my mother did - she pulled herself out of brutal poverty - but can others? I have great faith in the human spirit and do believe it's possible.

    If Anonymous thinks raising a family on about $20K a year (as we do) is easy, then he/she is a lot more clever than we are. My canning equipment didn't cost "thousands" of dollars because we don't have thousands of dollars. You can find jars in thrift stores and yard sales for pennies on the dollar, and my neighbor just bought a pressure canner at an estate sale for $5. It's just a matter of putting one's financial priorities in the right place.

    I have extensive notes for a future column which I may or may not ever publish, tentatively entitled "Too Poor to be Frugal." Part of my reluctance to finish it is because I know I'll be royally reamed for it, and there's only so many tomatoes lobbed at my head I'm willing to take.

  16. why do you have to boil your food after you open a jar?

  17. Hi There, What a beautiful sight. I well be canning my carrots tomorrow for the coming year. Job well done girls. Patricia

  18. Job well done girls, truly a beautiful sight. I'm canning my carrots tomorrow.

  19. I was given 20 lbs baby carrots free so I went searching to learn how to can these babies. I'm a little bit scared not going to lie but you make it sound easy enough. I hope I do okay! I will be canning mine in pints, easier for me to use that size. I wish I had a larger pressure canning pot because this may take a while. Thanks for the post!