Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Canning mixed veggies

I don't mean to turn this blog into a canning blog -- truly I don't -- it's just that I've been canning so much lately! The reason I decided to put up this latest post about canning mixed veggies is because it offers a sound and important canning principle.

A brief history: for awhile, we were one of the "clean up" families for our local Second Harvest distribution. Because of our geographical isolation, any leftover food from Second Harvest can't really be distributed elsewhere, so the minister in charge of distribution would call families that were interested in leftovers. He knew we were interested in preserving, so if there was any food left over, he'd call us.

Which is why, about two years ago, we came into possession of a twenty-pound box of mixed frozen vegetables. Twenty pounds of frozen veggies, it seems, was too much for most folks to handle, so we got it. I duly canned up the veggies and there they sat in the pantry, unused but preserved. Most of the time when we want a canned vegetable, we'll reach for a single type: peas, or beans, or corn, or whatever. But mixed veggies? Not so much.

Until recently. Suddenly those mixed veggies turned out to be mighty handy for adding to things like fried rice or meat pies. Surprisingly, the lima beans within those mixed veggies were quite popular.

Anyway, that's why I decided to get another box and can up some more mixed veggies. Our regional wholesale grocery (Cash and Carry) had the same twenty-pound boxes, so I bought one for $16.29.

The box contains nothing but a single big bag, chock-ful of the vegetables.

This mixture contains carrots, green beans, corn, peas, and lima beans.

And here's the important canning principle I wanted to get across. When diverging from the beaten path in canning -- namely, when you're not canning in accordance with a pre-tested recipe -- then here's the rule of thumb: Process the food in accordance with the ingredient requiring the longest processing time.

In this particular case, here are the processing times for each ingredient (10 lbs pressure at sea level) for pints:

Lima beans = 40 minutes
Corn = 55 minutes
Beans = 20 minutes
Peas = 40 minutes
Carrots = 25 minutes

Since corn is the ingredient requiring the longest processing time, I canned the veggies for 55 minutes.

It is recommended that vegetables be hot-packed, so I scooped about half the vegetables into a large pot (nested double-boiler style)...

...and poured water over them until they were covered. Then I put a lid on the pot and waited an hour or so until they were thoroughly hot (nearly boiling).

Then I filled the jars. My canner holds 18 pints at a time, so I only filled 18 jars.

I added half a teaspoon of salt to each jar.

I could have filled the jars with the cook water, but since I had the second half of the vegetables to heat up, I used fresh boiling water instead.

I always scald my Tattler lids.

Wiping the rims. (This also allows me to check for nicks.)

Lids on...

...then rings, then it's into the canner.

Adjusting for our elevation, I usually bring the canner to between twelve and thirteen pounds of pressure...

...and held it there for 55 minutes. Remember, as I mentioned in my canning ebooks, kitchen timers are your best friends while canning! I use two: one for measuring the overall time of processing, and the other I keep clipped to my collar and it beeps every five minutes to remind me to check the pressure (and adjust the heat if necessary).

First batch done, second batch goes in.

In all, I got 34 pints out of those twenty pounds of mixed veggies.

I made sure to scrub my rings before putting them away.

Then it was time for a well-deserved glass of wine.

The box of mixed vegetables cost $16.29. Out of that box, I got 34 pints. This comes to $0.48/pint. While I haven't checked the price lately for a can of mixed veggies, I doubt I could have bought them much cheaper than that.


  1. Wow, what a blessing & mega saving! The mixed veggies in the store will be priced $1.-$2. depending on where your shop and sales. It stuns me the people who would pass this up because of the work that would be involved with preserving it. Such short term thinking scares me knowing they will have nothing set by when they will need it most

  2. Thanks for indirectly answering my (unasked) question about canning frozen vegetables. Do you cover this in more detail in any of your e-books?

    1. Yes. I have an ebook on water-bath canning, one on pressure canning (both those ebooks cover the basics and then walk the reader through canning three separate items), and then I have an ebook on 100 FAQs about canning which cover just about everything else.

      - Patrice

  3. Geez I haven't even gotten the salsa to can yet! This is a good idea. Again only two of us and I've been buying those little steam bags of mixed and peas. I was going to can carrots. .. . I could do it this way too.

    Don't apologize for all the canning, these are some great ideas. Saving 50 cents a jar really adds up.

    Do the peas come out better than the store canned ones (all olive and well you know)

  4. What I do with mixed frozen veggies is dry them. It is very easy since they are already blanched. Great in soups. For stir fries you would have to soak them but they do get back to their original taste. When the bags go on sale I stock up and then put them in jars and seal them with my vacuum sealer.

  5. Thank you for posting this. with this time of year I am too trying to fill up my pantry trying to get ready for winter and the what evers. With grocery stores starting to do their case sales I am in search for the best prices possible. When it comes to veggies they never have the canned mixed veggies on the list. With the case sell of 24 cans for $13.88 you still have the bargain.

  6. Patrice;
    Just today I bought cans of mixed vegetables for 50 cents a 15 oz. can. They were
    on sale so I don't know what they usually cost.
    This is not something I use frequently but good for soups etc. and like to have a few around.

  7. I know you've talked about them before, but on a scale of one to awesome, how much do you like the Tattler lids? How many times can you reuse them? Are the worth the extra money for them? I just told my mother I wanted her to teach me to can things, so we've been working on it. Also, do you can with or without pectin? I don't think you need pectin in anything but jelly and jams (again, just learning), but my mom does indeed use it and I can't help but think that it will be pretty dang rough to find that stuff when everything hits the fan. Thanks for the help!

    1. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give Tattlers a 9.9. If you're a beginning canner, I strongly urge you to learn to can using disposable lids, since Tattlers take a little getting used to and I'd prefer people NOT to get discouraged about canning in general because they're having trouble with Tattler lids.

      That said, I'll never switch back to disposable lids. I've used Tattlers almost exclusively for two years and love 'em to pieces. The plastic lids can be used forever, and the rubber gaskets can be re-used about 20 times before they lose their oomph. The gaskets are cheap and you can stock up on extras. I like the idea of literally never having to buy another canning lid.

      As for pectin -- I've never used it. We don't eat jelly so I've never made it. I'm made jam but I don't use pectin. They say pectin can be made from apple peelings but I've never done it myself.

      - Patrice

  8. i do this too every chance i get...but this summer i also dehydrated alot of those itty bitty handfuls that must made canning a waste...then after dehydrating i mixed them up and stored them in my pint and quart jars...great soup, stew and veggie mixes without any thing being thrown out.

  9. Heating the veggies in the boiling water sends some of the nutrients into that water. Personally I would prefer to have used THAT water for filling the jars, thus keeping the nutrients within the batch, and using fresh water for the next batch.

    I find that mix veggies would well for soups. I, like you, reach for MONO jars, but the mixed jars are great for soup/stews.

  10. On a different note. are you planing an up date on the garden, after so much work.
    I use raised beds, and barrels at 6500' in dry Northern NM. I have been following all the canning and learned alot from the bogs and comments.
    PS We met early on Sat at the CS show, I was the gray haired one retired from BLM.

  11. Well done Patrice! That glass of wine is just icing on the cake.

  12. I was *just* going to research how to can frozen veggies. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

  13. I have always used a hot water bath not pressure cooker to put up vegetables. I live in Nebraska.. Is this still a save way to can? Love this idea.

    1. No no no!! I'm sorry to tell you this, but it is NEVER safe to water-bath vegetables. All vegetables are low-acid and it's not safe to water-bath them -- they must be pressure-canned.

      I recommend a good canning book that gives processing times for a variety of different things (my favorite is Putting Food By). The Ball Blue Book is less comprehensive but an excellent beginner's guide.

      I also have three inexpensive ebooks on canning, found here:

      Please be safe while canning -- it's a wonderful form of food preservation, but it must be done correctly in order to be safe.

      - Patrice

  14. What is the expiration date of the foods you can?

    1. If the jar is properly sealed and the food has been correctly processed, I'm not sure there IS an expiration date. We've eaten ten-year-old chicken without a problem. However presumably you'd go through the entire contents of your pantry in, oh, three or four years.

      Please see this post:

      - Patrice

  15. I have a bag of mixed green, yellow beans, carrots and peas, frozen. I want to make some mustard pickles out of them. Thank you for the information.

  16. I would like to can homemade vegetable soup using canned diced tomatoes and frozen mixed vegetables. Will your suggestion for using the longest processing time apply?