Canning Tips and More after a Visit with the Zero-Mile Diet's Carolyn Herriot
Image by Carol Pope
Carolyn proudly displays a collection of canned beans
Canning and growing tips from The Zero-Mile Diet guru
While working with bestselling author Carolyn Herriot (The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food) on her soon-to-be-released book, The Zero-Mile Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for Delicious Homegrown Food, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to spend a few days with her at her Victoria home.
Meandering through the small orchard and “berry walk,” then past the greenhouse loaded with heritage tomatoes and peppers, then on to the vegetable-seed garden (where Carolyn gathers her “Seeds of Victoria”) and kitchen gardens, I felt like I was in heaven.
At Carolyn’s, it was canning season, when she puts down food for the winter. Some goes into the freezer, some is dehydrated, and some is canned, all of which she describes in detail in her upcoming book.
During my stay there, she was a whirlwind in the kitchen, blending batches of basil pesto, and canning plums and green beans . . . and making to-die-for peach pies with a surprisingly simple homemade crust, all the while cheerfully telling me how very easy and fun it all was to do – and she was absolutely right about this.
Living a zero-mile lifestyle has a lovely rhythm and connects us deeply with the flow of the seasons and the earth that surrounds us. By just doing a little bit at a time, often with friends and fellow “urban farmers,” Carolyn manages to fill her larder with zero-mile organic goodies that easily takes her household right through the year.
Carolyn Herriot's ebullient garden (Image: Carol Pope)
Here, Carolyn shares her recipe for canned green beans (the majority of the ingredients come directly from her own property), along with her canning know-how:
Canned Vegan and Gluten-free Dilled Green Beans
- 3 lb (1.35 kg) whole green beans
- 6 garlic cloves, whole
- 6 cayenne peppers dried, or 1½ tsp. (7.5 mL) cayenne pepper
- 6 heads of fresh dillweed or 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) dill seeds
- 6 tsp. (30 mL) peppercorns
- 3¼ cups (760 mL) vinegar
- 3¼ cups (760 mL) water
- 6 Tbsp. (90 mL) pickling salt
- Wash beans and cut off both ends.
- Pack lengthwise into hot sterilized pint jars, leaving ½ inch (1 cm) of headspace.
- Add 1 garlic clove, 1 dried cayenne pepper (or ¼ tsp./1 mL) cayenne powder), 1 head dill or 1 tsp. (5 mL) dill seeds, and 1 tsp. (5 mL) peppercorns to each pint jar.
- In a stainless-steel saucepan, mix the vinegar, water and salt and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.
- Ladle the brine over the beans in the jars, leaving ¼ inch (5 mm) of headspace.
Follow steps in How to Process High-Acid Foods below and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Let stand for 2 weeks before eating.
How to Process High-acid Foods
- Wash Mason jars with hot soapy water and rinse.
- Fill a canner or large pot with water and heat it to boiling.
- Using tongs, completely immerse the jars in the boiling water.
- Allow the water to a simmer at 180F (82C), leaving the jars immersed until ready for use.
- Place the lids and metal rings in a small saucepan of water heated to 180F (82C), but do not allow the water to boil. Leave the lids and rings in the hot water until ready for use. TIP: Do not use recycled lids if the rubber seal has already been set.
- Ladle hot food (hotpack) into the hot jars to prevent cracking from a sudden temperature change. (Tip: Use a wide-mouth funnel).
- Leave ¼ inch (5 mm) of headspace for jams and jellies.
- Leave ½ inch (1 cm) of headspace for fruit, pickles, tomatoes, chutney and relishes.
- Using a sterilized non-metallic utensil, remove any air bubbles in the jar, and readjust the headspace if necessary.
- If the jar rim is sticky, wipe with a clean wet cloth.
- Centre the snap lid on the jar, and twist the metal ring securely over it, but do not over tighten.
- Place the filled jars on the rack of a canner; when full, use oven mitts to lower the rack gently into the canner bath, three-quarters full of boiling water, so that water covers jars by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm).
- Put the lid on the canner and bring water back to a rolling boil.
- Process for the time recommended by the recipe.
- Turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. When the boiling water becomes still (approximately five minutes), carefully pull the rack up out of the canner by its handles, without tipping the jars, and place it on a heat-proof surface.
- Using tongs, space the jars on a heatproof surface, and leave to cool upright, without adjusting the metal rings.
- After cooling, check that all the lids are sealed. Sealed lids curve inwards and do not move when tested. Jars that have not sealed can be refrigerated and consumed within 2 days.
- Remove the metal rings if desired, and wipe the jars clean if sticky.
- Label with food and date it, and store in a cool, dark place.
- Food processed this way will keep well for up to 12 months.