Occasionally it is well to compare the seam after the first operation with the sample can which is sent with the machine.
If seaming rolls cut into the can they are set too close, and the seaming-roll pin should be adjusted in the opposite direction from above.
After adjusting, always test cans as suggested above before canning. The seaming rolls are set before the machine leaves the factory and should not require adjusting for some time, but I have found that slight variations in cans may make adjusting necessary.
If for any reason the second seaming roll is brought into contact with the can before the first operation is complete it may injure the can seriously, thus preventing an air-tight seam.
If the first seaming roll is forced in too rapidly it may ruin the seam. Push the seaming-roll lever gently and steadily, while turning the crank with the right hand. This rolls the seam gradually. There is no danger from bringing in the second seaming roll too quickly if the first seaming roll has completed its work.
There are thus, as you see, two kinds of tin cans used in home canning: The sanitary or rim-seal can, which is used with a sealer, and the cap-and-hole can. The latter consists of a can, and a cover which carries a rim of solder and is fastened on the can by the application of heat.
The sanitary can has a cover a trifle larger than the diameter of the can, thus leaving the full diameter of the can open for filling. That part of the cover that comes into contact with the can is coated with a compound or fitted with a paper gasket or ring which makes a perfect seal when the cover is crimped on the can. Some mechanical device is necessary for sealing this can, and this is the sealer.
Cans may be had with inside enamel or plain without any enamel. The following fruits and vegetables should be canned in enamel-lined cans: All berry fruits, cherries, plums, rhubarb, pumpkin, beets and squash. All highly colored products should be canned in enamel-lined cans to prevent the bleaching effect induced by their action upon the plain tin. Some prefer to can fish and meat in the enamel-lined cans. Other products not mentioned here may be canned in plain cans, since they are less expensive than the enamel-lined cans.
Covers are lined in two ways, with the paper gasket and the compound gasket. The compound gasket is merely a preparation, scarcely visible, applied to the under side of the cover and is not easily damaged by handling. The paper gasket is a ring placed on the under side of the cover and must be handled carefully. If the paper gasket becomes broken the cover must be discarded. To sterilize covers having the paper gasket, place them in the oven for a few minutes, but do not wet them, before sealing cans. Do not remove or handle paper gaskets.
When the cans are removed from the cooker the ends should be raised; this is caused by the pressure within. If they are not raised at the ends the cans should be carefully examined for defects. After the cans are sterilized they should be cooled off in water. This will cause the ends to collapse. If they do not collapse the reason is probably due to overfilling. It must be remembered that peas, beans and corn swell a certain amount after water is placed in the cans; therefore, in canning these vegetables the cans should be filled only to within a quarter of an inch of the top. If the pressure of the air from without will not cause the end to collapse, it should be forced in by hand.
THE TINNING OUTFIT
Tin-can sealers are made to handle the regular Number 2, or pint cans, and the Number 3, or quart cans. The sizes are interchangeable, so that in a few minutes' time a Number 2 machine may be changed into a Number 3 machine with the necessary attachments. So it is economy to buy a machine with these attachments, as you can then use either pints or quarts as you desire.
If you are selling to boarding houses and hotels you also will want half-gallon and gallon cans. If you use these larger-size cans and want the sealer you can get it for these sizes, but you must tell exactly what you want when ordering.
The prices which I give are 1919 prices and are of course not stationary. A sealer that will seal the Number 2 sanitary tin cans costs $14. A sealer for Number 3 cans will cost the same amount. But the ideal arrangement is the combination machine which can be used for both the pints, Number 2, and the quarts, Number 3. This type of sealer costs $16.50. A special machine is used for sealing the Number 10 or gallon cans, and its price is $35.
The price of the "winter can opener" is $17.00 for smaller size and $19.50 for the larger one.
Several standard sizes of tin cans are in common use for canning purposes, as follows:
DIAMETER OF NUMBER SIZE OPENING INCHES INCHES 1 2-5/8 by 4 2-1/16 2 3-5/16 by 4-9/16 2-1/16 or 2-7/16 3 4-1/8 by 4-7/8 2-1/16 or 2-7/16 10 6/3/16 by 6-7/8 2-1/16 or 2-7/16
The cans are put up in crates holding 100 or 500 cans. If you are canning for the ordinary market use Number 2 cans for berries, corn, peas and cherries; Number 3 cans for tomatoes, peaches, apples, pears and sweet potatoes.
In buying cans it is always necessary to state whether you desire plain tin or lacquered—enameled—cans. In buying caps always ask for the solder-hemmed caps and give the diameter of the can opening. For whole fruits and vegetables, cans with two-and-seven-sixteenth-inch or even larger openings are preferable. Since the size of the can opening varies and it ordinarily will not be advisable to have more than one capping iron, it is recommended that the larger size—two-and-seven-sixteenth-inch—capping iron be purchased.
The tin cans come in lots of 100 or 500 cans. It is possible to buy as few as two dozen cans, but that never pays. It is cheaper to buy a larger quantity. Number 2 plain sanitary cans in 500 lots cost $3.45 a hundred; in 100 lots, $3.65 a hundred. Number 2 sanitary cans—enameled—in 500 lots cost $3.80 a hundred; in 100 lots, $3.95 a hundred. Number 3, plain, in 500 lots are $4.50 a hundred; Number 3, plain, in 100 lots are $4.70 a hundred. Number 3, enameled cans, in 500 lots, are $4.95 a hundred; Number 3, enameled cans, in 100 lots, are $5.10 a hundred.
The gallons come twelve cans to a case. They are $1.40 a dozen if 100 cases are bought. If less than 100 cases are ordered they are $1.50 a dozen.
The cans that you have to solder yourself run just about the same price, Number 2 being $3.60 in 500 lots and $3.80 in 100 lots. Number 3 are $4.70 in 500 lots and $4.90 in 100 lots. The buyer must pay express or freight charges on both sealers and tin cans.
PREPARING OLD CANS FOR REFILLING
Formerly, after using a tin can once we threw it away; but men with brains, realizing this waste, have come to our rescue, and as a consequence we can now use a can three times—that is, if we have a sealer. The sealer that seals our cans will also open them for us, so it becomes our winter can opener. With this can opener we can use our tin cans three times, buying each year only new tops, which cost less than good rubbers.
Cutting and Reflanging Tin Cans. Cutting off the can the first time. First lift the spring pin in the top piece, push the lever from you, drop the spring pin between the stop of the first operation roll and the cutting-roll stop. Place the can in the sealer, push the can-raising lever against opposite side of frame. Turn the crank and gently push seaming-roll handle from you until you come against cutting-roll stop, and the top of your can is cut off.
Reflanging. Remove standard can base and in its place put in the reflanging base, lift the spring-pin and bring seaming-roll lever to the original position. Drop the spring pin between the stops of the first and second operation rollers, place the can in the sealer, open end down, push raising lever round until the can engages with the chuck, turn the crank and at the same time gradually push raising lever round against the frame. The can is now ready for use again.
Resealing. The can is now three-sixteenths of an inch shorter than originally. Remove the reflanging base, put one of the narrow washers on the top of the can-raising lever, then the standard can base, and the sealer is now ready. Proceed as with the original can.
Cutting the Can the Second Time. Proceed as at the first time, only be sure to cut off the opposite end. The can may be cut open and reflanged only twice, once on each end of the can body. In cutting and reflanging the second time, leave the three-sixteenth-inch washer under the can base and reflanging base.
Resealing the Second Time. Remove reflanging base and put the second three-sixteenth-inch washer under the standard can base and proceed as directed under resealing.
THE SOLDERING OUTFIT
The soldering equipment required includes a capping iron, a tipping copper, soldering flux, a small brush, a porcelain, glass or stoneware cup in which to keep the soldering flux: sal ammoniac, a few scraps of zinc, solder, a soft brick and a file.
Soldering Flux. Soldering flux is a solution of zinc in crude muriatic acid. It is used for cleaning the irons and for brushing the tins and lead surfaces so as to make it possible for the melted lead to adhere to the tin.
To Make the Flux. Purchase at the drug store ten cents' worth of crude muriatic acid. Place this in a porcelain, stone or glass jar. Add as much zinc in small pieces as the acid will thoroughly dissolve. The flux is always best when it has stood from twelve to sixteen hours before using. Strain through a piece of cloth or muslin. Dilute with a little water, about half and half. This will make the soldering flux. When using keep the flux well mixed and free from dust and dirt.
Tinning Capping Iron. Purchase five or ten cents worth of sal ammoniac at the drug store; clean iron with file or knife. Mix a little solder with the sal ammoniac. Heat the capping iron hot enough so that it will melt the solder and convert it into a liquid. Place the iron in the vessel containing the mixture of sal ammoniac and solder. Rotate iron in the mixture until the soldering edge of the iron has become bright or thoroughly covered with the solder. All particles of smudge, burned material, and so forth, should be removed from the iron before tinning.
Tinning the Tipping Copper. The tipping copper is tinned in very much the same way as the iron. Sometimes it is desirable to file the tipping copper a bit so as to make it smooth and to correct the point. Heat the copper and rotate the tip of it in the mixture of sal ammoniac and lead until it has been covered with the melted lead and is bright as silver. The copper should be filed nearly to a sharp point.
Capping a Tin Can. Use one tin can for experimenting. By capping and tipping, heating the cap, and throwing it off and simply putting another cap on the same can, you can use this one can until you become proficient in capping.
When capping the full packs arrange the cans in rows upon the table while the capping and tipping irons are heating in the fire. Take a handful of solder-hemmed caps and place them on all cans ready to be capped. Place a finger on the vent hole, hold cap in place, and run the brush containing a small amount of flux evenly round the solder-hemmed cap with one stroke of the hand. Do this with all cans ready to be capped. Then take the capping iron from the fire. Insert in center the upright steel. Hold the capping iron above the cap until the center rod touches the cap and holds it in place. Then bring it down in contact with all four points of solder-hemmed cap and rotate back and forth about three strokes. Do not bear down on capping iron. A forward and back stroke of this kind, if properly applied, will perfectly solder the cap in place. Remove capping iron and inspect the joint.
If any pin-holes are found recap or repair with copper. It may be necessary to use a piece of wire lead or waste lead rim from a cap to add more lead to the broken or pinhole places of a cap.
Tipping a Tin Can. Take flux jar and brush. Dip brush lightly in flux and strike the vent hole a side stroke, lightly, with brush saturated with flux.
Use the waste solder-hemmed cap rim or wire solder. Place point of wire solder over vent hole. Place upon this the point of the hot, bright, tipping copper. Press down with a rotary motion. Remove quickly. A little practice will not only make this easy, but a smooth, perfect joint and filling will be the result. The cans are now ready for the canner. The handwork is all over, for the canner will do the rest.
Precautions. Do not fill tin cans too full. Leave a one-eighth to one-quarter inch space at the top of the can and see that the product does not touch the cover. If any of the product touches the cover the application of the hot iron produces steam, which may blow out the solder, making it impossible to seal the can.
RULES FOR STERILIZING
Remember all fruits and vegetables are prepared for tin cans exactly as they are for glass jars and the period of cooking or sterilizing is the same. The following rules will help to avoid difficulties in the operation of the various canning outfits:
For hot-water-bath outfits, whether homemade or commercial.
1. Support the cans off the bottom sufficiently to permit the circulation of water under and round the cans.
2. Have the water cover the tops of the cans by at least one inch. The heat and pressure must be equal on all parts of the cans.
3. Count time as soon as the water begins to jump over the entire surface. Keep it jumping.
4. On removing the cans throw them into a sink with running cold water or plunge them into a pail of cold water.
5. If the cans are laid on their sides the false bottom is not necessary.
For steam-pressure and pressure-cooker canners the following precautions should be observed:
1. Lower the inside crate until it rests on the bottom of the steam-pressure canners. In the case of the pressure cooker put the rack in the bottom of the cooker.
2. Have the water come to, but not above, the platform.
3. Tin cans can be piled one above the other.
4. When the canner has been filled fasten the opposite clamps moderately tight. When this has been done tighten each clamp fully.
5. Have the canner absolutely steam-tight.
6. Allow the pet cock to remain open until live steam blows from it.
7. Close the pet cock.
8. After the gauge registers the correct amount of pressure, begin counting the time.
9. Maintain a uniform pressure throughout the process.
10. When the process is completed allow the steam to escape gradually through the pet cock. You can lift the pet cock slowly, using a pencil or a knife. This can be done only with tin cans. If glass jars are used the canner must be cooled before opening the pet cock. Blowing the steam from the pet cock is likely to cause a loss of liquid from the partly sealed glass jars.
11. Throw the tin cans into cold water.
12. If tin cans bulge at both ends after they have been completely cooled, it indicates that they are spoiling and developing gas, due to bacteria spores or chemical action. These may be saved if opened at once and resealed or resoldered and processed again for ten minutes.
The following table will help you in estimating how many cans of fruit and vegetables you will obtain from a bushel of product:
NUMBER OF CANS A BUSHEL FILLS
NO. 2 CANS NO. 3 CANS Windfall apples 30 20 Standard peaches 25 18 Pears 45 30 Plums 45 30 Blackberries 50 30 Windfall oranges, sliced 22 15 Windfall oranges, whole 35 22 Tomatoes 22 15 Shelled Lima beans 50 30 String beans 30 20 Sweet corn 45 25 Peas, shelled 16 10
INTERMITTENT CANNING OR FRACTIONAL STERILIZATION
In some parts of the United States, particularly in the South, such vegetables as corn, beans, peas, squash, spinach, pumpkin, etc., are canned by what is known as the fractional sterilization, or the so-called Three Days Process.
Southern canning experts have had trouble with certain vegetables, such as those named, when they canned these vegetables in the wash boiler by the cold-pack or one period method. They say that the climatic conditions are so different in the South that what is possible in the North is not possible in the South.
The vegetables are prepared, blanched, cold-dipped and packed as in the cold-pack method and the filled cans or jars are processed in the wash boiler or other homemade outfit a given length of time three successive days.
After each day's processing the cans should be cooled quickly and set aside, until the next day.
The method is as follows:
Process or sterilize glass jars for the required number of minutes on the first day, remove from canner, push springs down tightly as you remove the jar from the canner.
On the second day raise the springs, place the jar in the canner, process or boil for the same length of time as on the first day. Remove from the canner and seal tightly. Set aside until the third day, when the process should be repeated.
For this canning a good spring-top jar is good, although the Mason jar type of top will serve for one year; after one year of use it is advisable to fit old Mason jars and similar types with new tops.
If using the screw-top jars, such as the Mason, do not disturb the seal at the second and third processing unless the rubber has blown out.
This method is only necessary when depending upon boiling water or condensed steam to do the work.
A steam-pressure canner or pressure cooker is used in the South and many other places to avoid bothering with vegetables three successive days.
The steam canner or pressure cooker soon pays for itself in time, energy, and fuel saved as the vegetables may be canned at high pressure in one processing.
The following time-tables are those used in the South and will tell you exactly how long to blanch and process all products. The preparation of vegetables and fruits is the same as in the one-period method, but the time of blanching and sterilizing differs as the time-table indicates.
TIME-TABLE FOR PRODUCTS IN GLASS
Tomatoes BLANCH LIQUOR SIZE PROCESS OR JAR BOIL - 1 min. No water Quart 30 min. Tomatoes 1 min. No water Pint 25 min. String beans (very young 3-5 min. Brine Quart 1 hr. 15 min. and tender) Sweet potatoes Cook 3/4 2 Quart 3 hrs. done tablespoonfuls water Sauerkraut Brine Quart 40 min. Baby beets Cook 3/4 Hot water Quart 1 hr. 40 min. done Baby beets Cook 3/4 Hot water Pint 1 hr. 20 min. done Soup mixture Boil down Quart 11/2 hrs. thick Apples 1 min. No. 1 sirup Quart 15 min. Berries 1 min. No. 1 sirup Quart 13 min. Figs No. 3 sirup Quart 30 min. Peaches 1-2 min. No. 2 sirup Quart 25 min. Pears 1 min. No. 3 sirup Quart 25-35 min. Cherries No. 3 sirup Quart 30 min.
[Footnote 1: Brine is made of 21/2 ounces (1/3 cup) of salt to 1 gallon of water. To make sirups recommended, boil sugar and water together in proportions given below:
Sirup No. 1, use 14 ounces to 1 gallon water. Sirup No. 2, use 1 pound 14 ounces to 1 gallon water. Sirup No. 3, use 3 pounds 9 ounces to 1 gallon water. One pint sugar is one pound.]
TIME-TABLE FOR PRODUCTS IN GLASS
The following vegetables should be processed the same length of time on each of three successive days:
SIZE PROCESS OR BOIL ON BLANCH LIQUOR JAR EACH OF THREE SUCCESSIVE DAYS - Corn 2 min. on cob Water, salt Pint 11/2 hr. and sugar Garden peas 1 to 4 min. Water, salt Quart 11/2 hr. and sugar Asparagus 1 min. Brine Pint 1 hr. and 20 min. Asparagus 1 min. Brine Pint 1 hr. Lima beans 2 to 4 min. Brine Pint 1 hr. and 25 min. Okra 3 min. Brine Quart 11/2 hr. Okra 3 min. Brine Pint 1 hr. and 15 min. Squash Cook done Quart 13/4 hr. Squash Cook done Pint 1 hr. and 25 min. Pumpkin Cook done Quart 13/4 hr. Pumpkin Cook done Pint 1 hr. and 25 min. Spinach 4 min. Brine Quart 11/2 hr. Spinach 4 min. Brine Pint 1 hr. and 15 min.
[Footnote 1: Brine is made of 21/2 ounces (1/3 cup) of salt to 1 gallon of water.]
TIME-TABLE FOR PRODUCTS IN TIN
NO. EXHAUST PROCESS BLANCH LIQUOR CAN MINUTES OR BOIL
Tomatoes 1 min. No water 3 3 25 min. Tomatoes 1 min. No water 10 5 1 hr. String beans 3-5 min. Brine 3 3 1 hr. String beans 3-5 min. Brine 10 3 2 hrs. and 20 min. Sweet potatoes Cook 3/4 2 tablespoonfuls 3 3 3 hrs. done water Baby beets Cook 3/4 Brine 3 3 11/2 hrs. done Soup mixture Boil down 2 3 1 hr. thick Apples 1 min. No. 3 sirup 3 3 8 min. Berries 1 min. No. 4 sirup 3 3 10 min. Berries 1 min. No. 4 sirup 10 3 32 min. Figs No. 4 sirup 2 3 25 min. Peaches 1 min. No. 4 sirup 3 3 20 min. Pears 1 min. No. 4 sirup 3 3 20 min. Pears 1 min. No. 4 sirup 10 3 35 min.
[Footnote 1: Brine is made of 21/2 ounces (1/3 cup) of salt to 1 gallon of water. To make sirup recommended, boil sugar and water together in proportions given below.
Sirup No. 1, use 14 ounces to 1 gallon water. Sirup No. 2, use 1 pound 14 ounces to 1 gallon water. Sirup No. 3, use 3 pounds 9 ounces to 1 gallon water. Sirup No. 4, use 5 pounds 8 ounces to 1 gallon water. Sirup No. 5, use 6 pounds 13 ounces to 1 gallon water. One pint sugar is one pound.]
TIME-TABLE FOR PRODUCTS IN TIN
The following vegetables should be processed the same length of time on each of three successive days:
NO. EXHAUST PROCESS OR BOIL ON BLANCH LIQUOR CAN MINUTES EACH OF THREE SUCCESSIVE DAYS
Corn 2 min. on Water, salt 2 10 1 hr. and 15 min. cob and sugar Garden peas 1 to 4 min. Water, salt 2 3 1 hr. and 15 min. and sugar Asparagus 1 min. Brine 3 3 1 hr. Asparagus 1 min. Brine 2 3 50 min. Lima beans 2 to 4 min. Brine 2 3 1 hr. and 10 min. Okra 3 min. Brine 3 3 1 hr. and 10 min. Okra 3 min. Brine 2 3 50 min. Squash Cook soft 3 3 11/2 hr. and creamy Squash Cook soft 2 3 1 hr. and 10 min. and creamy Pumpkin Cook soft 3 3 11/2 hr. and creamy Pumpkin Cook soft 3 3 1 hr. and 10 min. and creamy Spinach 4 min. Brine 3 3 1 hr. and 15 min. Spinach 4 min. Brine 2 3 1 hr.
[Footnote 1: Brine is made of 21/2 ounces (1/3 cup) of salt to 1 gallon of water.]
You will notice in the time-table for tin, that there is a column for "Exhausting." After the can is packed and capped it is placed in the canner of boiling water to within 1 inch of the top of the can where it remains the number of minutes, usually three, indicated on the time-table. This is done to force the air from the can through the little hole left open in the top, and is called exhausting. Cans that are not exhausted frequently bulge after processing and are looked upon with suspicion. Cans exhausted too long frequently cave in at the sides. The time-table should be used carefully and followed strictly in this part of the process. Tin cans do not require exhausting in the Northern and Western states.
TIME-TABLE FOR CANNING VEGETABLES STEAM PRESSURE
TEMPERATURE, VEGETABLE PROCESS, DEGREES PRESSURE MINUTES FAHRENHEIT POUNDS
Asparagus 30 240 10 String beans, No. 2 45 240 10 String beans, No. 3 55 240 10 Beets 30 228 5 Corn 80 250 15 Okra 30 240 10 Peas 45 240 10 Soup, concentrated vegetable 30 228 10 Spinach 30 228 15 Sweet potatoes 70 250 15
Corn, lima beans and peas should never be packed in larger container than No. 2. Corn is cut from cob after blanching.
The brine used is made of 21/2 ounces salt to 1 gallon of water, except for asparagus, which contains 4 ounces to 1 gallon.
Beets and rhubarb when packed in tin must be put in enamel-lined cans.
Process pints as for No. 2 cans; quarts as for No. 3 cans, adding 10 minutes to each period.
String beans when more mature should be processed at 15 pounds pressure for 30 minutes for No. 2, and 45 minutes for No. 3.
WHY CANNED GOODS SPOIL
Every day brings letters to my desk saying, "Why did my jars of vegetables lose water?" or, "When I looked into my canner I saw all the beautiful dark sirup in the bottom of the canner instead of in the jars," or, "What shall I do, my beets are all white?" etc., etc. In this chapter I am going to try and tell you a few things you must and must not do. A few "Do's" and "Don'ts" may help you a little in your canning and food preserving.
I want to say right here that if you have failures do not blame the method as we are always so apt to do. Experts have worked long enough, carefully and thoroughly enough, to convince themselves and others that the cold-pack method and the intermittent method, which methods are employed for cooking the product in the jar, are sure, safe, reliable and efficient methods. So if your food spoils convince yourself it is not the method but something else. Spoilage is due to imperfect jars, imperfect rubbers, imperfect sealing of tin cans, careless blanching, insufficient cold dipping or poor sterilizing.
Possibly your canning troubles are all due to using a poor grade of rubber rings. This is poor economy. Rubbers are apt to give more trouble than anything else to canners when using glass jars. Many of the rubbers sold are of a very poor quality, disintegrating quickly when subjected to heat and strain. My sister, canning in the hot climate of India, has more trouble with the rubber proposition than anything else.
You want good rubbers, are willing to pay for them, and here is what you should know about rubber rings.
The one-period, cold-pack method and the intermittent method of home canning require a rubber ring essentially different from that commonly used in the old hot-pack method of home canning. Investigation shows that many of the rings upon the market are unsuitable for these newer methods, being unable to withstand the long periods of boiling required in the canning of vegetables and meats.
Practical canning tests have indicated that rubber rings for use in this method should meet the following requirements:
Inside Diameter. The ring should fit closely, requiring a little stretching to get it around the neck of the jar. For standard jars the ring should have an inside diameter of 21/4 inches.
Width of Ring and Flange. The width of the ring or flange may vary from one-fourth of an inch to twelve thirty-seconds of an inch. Tests which have been made show that fewer cases of "blow-out" occur when the flange is ten thirty-seconds of an inch.
Thickness. Rubber rings as found on the market may vary from 1/18 to 1/10 of an inch in thickness. Tests show that 1/12 of an inch in thickness is sufficient to take up the unevenness in the jar and still not so thick as to make it difficult to place the cap or adjust the bail.
Cold-pack and intermittent-canning require a rubber ring that is tough, does not enlarge perceptibly when heated in water or steam, and is not forced out of position between the top and the jar by slight pressure within the jar. This we call a "blow-out."
Rubber rings should be capable of withstanding four hours of sterilization in boiling water without blowing out on partially sealed jars, or one hour under ten pounds of steam pressure. They should be selected with reference to proper inside diameter, width of flange, and thickness. Good rubber will stretch considerably and return promptly to place without changing the inside diameter. They should also be reasonably firm and able to stand without breakage. Color is given to rings by adding coloring matter during the manufacturing process. The color of the ring is no index to its usefulness in home canning. Red, white, black or gray may be used.
Always use new can-rubbers with each year's product of canned goods. An old rubber may look like a new one but it has lost its elasticity and its use may cause imperfect sealing and thus endanger the keeping quality of the food. This is always a hard thing to impress upon thrifty penny-saving housekeepers. The old rubber looks so good, so why not use it? But be wise in this and remember it is never safe to use old rubbers. New rubbers are expensive but what about the cost of the product, the loss of your time and fuel! One jar lost due to an old rubber is so much food, time and fuel lost.
And do not think yourself thrifty to use two old rubber rings instead of one, thereby thinking to obtain a better seal, for you will not. Two old rubbers are inferior in strength to one new good rubber. If you use old rubbers and your canned goods spoil, blame the rubbers.
Next in importance to the rubbers are the glass jars you use. There are many kinds of fruit jars on the market. The question is frequently asked, "Which jars on the market are the best." The only answer to that is to choose the jar which is simplest in construction, which will seal perfectly and wash easily, which protects the contained food against contact with metal, which has the fewest parts to lose or misplace and which fits the shelves and receptacles planned to hold it.
Flat-sour often causes annoyance to beginners in canning some vegetables, such as corn, peas, beans and asparagus. These canned foods may show no signs of spoilage and yet when the can is opened the product may have a sour taste and a disagreeable odor. This "flat-sour" is not harmful and must not be confused with "botulinus," which is harmful. However, the taste and odor are so disagreeable you will have no desire to eat "flat-sour" canned goods.
This trouble can be avoided if you will use fresh products, that is, those which have not been allowed to wilt or stand around the shops for several days, and will blanch, cold-dip, and pack one jar of product at a time, and place each jar in the canner as it is packed. The first jars in will not be affected by the extra cooking. When the steam-pressure canner is used the jars or cans may be placed in the retort and the cover placed into position but not clamped down until the retort is filled.
TROUBLES WITH CORN
Corn seems to give the most trouble, but with a little care and study this product may be canned as easily as any other grown in the garden. A little experience in selecting the ears and ability to recognize corn that is just between the milk and dough stage is important. Blanch not longer than five minutes. A plunge in cold water is sufficient. Cut the corn from the cob with a sharp knife and pack at once in sterilized jars. Best results can be accomplished when two people cut and one person fills. If it is necessary for one person to work alone, cut off sufficient corn to fill one jar, pour on boiling water, add salt, place rubber and cap in position and put the jar at once in the canner. A little overcooking does not injure the quality of canned corn. Corn should not be tightly packed in the jar; it expands a little in processing and for this reason each jar should be filled scant full. Corn that has a cheesy appearance after canning had reached the dough stage before being packed. Corn should never be allowed to remain in the cold dip and large quantities should not be dipped at one time unless sufficient help is available to handle the product quickly.
Some to be absolutely sure when canning corn, cook it for ten minutes in hot water before packing into jars.
Leave fully one inch of space at the top when packing corn but enough water may be poured into the jar to fill the can or jar, for when the corn swells the water will be absorbed.
Corn Turning Dark. A dark color in canned corn is due to some of the following causes:
1. Using water that contains too much iron.
2. Using corn that has reached the dough stage.
3. Blanching for too long a period—five minutes is sufficient for corn.
Water-Logged or Soaked Corn. When canned corn becomes "water-logged" or "soaked" it is due to such causes as the following:
1. Allowing the product to stand in the cold water too long after the hot dip.
2. Allowing the jars to stand after they have been packed, and filled with boiling water. The jars should be immediately placed in the sterilizer after being packed.
3. Allowing ears of corn to stand in cold water after opening.
4. Heating corn in warm water over a slow fire.
BEETS, THEIR LOSS OF COLOR
The loss of color in canned beets is due to faulty methods of preparation before packing them into the jars. To secure good results 3 or 4 inches of the top and all of the tail should be left on while blanching. Beets should be blanched for five minutes and the skin should be scraped but not peeled. Beets should be packed whole if possible.
Small beets that run forty to a quart are less likely to fade and are the most suitable size for first-class packs. The older the beets the more chance there is for loss of color. Well-canned beets will show a slight loss of color when removed from the canner, but will brighten up in a few days.
The condition of peas known as "cloudy" is due to such causes as the following:
1. Cracking the skin of the pea.
2. Blanching for too long a period.
3. Use of water which is too hard or has too much mineral content.
SHRINKAGE OF PRODUCT DURING CANNING
Shrinkage may be due to one or more of the following:
1. Improper blanching and cold-dipping.
2. Careless packing and using variety of sizes.
3. Sterilizing for too long a period.
4. Lack of sizing whole products for the container.
Sometimes there is a natural shrinkage that cannot be prevented. This is due to the fact that vegetables contain air in their tissues and when this air is driven off by the heat, the boiling water in the jar rushes in to fill its place. In consequence we have an apparent shrinkage in the amount of water. So be careful to do the blanching as correctly as possible to drive out the air; however, the product will keep just as well in a jar half full of water as if entirely covered with liquid. The contents of the jar whether food or air are sterile.
SHRINKAGE OF GREENS
Shrinkage of greens or pot herbs during the canning process is usually due to insufficient blanching. The proper way to blanch all greens or pot herbs is in a steamer or in a vessel improvised to do the blanching in live steam above the water line. If this is not done much of the mineral salts and volatile oil contents will be extracted by the water and lost.
LOSS OF LIQUID DURING CANNING
A loss of liquid in canning with a hot-water-bath outfit may be caused by one or more of the following:
1. Not having the water in the sterilizing vat cover the tops of the jars by at least one inch.
2. Not providing a suitable platform to hold the jars off the bottom of the sterilizing vat, permitting circulation of water under as well as around the jars.
3. Not having the wire bail that goes over the glass tops of jars sufficiently tight.
REASONS WHY JUICES ARE DRAWN FROM JARS WHEN CANNING WITH STEAM PRESSURE
1. Open pet cock after pointer or gauge has reached zero; test for pressure by opening pet cock slowly at first. The gauge does not register pressure until about one pound of pressure has formed, hence opening the pet cock before the pointer is at zero means that from one to two pounds of pressure is being relieved and this will draw the juices the same as allowing the boiler to stand and a vacuum to form.
2. Allowing the pressure to fluctuate during the time of sterilizing, such as running the pressure up to fifteen, back to seven or eight and then up again.
3. Wire bails can be and should be a little tighter when jars are put in a steam pressure canner. The clamp should be left up as stated.
4. There may be an escape of steam around the seal of the boiler and this would allow the pressure on the inside of the boiler to fluctuate.
Any one of those four things will always cause loss of juice.
OPERATION OF HOT-WATER-BATH OUTFIT
These four rules will help in the operation of the hot-water-bath canning outfit: Example, wash boiler.
1. Support the jars off the bottom sufficiently to permit the circulation of water under and around the jars.
2. Have the water cover the tops of the jars by at least one inch. The heat and pressure must be equal on all parts of the jars.
3. Count time as soon as the water begins to jump over the entire surface. Keep it jumping.
4. Remove jars from the water and tighten the covers as soon as the time is up.
Rapid cooling of the products prevents overcooking, clarifies the liquid and preserves the shape and texture.
Operation of steamers or "double-deckers" as they are sometimes called. These have a small amount of water in a pan below two racks and the products cook in steam instead of boiling water.
1. Have water boiling in pan when products are put in.
2. Use same time-table as for hot-water bath or wash boiler.
3. Remove jars from steam at the end of the sterilizing period. Do not allow them to "cool off" in the steamer.
The operation of a water-seal canner is very simple.
1. Jars put on racks and lowered in water as in wash-boiler but due to an extra jacket the temperature is higher than boiling water.
2. Follow time-table under water-seal.
OPERATION OF STEAM PRESSURE AND PRESSURE COOKER CANNER
1. Place each jar in the canner as soon as it is packed.
2. Have water come up to but not above the platform.
3. Have canner absolutely steam tight.
4. When canner has been filled fasten opposite clamps moderately tight. When this has been done tighten each clamp fully.
5. Allow pet cock to remain open until live steam blows from it.
6. Close pet cock.
7. Force pressure to the required point before counting time.
8. Maintain a uniform pressure during the sterilizing period.
9. Allow canner to cool before opening pet cock.
10. Have pet cock completely closed during the cooling.
11. Open pet cock before vacuum forms. This is evidenced by a rush of air into the canner when the pet cock is open. You can test this by placing the finger over the end of the pet cock. If a vacuum forms it will draw the flesh of the finger into the opening.
12. Remove jars from canner and tighten lids as soon as canner is opened.
BREAKAGE OF JARS
When breakage of jars occurs it is due to such causes as these:
1. Overpacking jars. Corn, pumpkin and sweet potatoes swell or expand in processing. Do not quite fill jars with these products.
2. Placing cold jars in hot water or vice versa. As soon as jars are filled with hot sirup or hot water, place immediately in the canner.
3. Having the wire bail of glass top jars too tight.
4. In steam canner, having too much water in the canner. The water should not come above the tray.
5. Cold draft striking the jars when they are removed from the canner.
6. Wire spring too tight, thus breaking jar when contents expand.
MOLD ON CANNED PRODUCTS
Mold may result from one or more of the following:
1. Leaky rubbers or defective joints.
2. Removing tops from the jars at the end of sterilizing period and substituting new rubbers, without returning the jars to the canning outfit for at least a few minutes.
3. If the jars are kept in a damp cellar where the rubbers may decompose, mold may enter through these decomposed rubbers.
ACIDITY OF TOMATOES AFTER CANNING
Too great a degree of acidity in canned tomatoes may be due to climatic conditions or overripe or underripe product. Such acidity can be corrected by adding 1/4 teaspoonful of baking soda to one quart of tomatoes.
WATER REQUIREMENTS FOR HOME CANNING
The hardening of beans, peas and some other products after cooking or processing, or the turning of green vegetables to a dark or russet color usually indicates that the water contains too high a percentage of mineral matter. Water used for canning purposes should be pure, soft if possible or as free from objectionable and excessive qualities of mineral matter as possible. If you are to can any large quantity of food products and have difficulty with the water available, it would be well for you to have the water analyzed and for you to secure the advice of some one at your college of agriculture.
TOO MUCH SALT IN CANNED GOODS INJURIOUS TO QUALITY
Most vegetables as well as meats are injured in quality by an excessive use of salt for seasoning in the canning process. A little salt is very palatable and its use should be encouraged but it is better to add no salt in canning than to use too much, as it can be added to suit the taste when served.
ALTITUDE AND ITS EFFECT ON CANNING
Remember that practically all instructions on home canning are based upon a time schedule for sterilization from sea level to an altitude of 500 feet above sea level. When canning at an altitude of more than 500 feet above sea level, it will be necessary to use your judgment in the increase of time for sterilizing on the basis of 20 per cent for each 4,000 feet.
Blanching means boiling, not hot. In different directions for canning we often find "hot" water mentioned when boiling water is intended. Water should be boiling at a gallop when vegetables are blanched—berries and soft fruits are not usually blanched, though some are scalded to loosen the skin.
BERRIES OR FRUIT RISING TO THE TOP
Some women are disturbed because berries and fruits have a tendency to always rise to the top of the jar leaving a sirup space in the bottom. To prevent this you can scald all berries and fruits which are not ordinarily scalded, for one minute and then cold-dip them. They will be softened some, but remain firm, and can be packed very closely in a jar. They can be packed so closely that only a little sirup can be added. When a jar thus packed comes from the sterilizer the berries or fruit are not floating as they would be if they were not scalded.
Another method employed to prevent berries from floating is to put the hot sterilized jar on its side while cooling and to roll it frequently during the cooling period. The berries are then evenly distributed through the sirup.
In canning mushrooms in tin, always use lacquered cans. Do not fail to blanch and cold dip before packing, and remove the mushrooms immediately after opening the tin cans.
In canning cabbage and other similar products always soak the product in cold brine for one hour before sterilizing. Use 1/2 pound salt to 12 quarts water. This is believed to improve the flavor. Always wash greens or other vegetables, to remove all dirt and grit.
TROUBLES WITH TIN CANS
To discover pin-holes or any leaks in a tin can, immerse it in boiling water after sealing and if there is any bubbling from the can, you may rest assured it needs resealing.
Swells in tin cans are caused by insufficient sterilization. The action of bacteria causes gas to form in the can and as a result there is a bulging at either end. If left alone long enough the cans will explode. Watch carefully all bulging cans and use them first. Sometimes a slight bulge occurs when a can has been filled too full.
If you have trouble sealing tin cans the chances are that the can is too full. See that no particle of food touches the top or when soldering, if you employ that method of sealing, small pin holes will be blown in the seal by escaping steam which is generated by the hot sealer coming in contact with the cold food. Another cause of sealing trouble lies sometimes in a poorly heated capping steel or because it is not kept brightly tinned. To make a proper seal the steel must be kept bright, hot and clean.
Also, be sure you buy good solder as there are inferior grades that are too poor to flow when properly heated.
Watch all jars and cans that have been subjected to a freeze. If the cans or jars do not burst the only harm done is a slight softening of the food tissues. In glass jars after freezing there is sometimes a small crack left which will admit air and consequently bacteria.
Sometimes cans and jars tip over in the wash boiler during sterilizing. This is caused by using a false-bottom which is too low or because it is not well perforated. Or it may be due to the fact that the jar was not well packed and so may be too light in weight.
GETTING READY TO DRY
For various reasons women have not taken so kindly to drying fruits and vegetables as they have to canning these foods.
One woman said to me: "I like the canning because I can come to a demonstration and see the whole process carried through from start to finish. The drying of strawberries cannot be completed in sixteen minutes as the canning is." And another woman said: "What I do not like about drying is having the stuff standing round the house somewhere for so many hours. I like to get things in the jars and out of sight."
These two objections seem to be expressed more than any other. And in addition there is a third objection to drying: "I want my prepared food ready to use on a minute's notice. I can quickly open a can of my fruit and vegetables and there it is ready. With my dried things I have to allow time for soaking and cooking." This we will have to admit is true. But what weight have these three arguments against the many advantages of drying?
When we study the history of food preservation we find that drying was practiced before canning, pickling or preserving. I know my grandmother successfully dried quantities of things.
Vegetable and fruit drying have been little practiced for a generation or more, though there have been some thrifty housekeepers who have clung to their dried corn, peas, beans and apples. A friend of mine says: "Why, dried corn has a much better, sweeter taste than your canned stuff. I would rather have one little dish of my delicious dried corn than two big dishes of your canned corn."
Drying, I think we will all admit, does not and cannot take the place of canning fruits and vegetables in glass or tin. Drying and canning are twin sisters, and always go hand in hand.
The ideal arrangement for all homes, whether on the farm, in the village, in the town or in the city, is to have an ample supply of canned food for emergencies and quick service, and an equally ample supply of dried foods when meals are planned beforehand and there is time enough for the soaking and cooking of the dried foods.
THE ADVANTAGES OF DRYING
When we come right down to facts, drying has many advantages over canning.
The process is very simple, as you will see. The cost is slight. In almost every home the necessary equipment, in its simplest form, is already at hand. There is no expense for glass jars or tin cans, and with ordinary care there is no loss of products, as there may be in handling glass jars or from spoilage. The actual work requires less time and less skill than canning and the dried products when properly prepared are just as good as the canned ones—some say better.
One special thing in favor of drying is the little storage space needed. You can often reduce 100 pounds of fresh product to ten pounds by drying, without any loss of food value and with little loss of flavor.
Dried products can be moved more conveniently than glass jars or tin cans, for they are usually reduced to from one-third to one-fifth of the original bulk.
Another valuable thing about drying is that the little odds and ends one would scarcely bother to can may be dried in the oven as you go about your housework.
I have often been asked the difference between the meaning of the terms "evaporated," "dried," "desiccated" and "dehydrated." These terms are used more or less interchangeably when applied to foods from which the moisture has been removed. In a general way, however, "evaporated" products are those from which the moisture has been removed through the agency of artificial heat; dried fruit is that which has been exposed to the heat of the sun, though not infrequently the term is applied to products handled in the evaporator. The other terms are commonly applied to products that have been evaporated by one of the various patented processes in which equipment of some special design has been used.
To avoid any confusion we will use the general term "dried" for all products that have enough of the water removed to prevent bacterial action, but which still retain the maximum food value, color and flavor of the original product. And that is what we want to accomplish when we attempt to dry.
How are we to remove the water and still retain food value, color and flavor? There are three principal methods by which we can do this. First, by artificial heat. Drying by artificial heat is done in the oven or on top of a cookstove or range, in trays suspended on the stove or in a specially constructed dryer built at home or purchased.
Second, by the sun. Sun drying is done either out of doors in the sun, under glass in sun parlors, or the products are hung in the attic where the sun has free access.
Third, satisfactory drying may be done by an air blast from an electric fan.
Of course any one of these may be used alone or two different methods may be combined. You can start a product on the stove and finish it in the sun, or vice versa.
The simplest and yet the most effective drying may be done on plates or dishes placed in the oven. It may be done on the back of the kitchen stove with these same utensils while the oven is being used for baking. In this way left-overs and other bits of food may be dried with slight trouble while the stove is being used, and saved for winter use. This method is especially effective for sweet corn. A few sweet potatoes, apples or peas, or even a single turnip, may be dried and saved.
To keep the heat from being too great, when drying in the oven leave the oven door partly open. For oven use, a simple tray may be made of galvanized-wire screen of convenient size, with the edges bent up for an inch or two on each side. At each corner this tray should have a leg an inch or two in length to hold it up from the bottom of the oven and permit circulation of air round the product.
Oven drying in a gas range is an effective method if the temperature is kept even. An oven thermometer is a great convenience, otherwise the temperature will have to be carefully watched and the burners turned as low as possible. It is economy in the end to purchase an oven thermometer, for then you can have the temperature just right. It is best to start the temperature at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and dry at 130 degrees. Never go over 150 degrees.
If you wish to dry in the oven over the kerosene stove, place soapstones over each burner to prevent the heat from becoming too intense. Turn the burners very low until the stones are thoroughly heated. You can turn off the burners completely after the desired temperature is reached and it will be maintained from the heat of the stones for five or six hours. If more time than that is required for the drying, it may be necessary to light the burners again before the end of the process. The products should be turned constantly, so that they may dry evenly.
When using any oven for drying you can cover the oven racks with cheesecloth and spread the products on them. Always have the racks two or three inches apart to allow free circulation of air.
An effective dryer for use over a stove or range may easily be made at home. For the frame use strips of wood a half inch thick and two inches wide. The trays or shelves are made of galvanized-wire screen of small mesh tacked to the supports. Separate trays sliding on strips attached to the framework are desirable. This dryer may be suspended from the ceiling over the kitchen stove or range or over an oil, gasoline or gas stove, and it may be used while cooking is being done. If an oil stove is used there must be a tightly fitting tin or galvanized-iron bottom to the dryer, to prevent the fumes of the oil from reaching and passing through the material which is to be dried. A bottom of this kind may be easily attached to any dryer, homemade or commercial. A framework crane makes it possible for this dryer to be swung to one side when not in use.
A larger kind of homemade stove dryer can be made. This is a good size: base, 16 by 24 inches; height, 36 inches. The lower part or supporting framework, six inches high, is made of galvanized sheet iron, slightly flaring toward the bottom, and with two ventilating holes in each of the four sides. The frame which rests on this base is made of strips of wood one or one and a half inches wide. Wooden strips, an inch and a quarter wide and three inches apart, serve to brace the sides and furnish supports for the trays.
In a dryer of the dimensions given there is room for eight trays. The sides, top and back are of galvanized-iron or tin sheets, tacked to the framework, though thin strips of wood may be used instead of the metal. Small hinges and a thumb latch are provided for the door. Galvanized sheet iron, with numerous small holes in it, is used for making the bottom of the dryer. To prevent direct heat from coming in contact with the product and also to distribute the heat by radiation, a piece of galvanized sheet iron is placed two inches above the bottom. This piece is three inches shorter and three inches narrower than the bottom and rests on two wires fastened to the sides.
The trays are made of wooden frames of one-inch strips, to which is tacked galvanized-wire screen. Each tray should be three inches shorter than the dryer and enough narrower to allow it to slide easily on the supports when being put in or taken out.
In placing the trays in the dryer push the lower one back as far as it will go, leaving a three-inch space in front. Place the next tray even with the front, leaving the space at the back. Alternate all the trays in this way to facilitate the circulation of the heated air. It is well to have a ventilating opening, six by two inches, in the top of the dryer to discharge moisture. The trays should be shifted during the drying process to procure uniformity of drying.
Several types of stove dryers are on the market. One of these has a series of trays in a framework, forming a compartment. This is placed on top of the stove. Another is a shallow metal box which is filled with water. This is really a water-bath dryer. This dryer or dehydrator can be used on either a gas or coal range. A thermometer is necessary in order to maintain the right temperature. The slices of vegetables or fruit are placed on the tray with the thermometer, and the dryer does the work.
Commercial dryers having their own furnaces may be bought at prices ranging from $24 to $120. Some of these, in the smaller sizes, may be bought without furnaces and used on top of the kitchen stove. The cost is from $16 upward.
Sun drying has much to recommend it. There is no expense for fuel, no thermometer is needed, and there is no danger of overheating the fruits or vegetables.
For sun drying of fruits and vegetables, the simplest way is to spread the slices or pieces on sheets of plain paper or lengths of muslin and expose them to the sun. Muslin is to be preferred if there is danger of sticking. Trays may be used instead of paper or muslin. Sun drying requires bright, hot days and a breeze. Once or twice a day the product should be turned or stirred and the dry pieces taken out. The drying product should be covered with cheesecloth tacked to a frame for protection from dust and flying insects. If trays are rested on supports placed in pans of water, the products will be protected from crawling insects. Care must be taken to provide protection from rain, dew and moths. During rains and just before sunset the products should be taken indoors.
To make a cheap tray for use in sun drying, take strips of wood three-quarters of an inch thick and two inches wide for the sides and ends. To form the bottom, laths should be nailed to these strips, with spaces of one-eighth of an inch between the laths to permit air circulation. A length of four feet, corresponding to the standard lengths of laths, is economical. Instead of the laths galvanized-wire screen with openings of one-eighth or one-quarter of an inch, may be used. In using wire the size of the tray should be regulated by the width of wire screen obtainable. The trays should be of uniform size, so that they may be stacked together for convenience in handling.
A small homemade sun dryer, easily constructed, is made of light strips of wood, a sheet of glass, a small amount of galvanized-wire screen and some cheesecloth. A convenient size for the glass top is eighteen by twenty-four inches. To hold the glass make a light wooden frame of strips of wood a half inch thick and one inch wide. This frame should have legs of material one by one and a half inches, with a length of twelve inches for the front legs and eighteen inches for those in the rear. This will cause the top to slope, which aids in circulation of air and gives direct exposure to the rays of the sun. As a tray support nail a strip of wood to the legs on each of the four sides, about four inches below the top framework and sloping parallel with the top. The tray is made of thin strips of wood about two inches wide and has a galvanized-wire screen bottom. There will be a space of about two inches between the top edges of the tray and the glass top of the dryer, to allow for circulation of air.
Protect both sides, the bottom and the front of the dryer with cheesecloth, tacked on securely and snugly, to exclude insects and dust without interfering with circulation. At the rear place a cheesecloth curtain, tacked at the top but swinging free below, to allow the tray to be moved in and out. Brace the bottom of this curtain with a thin strip of wood, as is done in window shades. This curtain is to be fastened to the legs by buttons when the tray is in place. If you have a sunny, breezy attic you can hang your drying trays there.
The use of an electric fan is an effective means of drying. As there is no danger of the food scorching, the fan proves as effective as the sun for drying.
Sliced vegetables or fruits are placed on trays one foot wide and three feet long. These trays are stacked and the fan placed close to one end, with the current of air directed lengthwise along the trays. The number of trays to be used is regulated by the size of the fan. Drying by this process may be done in twenty-four hours or less. With sliced string beans and shredded sweet potatoes a few hours are sufficient if the air is dry.
Of importance equal to proper drying is the proper packing and storage of the finished product. Use baking-powder and coffee cans and similar covered tins, pasteboard boxes with tight-fitting covers, strong paper bags, and patented paraffin paper boxes, which may be bought in quantities at comparatively low cost.
A paraffin container of the type used by oyster dealers for the delivery of oysters will be found inexpensive and easily handled. If using this or a baking-powder can or similar container, after filling adjust the cover closely. The cover should then be sealed. To do this paste a strip of paper round the top of the can, covering the joint between can and cover for the purpose of excluding air. Pasteboard boxes should be sealed by applying melted paraffin with a brush to the joint.
If a paper bag is used the top should be twisted, doubled over and tied with a string. Moisture may be kept out of paper bags by coating them, using a brush dipped into melted paraffin. Another good precaution is to store bags in an ordinary lard pail or can or other tin vessel having a closely fitting cover.
The products should be stored in a cool, dry place, well ventilated and protected from rats, mice and insects. In localities where the air is very moist, moisture-proof containers must be used. It is good practice to use small containers, so that it will not be necessary to leave the contents exposed long after opening and before using.
A very good plan is to pack just enough fruit or vegetables for one or two meals in each container. This will lessen the chance of large quantities being spoiled. For convenience label all packages.
HOW TO DRY FRUITS
Having decided to add the accomplishment of drying to your other housewifely arts, you have given some thought and study to the subject of driers. You now know whether you prefer sun, artificial or fan drying. You have either made or bought some kind of a drier. Little other equipment is needed.
A few good paring knives, some plates, and if possible some cutting or slicing device to lighten the work of preparation are all that are necessary. A sharp kitchen knife will serve every purpose in slicing and cutting fruits for drying, if no other device is at hand. The thickness of all slices of fruit should be from an eighth to a quarter of an inch. Whether sliced or cut into strips the pieces should be small, so as to dry quickly. They should not, however, be so small as to make them hard to handle or to keep them from being used to advantage in preparing dishes for the table, such as would be prepared from fresh products. Berries are dried whole. Apples, quinces, peaches and pears dry better if cut into halves, rings or quarters.
Cleanliness is essential. A knife blade that is not bright and clean will discolor the product on which it is used.
Winter apples should be chosen for drying when possible, as sweet apples and early varieties are not so well adapted to the purpose. The Northern Spy, the Baldwin and the Ben Davis give a good-flavored dried product. Most early varieties lack sufficient firmness of texture for the best results. On the other hand, some comparatively early kinds, such as Gravenstein and Porter, are considerably prized in some sections.
To prepare them for drying, apples are peeled, cored, trimmed and sliced one quarter of an inch thick. Be sure to cut out all worm holes, decayed spots and other blemishes. Defects are easily cut out with an ordinary straight-back, sharp-pointed knife having a blade two and a half to three inches long.
To prevent discoloration, as fast as the fruit is prepared dip it into a weak salt solution—three level teaspoonfuls of salt to one gallon of water. After all the apples are prepared, remove surplus moisture and put on trays, water-bath drier or whatever device you are using.
HOW TO REGULATE THE HEAT
Start with the temperature at 110 degrees Fahrenheit, gradually raise it to 130 degrees and do the drying at that temperature. It is important to know the degree of heat in the drier, and this cannot be determined very accurately except by using a thermometer. Inexpensive oven thermometers can be bought or an ordinary thermometer can be suspended in the drier. If a thermometer is not used the greatest care should be given to the regulation of the heat. The temperature in the drier rises rather quickly and the product may scorch unless close attention is given to it.
The reason sun drying is popularly believed to give fruits and vegetables a sweeter flavor probably is that in the sun they never are scorched, whereas in the oven or over a stove scorching is likely to happen unless one is very careful. An oven or dairy thermometer is a good investment. If you do not have a thermometer test the heat by the air feeling warm to the hand. The product should never be so hot that it cannot be grasped in the hand. In order to prevent the fruit from burning where artificial heat is used and to keep it from sticking to the drier by remaining in contact with it too long, stir the fruit occasionally. To insure the most uniform drying in sun drying, the fruit also should be stirred occasionally.
Remember that if trays with metal bottoms are used for drying, they should be covered with cheesecloth to prevent acid action. Oven racks may be covered with either cheesecloth or heavy wrapping paper.
The interval between stirring varies with the type of drier used, with the condition of the fruit and with the degree of heat maintained. Make the first stirring within two hours after the drying is begun. After that examine the product from time to time and stir often enough to prevent scorching or sticking and to insure uniform drying. Use a wooden paddle for stirring. Where several trays or racks are placed one above the other, it is necessary to shift the trays from time to time, so the upper tray goes to the bottom and the bottom tray to the top.
The time necessary for drying fruit depends upon several factors: The type and construction of the drier; the depth to which the fruit is spread; the method of preparing, whether sliced, quartered or whole; the temperature maintained; and weather conditions, whether bright and sunny or cloudy and damp.
If the atmosphere is heavy and damp the drying is retarded. Under some conditions it is hardly possible thoroughly to dry fruit.
There is possibly no step in the entire drying process that requires better-trained judgment than the matter of knowing when the fruit is sufficiently dried. A little experience will soon teach this.
The fruit should be so dry that when a handful of slices is pressed together firmly into a ball the slices will be "springy" enough to separate at once upon being released from the hand. No fruit should have any visible moisture on the surface. As the dried apples, pears, peaches and apricots are handled they should feel soft and velvety to the touch and have a pliable texture. You do not want fruit so dry that it will rattle. If fruits are brittle you have dried them too much.
After the apples and all other fruits are dried they must go through another process, called "conditioning." The best way to "condition" fruits is to place them in boxes or cans and pour them from one container into another once a day for three or four successive days. By doing this you mix the fruit thoroughly and give to the whole mass an even degree of moisture. Pieces that are too dry will absorb moisture from those that are too moist.
You may lose a whole bag or jar of dried products if you neglect the conditioning, for if one moist piece goes into that bag all is lost. Moisture breeds mold and mold means decay.
Ask yourself these questions: "Do I ever lose any dried products? Are my dried products when soaked and cooked as near like the original fruit as possible?" If you lose products and if your dried fruits are tasteless you had better start the conditioning process. For with this one step added to your drying you need lose no dried products, and you need not dry the fruits to the brittle stage, as you must of necessity do when you put them away immediately.
After you have poured the dried products back and forth every day for three or four days as an additional precaution, reheat the dried fruit to 140 degrees just long enough—about thirty minutes—to allow the heat to penetrate throughout the product.
Two kinds of moths stand out prominently among insects that attack dried fruits and vegetables. They are much more likely to get into the fruit during the process of drying than to find their way through boxes into the stored products. This applies particularly to drying in the sun. The Indian-meal moth is the most destructive of these insects. It is about three-eighths of an inch long and has a cloaked appearance, one-third gray and the rest copper-brown. The fig moth is about the same size, but dark, neutral gray. A minute, flattened chocolate-brown beetle usually accompanies these moths and does considerable damage. Both of the moths deposit their eggs on fruit when it is on the drying racks—usually at dusk or after dark, for these insects are not fond of daylight.
It takes from three to ten days for the eggs to hatch into whitish or pinkish grublike caterpillars, and from five to ten weeks from the laying of the eggs before more moths appear to lay another lot of eggs. A number of "broods" or generations are produced yearly, so if a few of these moth eggs are stored away on dried fruits or vegetables hundreds of caterpillars are produced and many pounds of valuable material may be destroyed during the winter if the products are stored in a warm room. Dried fruits stored in warm, dark bins or in sacks offer especially favorable places for the development of these destructive moths.
It is evident that the larger the package, the greater the chance of a few eggs doing much damage. Small cartons or containers confine the injury from these moths to small quantities of material; for if the containers are closed tightly the insects cannot easily escape from them and infest other packages which may not have been infested previously.
If you are drying by sun and the products are not thoroughly dry at night, finish the process on the stove. If you desire to carry it over to the next day screen the drying racks early in the evening and fasten down the cheesecloth. With these precautions and with proper storage, no danger ordinarily need be feared from these insects. The additional precaution of heating the dried product to 140 degrees for thirty minutes sterilizes it if already infested.
Though not necessary, tin cans or glass jars make good receptacles for storage of dried fruits or vegetables. Pasteboard boxes with tight covers, stout paper bags and patented paraffin paper cartons also afford ample protection for dried products when protected from insects and rodents. The dried products must be protected from outside moisture, and will keep best in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. These conditions, however, are difficult to obtain in the more humid regions, and there moisture-tight containers should be used. If a small amount of dried product is put in each receptacle, just enough for one or two meals, it will not be necessary to open a container, the contents of which cannot be consumed in a short time. If a paper bag is used the upper part should be twisted into a neck, bent over and tied tightly with a string. A further precaution is to place the small bags in a tin container with a tightly fitting cover, such as an ordinary lard can. All bags should bear a label.
Pears and quinces usually are prepared and dried exactly as are apples. Pears are attractive when cut lengthwise into halves, with the stem and calyx removed but the core left in. Or they may be quartered. If sliced like apples the drying period is shortened.
Peaches usually are dried unpeeled, but they are better if peeled before drying. The first step in the preparation of peaches is to split them open to remove the pit. To do this, cut completely round the peach in the line of the suture with a sharp knife. The cut must be complete, for tearing of the flesh will make the finished product less attractive. If the fruit is to be peeled the paring should be done before it is cut open to remove the pit.
To facilitate the removal of the skin, dip the peaches in a kettle of boiling water for one and a half minutes; then plunge directly into cold water, after which the skins can be easily slipped off. After the pit has been removed, lay on drier pit side up. The juice of the fruit will collect in the pit or "cup" and will add to the flavor and quality of the dried peaches. The peaches can be cut into smaller pieces if you wish to lessen the drying period.
Plums and apricots are not peeled, but are cut into halves, the pits removed and dried in the same way as peaches. Small, thin-fleshed varieties of plums are not suitable for drying.
When drying cherries always remove the stems. The pits may or may not be removed. The best product for later cooking or eating has the pit removed, though large quantities of juices are lost in the pitting unless you provide some way of saving and utilizing it.
A prune is simply a plum having certain qualities not possessed by all plums. All prunes are plums, but not all plums are prunes. The final test as to whether a plum is a prune is the ability to dry without fermenting with the pit still remaining in the fruit. If a plum cannot dry without fermentation unless the pit is removed, it is not a prune. Prunes for drying, like other fruits, should be fully ripe.
Prunes are merely washed and then dried without removing the pits. The fruit is dry when the skin is well shrunken. The texture should be firm but springy and pliable enough to yield readily when pressed in the hand. The drying should not be continued until the individual prunes rattle as they are brought in contact with one another in handling. Prunes must be conditioned before storing.
In drying, prunes shrink about two-thirds in weight—that is, for every three pounds of fresh fruit you get one pound of finished product.
Smaller fruits, such as red and black raspberries, blackberries, huckleberries, dewberries, strawberries and blueberries, are simply washed and then put to dry. Berries must not be dried too hard; if too much moisture is removed they will not resume their original form when soaked in water. But the material must be dried sufficiently or it will mold. Haven't you often tasted extremely seedy dried berries? They were dried until they rattled. Stop the drying as soon as the berries fail to stain the hand when pressed.
To obtain the most satisfactory results soft fruits should be only one layer deep on the drying trays.
Fruits contain about 80 to 95 per cent water and when dried sufficiently still retain from 15 to 20 per cent of water, so it is a good plan to weigh before and after drying. The product should lose from two-thirds to four-fifths of its weight.
STEPS IN FRUIT DRYING
1. Thoroughly cleanse the product.
2. Prepare the product by slicing and so on.
3. Spread on trays; put in oven or put on commercial drier.
4. Stir occasionally.
5. Shift trays.
6. Test for completeness of drying.
7. "Condition" for three or four days. Sweet fruits may contain more moisture without spoiling than those of low sugar content.
8. Heat to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes, to kill all insects.
9. Pack immediately in available receptacles.
10. Label and store.
Fruit pastes are delicious and can be dried.
1. Select, wash, prepare fruit. 2. Cook until soft; stir. 3. Add sugar to sweeten. 4. Continue cooking until very thick. 5. Spread out flat by spoonfuls on oiled paper. 6. Dry in slow oven; finish drying over kitchen range. 7. Turn from time to time like griddle cakes.
Nuts of all kinds can be dried in these cakes, which may be left whole or cut in strips with scissors.
CANDIED FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
1. Select product of uniform size and ripeness.
2. Wash; prepare in usual way.
3. Cut fruit in halves, quarters or smaller sections; cut vegetables in narrow strips two and a half inches long.
4. Drop in a sirup cooked until it spins a thread. To prepare ginger sirup, add a few roots of ginger to the sirup.
5. Cook until transparent.
7. Dry in slow oven; Finish drying over kitchen range.
8. Roll in granulated sugar. (May be omitted for fruits.)
This method is recommended especially for candied apples, peaches, pears and carrots.
In a properly constructed sun drier, all fruits will dry in from 3 to 12 hours, under normal summer conditions. Time depends on dryness of atmosphere, sunshine and wind. Products dried in a sun drier, no matter how crude, are superior to those dried in the open without protection of some kind. Products dry more rapidly in high altitudes than at sea level.
Racks in oven can be used. Plates or platters can be used in oven. A stove drier hung over the stove can be used. A water-bath or other commercial drier can be used with the stove.
TIME-TABLE FOR DRYING FRUITS
[A] ARTIFICIAL HEAT TIME IN HOURS TEMPERATURE 110 deg. TO 130 deg. F.
[B] FAN—NO HEAT APPROXIMATE TIME IN HOURS
PRODUCT PREPARATION [A] [B] Apples Peel, core, trim and slice 1/4" 4-6 24-36 thick. Drop in salt solution, 3 level teaspoonfuls to 1 gallon of water to prevent discoloration. Apricots Remove pits, but do not peel. Cut 4-6 24-36 into halves and dry, "cup" side up. Berries, All Kinds Wash; stem or hull. 4-5 24-36 Cherries Remove stems. Pit or not, as 2-4 24-36 desired. If pitted, save and utilize juice. Pears Peel, core, trim and slice 1/4" 4-6 24-36 thick. Or peel, cut in halves lengthwise; remove stems and calyx. Peaches Peel, remove stones; cut in halves 4-6 24-36 or smaller pieces. If in halves, lay pit or "cup" side up to retain juice. Plums Do not peel, but remove pits. Cut 4-6 24-36 in halves and dry, "cup" side up. Prunes Wash; do not pit. 5-7 24-36 Quinces Peel, core, trim and slice 1/4" 4-6 24-36 thick. Rhubarb Select young stems. Wash and cut 6-8 24-36 into 1/2" pieces, using very sharp knife. Do not remove skins, so the rhubarb will retain pink color.
HOW TO DRY VEGETABLES
Vegetable drying is a little more complicated than fruit drying, just as vegetable canning is more complicated than fruit canning. Blanching is an important part of the operation. It makes vegetable drying satisfactory as well as easy and simple, just as it makes vegetable canning possible.
However, there is one difference between blanching vegetables for canning and blanching them for drying. After repeated experiments it has been found that for drying purposes it is best to blanch all vegetables in steam rather than in boiling water. In vegetable canning we blanch almost all vegetables in boiling water, usually steaming only the members of the "green" family.
So remember that for drying all vegetables are blanched in steam. To do this steaming you can use your ordinary household steamer, such as you use for steaming brown breads and suet puddings, or you can simply place a colander over boiling water in a kettle. Do not allow the colander to touch the water. If you are fortunate enough to possess a pressure cooker, steam the vegetables for drying in it.
Blanching is necessary for many reasons. It removes the strong flavors, objectionable to many people. Beans, cabbage, turnips and onions have too strong a flavor if dried without blanching. Furthermore, it starts the color to flowing, just as it does in canning. It removes the sticky coating round vegetables. Most vegetables have a protective covering to prevent evaporation. The removal of this covering by blanching facilitates drying. Blanching also relaxes the tissues, drives out the air and improves the capillary attraction, and as a result the drying is done in a much shorter period. Products dry less rapidly when the texture is firm and the tissue contains air.
Blanching checks the ripening processes. The ripening process is destroyed by heating and this is to be desired for drying purposes.
Blanching kills the cells and thus prevents the hay-like flavor so often noticed in unblanched products. It prevents changes after drying, which otherwise will occur unless the water content is reduced to about five per cent.
Thorough blanching makes the product absolutely sanitary; no insect eggs exist after blanching and cold-dipping.
There is one precaution that must be followed: Do not blanch too long. Blanching too long seems to break down the cell structure, so that the product cannot be restored to its original color, shape or size. Follow the blanching time-table for drying just as carefully as you follow the blanching time-table for canning.
After the blanching comes the cold-dip. For the benefit of new canning and drying enthusiasts, let me explain that by "cold-dip" we mean plunging the product immediately into a pan of very cold water or holding it under the cold-water faucet until the product is thoroughly cooled. Do not let the product stand in cold water, as it would then lose more food value and absorb too much water.
You can cold-dip the product without removing it from the colander, strainer or steamer in which it is steamed. Plunge the vessel containing the product into the cold water.
The cold-dipping checks the cooking, sets the coloring matter which was started to flowing in the blanching process, and it makes the product much easier to handle.
Let us now see just exactly what we must do when we want to dry sweet corn, more of which is dried than of any other vegetable. All other vegetables are dried in the same way as is corn, the only difference being in the length of the blanching and drying period.
All vegetables are prepared for drying just as they are prepared for table use. When drying corn select ears that are young and tender, and if possible freshly gathered. Products for drying should be in the same perfect condition as you have them for table use. If wilted and old it is not worth while drying them.
Remove the husks and the silk, and steam—on the cob—for fifteen minutes. This sets the milk, besides doing many other things which blanching by steam always does. After the steaming, cold-dip the corn, and then cut it from the cob, using a very sharp and flexible knife. Cut the grains fine, but only halfway down to the cob; scrape out the remainder of the grains, being careful not to scrape off any of the chaff next to the cob.
When field corn is used, the good, plump cooking stage is the proper degree of ripeness for satisfactory drying.
The corn should be thoroughly drained as this facilitates drying. You can easily remove all surface moisture by placing the corn between two towels and patting them.
It is now ready for drying. The corn may be dried in the sun, but if so, it is advisable first to dry it in the oven for ten or fifteen minutes and then finish the drying in the sun. Never attempt sun drying in moist weather. The corn may be dried by artificial heat, either on top of the stove or in the oven, using either plates, oven-racks properly covered, or any commercial dryer.
Work quickly after the blanching and cold-dipping and get the corn heated as quickly as possible in order to prevent souring. You get "flat-sour" often when canning if you do not work quickly enough, and you will get sour vegetables in drying if you work too slowly.
Where artificial heat is used begin at a lower temperature and gradually increase it. As the corn is drying, stir it from time to time and readjust the trays if necessary.
After the drying comes the test to determine whether or not the corn is sufficiently dry. Vegetables at this point differ from fruits. Fruits are dried only until leathery, whereas vegetables are dried until they are bone-dry. They must crackle and snap.
This test is sometimes used to see if the product is sufficiently dry: Put some of it in a covered glass jar with a crisp soda cracker and keep them there for a few hours. If the cracker loses its crispness and becomes soft and damp there is still too much moisture in the product and it should be dried a little longer to obtain the degree of dryness required.
After the corn is bone-dry it should, like all other vegetables and fruits, be conditioned. This means to pour them from one bag or box to another, once a day for three or four days. This enables you to notice any moisture that may be left in the dried food. Foods that show any traces of moisture should be returned to the drying tray for a short time.
Notice Lima beans particularly, as they require a longer conditioning period than most vegetables.
After the conditioning, in order to kill all insects and destroy all eggs, it is advisable to place the vegetables on trays and heat them in an oven for half an hour at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Store directly from the oven.
Dried vegetables are stored just as are dried fruits—in cans, cracked jars that cannot be used for canning, fiber containers, cheesecloth, paper bags or paraffin containers.
In storing your dried products keep in mind these things: Protection from moisture, insects, rats, mice, dust and light. If you observe all these things it is unnecessary to have air-tight containers.
All varieties of string beans can be dried, but only those fit for table use should be used. Old, stringy, tough beans will remain the same kind of beans when dried. There are two ways of preparing string, wax or snap beans for drying:
1. Wash; remove stem, tip and string. Cut or break into pieces one-half to one inch long; blanch three to ten minutes, according to age and freshness, in steam; cold-dip. Place on trays or dryer. If you have a vegetable slicer it can be used for slicing the beans.
2. Prepare as above, then blanch the whole beans. After cold-dipping, thread them on coarse, strong thread, making long "necklaces" of them; hang them above the stove or out of doors until dry.
Lima beans should be shelled from the pod and then blanched two to five minutes if young and tender. If larger and more mature blanch five to ten minutes.
Okra is blanched for three minutes. If the pods are young and small, dry them whole. Older pods should be cut into quarter-inch slices. Small tender pods are sometimes strung on stout thread and hung up to dry.
Peppers may be dried by splitting on one side, removing the seed, drying in the air, and finishing the drying in the dryer at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. A more satisfactory method is to place peppers in a biscuit pan in the oven and heat until the skins blister; or to steam them until the skin softens, peel, split in half, take out seed, and dry at 110 to 130 degrees. In drying thick-fleshed peppers like the pimento, do not increase heat too quickly, but dry slowly and evenly.
Small varieties of red peppers may be spread in the sun until wilted and the drying finished in the dryer, or they may be dried entirely in the sun.
Peppers often are dried whole. If large they can be strung on thread; if small the whole plant can be hung up to dry.
Shell full-grown peas and blanch three to five minutes; cold-dip and then spread in a single layer on trays to dry.
When drying the very tender young sugar peas, use the pod also. Wash and cut in quarter-inch pieces. Blanch six minutes, cold-dip and remove surplus moisture before drying. When drying beets always select young, quickly grown, tender beets. Steam twenty to thirty minutes, or until the skin cracks. Dip in cold water, peel and slice into one-eighth to one-quarter inch slices. Then dry.
Carrots having a large, woody core should not be dried. Blanch six minutes; cold-dip. Carrots are often sliced lengthwise into pieces about one-eighth inch thick. Parsnips, kohl-rabi, celeriac and salsify are prepared in the same way as are carrots.
Onions should be held under water while peeling and slicing to avoid smarting of the eyes. They should be sliced into one-eighth to one-quarter inch slices. Blanch five minutes, cold-dip, remove superfluous moisture and dry. Leeks are handled as are onions.
Select well-developed heads of cabbage and remove all loose outside leaves. Split the cabbage, remove the hard, woody core and slice the remainder of the head with a kraut slicer or cutter or with a large, sharp knife. Blanch five to ten minutes and cold-dip; dry.
Spinach and parsley should be carefully washed. Steam, cold-dip and dry. If the spinach is sliced the drying will be greatly facilitated. Beet tops, Swiss chard and celery are prepared like spinach.
Select sound, well-matured Irish potatoes. Wash and boil or steam until nearly done. Peel and pass through a meat grinder or a potato ricer. Collect the shred in layers on a tray and dry until brittle. If toasted slightly in an oven when dry, the flavor is improved somewhat; or boil or steam until nearly done, peel, cut into quarter-inch slices, spread on trays, and dry until brittle. Peeling may be omitted, but the product will be very much inferior in flavor. Irish potatoes cannot be satisfactorily dried unless they are first cooked; otherwise they will discolor.
All root vegetables must be thoroughly cleaned, otherwise an earthy flavor may cling to them. One decayed root may seriously affect several pots of vegetable soup.
1. All vegetables should be completely dried in from two to twenty-four hours.
2. Materials should be turned or stirred several times to secure a uniform product.
3. If heat is used guard against scorching. The door is left open if an oven is used; the temperature should be about 110 degrees at the beginning and usually should not exceed 130 degrees. Onions, string beans and peas will yellow at more than 140 degrees.
4. A thermometer is essential to successful drying by artificial heat.
5. It is impossible to give definite lengths of times for the completion of sun drying, as this varies not only with different products but with the weather. A sultry, rainy day is the worst for drying.
6. Vegetables should be stone dry.
7. Succulent vegetables and fruits contain from 80 to 95 per cent of water, and when dried sufficiently still retain from 15 to 20 per cent; so it is a good plan to weigh before and after drying as a check. The product should lose from two-thirds to four-fifths of its weight.
8. Work rapidly to prevent souring of vegetables.
9. Small vegetables, mature beans and peas and small onions may be dried whole. Larger vegetables should be cut up so as to expose more surface for drying.
10. The slicing, cutting and shredding should be done before blanching, with the exception of corn, which is cut from the cob after blanching.
TIME-TABLE FOR DRYING VEGETABLES
[A] BLANCHING BY STEAM, TIME ON MINUTES
[B] ARTIFICIAL HEAT TEMPERATURE 110 deg. TO 130 deg. F. APPROXIMATE TIME IN HOURS
[C] FAN—NO HEAT APPROXIMATE TIME IN HOURS
PRODUCT PREPARATION [A] [B] [C] ASPARAGUS Wash and cut into pieces 2 to 4 4 to 8 12 to 24 BEANS, GREEN Wash; remove stem, tip STRING and string 3 to 10 21/2 to 3 20 to 24 BEANS, WAX Wash; remove stem, tip and string; cut into pieces or dry whole 3 to 10 2 to 4 5 to 8 BEETS Leave skin on while 20 to 30 21/2 to 3 12 to 16 steaming BRUSSELS SPROUTS Divide into small pieces 6 3 to 5 12 to 16 CABBAGE Remove all loose outside leaves; split cabbage and remove woody core; 5 to 10 3 to 5 12 to 24 slice or shred CARROTS Wash; slice lengthwise into pieces 1/8-inch 6 21/2 to 3 20 to 24 thick CAULIFLOWER Clean; divide into small bunches 6 2 to 3 12 to 16 CELERY Wash carefully and remove leaves; slice 3 3 to 4 12 to 16 CELERIAC Clean; pare; slice into 1/8-inch pieces 6 21/2 to 3 20 to 24 CORN, SWEET Blanch on cob. From 12 ears of corn you should obtain 1 pound dried 15 3 to 4 2 days corn KOHL-RABI Clean; pare; slice into 1/8-inch pieces 6 21/2 to 3 8 to 12 LEEKS Cut into 1/2-inch strips 5 21/2 to 3 8 to 12 LIMA BEANS (YOUNG) Shell 2 to 5 3 to 31/2 12 to 20 LIMA BEANS (OLD) Shell 5 to 10 3 to 31/2 12 to 20 MUSHROOMS Wash; cut into pieces 5 3 to 5 12 to 24 OKRA Dry young pods whole. Cut old pods in 1/4-inch 3 2 to 3 12 to 20 slices ONIONS Remove outside papery covering; cut off tops and roots; slice thin 5 21/2 to 3 12 to 18 PARSNIPS Clean; pare; cut into 1/2-inch slices 6 21/2 to 3 20 to 24 PEAS Can be dried whole or put through grinder 3 to 5 31/2 12 to 20 PEPPERS Skin blistered in oven, steamed or sun-withered .. 3 to 4 24 POTATOES, IRISH Cook and rice them .. 21/2 5 to 6 POTATOES, IRISH Cook and slice them 1/4-inch thick .. 6 12 to 20 POTATOES, SWEET Cook and rice them .. 21/2 12 to 20 POTATOES, SWEET Cook and slice them 1/4-inch thick .. 6 12 to 20 PUMPKINS AND SQUASH Cut into 1/3-inch strips; peel; remove 3 3 to 4 16 seeds SPINACH Wash thoroughly; can be sliced 3 3 12 to 18 SALSIFY Wash; cut into 1/2-inch 6 21/2 to 3 20 to 24 slices SWISS CHARD Wash thoroughly; can be sliced 3 3 to 4 12 to 18 TOMATOES Wash; slice after steaming to loosen skin 2 to 3 21/2 to 3 12 to 16 TURNIPS Pare and slice thin 5 21/2 to 3 12 to 18 -