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Culinary Central

A Canning Glossary

September 25, 2012 Emily Murray Chicago 0 Comments

A Canning Glossary

One of the hottest food trends of the last decade is a return to canning and other methods of food preservation. Your grandparents probably helped their parents “put up” everything from strawberries and peaches to pickled beans and preserves. Today, however, you’re probably more likely to see a culinary school graduate preserving food than the older members of your family.

Canning has grown in popularity as the local and organic seasonal food movements have taken off. With all of that good produce and artisan food around, people want a way to take their favorite spring and summer foods into the fall and winter. Whether or not you are a graduate of a cooking school in Chicago, you might be interested in learning more about this old world way of food preparation.

If you don’t know a thing about canning, we’ve put together a short glossary of some of the terms you will come across as you explore this brand new, old-fashioned method of food preparation.

Alum
Also known as aluminum sulfate, you may find this in older recipes for homemade pickles. Alum is what keeps pickles firm and crisp.

Antioxidant
These key ingredients of vitamin supplements are also necessary in canning. Antioxidants like citric or ascorbic acids inhibit the oxidation process, which turns all fresh fruits and vegetables brown after contact with oxygen. Nearly every canning recipe has some type of antioxidant, often lemon juice.

Blanch
In this quick cooking method, you boil food for a short period of time followed by a quick ice bath to stop the cooking. This helps to easily remove the peels and skins of some produce.

Boil
Whether just boiling at 212 degrees F at sea level or a full rolling boil at 220 degrees F, you will use boiling as a method of both cooking and disinfection in your canning chores.

Botulism
This is a foodborne illness particular to canned foods that must be avoided at all cost. It can be fatal and it thrives in low-oxygen, low-acid environments. Proper washing and boiling techniques are a must.

Calcium Chloride
Like alum, calcium chloride helps to keep pickles firm and crisp.

Gelling Agent
Anything that is added to your recipe to firm up liquids are called gelling agents. Most jelly recipes will require it.

Hermetic Seal
The vacuum-like action that seals your canned goods from bacteria and other microbes that lead to spoilage.

Mason Jar
These are the primary storage vessels used in canning. They come in various sizes from four ounces to one quart. They also come with a band and lid.

Oxidation
This chemical process occurs when cut produce is exposed to oxygen. Use antioxidants to inhibit this unsightly process.

Pectin
Pectin is a commercially available gelling agent that puts the gel in jellies and jams.

Pickling
A way to preserve produce in a vinegar solution, often heat from peppers and other spices are added.

Spoilage
This occurs when your canned foods are not preserved properly. Signs include broken seals, lifted lids, mold, cloudiness, and unintended fermentation, among others.

Two-piece Closure
This combination of a metal lid and screw band act as the lid to your mason jars. They must be vacuum sealed to preserve freshness.

Vinegar
Adding vinegar to canned food recipes not only adds flavor but also increases the acid levels which inhibits bacterial growth that leads to spoilage.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in Chicago, Illinois. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Chicago for more information. 
Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures
Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.

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