Hi Everyone -
I want to can a big batch or two of caponata. Should I process in a water bath or pressure can it? Thanks!
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I can a med salad which contains wine vinegar and I always use the water bath method. I have a PH tester which I used originally when I developed the recipe to ensure it was safe. It will depend on your recipe, if in doubt, always use a pressure canner for safety.
We canned some last year in water bath and they were all fine. Grandma also cans it in a water bath.
I am going to take a different approach to your question as my concern is that of food safety. Food preservation is a science, and safe food preservation is a tested science.
Your item that you would like to can at home has a lot of ingredients with different pH levels. Commercially it can be done but we are talking about doing it at home in your kitchen.
If you really want to home can this product then I would tak it to a food testing lab for them to determine the water activity, shelf life, pH, etc. These tests do cost but then the Lab will help you figure out what you need to add or delete in order to can and then if you should boiling water bath of pressure can the item. There is a lab up at Colorado State University Food Science Lab, in Greeley and in Denver.
Hope this helps
Eugenia is the author of the book Well-Preserved. Her new preserving book, The Kitchen Ecosystem, will be published in 2014.
In order to water bath can caponata you would have to ensure that there was enough acid in the product to bring the pH of the entire contents of the jar to 4.5 or lower. (Lower is better.) To do this at home, you can process a jar with your recipe, puree the contents (with distilled water if necessary) and check the pH with a pH meter. (They are rather expensive. I got mine at Cole-Parmer Instrument Company.) The length of time necessary for processing is a crap shoot, but you can probably estimate the density of your product based on other recipes that have been USDA tested. If your recipe constitutes a pH of higher than 4.5, then you must pressure can. Process in a pressure canner based on USDA data for the ingredient in your recipe that takes the longest to process. If you have ANY doubts about the pH of your recipe, then pressure can.
Thank you Eugenia, terrifc honest post and full of the details I should have provided above.
We can all be a little braver in the kitchen.
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