Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Canning 101: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are one of the easiest things to can. If you have an overabundance of this root vegetable from your or a friends garden this summer then the best way to preserve them is to can them. When it's the dead of winter you can pop open a fresh can and think of summer past and future.

*The full recipe without commentary will be at the very end of this post.

1. Begin by preparing your equipment. Set everything up and have it ready to go.

2. Check your jars for chips/cracks and then sterilize them. My dishwasher has an extra hot sterilize cycle so I let it do the work. If you don't have a dishwasher wash the jars and rings in hot soapy water, rinsing well.

3. Fill a pot with water and heat to boiling (to be used later to pour on the sweet potatoes in the jars) and place your lids in a smaller pan and heat to sterilize but do not boil, as it will ruin the sealant on the rim.

4. I have also prepared the water in the pressure canner. Add 4 quarts of water and set the heat to low/medium to begin it warming. I have really hard water so I also add a couple tablespoon of white vinegar to the water. The vinegar keeps a chalky white build up off the jars- it's not going to hurt your jars if you don't add the vinegar but it just makes them look nicer!

5. Prepare your sweet potatoes. Wash and place in the bottom of a pot, cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and partially cook the sweet potatoes, until the peel can be easily removed, about 10-15 minutes.

6. Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch sizes cubes.

7. Fill each jar, leaving 1 inch headspace between the sweet potatoes and the rim.

8. Pour the boiling water over the sweet potatoes, also leaving about 1 inch headspace.

9. Run a couple wooden skewers or a wooden spoon between the inside edge of the jar and the sweet potatoes to release any air bubble. Add more hot water as needed.

10. Clean the jar rims off, place on the lids and rings, finger tip tight. You don't need to tighten the rings too much, just enough to hold the lids in place.

11. Place the jars into the pressure canner and lock the lid in place.

12. Turn the heat up on the canner. At this point the pressure gage is at zero, the cap is off the air vent, and the vent is down in the open position.

13. As heat and pressure builds the vent will eventually pop up into the closed position. Leave the cap off the air vent for 5 to 10 minutes to let the steam to continue to vent, and heat and pressure to build.

14. Place the cap on and let pressure build. For sweet potatoes, the pressure needs to be between 10 and 11 pounds of pressure. Adjust the heat to keep it at the correct pressure throughout the canning process.

15. Once pressure has built to the correct 10-11 pounds of pressure, begin timing. Can the sweet potatoes for 1 hour and 5 minutes for pints or 1 hour and 30 minutes for quarts.

16. Once the times is up, turn the heat off and leave the canner alone. Let the pressure decompress on its own. Once the air vent has dropped back down into the open position it is safe to open the canner. When you open it, lift the lid away from you. It's still hot in there and you don't want to be burned by the steam!

17. Using your jar lifters remove the jars from the canner and set them in a place to cool for 12-24 hours. You might here the lids 'pop!' down sometime in the cooling process. After the jars are cool check to make sure all the lids have popped down and are correctly sealed. If any jars haven't sealed correctly, re-process them in the pressure canner with new lids or use immediately and store in the refrigerator.

To store: Label the lid with the date and what is in the jar. Remove the rings and place in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight. Store for up to a year.

Before eating canned items, always check the jar for a good seal, check the canned item for a fresh smell and good color. If anything looks off or smells bad then toss it!

Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes per quart
  • Water

Wash sweet potatoes; drain. Boil or steam potatoes until peel can be easily removed. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Pack hot potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Ladle boiling water over potatoes, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 1 hour and 5 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

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