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daisyduckworth

Why 'canning'? (tongue in cheek)

Daisyduckworth
15 years ago

Since I got on the Internet and began participating in various American forums, such as this one, I feel I've been learning a whole new language. And a few things keep on puzzling me.

Here in Australia, preserving fruits and veges etc in bottles is called 'preserving' or 'bottling'. That makes sense to me, because the food goes into bottles (which are occasionally called jars).

If we make pickles or jams and so on, we call it 'making pickles' or 'jam-making'. That makes sense to me, too. It's so - um - obvious.

But Americans lump it all together under one umbrella, and call it 'canning'. Which makes no sense to me at all, because, well..... WHERE ARE THE CANS?

Comments (38)

  • ahbee01
    15 years ago

    In the old days, there were cans that people put food up in! So maybe that's where it came from. I never understood the English language, it sometimes doesn't make sense.
    I always wonder who determined what words were cuss words and why! We always seem to make up nick names for things, so it may be just that a nickname that stuck!LOL!
    Brenda

  • Linda_Lou
    15 years ago

    Here if you "jar" something, that means you bumped it or slightly hit it. Bottles are more slender containers, with normally tapered necks. They are for sauces and thinner foods, things you pour.Peaches and vegetables won't really fit into bottles that well... Jars are fatter around, and they have larger openings. Bottles don't have lids for preserving in the pressure or water bath canners for home use , jars do.
    There are "canneries", factories that can foods. Years ago you could take your food to places and can it yourselves for a fee or some places would do it for you. Cans and the equipment to do it at home is expensive . The glass jars and lids are much more economical. You can reuse canning jars over and over. Cans, you open and throw away or recycle.

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  • gardenlad
    15 years ago

    All I can do, Daisy, is quote Winston Churchill (or was it G.B. Shaw?) who pointed out that Amercans and Brits are two people separated by a common language.

    But then an Aussi joined the group, and nobody understood one word that he said. :>)

    On a more serious note, "canning" describes the process of preserving foods through the mediums of heat and vacuum sealing. The process was invented around 1812---Napoleon, who was well aware that an army traveled on its stomach, had offered a cash prize to anyone who could devise a method of preserving food better than those that existed.

    The first "cans" were, in fact, a combination of jars and bottles. The tops were necked down (but not as far as a modern bottle), and they were sealed with corks and wax. These "cans" were made of ceramic and glass. There are numerous examples of them extant, but it takes a second mortgage to buy one.

    Impetus for changing to metal cans was the American War of Northern Aggression, when both the technology and demand came together. Canned goods were, subsequently, an important element in the wild west days. No chuckwagon worth it's salt headed across the plains without a goodly complement of canned products. Peaches and coffee were the most common goods carried that way.

    The next big push actually was a giant step backwards. The Yukon Gold Rush saw a need for vast quantities of preserved food. But weight was a factor as well (each goldrusher had to pack, literally, a ton of food & equipment up and over the Chilkoote pass). So drying (they called in "evaporating" in the late 19th century) came back into its own.

    And so it goes.

    At certain Mennonite collectives, today, they put food up in both glass and metal containers. Glass is called "jarring." Metal is called "canning." For the very reasons you suggest. But, as Linda Lou points out, equipment for metal canning is on the expensive side. Last time I looked, the most inexpensive rig was US$3,600. Plus you have to buy new cans each time, as they are not reusable.

  • moogies
    15 years ago

    The noun, "can", is from the literary Latin -canna- for "a small vessel or container".

    I think it's interesting that the can opener wasn't invented until nearly 50 years after the invention of commercially canned food! Before that, they had to hammer them open!

    Here is a link that might be useful: History of tin cans

  • Daisyduckworth
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Hmm. Here in Australia, most people don't talk about 'cans' - we call them 'tins'. We'll maybe talk about 'canned soft-drink' (eg. Coca-cola), but we always talk about 'tinned foods', or 'a tin of peaches'. I'm assuming it's because the original tins (cans) were made of tin.

    Old Winnie might have been wrong about Gallipoli, but I reckon he might have got it right about the English language!

  • Darwin_NT
    15 years ago

    aaaaaAnother question from oz what is a pressure canner would that be a plain old pressure cooker?

  • ksrogers
    15 years ago

    Pressure canners are designed as being taller and have the proper capacity for holding quart jars. Pressure cookers have never been suitable for pressure caning excepyt for maybe a small 8 ounce jar, or maybe a pint jar. Alos, pressure canners usually have the proper weighted valves to control the pressure for canning.

  • annie1992
    15 years ago

    Pressure cookers and pressure canners are not the same thing. Pressure cookers are larger and are designed to safely preserve low acid vegetables, meats, fish, etc.

    A pressure cooker is smaller and not designed for canning. First, very few jars would fit into a pressure canner, but the biggest problem is that safe processing times include heating up and colling down. A smaller vessel cools down more quickly and heats up more quickly and throws the timing off. There are much more detailed explanations available on other threads here, but that's the Reader's Digest Condensed Version.

    And no, they probably don't say that in Australia either.

    Annie

  • ksrogers
    15 years ago

    Annie, I think you meant that pressure CANNERS are larger right?

  • annie1992
    15 years ago

    Yes, I meant a small pressure canner THAT SIZE, the size of one of the small cookers, wouldn't hold many jars. Pressure canners are bigger for a reason, pressure cookers are smaller.

    Annie

  • Daisyduckworth
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    LOL Annie! We say 'that's the RD version'!!

    Just for interest, the brand most Australians use is Fowler Vacola. You might like to check out this site, but there are many others.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Fowler Vacola Preserving Kits etc

  • malonanddonna
    15 years ago

    I like the "trolley" insted of the US "cart". Makes me think of Rice-a-Roni for some reason. I also see they still offer sealing wax there too.

  • ksrogers
    15 years ago

    For those still into sealing wax, the AS&S site has some glass jars that have embossed fruits on the outsides with rolled rims. These have no lids, but I suppose a big wide cork would do. Although they are not really safe for jellies with wax seals, I suppose they could still be used for it if the jars were stored in the fridge for a short term

    Here is a link that might be useful: AS&S glass jars

  • jimster
    15 years ago

    An Aussie gardener visited the United States. A highlight of his trip was visiting American gardeners to compare their crops and methods with his. At a garden in Indianna, he noticed a rather enormous crop of peas. He asked the gardener, "What do you do with so many peas?". The gardener replied, "We eat what we can and what we can't we can".

    Returning home, the Aussie gardener could hardly wait to tell his friends this amusing story. He described the large pea patch and how he had questioned the gardener about it. Then he delivered the punch line. "The gardener then said to me that they eat what they can and what they can't they tin".

    Jim

  • gardenlad
    15 years ago

    >I also see they still offer sealing wax there too.They still offer sealing wax here in the U.S. as a matter of fact. Right next to the canning jars in most places.

    However, the U.S. is the _only_ country were sealing with melted wax is recommended against. The rest of the world's USDA eqivilents see nothing wrong with the practice.

    Indeed, when done correctly, wax is as good a seal as a modern two-part lid. The problem is, most people won't be bothered doing it correctly. It's a real pain in the butt, actually, and a 5-minute canning bath is really much simpler.

  • annie1992
    15 years ago

    And there, GL, you hit it right on the head. I can buy paraffin in blocks at the local hardware store, right next to the pressure canner gaskets and the jars and lids.

    However, it's messy, it's hot, it's difficult to deal with. I have set a batch of wax on fire and burned myself more than once. You totally ruin a pan and I found it difficult to get a good seal. Pah. Even Grandma went to lids and rings and didn't look back.

    Then there is the picking of the bits of wax out of the jelly on your toast, always a grand experience at about 6 a.m.

    The real problem that I have with USDA guidelines is that they just say "not recommended". They don't say whether it is a safety issue, whether it hasn't been tested completely or whether it's not recommended because it's just icky. The paraffin is just icky, IMO.

    Annie

  • flora_uk
    15 years ago

    Hello Daisy. Today I made some 'marrow' chutney because when I got back from 'holiday' my 'courgettes' had grown enormous. I cooked it all up in my 'preserving pan' and 'bottled' it in glass 'jars'. I did not 'pressure cook' it because we just don't bother to do that over here for jams and chutneys. (BTW, my pressure cooker has a weighted valve.) Furthermore I used a old jars which had formerly contained bought stuff. I have done this for years and we aren't dead yet. If I was bottling fruit, however, I would either use lids and rubber rings or Porosan skin, which I find much easier. By the way I don't use 'paraffin wax' to seal jars but my Mum did. 'Sealing wax' is the red stuff you might put on letters and official documents and then press in your seal. I too find the nomenclature fascinating. It all adds to the fun of these forums.

  • ksrogers
    15 years ago

    I suppose that with the large amonts of sugar and acid in most home canned jellies, the wax might be OK, but if it were used on low or no sugar pectin types, it would be a very bad idea. I bought a binch of the sealing wax a few years ago really cheap, but plan to make molded candles out of it.

  • Amino_X
    15 years ago

    I used to wonder why it was called "Canning" instead of "Jarring" too until I was told the same story about people used to use tin cans before they had glass Mason jars.

    I got a DVD Recorder for Christmas last year (to replace my ailing VCR). Whenever I record a show I still call it "Taping" the show (and probably always will) because "Disking" the show just dosen't sound right. LOL!

    Best Wishes
    Amino-X

  • Daisyduckworth
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Flora, you're a girl after my own heart, and we speak the same lingo!! Just curious - do you call it Lemon Butter, Lemon Curd or Lemon Cheese? My mother always called it Lemon Cheese, I've always called it Lemon Butter, the Americans always seem to call it Lemon Curd. And it's all exactly the same thing.

    Now - a marrow, to me, is similar to an overgrown zucchini, except that it's a separate vegetable with a smooth creamy-white skin. A kind of squash, and I'm not talking pumpkin. Inside, it looks like the inside of a pattypan squash.

    I remember when I first got onto the American forums, and saw recipes for 'squash', I got all excited until I found out they were often referring to pumpkin (or to zucchini). Very confusing.

    I have bottled fruit, too, and that needs HWBing, but jams and pickles and similar just don't need it. I've never used wax - can't really see the need for that, either! When bottling fruit (which I haven't done for years), I used the special Vacola bottles with rubber rings and special lids, but for jams and pickles I just use recycled jars - which have previously contained everything from prepared mustard or gherkins to spaghetti sauce which I've bought ready-made from the supermarket. I keep a collection of these, especially the smaller ones which I find better for jams etc.

    I gave my old bottling kit away some years ago. Unless you have home-grown produce, it can be an expensive hobby. My garden is too small to be able to produce more than I need for immediate use. But I used to love having lots of jars of pretty apricots and peaches and plums etc on hand!

  • gardenlad
    15 years ago

    >The paraffin is just icky, IMOIcky and unsafe pretty well sum it up, Annie, for all the reasons you gave. It's just a royal pain to use.

    Here is the correct proceedure for using wax:

    1. Melt the wax. Ideally this should be done in a double boiler, but hardly anyone ever does---thus adding to the non-safety. If you do a lot of this, a separate pan should be earmarked just for melting wax.

    2. Fill your jars with jam, jelly, or what have you, leaving at least 3/8 inch headspace. Half inch is better.

    3. Carefully pour a 1/8th inch layer of melted wax evenly over the preserves. While still hot and liquid, use a pin to puncture any air bubbles (yes, that is just as awkward and time consuming as it sounds). Let the wax set.

    4. Carefully pour a second 1/8th inch layer of wax, again using a pin to puncture any air bubbles.

    5. Let the jars sit, untouched, for at least 24 hours so the wax can fully harden and cure.

    6. Store the jars in your cupboard, being careful, when moving them, to keep them level. Tipping them can break the seal between wax and glass.

    Back in the day they sold jelly jars that came with friction-fit lids. You put these on the jar, over the wax, which allowed you to stack them. I haven't seen models like that in many years, though. In the absence of some sort of metal lid, you cannot stack wax-sealed jars.

    Of course, you can put a lid and ring on the jar, over the wax, in order to stack them. But, if you're going to do that, you may as well just BWB them for five minutes and be done.

    Daisy: Over here, fruit butters are made just with sugar. There is no egg in them, as there is with Lemon Curd. I'm unfamiliar with the term lemon cheese.

    Marrows never got to be popular in the U.S., as they are in the rest of the English speaking world. Although locally they might be a favored squash; such as the Boston Marrow. I never understood why zucchini became the summer squash of choice, when marrows remain tender even though so much larger. Plus they generally taste better.

    "Squash" is a generic term for Cucurbita (species). There are six species--four of which are commonly grown in North America--and hundreds of varieties. "Pumpkin" has no horticultural meaning. Indeed, pumpkins are found in all four of the common Cucurbita species.

    Oddly enough, my experience has been the opposite of yours, in that most Americans do not group pumpkins as a squash, and use the two terms as though they were mutually exclusive. Go figure.

  • annie1992
    15 years ago

    I agree on the pumpkins, GL, I've never heard anyone refer to a squash as a pumpkin or vice versa.

    A pumpkin is just that, a pumpkin A squash is a different beast altogether, although you can have summer squash and winter squash. At least it's that way in my part of the world.

    Annie

  • flora_uk
    15 years ago

    OK Daisy - if it's eggy it's lemon curd.

    Re marrows, yes you can get separate seeds for them but I generally regard and overgrown courgette as a marrow.I also do not do much bottling these days because of the time it takes.

    If I have a glut (like now with plums) I just freeze them.

  • zabby17
    15 years ago

    > I agree on the pumpkins, GL, I've never heard anyone refer to a squash as a pumpkin or vice versa.
    A pumpkin is just that, a pumpkin A squash is a different beast altogether, although you can have summer squash and winter squash. At least it's that way in my part of the world.

    And yet, as GL says, "pumpkin" doesn't mean anything in terms of actual vegetable species. It's just what we call some kinds of squash that are round-ish and orange, for the most part.

    Most "pumpkin" squashes are cucurbita pepo, but not all.

    (Anyone else read Alexander McCall Smith's LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY series? Mma Ramotswe, the heroine in Botswana, and many other characters grow and eat a lot of "pumpkins" --- it seems to be the vegetable of choice, in fact. I am dying to know what a Botswana pumpkin is --- is it round and orange, necessarily, or do they use it to refer to other winter squash? Anyone know?)

    Oh, Flora, I'm dying to know:

    What is a "Porosan skin"? It sounds like a treatment you could offer in a fancy spa!

    (By the way, even us paranoid North Americans don't "pressure can" jams and chutneys, we "boiling-water bath" them. [Could also be a spa treatment, I suppose...] ;-) Except some of us sometimes just put them in hot jars and invert them, shh, don't tell Linda Lou.)
    ;-)

    Zabby, who edits for a living and loves terminology! (when I used to read Enid Blyton books as a child, I thought it sounded so exotic the way the kids always went on expeditions with plenty of "rugs" and "torches" and "tins" of things. I was disappointed to discover they were really only blankets and flashlights and canned food --- I had imagined some kind of fancy special camping-food container for a "tin," I think!)

  • Linda_Lou
    15 years ago

    Ahh, ha ha, I think Linda Lou just found out, anyway !
    Well, you won't die from it. Before I took my food safety training I inverted a few batches of jam myself.

    I still don't think I could get used to saying I was "jarring" something. I could say I was "bottling" when making flavored vinegars. I have some really nice bottles, octogon shaped that I got at the wine making shop. They have some pretty colored bottles, too. Cobalt blue, and green ones, I think amber, too.
    So many colors of the sealing wax for the tops. I got purple ! With gold labels it looks nice.

  • annie1992
    15 years ago

    Well, Zabby, here pumpkins are those round orange things that we carve into jack-o-lanterns at Halloween or the smaller round orange things that we bake and make pumpkin pie out of. Not most of us, because it's a PITA and stringy and doesn't even taste that much better than canned pumpkin from the store, which also says "pumpkin" and not squash, but some of the "hardcore" farmers. In fact we have entire pumpkin farms where people can pick their own pumpkins, but there aren't any squash there.

    The thing I always found amazing was that a butternut or an acorn or a hubbard is a squash, but a zucchini is also a squash and they aren't similar at all. Of course, now most people just call zucchini "zucchini" and leave the squash designation off altogether.

    Annie

  • zabby17
    15 years ago

    Pretty much the same thing where I live, Annie! I only learned about what's related to what a few years ago when I started gardening & reading seed catalogues etc. carefully. (This is what happens when a professional researcher takes up an activity like gardening --- we don't just listen to what sensible farming folk tell us is so but try to get all book-larned about it, largely because we get so excited about our new activities we have to do something about them in the winter! ;-) ....)

    > The thing I always found amazing was that a butternut or an acorn or a hubbard is a squash, but a zucchini is also a squash and they aren't similar at all.

    But that's only because we eat them at different times in their lives, eh? I let an Eight-Ball zucchini squash go unnoticed before I went on vacation and by the time I got back it was large, hard-skinned, and turning orange, looking very much like an acorn squahs! Similarly a crookneck that got neglected became large, hard, and warty, not at all unlike some of the funkier winter squashes at the farmers' markets. And if you pick an acorn squash when it's only a few days old it'll be soft and zucchini-like, won't it? (I've never tried this, I admit!)

    It's like the way we eat different parts of different plants. Lettuce grows a long stalk and buds and flowers and seeds, but before it gets there we chop it down and eat it. It's as if we snipped a corn stalk when it was only a few inches high and called it salad. (Which, by the way, one vendor at the Toronto farmer's market DOES do...)

    I know people who have been growing food all their lives probably find this unremarkable, but it tickles the heck out of me. The first time I opened a packet of pea seeds and found it full of, well, peas, I just had to giggle, even though when I thought about it it was obvios that that's what they would look like.... ;-)

    Zabby

  • cinsay
    15 years ago

    I once heard that the cans of pumpkin in the grocery store was actually winter squash - butternut, in fact. And one of the best pumpkin pies I've ever made was from an orange winter squash called a kabocha (I think that's how to spell it). It was so hard that I had to follow the farmer's recommendation on how to open it - by dropping it on the ground until it cracked. But oh such a good pie!

    Cindy

  • zabby17
    15 years ago

    Oh, Cindy, I love kabocha squashes! the first winter squash I ever grew was a kabocha type; gorgeous colour AND flavour. Now I seek them out at the farm market.

    Never thought to try a pie with one --- mmm --- but I use any kind of winter squash in any other winter squash recipe.

    Zabby

  • gardenlad
    15 years ago

    >grow and eat a lot of "pumpkins" --- it seems to be the vegetable of choice, in fact. I am dying to know what a Botswana pumpkin is --- Pumpkins are eaten throughout Africa, Zabby. In the southern part of the continent, the pumpkins are most often what are locally called "calabaza", which is a small, white, sweet pumpkin. Butternut squash actually substitutes for it better than any of our "pumpkins." As in:

    South African Pumpkin Fritters

    5 cups cooked calabaza (or butternut)
    2 cups grated raw calabaza (or butternut)
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup flour
    1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
    Pinch of salt
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    Oil for deep frying
    Cinnamon sugar, for dusting

    Put the cooked pumpkin in a mixing bowl, mash it with a fork, and set aside. Blanch the grated pumpkin by briefly dipping in boiling water. Drain it and add to the mashed pumpkin. Add the baking powder, flour, ground cinnamon, salt and egg to the mixture and beat until it is smooth.

    Heat oil for deep frying (375F). When hot, drop the batter, a tablespoonful at at time. Be careful not to place too many in the oil at once. ook the fritters until golden brown on each side, turning once. Drain on absorbent paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.

    Variation: Add a pinch of lemon zest, a grating of nutmeg, and a tbls sugar to the batter before frying.

    >I once heard that the cans of pumpkin in the grocery store was actually winter squash - butternut, in fact. Most cans merely say "pumpkin" nowadays. But the most often used squash for canning actually are Hubbards, with Cushaws running a close second. Butternuts are considered by most canners to be too small to fuss with.

  • flora_uk
    14 years ago

    "Oh, Flora, I'm dying to know:

    What is a "Porosan skin"? It sounds like a treatment you could offer in a fancy spa! "

    I've only just found this question because I was googling Porosan to see if it's still available and this thread came up. Porosan skin is a sheet of what looks like thickish polythene. You hot pack your produce, stretch a piece of the skin across the top of the jar, tie it on tightly with string and then BWB the jars. When you remove the jars they cool down and as they do so the air inside them contracts and pulls the skin down into the jar forming a taught concave surface and a vacuum inside. It is very handy as it can be used on any size and shape of jar. I find it much easier than lids and rings. But I don't know if it's still available.

  • ksrogers
    14 years ago

    Buttercup squash is a type of Kabocha too. Thats my only favorite, but is high in potassium..

  • julsie
    14 years ago

    What IS Lemon Curd? I discovered as an adult that there's a whole wide world of foods my mother doesn't like, therefore we never had at our house. To someone who's as food-sheltered as I am, Lemon Curd just doesn't sound like something any right-thinking individual would want to eat. So what is it?

  • jimster
    14 years ago

    Julsie,

    I can't imagine that you would be bothered by lemon. You must be having trouble with the curd part.

    Jim

  • ksrogers
    14 years ago

    Lemon curd is simply a thick lemon flavored pudding of sorts.

  • Daisyduckworth
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Lemon curd (butter, cheese) is a thickish spread made from lemon juice, sugar and eggs. It's used much like a jam - on toast, as a spread between cake layers, or even as a pie filling. Nice on ice cream. Looks not unlike a custard, actually. It's very, very rich, totally decadent and delicious. There are many recipes, all very similar. Here's one.

    Lemon Butter (Curd)
    6 lemons
    500g sugar
    6 eggs
    125g butter

    Beat eggs at high speed until light, add sugar. Place in a double saucepan with the butter and grated rind of 2 lemons. Squeeze out the juice of the lemons and add to the egg mixture. Cook over low heat until thick. Bottle and seal. Will keep, refrigerated, for about one month.

  • julsie
    14 years ago

    That does sound yummy! And it wasn't really the Lemon or the Curd that I had a problem with, more the combination of the two. The image wasn't working for me. I might just have to try this.

    When canning season is over.

    Julie

  • cateyanne
    14 years ago

    I loved reading this forum! The way the British speak has always sounded so lovely and so many of the words used are so different from our American version of "English." Adding Australian words makes it even more fun. Has anyone considered starting a side forum for that topic? It would probably get a lot of interest. Just a thought!