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Canning

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
How does one go about canning (really, it's jarring) caramelized onions? Just simple caramelized onions so that we can just pop open a jar whenever we need some and don't have the time to make from scratch? Is it possible since this is, I think, a low acid product? Would freezing be a better option? But the problem there is that we are both low on freezer space (since we save bones for stock). And frozen caramelized onions aren't spoonable.
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post #2 of 38
I don't know about the Bay Area, but in New York City it is against Health Department regulations for a restaurant to use "home-canned" products, which extends to stuff canned on-premises. Fears of botulism, I suppose. So the only options here are making smaller batches of them often, or making bigger batches and freezing. How much do you need at a time? Can you make a big batch and freeze it portioned in heavy-duty plastic bags? Those are easy to thaw, and don't take up much room if you can lay them down flat.

I've just heard of a way of making them in a crock-pot, but that is more for home cooks. Would that help you, though?
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post #3 of 38
I do a roasted garlic 'confit'; whole peeled garlics roasted slowly covered with olive oil, that I then jar and keep in the fridge for about a month. Don't know if that would suit your purpose for the onions, if that's too much oil. If you're doing them for service, I would think that a big batch would keep in the cooler for 4-5 days anyway.
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post #4 of 38
Rather than canning, I'd vaccuum pack the onions and freeze them.
post #5 of 38
I think there is a problem with both canning and freezing caramelized onions. I think that both methods would create caramelized onion puree. The freezing would cause the onions to break down into mush. With canning, since it is a low acid product, it would need to be processed (boiled in the jars) to make sure it is safe. I make a caramelized onion jam that I can. It works out great, because the onions are already pretty brocken down so I am not concerned about wanting whole pieces in the product.
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post #6 of 38
Not necessarily, Pete. I made caramelized onions (saute slice) at home a while ago, and froze them in 1-cup batches. They did soften some, but were still distinct shreds, not mush. (BTW, I added some fresh thyme when I first cooked them, and boy, was that yummy!)

Anyway, it seems to me that the extra time and effort needed for proper canning could probably be spent more productively.
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post #7 of 38
Caramelized onions can beautifully - I do it every year to give as gifts.

You should check with the health department about using canned products in your restaurant cooking.

If the kitchen is certified, it may be OK, but you don't want to take any chances of a) poisoning someone or b) getting your permit yanked. Check with the health department to see if goods canned in an already-approved kitchen are OK to sell, either directly to the public or in use for dishes prepared for the public.
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post #8 of 38
My "Joy of Cooking" says that the Department of Agriculture recommends that you not can, among other things, onions. The others on the list are Cabbage, Parsnips, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Eggplant, and Lettuce! I think if you caramelize pearl onions you'll be okay if you pickle them.

Kuan
post #9 of 38
I forgot to mention that the confit of onions I make to give as gifts calls for one entire bottle of balsamic vinegar. I think that's pretty close to pickling ;)
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post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 
I think I should have specified that I was interested in home canning, just as Chifonade does for gifts. I work in a pastry kitchen, so onions have no place in my desserts. And, friends, you are right about canning taking up lots of time better spent making fresh. But like the rest of you, I don't have much time to cook by the time I get home (I have a 2 hour commute each way and work 10 hours daily, so I'm gone from home a total of 14 hours). I thought that preserving caramelized onions would jumpstart me to a good home-cooked meal at the end of a tiring day. Afterall, one can't eat restaurant food everyday, and that includes family meal.

So it's not possible to can caramelized onions without vinegar, huh? Chiffonade and Pete, will you please share with me your onion recipes? I think my friends would like something other than marmalade (no matter how exotic the citrus).
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post #11 of 38
I do some canning Monpetitchoux it is great for gifts (and a fun when you have a big garden), I also love to make candies and other sweets as gifts too. When I'm too busy and I buy food gifts it's embarassing sending someone 12 cookies...they don't realize it but that cost 48. plus 10. shipping (for good ones). So homemade gifts really are a value.
Anyway I relate greatly to your post (we have that type of comute around my parts too), I used to average 3 hours a day in the car.

Honestly I don't think you can look to canning as helping easy your load for nightly or weekly dinners. The items that can "well" aren't wide ranging. Mainly their condiments.

I personally look to freezed items for relief, variety and nutrition. I make big batches of sauce and typical stuff like lasange and freeze them into nightly portions, etc...Friends and relatives I know use crockpots (although I don't really know about that) and swear by them (aparently there are many items that cook well in them)....

I suppose that was a dumb post all pretty obvious.......oh well.
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #12 of 38
There is a good book about canning called Putting Food By by an auther I can't remember. I used it for years to accomodate the overflow from our kitchen garden. It has all the info you might need about canning different fruits and vegetables, equipment, time involved and so forth. My copy is completely water-wrinkled and stained with no covers to speak of. You can put up a lot of food in an afternoon and the convenience and taste are well worth the effort.

Onions are one of those low-acid foods that grow botulism very nicely in the proper environment. I believe you would need to use a pressure canner (basically pressure cooker large enough to accomodate canning jars) to process these safely. Otherwise, you would need to process your jars for about 9-10 hours in a conventional canner. By that time, I believe your onions would be mush (or onion confit-whichever you prefer.)

Good Luck.

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post #13 of 38
Do you share your recipe? I have been searching for a Carmalized Balsamic Onion recipe for canning.
post #14 of 38
Substituting a long time processing in a standard hot water canner will NOT take the place of pressure canning. The pressure is necessary to get the temperature hot enough to kill botulism. You can boil until the proverbial cows come home, but the hot water bath can't get ingredients hotter than the boiling water in which it's submerged.
post #15 of 38

Is anyone aware of commercial canning facilities in NY or NJ?  Looking to lease or sub-contract facility for producing canned goods for commercial sale.  Thanks,

post #16 of 38

How might one go about getting a permit to can certain specialty items?  I know local farmers who sell honey and maple syrup, each of which has a distinct flavor, only found in our area.   Another local "farm" operation (actually an orchard) cans all sorts of jams, conserves, etc and sells it.  So it isn't like it is never done at all.  

 

I wish everything weren't so controlled.   I'd like to have something truly original on my plate when I go out to eat.   Not something the chef put together with stuff that happened to be on hand that day.  It might be very good, but a little specialty jam, or something would be a big plus in my mind.  

DD

post #17 of 38

Google "co-packers" for your area, that is the easy way. They have all the licenses, certificates, etc.

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post #18 of 38

As a home cook I make large batches of caramelized onions, then freeze them flat in quart size ziplock bags.  They freeze great and you can easily break off a chunk.  I generally break off a 2 inch chunk of onion, finely dice while they are still partially frozen, then thrown them in my dish.  It saves so much time prepping for dinner.  They have never been mushy. 

 

I follow the same set up for roasting chili's and freezing them for later to save on prep time.  

post #19 of 38

Penguin!!!  So nice to see you.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/25/11 at 10:07am
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post #20 of 38

I have been canning foods for years...meats, vegetables, fruits, jams etc. When dealing with onions, a low acid food,  the only safe way to can them is by using a pressure canner. Pressure canning increases the internal temp of the canner to much higher temps than a typical water bath canner. With low acid foods one needs those higher temps to kill all bacteria and create a safe to eat food.

 

Many companies that make canners offer a fair list of "how to's", hints, recipes and ideas in the owners manuals. Another source for information regarding cooking times, pressures to use for certain foods etc would be your local extension service. They usually have someone on staff who can help with canning questions or at least they can hook you up with someone who would have the information you are looking for.

 

I have had good success with canning garlic and onions though the texture after caning is very soft...but they still resemble the original product. The flavors are much more condensed and I found a little canned product can go a long way in seasoning a dish.

 

If you have not tried canning foods, I suggest you give it a try. It is a great way to preserve a tons of great food, have quick heat and serve dishes at hand and not have to worry about a power outage and the fridge or freezer getting warm and losing waht is in them.

post #21 of 38

Well, anything with a lot of water and virtually no acid...nor alkaline content, for that matter...is not a good choice for canning/jarring. However, I have canned/jarred carmelized onions and have, along with my extremely grateful family, eaten them off my pantry shelves for over a year since "putting by", (as our elders called it).

 

In any case, as always--- use your own best judgement!

 

Bon Apetit!`

post #22 of 38

P.S. The pressure canning method does not go without saying; thus, I'm recommending it as a must!

post #23 of 38

Can 1/2 gallon jars be used for canning more than JUST grape and apple juice ?  If not, why ? How about canning stocks and soups in them ?

post #24 of 38

Freezing is the way to go if you are afraid of not processing in a pressure canner.  However, just as a point of interest,  I and everyone I know, was raised in the era of standard boiling-water canning method.  There were no pressure canners, at least not in the area I come from.  My mother, and everyone else's, canned all the usual low-acid foods, meat, fish, etc. in a standard hot water bath. 

 

In any case I dislike canning.  Too much work.  So much easier to freeze or dry.  However, you have to invest in a chest freezer and they aren't cheap.  With canning, you can lug your jars anywhere, just like canned foods from the store.  It's just a matter of choice. Different strokes etc. :)

post #25 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndyGal View Post
 

 

I wish everything weren't so controlled. 

 

I agree with you.

post #26 of 38

Yes, Yes Yes

post #27 of 38

Honey and Maple syrup are considered raw products. As a bee guy (5 NUCs Hobbyist ) and chef we still pasteurizer the honey.  Canning of a product for commercial use you have to have certification and inspection to ensure public safety. Perfect example, when making fused oils for cooking enhancement. A home cook can just stick so herbs in warm oil and all is good a professional kitchen has to blanch the herbs and bring the oil to 200F+ for public safety.

post #28 of 38

New to canning myself. Been around it, just haven't done any till now.  Can you use 1/2 gal. jars for soups and stocks ? The case says 1/2 gal. canning jars are for apple and grape juice.

post #29 of 38

Half gallon jars are only for apple and grape juice.  You cannot can soup in them.  The size is too big for the heat to reach all the way through the product to properly sterilize it.

post #30 of 38

The 1/2 gallon jars are nice to hold sugar/flour/rice/beans for keeping at hand. I buy bulk of those and store in 5 gallon buckets.

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