Grace Viall Gray.

Every Step in Canning online

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The Cold-Pack Method



Formerly Associate Professor of Home Economics,
Iowa State College



It was six years ago that I first heard of the One Period, Cold-Pack
Method of canning. A little circular was put in my hand one day at a
federated club meeting announcing the fact that in a few weeks there
would be a cold-pack demonstration about fifty miles away. Immediately
I announced that I was going to the demonstrations. So leaving my
small daughter with my mother, I went to the Normal School at DeKalb,
Illinois, and heard and saw for the first time cold-pack canning.

It is sufficient to say that those three days were so crowded full of
interest and new messages on the gospel of canning that I felt amply
repaid for going fifty miles. As a result of that trip, the first
story ever published on cold-pack canning appeared in _The Country
Gentleman_ and I had the pleasure of writing it. So enthused was I
over this new, efficient and easy way to can not only fruits but hard
vegetables, such as peas, corn and beans, that I wanted to carry the
good news into the kitchen of other busy housewives and mothers.

My mother had insisted that I take with me my younger sister, just
from college, but with no domestic science tendencies. So, much
against her wishes, preferring rather to do some settlement work, my
sister went with me. The canning was so interesting that for the first
time in her life, my sister became enthusiastic over one phase of
cooking. My mother was so pleased at this zeal that when she received
my sister's letter written from DeKalb, saying, "Mother, I am
enthused about this canning and want to can everything in sight this
summer," she hastily washed all available glass jars and tops and had
everything in readiness for young daughter's return. And we canned. We
were not content to can alone but invited all the neighbors in and
taught them how to can. Our community canned more things and more
unusual things, including the hard vegetables, that year than they had
ever attempted before.

Do not think for one minute it was all easy sailing, for there were
doubting Thomases, but it only took time and _results_ to convert even
the most skeptical ones. And here I must make a confession. It was
much easier for my sister, unversed in any phase of canning, to master
this new method than it was for me with my four years' training course
and my five years of teaching canning behind me. And this is the
reason. She had nothing to "unlearn," she knew no other method whereas
I had to "unlearn" all my previous methods.

The one period, cold-pack method is so entirely different from the old
hot pack or open kettle method that to be successful you must forget
all you ever knew and be willing to be taught anew. And right here is
where many women "fall down" - they are not willing to admit that they
know nothing about it and so do not get accurate information about it.
They are so afraid of appearing ignorant. This false feeling is the
greatest obstacle in woman's way.

I still go into small towns on my lecture trips and women will say,
"Oh, that cold-pack canning isn't new to me. I have used it for thirty
years." And when I show my surprise, they further enlighten me with,
"and my mother used it before me, too." With a little tactful
questioning I usually get these answers: "Of course, I do not hot dip
and cold dip. I never heard of that before. I pack the products into
the cold jars and for all vegetables I use a preserving powder because
there is no way on earth to keep corn and peas and such things unless
you put something into them to keep them. Fruit will keep all right.
Then I cook them in my wash boiler until they are done." And when I
ask, "How do you know when they are done," I invariably get the
answer, "Oh, I take out a jar once in a while and try it." It seems
like such a hopeless task to change all these old-fashioned,
out-of-date methods of cooking but with a great amount of patience and
much actual canning it can usually be done. Not always, of course, for
there are some women who seem to delight in sticking to the old rather
than try the new.

The present book is therefore designed for all interested in greater
efficiency in the home, including not only students of home economics
but all persons who have charge of homes and are interested in
learning new, efficient, time and labor saving methods.

In the preparation of this book I have received much help from Mr.
O.H. Benson, Agriculturist in charge of the government Boys' and
Girls' Club Work, and my first instructor in Cold-Pack Canning. I also
wish to acknowledge my appreciation to those who have helped to make
this book possible by contributing information, advice and


October, 1919.
























Before the World War, housewives had lost the good habit of canning,
preserving and pickling. It was easier to buy California fruits by the
case and canned vegetables by the dozen or half dozen cans, according
to the size of the family. There is no doubt it was cheaper and
decidedly easier to purchase canned fruits, vegetables, greens, soups
and meats than to take time and strength in the very hottest season of
the year to do our own canning.

But what was true then is not true now. The war taught us thrift. The
crime of wasting even a few tomatoes or berries has sunk into our
minds to stay forever; scientific canning methods have been adopted by
the modern woman. Women who had never canned in days before the war
had to can during war days. Food was so scarce and so high in price
that to buy fancy or even plain canned products was a severe strain on
the average housewife's purse. The American woman, as was to be
expected, came quickly and eagerly to the front with the solution and
the slogan: "More gardens and more canning and preserving at home."

A great garden and canning movement swept the whole country. As I have
just said, women who had never canned before became vitally interested
in putting up not merely a few jars of this and that, but jars upon
jars of canned fruits, vegetables and greens; and so great was their
delight in the finished products that again and again I heard them
say: "Never again shall we depend upon the grocery to supply us with
canned goods."

If these women had been obliged to use the same methods that their
grandmothers used before them, they would have canned just the same,
because it was their patriotic duty to do so; but they would have
canned without the enthusiasm and zeal that was so apparent during the
summers of 1917 and 1918. This enthusiasm was a result of new canning
methods, methods unknown to our grandmothers. The women of to-day were
forced into a new field and learned how satisfying and well worth
while the results were. It is safe to guarantee that every
home-canning recruit will become a home-canning veteran.

The fascination of doing one's own canning after one has learned how
simple and economical it is will be lasting. No one need fear that
home canning is going to suffer because the war ended the immediate
necessity for it. Home canning has come into its own because of the
war, and it has come to stay because of its many merits.

There are four methods of canning that are employed by women all over
the United States. They are the "open-kettle," the "intermittent," the
"cold-water" and the "cold-pack" methods.


The "open-kettle," or "hot-pack," method is the oldest. It was largely
used in the pre-war days. The food is completely cooked in the
preserving kettle, and is then packed into hot, sterilized jars, after
which the jars are sealed. As the packing into the jar is done after
the sterilization has been completed, there is always a possibility of
bacteria and spores entering the jar with the cooked food and the air.
Fruits can be handled successfully in this way, but this method cannot
be used for vegetables, greens and meats. It is a very laborious, hot
and hard way to can. Modern housewives are discarding it more and more
every year and are beginning to place their trust in the newer and far
more scientific methods of canning.

The "intermittent," or fractional sterilization, method is still
beloved by some people who cling to the sure and hate to venture into
the new. Vegetables can be handled by this method as can all fruits
and meats. It is used rather extensively in the South, where they say
the conditions do not favor "cold-pack." The great objection to this
method of canning is that it requires three periods of sterilization
on three different days and three liftings of jars in and out of the

What is sometimes called the "cold-water" method of canning should not
be confused with the "cold-pack" method. The "cold-water" is often
used in connection with the canning of rhubarb, green gooseberries and
a comparatively few other sour berry fruits. If the "cold-water"
method is used we would suggest that the product be thoroughly washed,
placed in a strainer, scalding water poured over it, and the product
then packed at once, in practically a fresh state, in the jars, and
clean, cold water applied until the jars are filled. If these steps
are taken carefully and quickly the method in most cases will be
successful with such acid products as I mentioned. As the products
will have to be cooked before they can be used many housewives do not
consider it any saving of time or labor to follow this method.


The method of to-day that came into its own during the war is known as
the "cold-pack" method of canning. It fought a long fight to prove
that it was a very efficient, economical and satisfactory process for
busy housewives to can everything that grows.

This is the method that I shall mostly refer to in this book, and if I
should omit the phrase "cold-pack" you will know that I am referring
to it. "Cold-pack" simply means that the products are packed cold in
their fresh and natural state in the glass jars or containers. To the
fruits hot sirup is applied; to the vegetables hot water and a little
salt are added. The sterilization is done in the glass jars or tin
containers after they are partly or entirely sealed, making it
practically impossible for bacteria or spores to enter after the
product has once been carefully sterilized or cooked. In following
this method vegetables should first be blanched in boiling water or
live steam, then quickly plunged into cold water and the skins
removed. The products are then packed in containers and sterilized
according to the instructions and recipes given later.

When we use the term sterilizing we simply mean cooking the product
for a certain period of time after the jar has been filled with food.
It is sometimes called processing. Sterilizing, processing, boiling
and cooking are all interchangeable terms and mean one and the same

By this "cold-pack," or cold-fill, method of canning, all food
products, including fruits, vegetables and meats, can be successfully
sterilized in a single period with but one handling of the product in
and out of the canner.

All the flavor is retained, the product is not cooked to a mushy pulp,
and the labor and time needed for the canning are less than in any
other method. The housewife's canning enemy, mold, is eliminated and
all bacteria and bacterial spores which cause vegetables and meat to
spoil are destroyed.


For this "cold-pack" method you can use whatever equipment you have in
the kitchen. Complicated equipment is not essential. Many of us have
purchased commercial outfits, for we know we can turn out more at the
end of a day and have found it well worth while to invest a few
dollars in equipment that enabled us to be more efficient. But if you
are a beginner and do not care to put any money in an unknown venture
use the available things at hand, just to prove to yourself and others
that it can be done.

Every type of glass jar manufactured can be used except those which
are sealed with wax. So dig into your storerooms, attics and basements
and bring forth all your old jars. If a top is in good condition and
will make a perfect seal when adjusted with a good rubber you can use
that jar.

If the tops cannot be restored to good condition it is poor economy to
use them. Imperfectly sealed jars are probably responsible for more
spoiled canned goods than any other cause. Good tops and good rubbers
are requisites for good canning.

For your canner, or sterilizer, you may use a wash boiler or a
galvanized bucket, such as is used for a garbage pail - a new one, of
course. Either is excellent where the family is small and the canning
is accordingly light. Some use the reservoir of the cookstove while
others employ a large vat. If you should have to buy the wash boiler
or pail see that it has a tight-fitting cover and be sure the pail
does not leak. Then all you have to do is to secure what we call a
false bottom, something that will keep the jars of fruit from touching
the direct bottom of the boiler or pail. This false bottom, remember,
is absolutely necessary, for without it the jars will break during the

For this false bottom use a wire netting of half-inch mesh and cut it
to fit the bottom of the sterilizer, whether boiler, pail or bucket.
If you haven't any netting and do not care to purchase it a wooden
bottom can be made to fit the sterilizer, or if that is not available
put thin pieces of wood in the bottom - anything to keep the jars from
coming in direct contact with the bottom of the sterilizer.

If you have only a small quantity of berries or fruit to can use a
deep saucepan with a tight-fitting cover and a few slats of wood. This
rack is absolutely necessary to keep the contents of the jars from
becoming overheated. Even if they should not break there is a tendency
for part of the contents to escape under the cover and be lost. Do not
use hay, old clothes, newspapers or excelsior for a false bottom; they
are unsatisfactory because they do not allow proper circulation of

Individual jar holders are very convenient and are preferred by many
women to the racks. Inexpensive racks with handles are on the market
and are worth what they cost in saved nerves and unburned fingers.
Some hold eight jars, others hold twelve. So it just lies with you,
individual housekeeper, whether you want a rack that will hold all
your jars or a set of individual holders that handles them separately.

To return to the subject of the canner, let me add that no matter what
kind you use, it must be at least three inches deeper than the tallest
jar. This will give room for the rack and an extra inch or two so that
the water will not boil over.

Besides the canners, the jars, the rubber rings and the rack you will
need one kettle for boiling water, into which the product may be put
for scalding or blanching; another kettle for water - if you haven't
running water - for the "cold dip."

If you use a homemade rack without handles you should have a jar
lifter of some kind for placing in and removing jars from the canner.
If individual holders are used this is not necessary, as they contain
an upright bail. Some women use a wire potato masher for lifting the
jars out of the canners. Other kitchen equipment, such as scales,
knives, spoons, wire basket or a piece of cheesecloth or muslin for
blanching or scalding the product, and the kitchen clock play their
part in canning.

No canning powder or any preservative is needed. If the product is
cooked in closed jars in the hot-water bath as directed the food will
be sterilized so that it will keep indefinitely. If it is desired to
add salt, sugar, sirup, vinegar or other flavor this may be done when
the product is packed in the jar.

A great many people have been led to believe through advertising
matter that it is both safe and practical to use canning compounds for
the preserving of vegetables which have proved hard to keep under the
commonly known methods of canning. The first argument against the use
of a canning compound is that it is unnecessary. It is possible to
sterilize any fruit or vegetable which grows on tree, vine, shrub or
in the ground by this cold-pack, single-period method of canning,
without the use of a compound. The second argument against it is that
many of the canning compounds are positively harmful to health. Some
of them contain as high as ninety-five per cent of boric acid.
Directors of county and state fairs should exclude from entry all
fruits and vegetables that have been preserved in any canning
compound. Perfect fruit can be produced without any chemical
preservative. The third argument is that they are expensive.

There are many modifications of the original wash boiler and garbage
pail cookers. These are all known as the hot-water-bath outfits. In
these outfits the products are all cooked in boiling water.

There are condensed-steam cookers under various names, where the
product is cooked in condensed steam. These steamers are generally
used for everyday cookery.

The water-seal outfit, the steam-pressure outfit and the aluminum
pressure cooker follow in order of efficiency as regards the time
required to sterilize food.

Following the hot-water canner in simplicity of construction and
manipulation is the water-seal cooker. The temperature of the
hot-water-seal outfit is a little higher than the homemade or
hot-water-bath outfit; so time is saved in the sterilizing.

The steam-pressure and the pressure cookers are more complicated but
more efficient. Some prefer the aluminum pressure cooker because it
can be used for everyday cooking in the home.

Pressure cookers are expensive, but they are worth their price, as
they are used daily and not just during the canning season.

Here are examples of how they rank as to time required: In a
hot-water-bath outfit soft fruits must be sterilized sixteen minutes;
in a steamer, sixteen minutes; in a water-seal outfit, twelve minutes;
in a steam-pressure-outfit under five pounds of steam, ten minutes; in
an aluminum pressure cooker outfit with ten pounds of steam, five

It takes longest to can with a homemade or hot-water-bath outfit; the
shortest and quickest method is with the pressure cooker that has a
pressure of ten pounds or more. Each housewife has different financial
problems, different hours of working and different ways of working.
Where quick work is desired and expense is no item the pressure cooker
is advisable; where money is scarce and time is no object the homemade
outfit answers. Each one must decide which outfit is best for her own
particular case. It matters not which outfit you have - they have all
been thoroughly tested and approved by experts. Each one does the

This equipment for canning should be in all kitchens: four-quart
kettle for blanching; steamer for steaming greens; colander; quart
measure; funnel; good rubber rings; sharp paring knives; jar opener;
wire basket and a piece of cheesecloth one yard square for blanching;
pineapple scissors; one large preserving spoon; one tablespoon; one
teaspoon; one set of measuring spoons; measuring cup; jar lifter;
either a rack for several jars or individual jar holders; and a clock.

The manufacturers, realizing that boys and girls must be kept busy
during the vacation months, have made some wonderful devices for
outdoor canning. Would it not be a good plan to buy one for the young
people of your family and give them something definite and worth while
to do in summer? You know little brains and hands must be kept
busy - if not usefully employed they are often inclined to mischief.
This type of cooker furnishes its own heat; so it can be used in the
back yard, in the orchard or under the trees in the front yard.

Remember that the higher the altitude the lower the degree of heat
required to boil water. Time-tables given in instructions for canning
are usually based upon the requirements of an altitude of 500 feet
above sea level. Generally speaking, for every 4000-foot increase in
altitude it will be well to add twenty per cent to the time required
as given in recipes or time schedules for the canning of all kinds of
fruits, vegetables, greens and meats.



Having decided on your canning outfit, whether you are going to can in
boiling water, in a condensed steam cooker, or in steam under
pressure; having gathered together the necessary tools, such as
spoons, knives and a funnel; having raided the storeroom and collected
some jars, you are now ready for the actual work of canning.

It is rather unfortunate that strawberries should be one of the very
hardest products to can with good results. The canning itself is
simple - all berries are quickly and easily canned - but strawberries
always shrink, are apt to turn a little brown, and, what distresses us
most of all, they float to the top of the jar.

The berry's tendency to shrink is responsible for loss of color as
well as its floating qualities. However, if you will be exceedingly
careful to remove the berries from the canner the minute the clock
says the sterilizing period is over, you will have a fairly good
product. Two minutes too long will produce a very dark, shrunken
berry. So be careful of the cooking time. Another thing that makes a
good-looking jar is to pack a quart of berries - all kinds of berries,
not merely strawberries - into a pint jar. If you will get that many in
you will have a much better-looking jar, with very little liquid at
the bottom. It does not hurt the berries at all to gently press down
on them with a silver spoon while you are packing them into the jar.

We know we are going to get a quart of berries into every pint jar,
so we know just how many quarts of berries we will need to fill the
necessary jars for the next winter's use.

The first thing to do is to test each jar to see that there are no
cracks, no rough edges to cut the rubber, and to see whether the cover
and clamp fit tightly, if a clamp type of jar is used. The bail that
clamps down the glass tops should go down with a good spring. If it
does not, remove the bail and bend it into shape by taking it in both
hands and pressing down in the middle with both thumbs. Do not bend it
too hard, for if it goes down with too much of a snap it will break
the jar. This testing of the bails should be done every year. The
bails on new jars are sometimes too tight, in which case remove the
bail and spread it out. After the bail has been readjusted, test it
again. The chances are it will be just right. Of course all this
testing takes time, but it pays.

If you are using some old Mason jars put a rubber on each jar, fill
the jar with hot water, and then put the cover on tight and invert.
This is a sure test for leakage. Never use a Mason cap twice unless
the cover and collar are separate so that both can be completely
sterilized. Fortunately the old-fashioned Mason jar metal cover to
which a porcelain cap is fastened is going out of style.

If you still have some of these old covers it will be economy to throw
them away. You will be money ahead in the end. After these tops have
been used once it is impossible to make a fastening between the
porcelain and the metal so tight that it is not possible for the
liquid to seep through and cause the contents to spoil. This accounts
for many failures when old tops are used. For this reason never use
the old-fashioned, zinc-topped covers.

The new and safe Mason jar covers consist of two parts, the metal
collar and the porcelain cap. They are for sale at all grocery or

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