First Canning Project of 2015 – Sweet Potatoes

Happiness is…being back in the kitchen canning!

Yesterday I finally got back to canning and boy did it feel great!  I pulled out the bags of sweet potatoes I’d picked up just after Thanksgiving for $0.28 a pound and found only one potato that had softened.  In all I had 36 pounds to work with.

The first 26 pounds of the potatoes, I decided to can raw in water.  This allows me to add sugar when I use them if I like or as we prefer in many cases, spicing them up with a bit of chili powder and cayenne pepper.

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I checked my canning books and the internet and most sources suggested boiling the potatoes first and then peeling. This seemed like it would take longer than just peeling them.  Plus, I didn’t want to really cook the potatoes at all if I could help it.  With the long processing time in the pressure canner, the less the potatoes are cooked, the less chance of them turning to mush in the jars.

I don’t mind peeling potatoes.  It took me about 20 minutes to peel each batch and with Grace’s help it went even faster.

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Once peeled, I cut the potatoes into cubes and put them in a pot of hot water on the stove.

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I turned the stove to low and let the potatoes sit there while I prepared the jars, pressure canner, lids, and water for canning.  By the time I was done, the potatoes were warm, not hot, but warm enough that they wouldn’t cause the jars to crack when put in the canner.

Next I packed the jars with the warm potatoes and put 1 teaspoon of canning salt in each quart jar,

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covered the potatoes with boiling water to within 1″ of the top,

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did my best to get out any air bubbles, placed a lid and band on the jar, and put the jar in the canner.

Quick and easy.  The longest part of this project was waiting for the canner.  It took about 40 – 60 minutes for it to reach pressure and then they process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  The last batch of three, is in the canner now and I am waiting for it to pressurize before I can start the timer.

Once the canner is done, I typically wait until the next day to open it, allowing it to completely cool before attempting to remove the lid or jars.  This morning I finished the second batch of potatoes and opened the canner just before loading it again this evening, and although the jars were still hot, the pressure canner was completely depressurized.

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Twenty-six pounds of sweet potatoes yielded me 21 quarts of canned sweet potatoes that I plan on using for sweet potato pie and other desserts as well as a side dish for dinners.  With the remaining potatoes I am going to try dehydrating some of them and possibly making sweet potato butter with the rest.

Getting back to canning was for some reason a relief for me.  With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, all the decorating, baking, entertaining, planning, shopping, and rushing around, to finally be able to settle down and do some canning felt like a vacation.

My first canning project of 2015 is a success with many more to come, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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