Are you starting your New Year with a hearty meal of black eyed peas, collard greens, and pork? Southern tradition decrees that consuming these three foods has the power to bring personal health, financial prosperity, and good fortune throughout the year. To enjoy these foods sometime later in the year (and maybe even boost your chances of health, wealth, and luck), can them!
Follow the recommendations below to can your foods safely, and remember that tested recipes are meant to be followed exactly as is — in other words, if your own recipes differ from these recommended recipes, then you can eat those foods fresh and also make separate batches following these recipes and instructions for canning.
Canning these low-acid foods requires use of a pressure canner. This is very important to the safety of your final product because if low-acid foods are not canned properly in a pressure canner then there is risk of botulism, a potentially fatal food poisoning. The amount of time in the canner is also extremely important to ensuring that harmful bacteria (like botulinum bacteria) are destroyed. Our recommendations have been carefully tested in a laboratory to determine the exact amount of time required for each different food, and that length of time can vary quite a lot among foods types. Each recipe and procedure includes a process time for canning.
A good example of noting the variation in process times is with canning black eyed peas. Are your black eyed peas dried or fresh? Your answer to this question makes a difference in how long you will process the filled jars.
Dried black eyed peas must be hydrated before canning. To rehydrate, soak dry peas for 12 to 18 hours then drain, or for a quicker method, cover with water in a stockpot and boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak one hour, and drain. Whether you choose the quicker method or the overnight method, peas must then be covered with fresh water and boiled 30 minutes before being filled into jars. Process time is 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. Complete directions for Canning Dried Black Eyed Peas, including the amount of headspace required and altitude adjustments, are available from the NCHFP.
Fresh black eyed peas do not require as long of a process time as dried peas. Pints are processed for 40 minutes and quarts for 50 minutes. Fresh black eyed peas may be packed raw or hot. Specific directions for Canning Fresh Black Eyed Peas are available in a publication called ‘Preserving Food: Canning Vegetables’ from the University of Georgia. Recommendations for fresh black eyed peas are listed near the bottom of page 5 as ‘Peas: Blackeye, Crowder, Field’ .
You want collard greens to be fresh, tender and richly colored for canning. Discard any wilted, discolored, diseased, or damaged leaves and cut out tough stems and midribs so that they are ready-to-eat from the jar. You will also blanch the leaves briefly before putting in jars, as described in detail here: Canning Spinach and Other Greens.
Pork can be prepared as a raw pack or a hot pack for canning. Remove excess fat, as it goes rancid most easily. A raw pack means that you will simply cut the pork into strips, cubes or chunks, add salt to jars if desired, and then fill jars with the small pieces of pork until 1-inch headspace remains. Liquid that is naturally stored within the meat will exude when heated, but sometimes there is not enough liquid to fully cover the meat, which can lead to discoloration of the uncovered portions. A hot pack calls for precooking the meat and then adding boiling broth, drippings, water, or tomato juice after filling the jar with the meat, better ensuring that it will be fully covered after the canning process. The choice between a raw pack or a hot pack is up to you, but follow these recommended directions and process times either way: Canning Strips, Cubes, or Chunks of Meat.