Harvest Creations: Maverick Canning Rhubarb

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I swear I’m going to go and ravage the neighbor’s rhubarb plants. He now owns the 35-year old plant that I got my heirloom plant from originally. The family that planted it moved away and this new neighbor is doing nothing with it! Folks, if you don’t know what to do with your produce, you might want to ask the lady who lives the property over, who happens to spend hours and hours outside, what to do with it. Or even better — just give it to her.

Filling the jar with raw cleaned, unpeeled, sliced Rhubarb

Speaking of Rhubarb, today I harvested probably the second to last harvest I’ll get from my batch and tried an old cold-water canning method. It’s called a Maverick Canning Method by a book my dear old Army buddy sent me last year (Thanks, Wheeler! See Photo Above!).  There are other methods than what the Ball Blue Book puts out. It does have limitations, mainly, you don’t want to use this stuff if you’re canning as part of your prep for the Zombie Apocalypse.  But since things like raw rhubarb, cranberries and green gooseberries — work well in this method. Plus if you’re planning on using it very soon, which I do, this is exactly how you want to can it because it’s so freaking amazingly easy and fast.

*Directions:  Use jars that have rubber seals and screw caps or lids held with bails. Fill sterilized jars with picked-over, washed, perfect berries (rhubarb is cut in 1-inch lengths, but not peeled). Next, run cold drinking water into a scrupulously clean and scalded (the pan or canning pail is hot and slightly smokey) pail to level some six inches above the height of the jars.  Then fill the jars of fruit to overflowing with cold drinking water and submerge them — still open — in the pail and, UNDER WATER, cap them tightly. Store immediately in a cool place.

Limitations:  Fruit/berries canned this way should be strongly acid, and be tough-skinned and firm, so they don’t break down readily during storage. Old-time country housewives used to can fresh lemons this way when they could get a supply fairly cheaply in February or March. Because there’s no heat processing anywhere along the line, you must wash the fruit well and sterilize utensils and jars. If you’re leary of your water you can always boil it in advance (cooling it well before canning with it) — but then so much boiled water would be needed for canning by this method that you’re off easier, and better, using a Boiling-Water Bath in the first place.  (I have great water supply here in Western Washington, so…I didn’t worry about that.)

Fill jars to overflowing....

Fruits and berries that are Cold-Water canned require really cool storage; having no added sugar to retard freezing, though, they should not get below 32 degrees F.  Remember that the seal is not a perfect one, and that some air remains in the tissues of the food; therefore, it can’t store as long as properly heat-processed food does. 

One thing I did do was the typical lid preparation — regardless of canning method. You boil a pot of water. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and put the lids in and let them stay warm before using. (See photo.)

I have a great cupboard that is towards an outside wall that is very, very cool. The picture below shows it stored in there. But, my husband was really worried, so it’s in our garage refrigerator now on the door (so it doesn’t accidentally freeze like that ‘beer ‘fridge’ can do to some things placed against its far back reaches). However, even hours later when I moved the jars, they were very cold to the touch. I think you would be fine if you had a root cellar or other pantry-type cool, dark place to store it.

Sterilizing lids and warming for a partial seal is one place I won't be a "maverick" regarding canning.


Store in a fridge that doesn't get below 38 degrees or a lovely root cellar.


Regardless,  I will have fresh Rhubarb come Thanksgiving time — and all that Sunday pie-baking in between.

Tell me what you think! Have I gone off the the self-reliance, homesteading, do-it-yourself cliff?

*Everything italicized comes from the book PUTTING FOOD BY Written by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene, 1973, The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, Vermont.

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