Canning Yams or Sweet Potatoes

I watched my mother can as a child and my absolute favorite thing she did was her green beans. They were so yummy because she used onions and bacon. Nowadays the bacon is not recommended due to the length of time required to process would turn the beans to mush. But canned food was how my mother fed 4 kids on a waitress’ salary. I began canning about 15 years ago and started with pickled asparagus and apple butter. My asparagus took Best of Section at the county fair, and I knew I was hooked. Not only does it taste better than what is in the store, but I am controlling the ingredients. This means adding flavors my family likes and reducing the amount of sugar and salt in our diet. Add in that I buy fresh produce when it is cheapest, or get it for free with my gleening group, and it saves a huge amount of money.

Two things to note. First is the most important. Because it is a vegetable it MUST be pressure canned. The ONLY way to get the jars to a high enough temperature to kill all bacteria is to use a pressure canner. I know others say differently, or grandma did it different, but this is based on science and very important. We know more now than we did 50 years ago and have better equipment. Second, I am doing a Raw Pack method. The Ball Book will tell you to blanch the yams first, but that isn’t a safety reason, it is so you have a fuller jar when done. More on this later.

Ingredients
Yams
Canning Salt
Lemon Juice

First, all the yams need to be peeled. Many use a paring knife but I think that takes off too much of the yam. For years I struggled with awful peelers till a friend posted what she used, unfortunately, her direct sale company is now out of business so I cannot share a link. But I do suggest spending a little money and getting a good one because it saves you a lot of time and frustration. After they are all peeled, cut them into cubes about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Too big and you won’t get as much into the jars.

I used quart jars because even if there are leftovers, I will eat them the next day for lunch. But if you prefer, go ahead and use pint sized. Fill the jars to the rim with your diced yams. Sprinkle 2 tsp of canning salt on top of each jar. If using pints, cut it in half. I prefer to pack the yams raw because it reduces a huge amount of processing time. Cooking them first does two things. The end result is a fuller jar because raw yams will absorb some of the water while processing. Cooking will also pull out some of the starch which leaves a little sediment in the bottom of the jar.

Putting the salt on top allows the water to distribute it for you.
Putting the salt on top allows the water to distribute it for you.

Because I do a raw pack, I do not heat the water in my canner or the water going into the jars. It will take longer to get up to pressure, but I am fine with that based on my schedule for the day. Follow the directions for your pressure canner. Mine says to add 2-3 inches of water. I think at one time I may have even had a line in there but I no longer can see it. If you use hot water in the pressure canners, you need to use hot jars with hot water being added to them. Placing cold jars in hot water can cause them to crack.

Don't forget your tray on the bottom to slightly elevate your jars. If you have a second tray and are processing pints, you can put it on top of the jars and add a second layer.
Don’t forget your tray on the bottom to slightly elevate your jars. If you have a second tray and are processing pints, you can put it on top of the jars and add a second layer.

Add 2 Tb of lemon juice to each jar. This will not effect the flavor of the yams, but does greatly help to keep them a bright orange. You can leave it out but the yams turn a slightly brown color if you do. Fill each jar with water and leave 1 inch headspace. In the past I used a ruler but now there is this awesome stick you can buy that rests on the rim. The notches are for determining your headspace.

The lowest notch is one inch and each notch is 1/4 inch less. I laughed when I first saw this but when I finally got one I can't believe I waited so long.
The lowest notch is one inch and each notch is 1/4 inch less. I laughed when I first saw this but when I finally got one I can’t believe I waited so long.

The other end is perfect for removing the bubbles. I always say I like multi functional tools and this baby is a thing of beauty as it does just that. Bubbles must be removed or the water may not be enough to properly can. Just poke it down the sides and wiggle it a little bit. This looses the bubbles in the middle enough that they will float to the top and burst.

Make sure you recheck your headspace after this. Sometimes it changes drastically.
Make sure you recheck your headspace after this. Sometimes it changes drastically.

Once the jars are added the water may or may not completely cover the jars. As long as you followed the manufacture’s directions, this will be fine. Pressure Canning is not the same as water bath canning.

image

My pressure canner has arrows in the lid and handle so you know where to put the lid and twist.

Thank you Presto
Thank you Presto

Remove the weight first. Turn the heat on high until the pressure gauge reaches 10 pounds of pressure. Adjust if needed according to your sea level.

Once it hits 10 pounds, turn the heat down to medium. Keep an eye on it to ensure it stays there, and adjust the burner temp as needed.
Once it hits 10 pounds, turn the heat down to medium. Keep an eye on it to ensure it stays there, and adjust the burner temp as needed.

Once it hits 10 pounds allow it to vent steam for 10 minutes. Return the weight onto the lid and set the timer for 90 minutes for quarts. When time is done, turn off the burner, leave the canner on the burner, and allow it to come down to zero pressure on its own. Do not do ANYTHING to make it drop faster. This includes placing the pot in cool water, releasing pressure by lifting the valve or trying to remove the lid. Doing so is dangerous! Don’t be afraid of pressure canning. If you follow this one rule it is perfectly safe. Once it is at zero pressure, remove the lid, being careful for venting steam. Allowing the jars to sit in the water for 15 minutes can help prevent losing water in the jars. Using your tongs, place the hot jars on a towel to cool. Do not touch them for 24 hours. This includes removing those rings, no matter how tempting it might be. Now sit back and wait for that glorious ping that tells you that 7 quarts of yams are ready for storage.

Raw packed yams will absorb some of the water. This is okay and they will look like this.
Raw packed yams will absorb some of the water. This is okay and they will look like this.

I purchased my yams back in December when they were .69 cents a pound. While I bought 30 pounds, I have used some since then. I ended up with 17 quarts.

Just need to wipe them clean, label and they are ready to be put away.
Just need to wipe them clean, label and they are ready to be put away.

I use a sharpie to label every jar I can. I write what it is and the date. In this case, I did one batch with orange juice and sugar so I need to be sure those are labeled as candied yams. Now comes the great yam debate, with or without marshmallows? Tell me how you like to eat your yams.

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