Can I use my microwave oven for canning? And how about blanching?

Canning: Neither microwave nor regular ovens are recommended for canning. A canning kettle with a rack, used on top of your range, will ensure the high and consistent heat necessary for safe canning.

Blanching: Blanching is required for most vegetables prior to freezing. It means immersing in boiling water for a specified time, then quickly cooling and draining dry to destroy enzymes, some bacteria, or to loosen skins.

You can blanch up to four cups or one pound (500 grams) of produce in your microwave oven (see below). While one batch cooks, you can be preparing the next.

Home gardeners can pick, blanch and freeze their produce in small batches as soon as it reaches its tender peak of perfection.

Very small quantities – not more than two cups – can be cooked in a plastic colander set in a casserole. This is very useful for small vegetables, like peas or corn cut off the cob, which can be cooked, plunged into ice-water, and drained with no handling at all. Stir while chilling, to ensure a complete and even effect.

Loose pack freezing: “Loose pack” frozen vegetables defrost more quickly and evenly, and are also more practical – there is no need to defrost a large quantity when you only need a little. Spread dried, blanched vegetables on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Bag immediately, drawing out extra air before returning it to the freezer.

A la Carte, the Panasonic newsletter, recently printed an excellent summary of microwave blanching information, and we have been given permission to pass it on to you. It is a compilation of information from many microwave cookbooks and pamphlets.

1. Prepare small quantities of vegetables by washing, peeling, slicing or dicing into small uniform pieces.

2. Use only 4 cups (1 litre) or 1 lb. (500 gm.) of vegetables at one time.

3. Use a 2 qt. (3 litre) casserole with 1/4- 1/2 cups (60 mL-125 mL) water. N.B.: Do not add salt.

4. Cover the casserole with its lid or rap.

5. Set power at High.

6. Use one-quarter of the time recommended for that vegetable in the microwave cookbook for the power of your oven.

7. Stir after half the heating time and at the end of the heating period. If the vegetables were evenly heated, the color should be uniformly bright.

8. Drain vegetables and immediately plunge them into ice water to prevent further cooking.

9. Drain well to remove excessive moisture or spread on paper towelling.

10. Package in freezer bags or cartons; remove excess air; label and place in the coldest area of the freezer.