salsa: Salsa has a variety of meanings. In home canning, salsa is sauce made from tomatoes flavored with cilantro, chiles and onions. Green salsa, usually made with tomatillos and green chile, is called “salsa verde.” Salsa recipes expand past tomatoes and can be any chunky mixture of fresh herbs, spices, fruits and/or vegetables used as a sauce, dip or condiment.
salt: Sodium Chloride (NaCl) resulting from the chemical interaction of an acid and a base, usually sodium and chloride. Salt is produced by three ways; open-air evaporation of salt brine in shallow ponds, by mining of rock salt deposits or by boiling and evaporating higher purity brines. Salt adds flavor to recipes, it also controls fermentation of yeast in breads. Coarse grades, colors and purities are available. With the exception of pickling, when home canning, salt is not required and may be omitted as it is only used to enhance flavor.
- salt, Himalayan: Known for its beautiful pink color due to trace minerals, Himalayan sea salt is rock salt mined from the Punjab region of Pakistan. This salt often replaces table salt and is regularly used in everyday cooking. Ideal for home canning recipes, however, giving its cost, it may not be best suited for pickling. This coarse-grain salt has a higher concentration of minerals and a higher salt flavor so you may reduce the salt by half in canning recipes.
- salt, kosher: a coarse-grained, textured salt that is free of additives. Kosher salt may be used when canning cucumbers to make pickles.
- salt, pickling or canning: Salt used in pickling and fresh preserving. It is free of anti-caking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy, and free from iodine, which can darken the pickles. Its granules are larger than table salt but smaller than kosher salt grains.
- salt, table: A refined, fine-grained salt. Table salt is the most common salt and is used as a table seasoning. It contains additives that may yield unfavorable results when pickling. Iodized table salt (sodium iodide) is not recommended for pickling because it contains an anti-caking ingredient that can make brines cloudy, as well as iodine, which may darken the pickles. While table salt may not be ideal for pickling, it can be used in all other canning recipes with great success.
- salt, sea: A type of salt produced by the evaporation of sea water. It comes in fine- and coarse-grained textures and is usually more costly than other types of salt. Sea salt should not be used for pickling because it may contain minerals that could darken the pickles.
saucepan, large: An 8- to 10-quart (8 to 10 L) heavy pot essential for cooking jams, jellies, preserves and fruit butters. The pot must have a broad, flat bottom for good heat distribution and deep sides to prevent food from boiling over.
sauté: To brown or cook in a small amount of fat. Sautéing is often done in a small, shallow pan using oil, wine, butter, broth or even water.
savory: Related to the mint family, savory has a flavor and aroma similar to a cross between mint and thyme. There is a winter and summer variety, with winter savory having a stronger flavor.
screw band: The glass threads at the top of each jar. The canning ring adheres to and tightens around these bands to keep the canning lid in place during processing.
sealing compound: The red compound on the underside of a metal canning lid, also called plastisol. The sealing compound comes in contact with the rim of the jar. Its purpose is to form an air-tight seal of the lid onto the glass canning jar to keep foods safe for long-term storage.
sear: To brown food, usually meat, quickly over very high heat to seal in juices. This is usually the first step in a canning recipe using meat.
season: To add flavor to foods in the form of salt, pepper, herbs and spices, to improve the foods taste. When home canning, dried seasonings and herbs can be adjusted at will being their pH value is neutral and will not negatively affect a canning recipe.
seasonal canning calendar: A seasonal schedule created to simplify planning your canning time around various foods grown and readily available throughout a calendar year. A plan of action so you may maximize your canning time and your yield.
shelf stable: A processed food product that remains safe to eat without refrigeration for years.
shred: To cut, slice or tear food into thin strips. It is also referred to when pulling apart very tender cooked meats, like shredding a pork shoulder after smoking to create pulled pork.
shuck: To remove the outer shells from food like the shell of an oyster or clam, the hush from an ear of corn or husk of tomatillo.
sieve: A fine mesh strainer used to strain liquid from food.
simmer: Cooking food in a hot liquid that is heated to a boil then reduced, or is heated just below boiling point at temperatures 185°F to 210°F (85°C to 99°C). Small bubbles will rise to the surface of the liquid and collapse; the activity is much calmer than a full rolling boil.
skim: To remove the surface layer of impurities, scum or fat from liquids such as stocks and jams while cooking. This is typically done with a slotted spoon or a skimming tool that has a wide, flat surface covered with holes at the end of the handle. This same tool can be used when blanching.
skin: Before or after cooking or blanching, this is the process of removing the skin of food like poultry or tomatoes.
slice: To cut foods across the grain into thin, uniform pieces.
smoke: A method of preserving, or curing, foods like bacon or fish, by exposing it to wood smoke for a considerable period of time. This method enhances the foods flavor and provides even cooking while preserving the foods.
snip: Cut quickly with scissors into fine pieces.
spatula: A versatile utensil available in a variety of shapes and sizes typically made from metal, wood or rubber. Used to remove foods from a pan or to flip-foods to cook both sides.
spice bag: Also referred to as a Sachet Bag in recipes, this is a small bag filled with select herbs and spices. It is used to keep said herbs and spices contained and the bag permits the flavors to seep into the food or liquid. The bag makes it easy to remove when steeping is complete. A bag can be made by cutting cheesecloth into a 4” by 4” square and tied with kitchen string. Any size bag can be made, the bag size is indicative of the size and quantity of the herbs and spices required to flavor the recipe.
spices: The seeds and skin of plants, berries, bark, fruits and unopened flowers used to flavor foods. Unlike herbs, spices are almost always dried.
Splenda®: This sugar substitute contains 95 percent dextrose and maltodextrin which the body readily metabolizes, combined with a small amount of mostly indigestible sucralose. It is 600 times sweeter than sugar in flavor. Splenda is higher in acid than regular sugar with a stable pH of 5 to 6. It can be used to replace sugar in canning recipes, however, it absorbs the liquid in each jar making the end product denser than when canning with sugar.
spoilage: The natural deterioration of food whereas when spoiled, it no longer is suitable to ingest. When home canning, we stop the natural decay of food by preserving its integrity by way of temperature, time and acid or a combination of the three in a hermetic environment without free oxygen. If food becomes spoiled in a jar during storage it is likely due to a lid failure or improper destruction of microorganisms. If your home canned good has spoiled you will notice one or more of the following: unsealed lid, mold, gassiness, cloudiness, seepage outside of the jar, a pungent disagreeable odor, gradual discoloring of half of the food contents with the top half darker than the bottom half of the food contents, etc.
sprig: Leaves of an herb still attached to the stem. They are often grouped and tied together with kitchen string to form a bouquet making it easy to remove when complete. Sprigs are used to flavor recipes.
staple: The main item, or the most important item, stored in your pantry, grown in your garden or available in your region of the world. This can be a personal preference relative to the individual household.
starch: A carbohydrate obtained from cereals and potatoes or other tubers.
steep: Permitting a food substance or herb to stand in liquid to extract flavor, color and other qualities from said food or herb.
sterilize: The process of destroying germs and microorganisms by exposing food to heat at a specific temperature for a specific time.
stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from plant leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant from Brazil and Paraguay. The active compounds are steviol glycosides, which have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable and pH-stable, but are not fermentable. From a flavor perspective, Stevia is said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. In plant form, stevia is alkaline with a 9.0 pH. When in a powder or liquid form, stevia has a pH is 5.8 making it lower in acid when canning. Stevia can be used in home canning to sweeten low-acid recipes or to add flavor to high-acid recipes; however, it is not advised to use Stevia to replace sugar when home canning fruit jams and spreads without testing the pH of the recipe to achieve 3.0 to 3.9 pH.
stir: Using a kitchen utensil, typically a long spoon, to move foods around in a circular motion for the purpose of blending or securing uniform consistency.
stock: A rich extract of soluble parts of meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Stock is the base for soups, sauces and gravies.
storage, long-term: A cool, dry, dark place where home canned goods can be kept long-term until ready to be consumed. Ideal temperature is 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C) and should be free from moisture and humidity, and free from direct and indirect sunlight. Basement pantries and root cellars are ideal, but jars must be kept up off the floor. Under beds, linen closets, area under stairs are also ideal locations for storing home canned goods. Do NOT store your home canned goods in cabinets above stoves or refrigerators as each appliance emits heat therefore making the cabinet environment susceptible to vast temperature swings and humidity by repetitive heating and cooling.
strain: Literally, to separate liquids from solids by passing through a sieve. A bowl-shaped kitchen utensil with perforated holes or a mesh bottom used to drain liquids or semi-liquids from foods. Also called sieves. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes. When home canning, the larger the strainer the better as most recipes require large quantities of foods.
sugar: Sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate occurring naturally in every fruit and vegetable in the plant kingdom. It is the product of photosynthesis when a plant transforms the sun’s energy into food. Sugar used in cooking and baking is generally derived from sugar cane and sugar beets. Sugar is used as a sweetener and as a preservative for foods. Processed sugar has the addition of lime added to raise the pH to neutral pH of 7.0 or a pH as high as 9.0, making it lower in acid. Beet Sugar also have a neutral pH of 7.0 to 7.5. Brown sugar is higher in acid due to the moisture content of the molasses, ranging from 4.9 to 5.6 pH.
- granulated sugar: Fine or extra-fine white sugar crystals. Often referred to as “white sugar” in home baking and canning.
- brown sugar: Sugar crystals contained in a molasses syrup with natural flavor and color components. Dark and light brown sugars may be substituted according to individual preferences for product color or taste.
- powdered sugar: Also known as confectioners’ sugar, is a very finely ground sugar made by milling sugar into a fine powdered state, used to make icing. This sugar is not used in home canning.
- raw sugar: About 98 percent sucrose and tan or brown in appearance; it is a coarse, granulated solid obtained on evaporation of clarified sugar cane juice.
- turbinado sugar: Raw sugar refined to a light tan color by washing in a centrifuge under sanitary conditions. Surface molasses is removed in the washing process and is closer to refined sugar than raw.
sweat: cooking a food in a small amount of fat over low heat until it becomes softened and releases its moisture. This is usually a preparatory step to other cooking methods to make the finished product more flavorful in a shorter timeframe. This step is used when making and canning fish stock.
syrup: Sweetened and lightly thickened juice from fruits and some vegetables. Best for berries (blackberries, blueberries, currants, raspberries, strawberries) citrus fruits, ginger, rhubarb; tree fruits (apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums); tropical fruits (guava, mango, passion fruit pineapple); grapes; peppers (bell peppers and chiles).