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Successful Home Canning

Guest Author - Sandy Moyer

Here's an easy to follow guide with all the basics you need to know for successful home canning. If you've never done any canning because you think it's just too complicated, I hope this will encourage you to give it a try.

Beginners should start with high acid foods that can be safely canned by using the easy boiling water bath method of canning. This is a basic way to preserve food at the temperature of boiling water, 212 degrees, using inexpensive equipment. Tomatoes and most fruits are high acid foods.

Vegetables are low acid foods, but when vegetables such as cucumbers, various beans, beets and some others are pickled, they can also be canned using the boiling water bath canning method. Because of the acid in vinegar used for pickling, jars of pickled vegetables can be canned in a boiling water bath.

pressure cannerLow acid vegetables like carrots, peas, corn, unpickled beets or beans need to reach a temperature of 240 degrees to kill all bacteria and safely preserve them. Cooking under pressure traps the steam from boiling water, allowing it to reach the higher temperature low acid foods need for safe preservation. This is done by using a pressure canner, making this method a bit more complicated and expensive.

Boiling water bath canning can be easy, if you have the right home canning equipment.
Here's the basic supplies you'll need .....

canning jars

Canning jars -
There are specially made jars and lids designed for canning. The jars can be reused for many years. Canning jars come in various sizes. Pint and quart sizes are usually used for fruit, applesauce, tomatoes, pickles, etc. Smaller 8 oz. jars are perfect for jams, jellies and relishes. Both pint size and quart size jars are available in regular or wide mouth styles. The wide mouth style is best for pickles and larger pieces of fruit such as peach or pear halves. Canning jars are usually sold in a boxes of 12... Each jar includes a two-piece lid.

Do not use just any jars. Though canning lids may fit some commercial brand mayonnaise or similar type jars, the glass is not tempered as it is in Mason jars and the surface of the jar rim is narrower. These jars may crack in the canning process and the lids might not seal tightly.



case of jarsTwo-piece lids -
Today's jar lids consist of a small cap that seals to the jar rim and a band or screw cap that holds the cap in place. Replacement lids are sold in most grocery stores, department or hardware stores, kitchen shops, farm centers, etc. Lids can be purchased in packages that include both rims and sealing caps, or you can buy boxes of just caps. Sealing caps should never be re-used...You'll need fresh new ones each time you do canning. Make sure you get the right size caps for your used canning jars, either regular or wide-mouth.


cannerA large covered water bath canner -
A canner must be deep enough to completely immerse the jars with 1 to 2 inches of water covering the top of the lids. Canners have a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. You can improvise by using any large stockpot with a wire cooling rack placed in the bottom.

canning suppliesJar Lifter -
A very handy tool for removing freshly processed jars from the boiling water. It looks like a wide tongs.

Wide mouth canning funnel -
Used to fill the jars...especially useful for jars with regular size tops.

A non-metallic spatula -
Or, a long plastic knife to run through the filled jars to release trapped air bubbles.

You'll also need a clean dish cloth to wipe the rims before placing the caps on the jars and a heavy dish towel or absorbent mat to sit the hot jars on after they're removed from the canner.


Then just take it step by step....

1 - Have all your equipment ready to use - Wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse and air dry. Check glass jar rims for even minute chips or cracks as these will not seal. Rinse new caps with hot water before using them.

2 - Prepare the food.
Always start with fruit at the peak of freshness. Fruit and vegetables should be washed, peeled and prepared according to your recipes for preserves, pickles, salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc.. For fruit, I recommend using a product such as "Fruit Fresh" to prevent discoloration. Follow the package directions for the desired amounts of sugar and water for a light, medium or heavy syrup. Prepare jams and jellies according to the directions for the brand of pectin you're using or follow a trusted recipe.

3 - Pack prepared food into hot jars, leaving a head space....usually 1/2" to 1" below the top of the jar rim or the amount stated in the recipe you followed.

Hot Pack or Cold Pack ???? (sometimes called raw pack) - The term "hot pack" in canning directions, means the food is first cooked in a syrup or other liquid. Foods that have been pre-cooked are already hot when they go into the canner, "Cold packed" means the food is raw when it's packed in the jars. Pickles and other foods that easily become soft or soggy go into the canner uncooked.

4 - Carefully run a wooden or other non-metallic spatula or knife down through the ingredients to release any trapped air bubbles.

5 - Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth to remove all traces of food on the rims.

6 - Place a cap on each jar, making sure it's centered and seated with the rubber edge directly over the rim.

7 - Screw the lid band onto the jar, but do not over tighten.

8 - Fill the canner with hot water - the amount depends on the size of the jars you are using. Most canners have pre-marked guides to give you a general idea.

9 - Place the jars on the rack in the canner or stock pot, adding more water if necessary to cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches.

10 - Cover with lid and bring the water to a full rolling boil. Continue to boil for the time stated in your recipe. A rough guide is about 5 to 10 minutes for pickles, 10 minutes for jam, about 20 to 30 minutes for fruit, fruit pie fillings, and applesauce, and 30 to 45 minutes or more for tomatoes. (Begin timing after the water begins to boil.)

11 - Turn off heat; carefully lift the lid away from you to prevent burning by steam. Using a jar tongs, remove jars from water. Place jars on a dish towel or absorbent mat. Allow to cool several hours or overnight.

12 - Check seals. Lids should be lowered in the middle and not move up or down when you lightly press or tap them. Remove bands wash them and dry them thoroughly. Some sources suggest taking them off for storage. This is important if they will be in a damp area such as a basement where the rims could become rusty. For storage in a dry pantry, I prefer to store them with the bands in place. If you do store them without the bands, leave a few bands in a convenient spot, to use on jars to hold caps in place after they have been opened for use.

13 - Label and date the jars, then store them in a dark, cool, dry area. where there's no danger of freezing.


Unsuccessful Canning.....
If any jars did not seal, the center of the cap will be raised, not lowered. Refrigerate the unsealed jar and use the contents within a few days. Unsealed jars may also be reprocessed. Remove their bands and caps; wipe the rims. Carefully check the rim for any small chips. If the jar rim is okay, add new caps and clean bands. If damaged, replace the jar too, then reprocess in a boiling water bath. Most foods can also be frozen instead being reprocessed.

Before using, always examine jars for signs of spoilage - a bulging lid or leaking. To open - remove the band if it was left in place. Use a lift type can opener and gently pry the cap to break the vacuum seal. If the food spurts out when opened; if liquids are cloudy or frothy; if food is slimy or moldy, or if it smells bad, do not use. Never taste the contents of a jar of food with a broken seal or food with even the slightest sign of spoilage. As with any spoiled food, discard it where it is completely out of reach of animals.

For canning, use granulated salt without non-caking ingredients or iodine added. Salt used for canning should be labeled as canning salt, pickling salt, or Kosher salt.

Use cider or white vinegar with 5% acidity. Do not use vinegar with 4% acidity for canning.

For best quality, home-canned foods should be used within a year.

Canning jars and bands in good condition can be reused.

Discard caps, since they cannot be used a second time.

Canning Recipes

Million Dollar Pickles

Dill Pickles

Bread & Butter Pickles

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Pickle Relish

Zucchini Relish

Sweet Pepper & Onion Relish

Pickled Red Beets

Green Tomato Pepper Relish

Homemade Sauerkraut

Salsa

PA. Dutch Chow Chow

Apple Butter

Peach Butter

Strawberry Jam

Homemade Applesauce

Canned Apple Pie Filling

Pickled Peaches - Spicy or Sweet

Related Articles

Home Canning Fruit & Vegetables: Processing Times

An Important Message for Homemade Jam & Jelly Makers

For canning low acid foods in a pressure canner, see

Pressure Canning - from the Virginia Cooperative Extension.

For free or low-cost Canning and Freezing Guides, see....

The Oregon State University Extension


Home Canning Essentials
BALL Home Canning Kit
This Ball Home Canning Kit features everything needed to begin canning. It includes a 21 quart capacity enamel waterbath canner, a chrome plated jar rack, a non-metallic jar funnel and utensils to measure headspace and remove air bubbles.


Roma Sauce Maker and Food Strainer
The Roma Food Strainer and Sauce Maker allows you to make homemade tomato sauce, applesauce, baby food and much more without all of that messy peeling and seeding. It features a larger hopper than other tomato strainers and a heavy-duty suction-cup base. Simply load the hopper and turn the handle to create fresh sauces and purees from just about any fruit or vegetable. Use either the suction-cup base or C-clamp to mount to your tabletop. The easy-turn handle allows for effortless use. It includes a standard tomato/apple stainless steel screen. An optional kit with a berry screen, a pumpkin/squash screen, a salsa screen and a grape spiral is also available.


Get a Home Canning cookbook....



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Content copyright © 2014 by Sandy Moyer. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sandy Moyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Allyson Elizabeth DŽAngelo for details.

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