Wednesday, September 21, 2011

General Canning Guidelines

People tend to think that canning and preserving your own food is difficult, when in reality it is quite simple. Depending on what you are preserving there are a few specifics (canning fruit is different than making jam) but for the most part there are some simple rules to follow. Here is how I do it!

Tip 1: Keep it HOT!
Keeping your food, jars and lids hot prevents any bacteria from getting into your food.

Tip 2: Work in Large Batches
Although canning isn't difficult it is time consuming. Working with large batches of food makes the process quicker. Peeling, cutting and preparing is what takes the longest.

Tip 3: Use good equipment
Buying good canning jars (or inheriting them) is an investment. Also check you lids if you want t try and re-use them. Don't use rusty or dented lids because they can cause the vacuum to fail and your jar will not seal.

So here is a general overview of how I go about canning.

Gather all your equipment first, I store my caner and jars in the basement so I need to gather them up before I start. Here's the basics of what you'll need:

  • Glass jars
  • Lids
  • Large canning pot with a rack, or a pot tall enough to cover your jars (place a towel in the bottom to keep the jars from banging and breaking)
  • tongs
  • jar lifter
  • funnel with a large spout
  • butter knife
  • sharp paring knives
For canning fruit you will want to get some Produce protector.

Clean your produce, get rid of any rotten or pieces. Peel fruit or trim veggies of their stems. Fill your caner and get it on the stove while you are peeling, it takes a while for it to heat to boiling. Heat your lids in a small pot, they don't have to stay at the boiling point but you want them sterile. I heat my jars in the oven at 200F, some recipes call to boil them. When filling your jars use the wide funnel and make sure before you put the lids on, to wipe the edge of the jar so there is no juice or debris that can hinder the seal. Also before you put the lids on, run a knife inside the jar to get rid of any bubbles and then top up with whatever liquid you were using, or add more jam/jelly. Most recipes for fruit and pickles call for a "hot pack". This means that you are going to boil whatever you are preserving before you put it in the jars, just follow the recipe on this one. After you give your filled and sealed jars a water bath (boiling them in your caner or large pot for a specific amount of time) they should all "pop" and seal themselves shut. If they don't you can always put the unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use them sooner than later.

These are just general guidelines, here are some sites that you can get recipes and instructions from:

What types of foods do you want to preserve?

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