Home Canning and Preserving

Home Canning and Preserving

Canning and preserving your own foods allows you to enjoy amazing, fresh flavors year round for a fraction of the price of store bought jams, jellies, and preserves. If you've never canned something before it can feel a little daunting at first. If you know someone who has canned and preserved foods before ask them to help walk you through it the first time. Although it's actually pretty simple once you've done it, it's very important to follow the steps for canning and preserving exactly to prevent spoilage of your food. If you fail to follow the instructions properly some very toxic, invisible bacteria can grow. Make sure you clean everything, follow the recommended boiling times, and follow each recipe that you want to preserve exactly. No substitutes!

Rather than repeat these somewhat extensive instructions for each recipe, I will refer to this master set of steps that should be followed if you want to can and preserve food. For best results, follow the specific instructions for each recipe exactly as written.
  • Prep: 1 hour
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Total: 1 hour 30 min
  • Yields preserved jars of canned food
Home Canning and Preserving
  • A Brief Word on Food Saftey
  • Read the instructions for the recipe you are making and ensure that you have all of the ingredients. Follow the recipe exactly. Measure carefully and make no substitutions, omissions, or additions as this could make your canned food unsafe to eat. If you live at a higher altitude, refer to home canning guides to determine any modifications or additional boiling times that you should use.
  • Heat Water to 180°F to Kill Germs
  • glass jars with two piece lids
  • Inspect all jars and lids for any nicks or cracks. Do not use any equipment with imperfections for canning and preserving. Hand wash all jars and lids with warm, soapy water.
  • water
  • Place glass jars in an extra large canning pot. Fill the pot and jars with warm water so that there is at least two inches of water above the top of the jars. Place lids in a small saucepan and fill with water.
  • Place extra large canning pot with jars and small saucepan with lids on stove and heat over high heat until water reaches 180°F. DO NOT BOIL. Reduce to medium heat and ensure that water does not boil or else you might crack the jars or harm the rubber lining on the lids.
  • funnel, tongs, funnel, and any other canning utensils
  • Clean any canning utensils that you will be using with warm, soapy water. Prior to using them, dip the end you will use in the water for several minutes to kill any germs and prevent contamination.
  • Keep jars and lids in 180°F water until ready to use.
  • Prepare Food
  • Follow recipe to prepare jam, jelly, sauce, or other food that you wish to preserve.
  • Canning
  • Using a clean pair of tongs, carefully lift a single jar out of the canner using a jar lifter and pour water back into canning pot. Place jar on a heat-safe surface.
  • Using a funnel to assist you, spoon or pour your prepared food into the jar. Follow the recipe's instructions for how high to fill the jar. Remove any air bubbles that you can see in the jar by pushing the food from the side of the jar towards the center.
  • Carefully level the food in the jar to ensure that you have reached proper headspace around the entire surface, not just at a single point. Taking the time to level and double check can make a big difference in getting a proper seal.
  • Using a clean, damp cloth wipe the rim of the jar to remove any food. Remove a single lid from the saucepan and place on top of the jar. Screw band onto jar until just barely tight but not completely firm. You want to leave just enough to allow the small amount of remaining air to escape and a vacuum seal to form in the jar.
  • Using a pair of tongs, carefully lift sealed jar and place back in water bath in the large canning pot. Repeat with remaining jars and food.
  • If you find that your last jar is not completely filled do not attempt to seal and preserve it. Instead, place it in your fridge and use within several days or time frame described in the recipe.
  • Preserving (aka Processing)
  • water (as needed)
  • Once all of the jars have been filled to their proper head space and have lids, return them to the canning pot. Ensure that water comes up to at least two inches above the tops of the jars. Add additional water as necessary, or even remove water if pot is too full due to displacement.
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Add vinegar to water to prevent water spots from forming on the jars.
  • Bring water to a roaring boil. Allow jars to sit in boiling water according to recipe instructions (often 15 minutes or more).
  • Once boiled for the appropriate amount of time, turn off heat. Using tongs, carefully remove jars from canner doing your best to keep them level. Do not tip or angle jars at this point as this can break the seal.
  • Place jars on a firm cutting board, sheet, or pan. Drape a clean cloth over the jars and slide board to the back corner of your counter. Let jars rest at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours.
  • Checking Seals
  • Once jars have rested for 8 to 24 hours, check the seal on each jar by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the lid moves then the jar did not seal properly. If lid does not move, then gentle remove band and very gentle attempt to lift off lid to ensure that a proper vacuum seal exists. If you cannot lift of the lid with a gentle touch, then clean the top of the lid and jar with a clean, damp cloth. Screw band on to firmly seal the jar and label with the name and use-by date (typically one year from current date).
  • Place sealed and labeled jars in a cool, dark place for storage. Use as desired prior to use-by date.
  • Place jars that failed to seal properly in the refrigerator and use within several days or weeks. If you have several jars that failed to seal, share some of these jars with friends and instruct them to refrigerator and use within several days or weeks.
From MakeBetterFood.com. . (http://makebetterfood.com/recipes/canning-and-preserving/). Adapted from Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

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