With canning season approaching, and a list of things we want to “can” this summer for our Christmas Preserves baskets, I thought it might be a good idea to post a canning introduction/informative post for those considering trying to can this summer!
Homemade jams, pickles and such make great gifts for anyone!
This year I/we are thinking about trying out a few different things for our baskets such as pickled green onions, mustard pickles, pickled carrots, something called taco pickles, sauerkraut and more!
Here are the basic items you will need to get started:
Canning Jars and Seals – use mason-style jars with sealed lids and rings, which can be found at most grocery stores
- Wide-Mouth Funnel – makes filling jars a lot easier and less messy
- Lid Wand – to remove the lids and rings from boiling water
- Ladle – for filling the jars
- Large Pot – for boiling the actual preserves, and for hot water processing
- Tongs or Jar Lifters – lifters make removing jars from the water bath easier, but a good pair of tongs will work just as well
- Clean Cloths – to wipe down jars, lids and rims of jars
Here is a list of the steps of canning that I found online:
The Process of Preserving
1. Start by sterilizing your jars.
Wash your lids and jars in hot soapy water. Then move them to a boiling water bath for ten minutes to sterilize. Remove jars from the water bath, but leave the lids in the hot water until you’re ready to use them to ensure they don’t come in contact with anything before you seal your jars.
2. Slice, dice, pickle and pour.
It is best to can your fruits and vegetables immediately after you harvest them for the highest vitamin and nutrient concentration. The longer a fresh piece of produce sits, the more vitamins it loses. Prepare fruits and vegetables by slicing and dicing, prepare your jams and preserves using your favorite recipes (or ours, as we’ll have several of our top recipes coming up this week), and pickle vegetables before placing in the jars.
Tomatoes should have lemon juice or another citric acid added to them prior to canning to ensure their pH level is above 4.6, and ascorbic acid solutions can be added to fruits to prevent browning prior to placing in jars.
Iron, aluminum and copper should not be used when preparing your fruits and vegetables to can. These metals can cause discoloration of the produce.
3. Fill your jars.
There are a few things to remember when filling your jars. First, be sure not to fill them completely. Produce expands during the boiling process, so leaving adequate space at the top prevents the jar from leaking and making a mess.
After filling your jar with produce, unless canning jams, jellies and preserves, you’ll be pouring liquid to submerge the fruit or vegetables. Pour the boiling water, pickling solution or juice to cover up to the top of your produce.
4. Process your jars.
Preheat water in your pot or pressure cooker. For hot produce, water should be preheated to 180º F, and for cold produce, it should be around 140º F. This will help prevent the jars from cracking when they are placed in the pot.
Water should be an inch or two above the top of the canning jar when they are placed in the pot for a water boiling process. Use a pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s directions to determine the amount of water needed in the bottom prior to adding the jars.
Add the jars using your tongs or jar lifter, and place them in the vessel so they are not touching. Place the lid on your pot or pressure canner. With water bath canning, bring the water to a slow boil and then start your timer to process for the length of time dictated by which vegetable you’re canning and the altitude at which you live. For pressure cooking, you’ll want to check for the length and temperature needed for your region as well.