Home canning is a great way for families to save money throughout the year on vegetables and fruits that they eat, as well as great way to ensure that you have fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the year. However, as with anything there are a few things for the newcomer to understand and realize.
For starters, home canning equipment basically consists of a canner and the mason jars to store the food in. There are mainly two types of options to choose from when considering a canner. First, the bath canner can be found at almost any store. It is simply a huge pot that has places for jars to sit inside. These can be made of granite or stainless steel. This is what most people start out with because it is so simple to use. The other option is the pressure canners. These come in various sizes to fit whatever size of jar that you will be using. The benefit of one of these is that they usually get the job done much faster, however, they can be dangerous as you have to keep a close eye on the pressure or risk breaking the jars.
Along with the canning containers, you will need the jars, lids and bands to store the food in. These mason jars come in a variety of sizes and can be found at most retail stores. The jar itself, along with the bands can be reused once it is emptied. However, the lids will need to be replaced with each use.
Once you have your tools to begin there are a few do’s and don’ts that you should know. First, you will need to wash your jars. Just using warm water and mild detergent will do the trick. Most people like to have the jars sit in warm to hot water before adding the contents into it to make sure that the jars do not break from being too cold when hot food is added.
Before canning the food, be sure to thoroughly wash the vegetable or fruit that is being canned. A good recommendation is to wash the food with a vinegar and water solution that is half and half, followed by rinsing the vegetable or fruit with water and using a brush to make sure that it is perfectly cleaned.
Your canning is done, when the lids have sealed. This is easy to check, as you will be able to tell a difference. However, if you follow the instructions that come with your canner you should be fine. Remember that different types of fruits and vegetables call for different times in order to fully can.
It is important to remember that if a can did not seal properly in the process, to throw it away, as it is damaged and the food inside is spoiled. It’s also important that you date and label the cans that you do finish in order to make sure that you never eat anything outdated.
Most importantly make sure to use the right products. Many people have tried to use short cuts, and have used old spaghetti sauce or mayo jars instead of buying mason jars. This is not a wise decision. These are not meant for reheating and they will break. Secondly, only use a canning container that is certified by the USDA as the best way to can. In the past many people have used an oven technique, however, the USDA says that this is not a safe way to preserve the food.