Introduction to Basic Canning Techniques

Canning was a natural way to process food in past generations. Canning was actually done year round. It has started to be more popular again, perhaps because more of us are gardening and producing our own vegetables in our backyards. The following will give you some basic canning tips that you can use to process your homegrown food.

What Equipment You Will Need

Canning can be very inexpensive yet very rewarding. You will need a canner to heat your filled jars. An inexpensive hot water bath canner with rack will last for years. They are the large blue pots with a lid and rack that you have no doubt seen at the store. Although not necessary, you can purchase a pressure canner also. These are somewhat more expensive than the basic blue pot, but are definitely an option and a necessity if you plan on canning meat, poultry, or fish.

No matter what canner you decide to use, you will need a supply of wide mouth jars, lids, and rings. You can purchase various size jars based on your family size. Actually, any wide mouth jar that your lids fit on securely will work quite well. Mayonnaise jars are perfect.

You will need to use new lids every time you can food. Used lids are easily bent and most times do not seal properly.

Hot Water Bath Canning

The hot water bath method is excellent for canning high acidic foods such as tomatoes, barbecue sauce, jellies, pickles, jams, sauces without meat or mushrooms and more.

The hot water bath method is simple.
• Sterilize the wide mouth jars by boiling or wash them in your dishwasher.
• Fill the jars with the food you are processing.
• Wipe the rim of the jar clean, and place a new lid on top.
• Screw a ring on tightly.
• Fill your blue canner with water and bring to a boil.
• Place the canning rack in the canner and position your filled jars in it. There should be an inch or two of water covering the tops of your jars.
• Cover and maintain a rolling boil for the allotted time your recipe calls for.
• When processing is complete, remove each jar carefully and allow them to cool on your countertop.

As each jar cools, the lids will seal. Sometimes you can hear them ping. Leave your jars alone until they are completely cool. Check to make sure all are sealed. If any have not, you can replace the lid with a new one and repeat the hot bath method. Once cooled, you can safely remove the rings. Store your canned food in the pantry for later use. Be sure to mark the date and contents of each jar on its lid. This will help you use older food first and help distinguish between foods that look similar.

Tips and Techniques for Perfect Canning

Tip One: Hot and cold do not mix. Use hot jars for hot food and warm jars for cold food. If you put hot food in a cold jar, you run the risk of cracking it.

Tip Two: Do not use chipped or cracked jars. If your jar has a small chip in its rim, it will not seal properly. Run your finger around the edge before you fill it.

Tip Three: Increase processing time depending on altitude. Increase the processing time five minutes for every 3,000 feet. Refer to canning charts and your recipe for precise times.

Tip Four: If you are canning dill pickles, do not remove the rings. Pickles not processed before placing in the jar need their ring left on to remain sealed.

Tip Five: Always use your rack when canning. It helps keep the jars from overheating and cracking and allows the water to circulate around them.

Tip Six: Be safe. Jars are very hot. Use caution when removing them from the canner.

These tips should help you when you start your canning process. It is important to follow the recipe and is not wise to try doubling or altering them in any way. Do not try canning fish, meat, or poultry unless you have a pressure canner.

The most important tip: Have fun!