Very simply – I love to can. For some reason I find it therapeutic. I make a total disaster of the kitchen, but there’s nothing better than opening a fresh jar of tomatoes in the dead of winter. Although somewhat time consuming, canning is relatively easy. So hop on the canning band wagon and go preserve something.
There are two safe methods for canning foods: water bath canning and pressure canning. The type of food dictates which methods you should use. Foods that are LOW in acid, like beans, carrots and corn, should always be processed in a pressure canner (this is NOT the same contraption as a pressure cooker). HIGH acid foods, like most fruits or foods that have been acidified, can be safely preserved using the water bath canning method. A water bath canner is nothing more than an extra large pot with a lid and a canning rack in the bottom.
WATER BATH CANNING
- Wash jars and keep warm. The easiest way of doing this is to wash the jars in the dishwasher and leave them there until you are ready to use them. You can also hand wash the jars and keep them in a warm oven. Keeping the jars warm will prevent them from breaking as you fill them.
- Fill the canner half way with water and preheat to 140 degrees for raw-packed foods (foods that are freshley prepared and unheated) or 180 degrees for hot-packed foods (foods that have been heated to boiling and simmered for several minutes).
- Place the lids in a small sauce pan with a few inches of water and heat to boiling; immediately remove from heat. Leave the lids in the water until ready.
- Fill jars leaving appropriate head space; 1/4″ for juices, jams, jellies and relishes or 1/2″ for fruits, tomatoes and pickles.
- Remove air bubbles from filled jars by running a plastic utensil around the inside of the jar.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp paper towel.
- Place lid and ring on jar and tighten snugly; do not over tighten.
- Place jars on rack in canner using a jar lifter; be careful not to tilt jars.
- If necessary, add more hot water so jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water.
- Place lid on canner and keep covered while processing.
- Return water to a boil; processing time starts once water has started to boil again.
- Once foods are done processing, turn off heat and let jars rest in canner for a few minutes.
- Remove jars with jar lifter; be careful not to tilt jars. Set on kitchen towel in draft-free area to cool.
- Once the jars have cooled, you can check to see if you have a good seal by gently pressing the center of the lid. If it pops up and down, your jar did not seal. Immediately refrigerate or discard jars that did not seal. You may remove the rings as long as you have a good seal.
- If you prefer, you can also leave the rings in place. After the jars have cooled, the rings may not be tight. This is perfectly fine as long as the lids are sealed properly. If you leave the rings loose, you are less likely to have them rust in place.
If your just starting out, Ball has a great recipe collection for water bath canning.
Always remember with canned foods (or any food for that matter), if it looks funny, smells funky or tastes strange – THROW. IT. AWAY.