I’m very new to the art of canning food. This is only very basic information and I would highly encourage you to do more research on canning for your specific need and geographic location.
What is canning?
Canning is a method of preserving food. It means that food contents are processed and sealed in an airtight container. Canning provides a shelf life typically ranging from one to five years, although under specific circumstances it can be much longer. Shelf life depends on what type of food you are canning.
Canning is an additional step after cooking your food. It is a sterilization/heating method that uses heat with your food in a glass canning jar to stop the natural decay of your food that would normally take place without canning. It removes air from the jars and creates a vacuum tight seal allowing nothing to get in and nothing to get out.
There are two canning methods which are water bath canning and pressure canning. With pressure canning, you will need a pressure canner such as All American or Presto. You can also use your pressure canner as a water bath canner or just simply use a deep pot.
Water bath canning is typically for highly acidic foods such as juice, condiments, jams, jellies, salsas, and pickles. Pressure canning is used for meats, vegetables, and low acidic foods.
Is it safe?
Canning is completely safe as long as you follow proper rules, procedures, and sterilization methods. Be sure to get yourself a canning book from a highly reputable source such as Ball. Ball makes most of the mason jars available on the market and they have their own canning recipe book as well. Whatever canning book you have or find, make sure the publication date is after 1989 as any book prior is outdated as far as safety and canning time, and could effect the end result. The Ball Blue Book®of Preserving and the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning both offer the most current and up to date guidelines.
How do I store my jars?
Light causes food to discolor and it also destroys crucial vitamins in your foods. Make sure your location is not damp, dry, and away from heat or any heat source. You can freeze your jars, but make sure they are freezer safe. Freezing jars can cause food to expand and can break the seal. I store mine is a dark pantry or in cabinets I really do not use or ever open.
- Always sterilize EVERYTHING! jars, lids, rings, tongs, all utensils in boiling water for 15-20 minutes before you start canning. I use my dishwasher on the highest setting as this does the same thing. You can also bake your jars in the oven for 15 minutes while you boil the lids, jars, and utensils.
- Make sure your jars are free from cracks or chips. If they are cracked or chipped, re-purpose these for an art project or another use. It is now not canning safe.
- Make sure your rings and lids are free from any rust. They will rust in a matter of 30-60 minutes if left in water. As part of the proper canning procedure, soaking the lids and rings for a few moments in very hot water eliminates dust, smudges, or bacteria from our hands. Any longer and they will rust. This will deem them not canning safe. TRUST ME! I’ve done it.
- Make sure you de-bubble your jars before sealing. This eliminates air pockets which trap oxygen in your food which can cause mold, fungus, etc.
- Make sure you wipe the rim of your jars prior to putting your lids on. This will wipe away moisture and food that may have dripped during the filling process. You don’t want drips to interrupt the sealing of your lid which results in botulism.
Useful Sites for More Information
Ourhalfacrehomestead or Robert Brennan
are two fantastic resources to actually watch someone canning food.
DISCLAIMER: I am very new with canning both water bath and pressure canning. I have the The Ball Blue Book®of Preserving and most of my recipes within this blog are from that book. I also watch YouTube and follow along. I’m by no means an expert. Please do your own research for your demographic area, read the website mentioned above, and follow proper procedures. Botulism can make you extremely sick. Any deviation from what is recommended by both the USDA or The Ball Blue Book®of Preserving can result in spoiled food or botulism.