Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Basics of Canning

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo BlogStuff_zpslcrnwvnd.jpg

Have you noticed how expensive food is getting these days?  Whenever I say that it can't go any higher it does!  That's why learning to preserve your own food makes so much sense.  Even if you don't have the space to grow your own food it's still cheaper to buy fresh veggies & fruit from your local farmer's market when the produce is in season and therefore inexpensive.  Then, preserving this farm fresh produce will create savings in the off season.   Today I will be talking about the basics of canning in my 16th "Contributing Angel post" (Thank you  again to my friend Angel for allowing me to contribute to your amazing blog!)

Of course there will be an initial investment to purchase of the following canning supplies but they will last a lifetime (except for the lids - see below).  Often I have seen canning supplies at garage sales and they are sold for almost nothing or many times even free!

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo BlogStuff-002_zpse6cbocac.jpg


1.  Half Pint - 1 cup capacity.  Mostly used for jams and jellies. 
2.  Pint - 2 cup capacity.  Can be used for larger quantity jams and jellies but also used for salsas and relishes.
3.  Quart - 4 cup capacity.  Used for tomatoes, peaches, sauces, soups, juices.

Mason, Ball and Kerr are all good canning brand names.

There are also two different sizes of the jar top

1.  Regular
2.  Wide-Mouth

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo BlogStuff-001_zpsr7ko45cx.jpg

You will also need a large "Canner" or large stock pot used for sealing the jars after they have been filled with garden produce.  Above you will see two pictures:
"Water Bath Canner"  & a  "Pressure Canner"
 Most of the canning that I do is sealed in my "water bath Canner."

There are a few veggies/fruits that can only be pressure cooker canned - an example is green beans.

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo BlogStuff-003_zpsexj98q3q.jpg

1.  Jar Lifter  - this handy utensil easily grips any scalding hot jar without any worries of burning yourself.  It is covered in rubber so you also don't have to worry about the jar slipping. 
2.  Canning Funnel - this funnel fits perfectly onto any regular or wide-mouth canning jar and allows you to pour whatever you are canning without wasting or spilling over the edge of the jar.  I prefer stainless steel but they are also available in plastic or aluminum.
3.  Rings - I reuse canning rings year after year - they end up lasting 5 - 10 years.  Throw away when you notice the inside of the ring getting rusty

4.  Lids - You MUST use a new lid everytime you are canning to ensure food safety.

5.  Magnetic Lid Remover - you can use a normal pair of cooking tongs but many times the lids will stick together and that never happens with this magnetic Lid Remover (it is also very inexpensive- only a couple of dollars).

Sterilizing Jars and Lids
Before filling your jars with whatever you are canning, the first thing to do is wash your jars in soapy water.  (My extra jars are stored in my garage so I always make sure that the dust, bugs and whatever else is washed off the jars). 
Next, boil your clean jars.  Some people only scald their jars before canning but I don't want to take any chances, so I boil my jars and lids for 5 minutes before canning.  (I always add a couple tablespoons of white vinegar to the boiling water - this helps keep the glass clear and this is also especially helpful if you have hard water).  Another way to sterilize your canning jars is to run them through the dishwasher and remove them just after the drying cycle when they are so hot that you can barely touch them.  I prefer using the boiling water method because you can do a few at a time and you don't have to wait the entire dishwashing cycle.
Then the jars are sterilized and they are ready for whatever produce you are canning.  I place the lids in the boiling water just before I begin filling the sterilized jars.  Once I have finished filling the jars then the lids are ready to be used.

"Raw Pack" vs "Hot Pack"
Now, here we are talking about "packing" our garden produce into Canning Jars and there are 2 different ways to do this.
1.  Raw Pack or Cold Pack is just what it sounds like it would be - placing your vegetables or fruits into your sterilized canning jars raw.  I want to be clear - these fruits & vegetables have been cleaned and any blemishes or wormy spots removed.  Examples of "raw pack canning" are pickles, green beans and whole tomatoes.
2.  Hot Pack is of course placing your garden produce into your sterilized canning jars after it has been cooked or lightly warmed (while it is still hot).  Now you are also able to "hot pack" pickles, green beans and whole tomatoes but I always do those 3 "raw pack."  Examples of only "hot pack" canning are: jams, jellies, tomato sauce and apple sauce.
There is a controversy as to whether "raw pack" is safe - I have been "raw packing" my pickles, green beans and whole tomatoes for decades and (thankfully) I have never had a problem.  But remember - even when "raw packing" there is always a boiling liquid brine that is poured over top of the cold vegetables/fruits.
Cleanliness is the key to safe canning!


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that the code finally reached you! My email is so frustrating!
    Thanks again