NOTE: There are
serious potential health risks including death, which can arise from
improperly, processed and handled foods. Be sure you know what you are
doing and access the risk carefully for each food you wish to attempt to
NOTE: There are serious potential health risks including death, which can arise from improperly, processed and handled foods. Be sure you know what you are doing and access the risk carefully for each food you wish to attempt to process!
There are several basic pieces of equipment used when canning food and they may be found at most department or hardware stores.
Mason Jars. Canning jars are commonly found in six sizes – 4 gallon, 1 gallon, ˝ gallon, quarts, pints and half pints and in 4, 8, 12 and 16 ounce smooth or quilted Jelly jars. The most common are quarts, pints and half pints.
Water Bath Canner
A large enamel pot with a lid.
They come in several sized for quarts or pints.
Canning Jar Rack
For holding jars while they are being processed or lowering and raising them from out of the pot.
Canning Jar Lifter
For lifting jars into or out of
from the pot
Canning Jar Funnel
Used as any funnel and keeps food from hitting the lid or spilling all over. It’s important to keep the lip of the jars clean and clear for a proper seal!
Canning Jar Wrench
Rubber coated so you can get those hot rings on and off
Any non-reactive kitchen colander that can take heat will do
For grabbing hot lids, rings, covers etc.
All canning jars should be washed in soapy water, rinsed well and then kept hot. Jars that will be processed for less than 10 minutes in a boiling water bath canner do need to be sterilized by boiling them for 10 minutes before filling. Jars processed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes or more will be sterilized during processing. Use new two-piece lids and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for treating them.
Carefully place the filled jars onto a rack in the canner containing hot water. The water should be
deep enough to cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover the canner and bring water to a boil. Start counting processing time as soon as the water begins to boil. Process for the length of time specified in the recipe. Keep the water boiling. If no time is given, process the pickled product for at least 10 minutes.
I learned the processes I use to can foods from my mother, and she probably learned it from her mother. I’m sure like everything else some of these processes have changed over time and you should check with the Nation Center for Home Food Preservation to see if the recommended processing and time have changed in any way. No doubt they have.
There are only two ways I know of for home processing food, the Hot Water Bath and the Pressure Canner method
The Hot Water Bath method is generally considered safe for tomatoes, fruits, jams, jellies, pickles and other preserves. Jars, either quarts or pints of food are completely covered with boiling water and boiled for a certain length of time , then removed.
Pressure Canning is said to be the only safe method of preserving vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. Jars of food are placed in 2 to 3 inches of water in a special pressure cooker which is heated to a temperature of at least 240° F. This temperature can only be reached using the pressure method.
Steps For Boiling Water Bath Method
Fill the canner about halfway with hot water. Turn on the burner and heat the water.
For raw-packed jars, have the water in the canner hot but not boiling to prevent breakage of the jars when they’re placed in the canner. For hot-packed jars, use hot or gently boiling water. Be especially careful if you are working in an air-conditioned space! Cold jars placed in hot water could explode!
Fill the jars as described below in the section called "Packing Methods."
Allow the proper headspace according to processing directions for specific foods. This is necessary so that all the extra air will be removed during processing, and a tight vacuum seal will be formed.
To make sure that air bubbles have not been trapped inside the jar, run a plastic or rubber-like thin spatula around the edges of the jar, gently shifting the food, so that any trapped air is released. After the air bubbles have been removed, more liquid may need to be added to the jar to ensure proper headspace.
Wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth.
Screw on the lids, but not too tightly — air needs to escape during processing.
Put filled glass jars on the rack in the canner. Add more boiling water or take out some as needed so that the water is at least 1 inch over the tops of the jars. (If you add more water, pour it between the jars, not directly on them, to prevent breakage.) Put the lid on the canner.
When the water in the canner reaches a rolling boil, begin timing your for processing.. Boil gently and steadily for the recommended time, adjusting the heat and adding more boiling water as necessary.
Use a jar lifter to carefully remove the hot jars as soon as the processing time is up. Place the hot jars right side up on a rack, dry towels, boards or newspapers to prevent the hot jars from breaking on contact with a cold surface. Leave at least 1 inch of space between jars.
Do not tighten the lids.
Allow the jars to cool untouched for 12 to 14 hours.
Steps For Pressure Canner Method
Be sure to read your manufacturer’s instructions on the use of your pressure canner.
Place 2 to 3 inches of water in the canner. It should be hot but not boiling when canning raw-packed food; hot or gently boiling for hot-packed foods.
Fill the jars as described I the section below called “Packing Methods."
Allow for proper headspace, remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims and put on lids. (See detailed instructions above in "Steps for Boiling Water Bath Methods).
Process according to your manufacturers instructions not the general statements made below:
Set the jars of food on the rack in the canner so steam can flow around each jar. Fasten the canner lid so that no steam begins to escape except through the vent. Turn heat to high and watch until steam begins to escape from the vent. Let the steam escape steadily for 10 minutes.
Close the vent, using a weight, valve or screw, depending on the type of canner. If you have a weighted-gauge canner that has a weight of varying pressures, be sure your are using the correct pressure.
For a dial-gauge canner, let the pressure rise quickly to 8 pounds of pressure. Adjust the burner temperature down slightly and let the pressure continue to rise to the correct pressure. (If the burner were left on high, the pressure would be hard to regulate when the correct pressure is reached.) Start counting the processing time as soon as the pressure is reached.
For weighted-gauge canners, let the canner heat quickly at first and then adjust the heat down slightly until the weight begins to rock gently or "jiggle" two to three times per minute, depending on the type of canner you have. Start counting the processing time as soon as the weight does either of these.
Keep the pressure constant by regulating the heat under the canner. Do not lower the pressure by opening the vent or lifting the weight. Keep drafts from blowing on the canner. Fluctuating pressure causes loss of liquid from jars and under-processing.
When the processing is completed, carefully remove the canner from the heat. If the canner is too heavy, simply turn it off.
Let the pressure in the canner drop to zero. This will take 30 to 45 minutes in a standard heavy-walled canner and nearly an hour for a larger 22-quart canner. Newer thin-walled canners depressurize more quickly. Do not rush the cooling by setting the canner in water or by running cold water over the canner. Never lift the weight or open the vent to hasten the reduction in pressure.
Older canners are depressurized when the gauge on a dial-gauge canner registers zero or when a gentle nudge to the weight on a weighted gauge canner does not produce steam or resistance. New canners are equipped with a safety lock. These canners are depressurized when the safety lock drops to normal position. When a canner is depressurized, open the vent or remove the weight. Wait two minutes and then open the canner.
Note: Sometimes safety locks that are located in the handle of a canner will stick. If a nudge to a canner weight shows that it is depressurized, remove the weight, wait two minutes and then run a knife blade between the handles to release the lock.
Unfasten the lid, and tilt the far side up, so the steam escapes away from you to prevent burns. Do not leave the canner unopened, or the food inside could begin to spoil. Use a jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the canner. Place the hot jars on a rack, dry towels, boards or newspaper, right side up to prevent the jars from breaking on contact with a cold surface. Leave at least 1 inch of space between the jars.
Do not tighten the lids. Allow the jars to cool, untouched for 12 to 24 hours.
Why Pressure Canning is Necessary - A microorganism called Clostridium botulinum is the main reason why pressure processing is necessary. Though the bacterial cells are killed at boiling temperatures, they can form spores that can withstand these temperatures. The spores grow well in low acid foods, in the absence of air, such as in canned low acidic foods like meats and vegetables. When the spores begin to grow, they produce the deadly botulinum toxins(poisons).
The only way to destroy these spores is by pressure cooking the food at a temperature of 240°F, or above, for a specified amount of time depending on the type of food and altitude. Foods that are low acid have a pH of more than 4.6 and because of the danger of botulism, they must be prepared in a pressure canner.
The low acidic foods include:
High acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or less and contain enough acid so that the Clostridium botulinum spores can not grow and produce their deadly toxin. High acidic foods can be safely canned using the boiling water bath method.
The high acidic foods include:
properly pickled vegetables
Certain foods like, tomatoes and figs, that have a pH value close to 4.6 need to have acid added to them in order to use the water bath method. This is accomplished by adding lemon juice of citric acid. This is a change to the time honored processes used years ago.
NOTE: Water Boils at Lower Temperatures as the Altitude Increases!
Using the process time for canning food at sea level may result in spoilage if you live at altitudes of 1,000 feet or more. Water boils at lower temperatures as altitude increases. Lower boiling temperatures are less effective for killing bacteria. Increasing the process time or canning pressure compensates for lower boiling temperatures. Because of these differences it is recommended that a pressure canner be used for most foods at altitudes above sea level.
Fruits and vegetables may be packed raw or they may be preheated and then packed into canning jars. The hot pack yields better color and flavor, especially when foods are processed in a boiling water bath.
For both raw pack and hot pack, there should be enough syrup, water or juice to fill in around the solid food in the jar and to cover the food. If not covered by liquid, food at the top tends to darken and develop unnatural flavors. It takes from ˝ to 1˝ cups of liquid for a quart jar.
Raw Pack place raw, unheated food directly in jars. Pour boiling hot water, juice or syrup over the food leaving to proper amount of headspace.
Fruits and most vegetables packed raw should be packed tightly because they will shrink during processing; however, corn, lima beans, potatoes and peas should be packed loosely because they expand during canning.
Hot Pack Heat the food to boiling or cook it for the specified amount of time and then pack the hot food and boiling hot liquid in jars. Foods packed hot should be packed fairly loosely, as shrinkage has already taken place.
Now that you have an idea of what you need and have a basic idea of how to proceed let’s go to the download section to see what we can do with all this newfound information …
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