Canning Made Easy
(Page 2 of 5)
Get your supplies out and check them over. Always use jars made especially for canning rather than old mayonnaise or pickle jars, and never use jars that are cracked or chipped around the rim. Use only the two-piece screw lids, never re-using the flat piece, as its protective ability is compromised once lifted off a jar.
Lids and jars should be sterilized before use by boiling for at least 10 minutes, leaving them in the hot water until they are needed.
The two canning methods in general use today make use of either a boiling-water bath or pressure canner for processing. The boiling-water system requires longer processing times and is suitable for foods with higher acid contents, while the pressure canner reaches higher temperatures faster and is suitable for virtually all food types. Once you have decided which fruit, vegetable or meat you want to can, be sure to educate yourself on the current recommendations for method, processing time and sterilization precautions for that produce. Your county extension office provides a wealth of information for your area, or you can go online to such sites as the USDA’s National Center for Home Preservation (www.UGA.edu/nchfp).
For high acid foods, such as tomatoes, use the hot water bath method, which employs a large enamel kettle with a rack. To start, fill the kettle half full with hot water.
1) Wash your food thoroughly but gently, chop it and cook or blanch as your recipe dictates. Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the rim clean, and screw down the sterilized lids.
2) Set into the kettle’s rack. If the jars of food do not fill the rack, place empty jars (also sterilized) into the extra spaces to prevent the jars from tipping.
3) Lower the rack into the hot water. Processing time starts when the water returns to a boil.
4) After processing, use tongs to carefully remove the jars from the kettle and set them onto clean towels. Within a short time, you should hear the lids “click” down. However, do not disturb the jars for several hours.
5) After that time, remove the screw band and check the seal by noticing its concave indentation. A second test of your seal is to place the jar into a bowl and pick it up by the lid. If it does not fall away, your seal is good.
For low-acid foods such as green beans, asparagus and most other vegetables, it is recommended you use a pressure canner. Steps 1 and 2 are the same as for the hot water bath. Then:
3) Lower the rack into the pressure canner, into which you have poured two inches of water (or whatever is recommended in your owner’s manual). Tighten down the kettle’s lid but do not close the vents.
4) Keep the canner on high heat until the steam flows freely from the vents. Hold at this temp for 10 minutes. Then close the vents. Processing time starts when the gauge reaches the level recommended for that food.
5) When processing is complete, remove the canner from the heat. Allow its temperature and pressure to fall naturally. Never hurry this process. Once the pressure returns to zero, wait two minutes before opening the vent and the canner’s lid, pointing it away from you to prevent steam burns.
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