Food Canning Basics 101
One way to stock your pantry with some foods that you love is to preserve them. Are you new to the idea of canning and preserving? It’s easier than you think! Just keep on reading this blog post will give you an overview of what the process is all about, and how it can help you to store delicious items to eat later.
What is Canning?
Canning is the process of preserving foods for eating later – In other words…
Canning is a method to preserve food in jars at high temperatures for a long period of time, killing microorganisms and inactivates enzymes that could cause food to spoil. The heating process pushes air from the jar, creating a vacuum seal as the food cools.
Canning is perfect for preserving your favorite foods throughout the winter months or for later enjoyment.
Benefits of Canning
Canning is not that complicated and it won’t take you long to figure out the process. So, why can at all? There are several benefits for you and your family.
Canning is economical – It saves you money on groceries. When you want strawberry preserves, you go to your pantry instead of heading to the store.
Canning cuts out food waste – Fruits and vegetables that you have grown in your garden don’t have to be given away or thrown away because you can’t eat them all before they spoil.
Fresh and good for you – Canning uses natural fresh ingredients without preservatives or additives. This is better for the body. Also, the natural flavor of the food comes through for a tastier meal.
The Canning Process
In order to get started, you’ll need a few tools. Kitchen and home stores (or good old Amazon) usually stock what you will need to get started. You can also Google “canning supplies” online to see the best stores and the best prices. Even if you only can foods one season, your equipment will have paid for itself!
What Can You Can?
Use fresh produce. Can your fruits and vegetables when they are in peak condition, any bruised or overripe produce should be avoided.
Meat, poultry, and seafood
Jams and jellies
Pickles and fermented vegetables
Home Canning Methods
A boiling water bath or pressure canner? Acidic foods like pickles, preserves and tomatoes may be preserved in a boiling water bath. But non-acidic foods like soup stocks, unpickled vegetables, and meat must be canned in special equipment, called a pressure canner.
Water bath canning. This method is a lower temperature canning process, ideal for high-acid foods and recipes that incorporate the correct measure of acid. It is recommended for fruits, jams, jellies, salsa, tomatoes, pickles, chutneys, sauces, pie fillings, and condiments.
Pressure canning. This is a high-temperature method needed to safely preserve low-acid foods. It’s recommended for meats, poultry, vegetables, chili, and seafood. The USDA advises against using a pressure cooker for canning because there are too many different models with varying results.
What Do You Need to Can at Home?
Jar lifter Tongs: Tongs help to pick up hot jars and safely take them out of hot water after processing.
Ladle: A ladle helps to spoon food into canning jars.
Wide-mouth funnel: A wide-mouth funnel has a larger opening to fit jars. It makes it a cleaner task to fill your jars and keeps the rims cleaner.
Canning jars, seals, and lids: Use glass mason jars with sealed lids. Ball mason jars are recommended.
Large pot or water-bath canner: If you are mainly focusing on fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, and salsa a water-bath canner or large pot will work great.
Pressure canner or large cooking pot with lid
Large pot or Dutch oven
The first thing you will need to do is to sterilize your jars and lids. Wash them with hot water and soap. Then boil them for about 10 minutes. Make sure that they are completely covered so they are sterilized inside and out.
Prepare your food. Slice up or dice your vegetables and fruits. Pickling may be preferred for some vegetables. Make preserves out of your fruits if you wish. Prepare them at the peak of freshness for maximum flavor and nutrition. Add lemon juice to tomatoes to achieve stable pH. Ascorbic acid can prevent fruits from browning in the jar.
Fill the jars with your fruits and vegetables, leaving space for expansion. Add boiling liquid or pickling solution until it covers the top of the food. Remove any air bubbles before sealing with the lids and the rings.
To complete the process, the sealed jars must be placed into boiling water in a pot or pressure canner. Make sure water covers the jars when water bath canning. The boiling time depends on the food and the altitude.
Overfilling jars. A good recipe will instruct you to leave headspace between the surface of the food and the rim of the jar. If you fill jars too high, the canning lids will not seal properly. Unsealed jars aren’t dealbreakers, you can transfer them to a refrigerator to use within a few days, or reprocess with enough head space to seal.
Allow jars to cool and vacuum seal before labeling and storing them. Listen for popping sounds. Once the jar has properly sealed, you should hear a popping sound and the lid should no longer pop up.
Canning allows you to enjoy your favorite foods all year round.
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