Home canning has made a come-back in the last couple years–with a vengeance. It’s only evidenced by the supply and demand for jars and the price of them–the prices have increased steadily in the last few years. Why are so many people taking up home canning? It’s healthier–you control the ingredients and lack of preservatives. It’s cheaper–you can grow your own food or shop at local farmer markets when produce is in season. It’s self-satisfying–you are now a manufacturer of your own food and instead of pulling a can of Green Giant off the pantry shelf, you are pulling YOURS!
I started home canning four years ago. I was all over the web looking for instructions as my mother had never owned a pressure canner and only boil water bathed vegetables and meats for a very long time. She also only open kettle canned tomatoes and jams. My very first load of venison went into a borrowed pressure canner and I was hooked. From then on, I have canned many things from jelly and tomato juice to beans, chicken, soups, and chili. I even tried canning Mocha Frappuccino. I control my food. Given a low-sodium diet, salt was removed from anything canned–it’s not needed! The price of low-sodium canned foods in the grocery store is more than regular canned foods, so the savings was even more than I had started with.
Boil water bath canning is not recommended for low-acid foods (meats and vegetables) for health (as well as quality) reasons, as the temperatures needed to destroy food poisoning organisms in low-acid foods (240F-250F) cannot be reached in a boiling water bath (212F). Open-kettle canning (food is cooked in a pot, then packed into hot jars and sealed without further processing) is not recommended anymore either as the temperatures obtained are not high enough to destroy all spoilage and food poisoning organisms that may be in the food. Also, microorganisms can enter the food when it is transferred from the kettle to jar and cause spoilage.
You may hear “I’ve done it that way for years and no one has died.” But, the little time it takes beyond the earlier years of boiling water canning or open kettle canning is well worth the effort to be sure what you are feeding your family and friends is food poisoning free.
Home Canning Supplies Needed
To preserve high-acid foods (jams, jellies, fruit juices, fruits, pickles, and salsas):
2) Rack, dishtowel, or canning rings to keep jars off the bottom of the pot.
To preserve low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood):
2) Bottom rack (comes with PC) to keep jars off the bottom of the pot.
Jars, Lids, Rings–clean glass mason jars with lids (always use new) and rings (non-rusty rings can be re-used)
Utensils–wooden spoon or plastic spatula, ladle, funnel, jar lifter or heat resistant gloves, tongs or magnetic wand
Home Canning Instructions
Wash jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Dry bands.
Sterilize jars if needed. Jars do not need to be sterilized before canning if they will be filled with food and processed in a BWB for 10 minutes or more or if they will be processed in a PC. Jars that will be processed in a BWB for less than 10 minutes, once filled, need to be sterilized first by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes before they’re filled.
Heat jars in hot water until ready to use to prevent jars breaking when hot food is added.
Heat lids in a small pot and keep simmering until ready to use. Do not boil.
Prepare BWB by filling half-full with water and keep water at a simmer (140F for raw-packed foods, 180F for hot-packed foods) while covered with lid.
Prepare PC according to manufacturer’s instructions.
One Jar at a Time:
1) Remove hot jar from hot water with jar lifter or heat resistant gloves.
2) Using funnel and ladle, fill jar with prepared food, leaving required headspace (general guidelines below).
3) Remove air bubbles by sliding a non-metal (wooden spoon or plastic spatula) utensil down the sides of the jar all the way around 2 or 3 times.
4) Clean rim and threads of jar using a clean, damp cloth.
5) Using tongs or magnetic wand, remove lid from hot pan of water and center hot lid on jar. Screw ring on, tightening only until fingertip tight.
6) Place filled jars in canner.
Process jars for the processing time indicated in the recipe, adjusting for altitude (chart below). When processing time is complete, cool canner. For BWB, remove lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes. For PC, cool according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Remove jars from canner and set on a towel to prevent jars breaking. Leave jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Do not tighten rings.
Check lids for seals. Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Remove rings. If the lid does not seal with 24 hours, the contents can be immediately reprocessed (complete all steps above).
Clean jars and lids.
Label and store in a cool, dry, dark area.
Home Canning General Guidelines for Headspace
Jams, jellies, and fruit juices — 1/4 inch
Fruits, pickles, salsas, and tomatoes — 1/2 inch
Vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood — 1 inch
Home Canning Altitude Chart
For altitudes below 1,000 feet, use the processing times as stated in proven recipes.
For altitudes above 1,000 feet above sea level, use the following processing adjustments.
1,001 – 3,000 feet — increase processing time by 5 minutes
3,001 – 6,000 feet — increase processing time by 10 minutes
6,001 – 8,000 feet — increase processing time by 15 minutes
8,001 – 10,000 feet — increase processing time by 20 minutes
0 – 1,000 feet — 10 lbs (Weighted) / 11 lbs (Gauge)
1,001 – 2000 feet — 15 lbs (Weighted) / 11 lbs (Gauge)
2,001 – 4,000 feet — 15 lbs (Weighted) / 12 lbs (Gauge)
4,001 – 6,000 feet — 15 lbs (Weighted) / 13 lbs (Gauge)
6,001 – 8,000 feet — 15 lbs (Weighted) / 14 lbs (Gauge)
8,001 – 10,000 feet — 15 lbs (Weighted) / 15 lbs (Gauge)