There is a satisfaction that comes with canning your own fruits, vegetables, and even meats for your family. I love to see the pantry shelves stocked with an abundance of brightly colored, healthy, and tasty foods.
Canning gives you the option to preserve foods when they are in season and at the height of freshness and enjoy them later. I have gathered together some basic canning tips to help you get started if you are new to canning.
Water Canning vs. Pressure Cooking
What is the difference between water bath canning and pressure cooker canning? Here is a quick breakdown for you.
Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning is where you process your jars completely submerged in boiling water for a designated amount of time. It is a good easy option for canning high acid containing foods like pickles, jellies, jams, condiments, tomato sauce, and preserves. These foods are processed with additional acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar. Be sure to process for the recommended amount of time.
Pressure Cooker Canning
The pressure cooker method is a must for safe canning of low acid foods like broths, meats, and most vegetables. I use this pressure cooker for all my canning because I feel using an electric pressure cooker is safer and more stable than an old fashioned pressure cooker or water bath canning. With long process times, the food in the jar is cooked and a safe seal is made at the same time.
Sterilizing Mason Jars
Proper sterilization of jars is very important in safe canning, although Ball no longer recommends boiling to sterilize your lids (apparently this has been a thing since they changed their seals in 1969, but I just recently found out). You can simply use clean room temperature lids and rings.
You still want to sterilize your jars in boiling water or in the dishwasher. Heat them in simmering but not boiling water and keep them there until ready to fill or pull straight from a hot dishwasher.
General Canning Tips
- Start with a clean kitchen. You want to have a lot of counter, stove, and sink space for the canning process.
- Use only canning jars, upcycled mayonnaise, pickle, or pasta jars are not effective or safe for long term food preserving.
- After filling jars, wipe the rim with a clean damp cloth to remove any spillage and get a better seal.
- Don’t rush it. Take your time and follow all the steps to be sure your canning is done properly and safely. Short cuts are generally not your friend when it comes to canning.
- Use ripe fruits and veggies. Avoid overripe as the canning process does not reverse the ripeness and the flavor will be preserved as is.
- Test lids before putting canned food away for storage. When you press on the center of the lid, it should not move up and down.
- Use lids only once but the rings can be used over and over.
- When removing jars from hot water, place on a towel rather than the cool counter where temperature differences might crack your jars.
- Use tools to help you can safely, quickly, and neatly. The right tools for the job make it much easier. See the list below for my favorite basics.
Basic Tools To Have on Hand
These are the items that I consider basic canning supplies and keep on hand in my canning stock at all times.
Pressure Cooker – I like this model because it has a canning feature and can be used as a slow cooker. You can also pressure cook to quickly make meals.
Water Bath Canner – This is a good, basic water bath canner that is ideal for jams, jellies,and preserves.
Jar Lifter – A jar lifter is a great safety tool for lifting hot jars. This one lifts regular and wide mouth jars.
Lid Magnet – A lid magnet is another safety tool that allows you to easily lift lids out of hot water.
Lids/Rings – Jars and rings can be reused, but you don’t want to be out of these when canning – clean lids are a must.
Funnel – This collapsible funner really helps fill your jars more quickly as well as with less mess.
Canning Scoop – This scoop is designed for getting food out of the bottom of a stock pot and pouring into a jar.
What is your favorite thing to can and preserve?