Canning is a great way to preserve a variety of produce including fruits, vegetables, and even meats. Here are some simple steps to help you get started:
- Jars with matching lids and bands (ensure they are meant for canning)
- Fresh produce
- Water bath canner or a large, deep saucepot with a lid and rack
- Jar lifter
- Canning funnel
- Bubble freer (a plastic tool designed to remove air bubbles)
- Salt, sugar, vinegar, or canning liquid (depending on the recipe)
- Canning recipe
- Clean Your Jars and Lids Wash your jars, lids, and bands in warm, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly. This step is crucial to ensure you are not introducing any unwanted bacteria into your canned goods.
- Prepare Your Produce Follow your canning recipe to prepare your produce. This may involve peeling, cutting, cooking, or blanching your chosen produce.
- Pack the Jars Pack your produce into the jars using a canning funnel. Leave appropriate headspace as directed by your recipe. This is usually between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
- Remove Air Bubbles Run the bubble freer (or a non-metallic spatula) around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles.
- Wipe and Seal the Jars Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue. Place the lid on the jar, then screw on the band until it’s fingertip-tight.
- Process the Jars Place the jars in the water bath canner or large pot (with a rack) ensuring they are completely covered with water. Cover with the lid and bring to a boil. Boil for the time specified in your recipe, adjusting for altitude if necessary.
- Cool and Check the Seals Once the jars have finished processing, turn off the heat and let them sit in the water for a few minutes. Then use the jar lifter to remove the jars and place them on a towel to cool. Once they are completely cool, check the seals by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the lid doesn’t move, the jar is sealed.
- Store the Jars Store your jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year. If any jars didn’t seal properly, refrigerate them and use within a few days.
Remember, it’s important to follow a tested canning recipe to ensure safety. Improper canning can lead to foodborne illnesses like botulism. Each type of produce may require a different method of preparation and processing time, so always follow your recipe exactly.