What is Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning is a great skill to have when it comes to preserving the harvest. Choose water bath canning to preserve high acid foods like jams, jellies, fruit, most tomatoes and sauces, pickles, relishes and vinegar based condiments.
Even if you live in a small apartment, this is a skill you can learn and practice now before you are able to move to your dream homestead. Fruits and vegetables can be purchased at Farmer’s Markets even if you don’t yet have your own garden.
And if you can prepare a home cooked meal, you have the skills needed to learn to can. You really can do this.
To get started with water bath canning, you do need a few speciality supplies. For most of the items, this will be a one-time purchase. Lids are the exception and can be used only once.
What you need includes:
- water bath canner with wire rack
- glass canning jars (size will depend on what you are canning)
- canning lids for jars
- canning rings (bands) for jars
- cooking utensils such as wooden spoon, paring knife, ladle
- jar lifter
- canning funnel
- bubble remover and headspace tool
- dissolvable labels
Canning Supplies Starter Kit
The Basics of Canning
Canning is one way to halt the decay of food and preserve it for future use. Heating high acid foods in canning jars using specific processing times destroys microorganisms and forces air from the jar. A vacuum seal is formed which prevents any further contamination.
The type of canning method chosen is determined by the pH – acidity or alkalinity – of the food you wish to preserve. The boiling water method discussed here is only for foods either naturally high in acid or foods to which acid has been added. Most fruits and pickles can be canned using this method.
Low acid foods including meat and most vegetables must be processed using a pressure canner.
Ball Blue Book
Guide to Preserving
The Process of Water Bath Canning
The first step in canning is gathering all of your supplies and making sure all jars, lids and rings are in good condition. Wash jars in hot, soapy water.
You will, of course, need the produce you are wishing to preserve, and a recipe that is safe for home canning. I am not always a rule keeper or a recipe follower, but when it comes to canning I find it very important to follow safe standards. No rebel canning here.
Now fill your canning pot about half full and bring to a simmer. Place the wire rack in the pot and preheat your mason jars in this hot water, leaving them here until ready to fill. Lids and rings are left at room temperature.
Prepare your approved high acid recipe. Lift jars which are preheating by elevating the wire rack, but do not remove jars.
Using your jar lifter, remove and fill one jar at a time. Fill to the correct headspace (your recipe will indicate correct head space) using your headspace tool. Remove bubbles using the bubble remover. Clean the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth. Center a lid on the jar and place a band over the lid, adjusting until finger-tip tight. Do not over tighten.
Place the filled jar in the wire rack that is sitting over your canning pot. Repeat until all the jars are filled. Then lower the rack into the simmering water. The jars should be covered by 1″ of simmering water; add boiling water if needed. Cover pot; turn heat to medium-high and bring the water to a rolling boil. After boiling begins, process for the amount of time indicated in your recipe maintaining a boil.
Turn off heat; remove lid. Allow the canner to cool for 5 minutes, and then using your jar lifter carefully remove jars. Place jars on a dry hand towel on your counter leaving 1 – 2″ space between jars. Do not disturb until cool. Do not tighten bands.
After cooling for at least 12 hours, test the seal by pressing the center of the lid to be sure it is concave. Remove the band. Gently try to remove the lid; if it cannot be removed the jar is sealed. Refrigerate any jars which have failed to seal.
Wash your jars using a clean damp cloth. Sealed jars may be stored without bands. Be sure to label your jars with the recipe name and date. The ideal temperature to store home canned goods is 50° – 70°F; store in a dark area for up to 18 months.
The Ultimate Guide to Preserving Vegetables
by Angi Schneider
Canning Recipes and Information
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