Go to: Pressure Canning Index
Canning food has been a “labor of love” for generations of families!Abundant fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood are savored during the peak of the season and safely preserved to enjoy all year. What was once done out of necessity, today has become an opportunity to take control of the food you and your family consume. These beautiful jars of home-canned goodness will give you the satisfaction of knowing the quality and freshness of the food in your pantry. They will also ease your meal planning and take a bite out of your garbage and recycling needs. Reusable jars and bands can be used for many years. The flat lid is the only piece to be discarded. Home canning is still a labor of love...and well worth it when you take that first delightful bite of food canned in your own kitchen!
There are four basic agents of food spoilage — enzymes, mold, yeast, and bacteria. Canning will interrupt the natural spoilage cycle so food can be preserved safely. Molds, yeast, and enzymes are destroyed at temperatures below 212°F, the temperature at which water boils (except in mountainous regions). Therefore, boiling water processing is sufficient to destroy those agents.
Bacteria, however, are not as easily destroyed. The bacterium Clostridium botulinum produces a spore that makes a poisonous toxin which causes botulism. This spore is not destroyed at 212°F. In addition, this bacterium thrives on low acid foods in the absence of air. Therefore, for a safe food product, low-acid foods need to be processed at 240°F. This temperature can only be achieved with a pressure canner.
The level of acidity in the food determines the method of canning, boiling water or pressure canning, that needs to be used. For the purpose of home canning, foods are categorized as low acid and high acid. Foods that are low acid have a pH value higher than 4.6 and include vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. High acid foods have a pH value of 4.6 or less and include fruits, jams and jellies, properly pickled vegetables and properly acidified tomatoes.
Low acid foods must only be processed using the pressure canning method, while high acid foods can be safely processed using the boiling water method. Although fruits and tomatoes can be safely processed using the boiling water method, both can be acceptably canned using the pressure canning method. Always follow the processing method stated in the recipe.
Before you begin, assemble all ingredients, supplies, and equipment needed for your canning project. Carefully read, understand, and follow the recipe and canning instructions as directed. Do not substitute or omit ingredients. Always follow specific manufacturer's instructions.
Do not use jars from commercially prepared foods because they were made for single-use only. Glass home canning jars offer a deep neck and wide sealing surface to assure a tight seal. Always visually examine canning jars for nicks or cracks. Recycle or discard any damaged jars. Always use the jar size and exact processing procedures indicated in the research-tested processing recipe. Jars should be thoroughly washed in hot, sudsy water. Do not use wire brushes, abrasive materials, or cleansers because they may damage the glass. Rinse jars completely with hot water. To help prevent jar breakage, allow jars to stand in very hot water prior to canning. A dishwasher may also be used. Wash and dry jars using a regular cycle. When cycle is complete, remove one jar at a time, keeping the rest of the jars heated until needed.
Canning Lids and Bands
Avoid closures such as zinc caps and glass lids that require a jar rubber. These closures do not provide a proper method to determine if the seal is safe. Also, avoid commercial one-piece caps even if they have a rubber-like gasket because they are intended for one-time use only.
Selecting and Preparing Food
Raw Pack: Unheated food is put directly into the jars and then covered with boiling water, juice or syrup. When using the raw pack method most food should be packed tightly in the jars because it will shrink during processing. However, corn, lima beans, peas, and potatoes expand during processing and should be packed loosely. The raw pack method is generally used on foods that become delicate or difficult to handle when cooked.
Hot Pack Food is cooked or heated to boiling before packing into jars. The food is then covered with the boiling liquid. Foods that are hot packed should be put into the jars loosely because shrinkage will not occur during processing. The hot pack method is generally used on firm, easy-to-handle foods. In many cases, precooking the food may allow it to conform to the jar better for a tighter, more efficient fit. The hot pack method is preferred for most vegetables and fruits, as well as meat, poultry and seafood.
Removing Air Bubbles
Preparing Jar Rims and Adjusting Lids
The Canning Process
Storing Canned Food
Go to: Pressure Canning Index
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