If you have a garden or are lucky enough to get fresh vegetables and fruit from relatives or friends, canning is one of the best ways to store these extras - as well as other food items you may make, i.e., jelly, jam, relish, and pickles. However, care should always be used when home canning. This includes using and having on hand all the proper equipment, jars, lids and storage before you start canning - as well as following the proper canning process for the items being canned.
There are many excellent books available to take you through the whole home-canning process. Many available at discounted rates on Amazon.
In the meantime, the following are some quick hints*.
Select the correct size based on the number of family members. Pints for smaller families; quarts for larger families.
The size of the jar mouth should be considered based on the type of food to be canned.
Lids, bands and jars should be flawless - no damage, no rust, no dents. Any of these may result in unsafe food.
Jars, lids and bands should be washed in hot soapy water and rinsed. Jars may be kept in clean hot water until ready to use the day of canning.
Follow manufacturer's directions on sealing lids making sure they are sealed correctly with no leaks.
There are a lot of new canning jars and products available, however, if you are using some older items like flat metal lids with screw band or zinc cap and rubber rings make sure there is no damage and the rubber rings are new and pliable. Flat metal lids and rubber seal rings should only be used once.
Making sure the seal is set is extremely important. This means it should be tight around the edges, no bloating to the top and no leaking.
Make sure the seal is set and only check after the jars are cooled.
Metal lids will be drawn down, and will stay down if pressed.
There should be no leaks if the jar is tilted. If there is leakage, the food should be refrigerated and eaten as quickly as possible or reprocessed in a clean jar with a new lid.
Storing Canned Food
Canned jars should be labeled with contents and date of canning. If there was more than one batch canned, that should also be noted.
Store in cool, dry, dark place.
Dampness may cause metal lids to corrode resulting in spoilage or leakage.
Foods to Can
The process will differ depending on the vegetable or fruit you are canning. Know the process before you begin. Generally speaking, this will be based on the acid content of the item.
Know beforehand if you will need to use a steam-pressure canner (at a temperature of 240º F, 10 pounds pressure) for your vegetables and fruit. This will ensure all bacteria that may cause spoilage are destroyed.
If a steam-pressure canner is not used, a water-bath canner may be used to destroy the bacteria. Again, be sure you are using the correct canning method for the vegetable or fruit you are canning.
Butters, jams, marmalades and preserves can be processed in a water-bath canner at a temperature of 180-185º F.
This is not meant to be a step-by-step guide on canning, but rather a guide to canning basics . Any attempts to can any food should follow steam-pressure canner, water-bath canner, and canning jars manufacturer's recommended directions.
To learn more information on how to home can correctly, visit this link - How to Can
* This article is not intended as directions nor should it be used as instructions for the home canning of any food product. Any home canning done by the visitor to this website should be done following authoritative step-by-step instructions provided by either canning equipment manufacturer or by verifiable instruction book on home canning. Use of any information contained on this website is at the sole risk of the visitor.