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Canning: Everything You Need to Know about Preserving Vegetables at Home

Ever get frustrated when uneaten produce goes to waste?  If you answered yes, at- home canning is for you!  While the process may seem time-consuming and labor-intensive, canning is actually a lot easier than you might think.  Just a few hours of prep work, and you’ve got naturally preserved vegetables for up to a year.  The benefits don’t stop there, though.  Canning is also cost efficient (because you can preserve un-eaten produce before it goes bad), is healthier than buying canned vegetables (you control exactly what goes inside) and is better for the environment (jars used for canning are reusable).  So what are you waiting for?  Read on to discover all about the canning process.

Water Bath Method Vs. Pressure Canner Method

There are two methods of canning: water bath canning and using pressure canners (that’s pressure CANNER, not pressure cooker).  Both will deliver delicious and perfectly preserved vegetables, so long as you use the correct one.  So how do you determine which one to use?  It’s all about the acidity level of the food you’re preserving.  One of the most important aspects of canning is killing all bacteria and/or micro-organisms living on the produce, and the acidity levels effect how to go about doing that.  Because acid can aid in getting rid of unwanted bacteria, produce high in acid, such as pickles and most tomatoes, can be preserved using the water bath method.  On the other hand, low acid foods, such as corn and green beans, need a little extra help (in the form of hotter water) to kill off the bacteria.  Therefore, they need the pressure canners. 

How To: Water Bath Method
Water bath canning is the best method for beginners.  It doesn’t require any special equipment (although you can use it if you want), and is super simple.  First, you will need:

- Water bath canner (or large stockpot with top)

- If you’re using a stockpot, you will also need something to put on the bottom of the pot to keep the jar from touching the bottom during the canning process (a dish towel, cooling rack or piece of board, for example)

- Canning jar with lid and ring (mason jars work perfectly)

- Tongs

- Rubber spatula

- Food to be canned and all ingredients included in canning recipe

It is important to sterilize your jars, lids and rings before canning, and to keep them hot before you start to fill them with your delicious produce.  Once they’re clean and ready, you can begin canning.

- First, fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil (Tip: Putting your jar, lid and ring in the hot water at this time is a great way to keep them warm while you prep the food)

- Turn the heat to medium once water is boiling 

- Prepare the food you wish to can according to your recipe, and fill the jar leaving the recommended space at the top 

- Next, take the spatula and stir gently along the insides of the jar (This will eliminate any air bubbles)

- Then clean the rim of the jar and tightly place the lid and ring onto the jar

- Place the jar in the water using your tongs.  Make sure the jar is not touching the bottom of the pot and that there are at least 2 inches of water covering the jar.  If you are canning multiple jars, make sure they are not touching.

- Cover the pot, and return to a boil 

- Leave the jar in the water according to the recipe and to your elevation  (Tip: Make sure to check that the water remains at a boil and that it is still covering the jar during the entire process)

- Once the jar has been in the water bath long enough, remove it with the tongs and set it on a heat-safe surface to cool

- Once cool, check to make sure that there is a strong seal

- When the seal is strong, you’re good to go!

How To: Pressure Canner Method
Canning with a pressure canner is a little more advanced than a water bath, and it, obviously, requires a pressure canner.  You will also need:

- Canning jar with lid and ring (mason jars work perfectly)

- Tongs

- Rubber spatula

- Food to be canned and all ingredients included in canning recipe

The canning process in a pressure canner is very similar to the water bath method.  Again, it is important to start with clean and warm jars, lids and rings.

- Once your jar is prepped, and filled with whatever delicious vegetables you want to preserve (don’t forget to eliminate the air bubbles with the spatula!), add 2-3 inches of hot water into your canner

- Next, place the food-filled jar on the rack and close the canner lid, making sure to leave weight off of the vent port 

- Then heat the canner at the highest setting until you see steam flowing through the vent port

- Allow the steam to flow for 10 minutes, and then place weight on the vent port

- Let the canner pressurize over the next 3-5 minutes

- Begin timing when the pressure gauge shows that the correct pressure amount has been reached

- Leave the jar in the canner according to the recipe and your elevation

- When time is up, take canner off of the heat and allow it to depressurize by letting it naturally cool down to room temperature

- Once cooled, remove the canner lid carefully and take out the jar using your tongs

- Make sure the jar is sealed and cooled completely before storing

Now that you know how each process works, it’s time to get canning!  There are so many delicious recipes to use for canning- everything from fresh vegetables, to salsas, to soups and so many more.  Check out this website for a good selection of canning recipes.  You never have to waste uneaten produce again!  Next time your vegetables are about to spoil, keep canning in mind.

For more information on water bath canning, click here.

For more information on pressure canning, click here.

Do you have any helpful canning hints?  Share them with us in the comments!

 

References:

http://www.simplycanning.com/water-bath-canning.html

http://canningpantry.com/using-pressure-canners.html

http://www.justplainmarie.ca/2015/01/canningbasicshighacidvslowacid.html

http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes

http://www.simplebites.net/9-good-reasons-to-can-your-own-food/

http://www.simplycanning.com/altitude-adjustments.html

 

 

 

 

 

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