Canning is a great way to make sure you always have plenty of food available. Instead of stocking up on canned goods from the supermarket, get more use from your garden and learn to can your own homegrown produce. If you don’t have a garden, you can still enjoy the benefits of canning. Hit up the produce sales or the local farmer’s market and buy whatever is in season to get a good deal. Then take your bounty home and start processing it for long-term storage. Just make sure you follow these 12 important safety rules to make sure your family stays healthy while eating your canned goods later.
Stick to Quart Sized Jars
If you have a large amount of produce to can, the temptation to use large jars is difficult to resist, but don’t give in. The biggest problem with using larger jars is that it’s impossible to make sure that the contents heat sufficiently without overcooking the food that’s pressed against the side of the jar. A quart jar ensures that the contents heat evenly and are completely safe to eat.
Always Use a Pressure Canner for Low Acid Foods
If you don’t have a good pressure canner, you shouldn’t attempt to can any low acid foods, which includes vegetables and meats. If you’re only interested in canning foods with a high acid content such as fruit, tomatoes, vegetable spaghetti sauces, jams, pickles, and rhubarb, you will be able to get by with a water-bath canner.
Stick to Contemporary Recipes
Using your great-great grandma’s recipe for baking a chocolate cake is awesome, but when it comes to canning, you need to stick to modern recipes. Canning technology has changed too much for the old recipes to work well. When you’re looking for modern canning recipes, make sure they come from a reliable source. One of the best sources of contemporary canning recipes currently on the market is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Stick to New Jar Lids
Don’t try to save money by using old jar lids; you can’t be certain that a used jar lid will create a tight seal the second time they’re used. The one exception to this rule is Tattler lids which are specifically designed to be reusable.
Avoid Antique Canning Jars
Old, antique canning jars look nice, but you shouldn’t use them for canning purposes. The more modern Ball and Kerr jars are designed to be safer and work better with current canning technology. You can use the antique jars for storing candy and other small items.
Always Check your Jars
Before you start to can, you need to run your finger around the lid of your canning jars. You’re feeling for nicks. If you feel a nick, the jar needs to be thrown away since you will never be able to get a reliable seal.
Check the Canning Process for Certain Foods
Raw pack is a popular canning style, but it’s not suitable for all food. Foods that can’t be raw packed include:
- Stewed tomatoes
- White potatoes
Don’t Over Stuff Your Jars
Don’t try to save time and space by cramming as much food as you can into each jar. There needs to be a small amount of liquid at the top of the jar in order for your food to be properly preserved.
Watch the Time
Beginners frequently start timing the jars too quickly. When canning, don’t start the timer until you the water in your canner has reached a rolling boil and the steam has vented from a full ten minutes. The pressure gauge needs to have reached the recommended pressure point. When all this happens. Starting the timing process too quickly won’t allow your food to cook properly and it won’t be fully preserved.
Don’t Take a Shortcut
When you are canning, you need to adhere to the instructions. Don’t try to shortcut the amount of time or the degree of pressure the recipe calls for.
Carefully Remove Jars from Canner
When it’s time to remove your jars from the canner, you should always use a jar lifter. As you remove the jars, don’t tip them to the side, they need to stay in an upright position. You should also avoid accidently bumping the jars against one another.
Check the Seals
Before storing your newly canned food, check each lid and make sure it’s properly sealed. If it’s not, get rid of the lid and double check the jar to see if there’s a chip you missed. You can than decide whether or not you want to try the process all over again.
By following these basic steps, you can keep your family safe while you enjoy a bounty of canned goods straight from your own garden or local produce stand.