Canning for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start Canning
Want to get into canning like your grandparents used to do? Luckily, this guide to canning for beginners will show you exactly what you need to know to start the tradition on your own.
Many of us grew up watching our parents or grandparents preserve their favourite foods for the winter, like tomato sauce, peaches, and jam. There’s nothing like bringing out a jar of homemade preserves in the middle of the Canadian winter.
Not only does home canning help you bring back those nostalgia feelings, but it’s also super beneficial for you and your budget.
Home canning is a great way to make that fresh summer produce last longer. You can make sure that produce doesn’t go to waste, and home canned foods don’t contain the preservatives that store bought canned items sometimes have.
If you have a garden, you’ll be able to enjoy your proudly home-grown items all year long.
It’s also a great way to save money on groceries throughout the cooler months when this produce isn’t in season. You can reuse the glass jars over and over again, so you only have to cover this cost once.
Home Canning 101: Let’s Get Started
The first thing you should do is get prepared. This means gathering your equipment, washing and sterilizing everything, and getting your food together
Depending on what recipe you’re using, you’ll need a variety of kitchen tools, such as a wooden spoon, tongs, and a jar lifter. A funnel is an absolute must to avoid wasting any food or making a huge mess.
To clean and sterilize your jars, take all of the lids and rims off and boil them. Put the lids and rims in a saucepan and simmer them. This will help get rid of any pre-existing bacteria and sterilize them. It also heats them up so they won’t crack in the boiling process.
You can find some reasonably priced canning kits, but if you want to do water bath canning, you won’t need a lot of equipment.
It’s also a good idea to look for deals on canning jars and lids. Keep an eye out on websites like Kijiji, or visit second hand stores to score some cheap used ones.
Make sure you use jars that are approved for canning because these are tested and won’t crack under the pressure. Double check all of your jars before you heat them, because even a tiny little chip can do a lot of damage.
Find a Recipe You Can Trust
When you’re first learning how to can peaches, tomato sauce, or whatever else you’d like, it’s important that you have a good canning recipe to stick to. The recipes will explain exactly what you need to add to the jar to preserve each type of item.
Stick to recipes that are tried and tested, and that come from experts with experience.
You can try canning tons of different types of food, and you can even make jam, chutney, or salsa to preserve throughout the winter. Since there are tons of options, find a recipe that works for you.
Using a recipe is also useful when you want to try out a few different food items. You can definitely can multiple foods at once, but some foods require different processing, pressure, or boiling time.
So no matter what you’ve got growing in your garden, nothing will go to waste.
Canning Basics for Beginners: Water Bath Canning
There are two main canning methods: water bath canning and pressure canning.
For most acidic foods, water bath canning is the correct method. This includes foods like salsas, fruits, tomatoes and sauces, jam, condiments, and chutneys.
This method also requires the least amount of specialized tools, which makes it easy for any beginner to get into canning. All you really need is a metal bucket or boiler tall enough to submerge the jars underwater. It just needs a secure lid and a rack at the bottom to keep the jars off the bottom surface.
If you can boil water, you’ll nail the water bath method.
Pressure canning is used for vegetables and low-acid foods like many vegetables. It requires a pressure canner, which is essentially a heavy duty pressure cooker.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Canning at Home
Once you’ve washed and sterilized your tools, jars, and lids, it’s time to start the process. You want to prepare your recipe before you start boiling and heating the materials, so take some extra time to get that ready as well.
Here’s a breakdown of each step of water bath canning. For instructions on how to do pressure canning, visit this website.
Heat the water in your canning pot to a boil
Fill your jars with your selected recipe
Leave ¼ to ½ an inch of space from the lid
Clean the rims of the jar with a damp towel
Place the rims and lids on the jar
Lower the sealed jars into the canning water
Wait until the water returns to a boil
Set your timer
When the timer’s done, remove the jars carefully and set them down on a towel-lined table and wait for them to pop. Once they’ve popped, let them cool, check for any issues (like cracks or broken seals).
After about 12-24 hours of cooling, store your products in a dark, cool place.
The high-acid foods should last for about a year, so you’ll be able to enjoy them until the warm weather comes back next year.
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