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Home Canning Basics

home canning basics
Home canning is a great way to preserve delicious fruits, vegetables, jams, pickles, and meats. Blain’s Farm & Fleet is here to show you the ropes with this guide to the home canning basics.

Home canning is not complicated. It’s a simple procedure of applying heat to food in a closed jar in order to prevent decay. By putting prepared food into home canning jars and sealing them with two-piece vacuum caps, you can eliminate one part of the decay process, which is exposure to the air. By heating the filled jars to the proper temperature (as listed in the recipe), you eliminate another part: The spoilage microorganisms and inactive enzymes that break down foods over time. By properly cooling the jars and allowing the lids to vent the air from the jar, you’ll remove the rest of the air from the food and set the final seal. Before you go off and try it, read on for specifics that will allow you to can safely. Blain’s Farm & Fleet will teach you the home canning basics.

Home Canning Basics: Ingredients

Use only the best, top quality ingredients. Preserve fruits and vegetables at their peak of ripeness. Make sure all fruits and veggies are thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed to remove any excess dirt or chemicals.

You must process all home canned foods. Low-acid foods—vegetables, soups, stews, ragouts, meats, poultry and seafood—with pH values higher than 4.6, must be processed with a pressure canner at no less than 240°F to ensure that you kill all the potentially harmful bacteria.

High-acid foods—fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies and other fruit spreads, tomatoes with added acid, pickles, relishes and chutneys, sauces, vinegars and condiments—only need to be processed at 212°F, so you can use a water bath canner for them.

Home Canning Basics: Recipes and Instructions

Follow only current, tested home canning recipes that include the appropriate processing method for the food type being canned. Such a recipe should:

  • Give a specific processing time and temperature for the food type being canned
  • Specify the size of home canning jar used
  • Specify the required headspace
  • Come from a reputable source offering up-to-date recipes, following acceptable canning guidelines

Also, be sure to follow the canning jar manufacturer’s directions for preparing home canning jars and two-piece vacuum caps.

Home Canning Basics: How to Can

After following the processing directions in the recipe, fill the hot jar with processed food, making sure to leave the recommended headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a nonmetallic spatula between the jar and food; press gently on the food to release trapped air. Repeat around the circumference of the jar.

Wipe the rim and threads of the canning jars with a clean, damp cloth. Center the heated lid on the jar. Screw the band down evenly and firmly until you meet resistance – fingertip tight.

After processing, remove jars from the canner with a jar lifter. Set the jars upright on a towel to cool. Never re-tighten the bands or check the lids for a seal while your jars are still hot.

After 24 hours, check the lids for a seal. Sealed lids curve downward. Press the center of the lid to ensure it does not flex up or down. (Re-process or refrigerate any unsealed jars). Remove the bands from the sealed jars. Wipe the jars down with a clean, damp cloth and dry them off. Wash the bands in soapy water, dry them off, and store them away.

Home Canning Basics: Storage

Label and store your jars in a cool, dry, dark place.

Now that you have the home canning basics down, you can pull out fresh salsa on a dreary winter day or delicious strawberry jam when spring comes around. It will be as fresh and as delicious as the day you canned it. For the best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

For tons of Home Canning Tips, Buyer’s Guides, and How-To articles, check out our Canning Blog.

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