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Home Canning Do’s and Don’ts

Home canning is a great way to preserve and enjoy your favorite foods all year round.

Since canning and preserving food has been done for years, there are hundreds of tips and tricks out there that can help you be more successful in your home canning ventures.

There are plenty of do’s and don’ts when it comes to home canning. The most important thing is to ensure the food you preserve is safe for you and your family to consume.

Home Canning Do's and Don'ts
Before you start home canning, learn about the do’s and don’ts to keep you safe and give you the best results.

Home Canning Do’s:

Do: Get organized first. It’s important that you have everything you need before you start canning. Food should be processed from preparation to sealing as quickly as possible to avoid deterioration.

Do: Follow the recipe. Adding more ingredients than what the recipe calls for may cause unsafe results. Another risk is botulism. Botulism, while rare, can happen if the food is not properly heated to the correct temperature. This is why there are different practices for home canning, depending on a food’s acidity. Foods with low acidity need to be pressure canned, while foods with high acidity can be water bath canned. You can add acidity to certain foods, such as tomatoes, if you want to water bath can them.

Do: Use the proper equipment. You will need to select the right size jars for what you’re canning. Jars come in pint and quart sizes, with regular or wide mouths. A jar lifter, funnel and canning rack should also be on your equipment list. There are even canning kits if you want to buy the majority of your canning equipment in one swoop. Of course, you will also need a pressure canner or water bath canner, depending on which foods you plan on preserving.

Do: Make sure you allow enough headspace in jars when you’re home canning. Headspace is the distance between the food in the jar and the top of the jar.

Do: Always inspect the final result. You need to be 100 percent sure the jars have been vacuum-sealed. Push down on the top to see if this was achieved. You should hear the lids pop within 24 hours of canning. The pop signifies they are sealed.

Do: Label your results with contents and date preserved. There are dissolvable canning labels available. They are easy to scrub off with soap and water, so you can reuse your home canning jars. Food that has been properly canned will last at least a year if it is stored in a dry, cool place. If you store the food in a warm place, such as near a furnace or in direct sunlight, its edibility can decrease to a few weeks or months.

Home Canning Don’ts:

Don’t: Reuse sealing lids. After you initially use the lids, the sealing components are deteriorated so it’s important to always start with fresh lids.

Don’t: Use jars if they are chipped, cracked or damaged in any other way. Damaged jars may result in problems during processing.

Don’t: Use overripe produce. Always use fresh and thoroughly washed produce. Since canning preserves what you already have, do not use fruits or vegetables that are overripe. Foods that are under ripe or overripe may seriously affect the taste.

Don’t: Use hot water with a cold jar. Make sure you properly follow canning instructions, especially heating up the jars. Don’t pour hot contents in a cooled jar, or put a cooled jar into a water bath. If you do this, the jar will most likely break.

Don’t: Try and rush the canning process to save you time. You want to be sure you are following every step correctly. If you follow the steps correctly, you’ll have a great product that you can enjoy.

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