Yes You Can; Everything You've Wanted to Know About Canning
History of Canning
Canning is a method of preserving food by processing it and then preserving it in an air tight can, such as a mason jar. It was in the early 1800's when canning was invented, by Nicolas Appert. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French government offered a cash reward to whoever could come up with a way to preserve large amounts of food for a long time. Their large armies required large amounts of supplies, but Nicolas Appert discovered that processed food would not spoil in a container if there were no leaks. Yes, he did win the cash prize.
Eventually, canning made its way across the globe, and people still use canning as a method of food preservation.
Methods for Canning
There are two methods of canning. The first is Water Bath Canning. Water bath canning is the process most people use to can fruits, vegetables, jams, jellies, and pickles at home. Essentially, a water bath canner is a very, very large pot, with dimensions to hold jars and allow them to be submerged by one to two inches of water.
Water Bath Canning
What you'll need:
- Canning jars with lids.
- Large pot with a tight-fitting lid, either a:
- boiling-water canning pot with a wire canning rack, or
- a large, deep Dutch oven plus a round, metal cooling rack that fits into it
- Flexible, nonreactive spatula (rubber or plastic)
- Canning funnel to make filling jars easier.
- Jar lifter to safely move jars in and out of the hot water bath.
- Clean all products thoroughly.
- Fill canner or pot about halfway with water. Cover and maintain a simmer until cans are ready to be placed.
- Check jars, lids, and bands for proper functioning. Jars with nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges may prevent sealing or cause jar breakage.
- Pre-heat jars in hot water in canner to help prevent breakage.
- Use a jar lifter to remove the pre-heated jar.
- Use a jar funnel to fill jars with food.
- Wipe the rim and threads of the jar using a clean, damp cloth to remove any food residue. Center lid on the jar, allowing sealing compound to contact the jar rim. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip-tight.
- Place jar in canner.
- Place lid on water bath canner and bring water to a rolling boil.
- Process in the boiling water for the time indicated in recipe. When complete, shut off heat and remove the lid. Allow jars to rest in canner for 5 minutes to be acclimated to the outside temperature.
- Move jars from canner and set upright on a towel. This will prevent jar breakage that can occur from temperature differences. Leave jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. DO NOT retighten bands as this may interfere with the sealing process.
- Inspect lids for seals. There should be no flex when center is pressed. Remove the bands and attempt to lift lids off with your fingertips. Properly sealed lids will remain attached. If a lid fails to seal within 24 hours, immediately refrigerate the product. Clean canning jars and lids, label and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to for up 18 months.
The second method is Pressure Canning. Pressure canning is the only processing method that reaches the high temperature (240°F) needed to safely preserve low acid foods. It is the combination of time and temperature that will destroy foodborne bacteria and create a vacuum seal necessary to prevent spoilage. This process is required to preserve foods and recipes like: meats, poultry, salsa, vegetables, chili, seafood.
What you'll need:
- Pressure canner
- Glass preserving jars, lids, and bands
- Common kitchen utensils, such as a wooden spoon, ladle, and paring knife
- Quality ingredients (fresh vegetables, meat, poultry or seafood)
- Jar Lifter
- Home Canning Funnel
- Preheat jars in hot water to help prevent breakage.
- Add two to three inches of water to your canner. Let simmer.
- Use a jar lifter to remove preheated jars.
- Use a jar funnel to fill jars with processed food.
- Wipe the rim and threads of the jar using a clean, damp cloth to remove any food residue. Center lid on the jar, allowing sealing compound to contact the jar rim. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip-tight
- Place jar in canner.
- Lock the canner lid in place, leaving vent pipe open. Adjust heat to medium-high. Allow steam to escape through vent pipe for 10 minutes or until steam forms a constant flow to ensure there is no air (only steam) left in the canner. Close vent.
- Maintain the recommended pressure for the time indicated in tested preserving recipe, adjusting for altitude (see altitude chart). Turn off heat. Let canner stand undisturbed (do not remove the weighted gauge) until pressure returns to zero. Wait 10 minutes, remove weight and unlock the lid, tilting away from yourself. Allow jars to cool for an additional 10 minutes.
- Move jars from pressure canner and set upright on a towel. This will prevent jar breakage that can occur from temperature differences. Leave jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. DO NOT retighten bands as this may interfere with the sealing process.
- Inspect lids for seals. There should be no flex when the center is pressed. Remove the bands and attempt to lift lids off with your fingertips. Properly sealed lids will remain attached. If a lid fails to seal within 24 hours, immediately refrigerate the product. Clean canning jars and lids, label and store in a cool, dry, dark place for up 18 months.
Benefits of Canning
Save money. Buying foods in season and canning them for future use can save you money in the long run.
Preserve the harvest. If you grow your own food, canning is a great way to preserve food for the future, just in case things don't go as planned next year in the garden, and it's good to keep in your pantry in months too cold to grow anything.
Great for gifts. Giving canned homemade food is a sentimental and unique gift that many people are sure to love, especially if the food is delicious!
Quality taste. Everyone knows homemade food tastes better. You can’t beat a quality home-canned product made from fresh, locally grown ingredients. In the store, you could easily pay double for such a product.
No additives. With canning, you know exactly what you're eating (or going to eat). It's a healthy way of preserving food, and is a great organic option.
Eco-friendly. The best benefit of canning is decreasing your carbon footprint. Especially if the food is home grown, you remove the countless miles food is shipped from the farm, to the factory, and then to the distributor and local store. You also reduce packaging waste because canning jars (except for the lids) are reusable and will last for years. And when you buy local or grow your own food, it's also a good way to boost your local economy.
If you have any successful canning experiences, let us know by tagging us on Instagram, @jlhuffordonline!