Canning Foods at Home

Methods for canning foods at home have changed greatly since the procedure was first introduced almost two centuries ago. Since then, research has enabled home canners to simplify and safely preserve higher quality foods.

Food Canning Facts

  • When processing foods using the open kettle method, jars should still be sterilized.
  • When you cook the foods in the jars, the jars do not need sterilization, but should be thoroughly washed.
  • Peas, corn, lima beans and most meats should be packed loosely, since heat penetration of these foods is slow. Fruits and berries should be packed solidly due to shrinkage and the fact that their texture does not retard the heat penetration.
  • Never use preservatives or any other type of artificial chemical substance in the product being canned.
  • Canned products should always be stored in cool or cold and dark locations. The excessive heat of a hot summer may cause a location to develop enough heat. Dormant bacteria will start growing.
  • When canned goods are frozen, then thawed, the texture may change but the food is still safe to eat. Be sure the seal is intact.
  • Canned foods will keep for an indefinite period of time as long as the seal is intact and they have been properly processed.
  • After canning your food, tap the top; you should hear a ringing note. If food is touching the top, this may not occur, but as long as the top does not move up and down, the food does not have to be reprocessed.
  • Black deposits that are occasionally found on the underneath side of the lid, are usually nothing to worry about (as long as the jar is still sealed) and are probably caused by tannins in the food or by hydrogen sulfide released by the foods during their processing.
  • Corn, lima beans and peas or any very starchy food needs to be packed loosely due to their expansion when processed.
  • Cloudy liquid in the jar probably means that the food is spoiled. Be very cautious, if probably should not be eaten or even opened.
  • When canning jellies or jams, it makes no difference whether you use cane or beet sugar. They are both the same.
  • The best vinegar to use when pickling is pure apple cider with four to five percent acidity.
  • The outside of jars should be wiped with vinegar before storing to reduce the risk of mold forming on any food that was not cleaned off well.
  • Pickles will become soft if you use brine or not enough vinegar or if the vinegar acidity is too weak.
  • To avoid hard water deposits on sealers, add vinegar to the water bath when canning.
  • Jars of frozen fruits should be thawed in the refrigerator. This will allow the fruit to absorb the sugar as it thaws.
  • Jelly jars should have a small piece of string placed on top of the wax before sealing the jar. This will make it easier to remove the wax.

Steps for Successful Boiling Water Canning

  • Fill the water bath canner halfway with water.
  • Preheat the water to 140 degrees for raw-packed foods and to 180 degrees F for hot-packed foods.
  • Load filled jars, fitted with lids, into the canner rack and use the handles to lower the rack into the water, or fill the canner, one jar at a time, with a jar lifter.
  • Add more hot water, if needed, so the water level is at least 1 inch above jar tops.Cover with the canner lid.
  • Turn heat to its highest position until the water boils vigorously.
  • Set a timer for the minutes required for processing the food.
  • Lower the heat setting to maintain a gentle boil throughout the process schedule.
  • Add more boiling water, if needed, to keep the water level above the jars.
  • When jars have been processed for the recommended time, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.
  • Using a jar lifter, remove the jars and place them on a towel, leaving at least 1 inch of space between the jars during cooling.

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