How To Can Your Own Foods
In light of the the farm-to-table revolution, there’s a resurgence of canning appearing. People want to know exactly what is in their food and to know that it is responsibly sourced from local areas. Plus, canning can be a fun experience! There is a certain joy that comes with eating your very own jam. Here are the basics of canning your own foods.
What Can Be Canned?
Fruit: Basically any fruit is perfect for canning. Fruit is high in acidity and sugars which make preserving them easy. It’s fun to make jams, chutneys, preserves, and more with your fruit. The boiling water bath technique is sufficient to keep the fruit safe from germs for months.
Vegetables: Most vegetables are easy to can. Typically, you preserve them in vinegar-based solutions to keep bacteria and mold at bay. A boiling water bath is a perfect way to can most vegetables.
Meats: Canning meat safely is the most difficult because of the low acidity. You need to use the pressure canner method to reach high internal jar temperatures to kill bacteria and ensure safety.
How To Prep The Containers
Sterilize: Before you put any contents into the jars, you need to sterilize the entire container. Put the lid, the rim, and the glass jars in hot soapy water for three minutes to kill off any surface mold and bacteria. Do this even if the jars were clean straight from the cupboard. Small microbes could be on it, and it’s best to go the extra step to kill off anything that could cause illness. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry off the exterior.
Filling the Jars: Use a sterile ladle to fill the jars. Be careful not to put it on anything that isn’t sterile such as countertops. Fill the jar to the top, leaving about ½-¼ inch of room to the brim. Place the lid on top, and screw on the rim to fingertip tightness. You don’t need to put an extra muscle into screwing it on. The jar will be hot, so hold the glass with a towel.
Different Canning Methods
Water Bath: The water bath method is simple and easy. After you’ve sealed your jars, set them aside on the counter. Fill a large stock pot with water and boil the water til rolling. Reduce the heat slightly before putting the jars in. You want all of the jars to be completely submerged in water while the water boils. Let them sit for about 5-10 minutes in the water, depending on the recipe. Carefully remove the jars with tongs and set to the side to cool. While they cool, you’ll hear a popping noise, which is the lid airtight sealing to the jar. Once they have all set, you can place in the pantry for up to six months.
Pressure Canner: This is a special tool to help the contents reach the required heat for consumption as well as air seal the jars. Place your jars in the pressure canner and set it to the required temperatures. Most have counterweight that slightly jiggle the jars to knock any extra air bubbles out. Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the jars and let cool. Then once they cool, you can place them in the pantry for 6-12 months.
As you are learning how to can, stick to recipes to learn how much sugar or pectin to add to fruits, and vinegars to vegetables. As you gain more experience, you can start to dabble in creating your very own recipes. Write down your steps so you can keep on re-creating your masterpiece!