Canning is one of those skills long lost in my family. Not a surprise because well the kitchen and the women in my family don’t mix. I learned to cook with an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. Every year I set out to learn a new domestic skill that I can put to use and pass down to the kids. Sort of a way of passing down a legacy that will help my kids when I am gone. Canning is a great way to preserve the foods we grow in our garden as well as the foods we find great deals on. Every homemaker needs to know about canning.
What you need to start canning
Pick the best produce for your canning. Over time canned goods loose a bit of quality so you want to start with the best of the best from your garden or the local farmers market. Be sure to use fresh, ripe, high quality, and well-cleaned fruits and veggies. We love to hit the fruit market for deals and can them before they can go bad.
Having the right tools on hand goes a long way. You can get a basic canning kit that will have all of the basics you need for getting started with easy canning recipes. The basic lid wrench, funnel, tongs, jar lifter, and magnetic lid lifter combination makes everything so much easier. The Ball Canning book is a great place to start for quality-tested recipes.
Perhaps the most confusing part about getting started canning is wondering if you need a water bath or pressure canner. Deciding on which one to use is easier than you think. When canning high acid foods like fresh strawberry jam you can use a water bath canner. Recipes like strawberry jam are perfect for beginners. Work your way up to pressure canning. If you already have an Instant Pot you can use that.
Pick jars that will last. While you can often go with a cheaper off-brand jar I recommend switching the lids to a quality brand like golden harvest. Cheaper jar lids like the Walmart brand have been known to rust and leave your canned goods spoiled. Use the lids that came with the off-brand jars for storing things like homemade sugar scrubs.
Canning tips every homemaker needs to know
Do NOT add fats and butter to your canning recipes. You can add these after opening your cans when you go to prepare them. Butter goes bad fast and you don’t want to risk your home canned goodness. Likewise, you want to avoid adding flour and cornstarch thickeners to your recipes.
These can throw off the distribution of heat leaving the food with bubbles of varying temperatures during canning letting harmful bacteria live.
After canning your foods remove the rings from cans so if the seal breaks it will pop up and not re-seal on a hot day. For this same reason, you should not stack jars on top of each other in your pantry. You want broken seals to move so you will know they have broken. Once seal breaks mold and bacteria can get in and grow.
Air bubbles in homemade jams and jellies can be a big annoyance. To avoid air bubbles pour them nice and hot. If bubbles form in your home canned goods as you pour them you can slide a butter knife along the sides of the jar to allow the air to escape before sealing. Removing bubbles helps keep your canned foods fresher longer.
Sterilize jars by boiling them in hot water before use. Pouring hot foods into already hot jars will keep the glass from breaking which can ruin a perfectly good batch of food.
*** It’s been a few years since I wrote this and boy have I gotten braver when it comes to canning. Check out what canning rules I am willing to break now.