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Sunday, August 21, 2011

She Preserves: The Basics of Canning

Thinking about canning this fall?
Here is the basic plan to follow no matter what you are putting in your jars:

1. Assemble your supplies! You will need everything for preparing the food (bowls, spoons, knives, cutting board, peeler, food mill, etc. -- depends on what you are canning). You will also need canning equipment: wide-mouth funnel, canning jars, bath canner, tea kettle, lids, rings (screw-on bands), large spoons, ladle, jar lifter, tongs, timer, hot pads, and heavy towels.

2. You will need a canner that is filled enough that you can cover the jars you will be using with two inches of water.  Heat up some extra water with your tea kettle if you are unsure how much water you will need.

3. Wash the jars. Either wash them and place them in the canner as you are getting the water heated to boil (the boiling water will sanitize the jars) or place the jars and rings in the dishwasher. Keep the jars in the water or in the dishwasher until you are ready for them so they stay hot up until you fill them with the hot food.

4. Place your lids in a bowl so that you can pour hot water over them to sanitize them prior to use.

5. Wash your food, drain, prepare according to recipe.

6. Pack your jars, leaving the appropriate head-space for recipe.

7. Get rid of any air bubbles with a thin/long utensil by running the utensil around inside the jar. If needed, add more liquid (the liquid you are using for your recipe).

8. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel, place the lid on the jar mouth and hand-tighten the ring.

9. Carefully lower your jars into the boiling water (canner). Water, while it is boiling, should cover the jars by 2 inches. Add more water if needed.

10. Set the timer once the water is really boiling. Keep the water boiling for the whole time you are going to be processing the jars.

11. Prepare the second batch while the first batch is processing.

12. When the timer goes off carefully remove the jars with jar lifters and place them several inches apart on a thick towel to cool.

13. Cool jars for 24 hours before removing the rings and checking the seals. Wipe your jars (especially when making food with a syrup--everything gets really sticky!) and label them clearly with the product and date.

14. Store the jars in a dark, cool place.

Adapted from the list in The Busy Person's Guide to Food Preservation.

Stay tuned for a future post about making syrups, vinegar solutions, processing times, etc...

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