I recommend you try canning high-acid foods first if you have never canned before , so you don't have to spend money on a pressure canner. If you decide canning is for you, then you'll need a good pressure canner. I recommend you invest in a new one, since with used ones you can't determine in what condition they are. Pressure canning is safe as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions and watch the canner's pressure gauge every once in a while.
- a tried and true canning recipe
- boiling-water canner and/or steam-pressure canner
- mason / ball / kerr canning jars
- canning caps and rings
- wide-neck canning funnel
- jar lifter tongs
- magnetic lid lifter
- basic kitchen items : see below
EQUIPMENT NEEDED :
The following are some strategies for successful preserving:
Learn one method first. Pick out one preserving method that really appeals to you and get a good handle on it before launching into another one. This yields better results than if you split your attention and budget.
Have a game plan for your projects. Why are you preserving? How much do you need to preserve to keep up with your household or gift-giving demands? How much is feasible based on your schedule? Set dates based on your demands and time constraints.
• Set a reasonable goal with a specific focus.For example, make one or two types of jelly in one weekend. Focus on sauce another weekend.
• Start out small. Small batches of everything tend to work better in preserving. You don’t need to learn everything overnight. Take your time and really gain expertise.
• Start clean and end clean.
• Have a functional sitting/working area. If it’s going to be a long round of peeling or chopping, you’ll really want that chair!
• Keep measurements tight and recipes come out right! Some preserving recipes require very specific components to work correctly.
• Adhere to the processing times provided in recipes. These are necessary to deter microbe growth. If you’re not sure, check that information against the USDA guidelines.
• Know your audience. If you’re preserving for other people, make sure you’re aware of their personal tastes and allergies. When people ask for the same thing twice, those are your winners!
Write it down! When you adapt a recipe and it works right, document your process and keep it in a safe place for future reference.
Canned goods require a cool, dark, and dry place for storage. The recommended temperature is between 50°F and 70°F. Under these conditions, your canned goods will last about a year. Temperatures greater than 90°F and exposure to direct sunlight dramatically decrease safe storage time.
When in doubt, throw it out! Never take chances with your health. If something seems off, it probably is!
Processing: Cooking jars of food in hot water bath or in steam pressure canner or cooker.
Open Kettle: The way of canning fruits by cooking them in an uncovered kettle, then filling hot jars,
one at a time, from the boiling kettle. Each jar must be filled and sealed quickly.
Steam Pressure Canner Or Cooker: A kettle fitted with steam-tight lid. Lid has safety valve, petcock, and pressure gauge.
High-Acid Foods in a Boiling-Water Canner and Low-Acid Foods in a Steam-Pressure Canner.
Low-acid foods, with pH values higher than 4.6, must be processed at temperatures of 240°F for a specified length of time to destroy harmful bacteria. Because boiling-water canners cannot reach this temperature, low-acid foods must be processed using a steam pressure canner. Low-acid foods include vegetables, soups, stews, ragouts, meats, poultry and seafood.
High-acid foods, on the other hand, require heat processing to 212°F reached by using a boiling-water canner for a specified period. Since the pH of these foods is 4.6 or lower, meaning the acidity is high, bacteria and other spoilers do not readily grow. High-acid foods include fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies and other fruit spreads, tomatoes with added acid, pickles, relishes and chutneys, sauces, vinegars and condiments.
Hot Pack vs. Raw Pack
The hot-pack method for filling jars is used when the food you're canning is firm and can withstand cooking in hot water, juice, or syrup. This method allows for better, tighter packing of the food in the jars, and, in the case of the water-bath method, it lets you process the food in less time. There is no difference, time-wise, if you use the pressure-canner method.
The raw-pack method is used for more delicate foods, that would tend to break up with cooking (such as peaches). In this case, you'd place the food in the jars raw, packing it down firmly without crushing, and then adding boiling water, juice, or syrup, to cover the food (making sure you leave about an inch of head space between the top of the liquid and the rim of the jar). When using the raw-pack method, don't put the jars into boiling water, or they may break. I usually keep the canners at low heat, and gently lower the jars before increasing the heat to high.
Check jars for any cracks or chips inside and out as well as along the rims, if so set these aside to use for other projects, these can be dangerous to use in canning since they can break during the packing process or allow bacteria to thrive after jars have been sealed.
Soak jars overnight in a solution of 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water, this will remove scale and hard water film.
You need to Sterilize: To heat food, jars, caps and rubbers long enough to kill the organisms that would, if not killed, cause food to spoil.
To sterelize jars run them throughthe dish washer or Set jars right side up on a rack placed in the bottom of a water canner or large kettle and space them about 1" away from each other and the sides of the kettle. Fill with hot water until it’s deep enough to cover at least 1"-2" above the top of the jars. Cover kettle with lid.
Bring water to a boil and then continue to boil for 10 minutes (start timing once the water is at a boil). For those who live in areas that are at higher altitudes than 1,000 feet, the time necessary will be longer–typically 1 minute extra per additional 1,000 feet.
Keep the jars warm until ready to fill (to reduce breakage from thermal shock).
Note: never use metal utensils to touch the hot jars, as they may crack.
Jar Funnel - This is a plastic funnel, available where canning supplies are sold. It makes filling your jars a snap! Not an absolutely necessary item, but very handy.
Spatula - Use a plastic or wooden spatula to run down the sides of the canning jar. This releases air bubbles and lets you pack the contents more tightly.
Jar Lifter Tongs - This is a very handy utensil! It helps you lift the very hot jars from the canner without burning your hands. A definite must have.
Basic Kitchen Items: Wooden spoons, slotted (non-metallic!) spoons, measuring cups and spoons, knives (don't touch the jars with them), pots, pans, saucepans, strainer/colander, tongs, kitchen scale, timer.
Acid Foods: Fruits, tomatoes, rhubarb and pimientos are acid foods.
Low Acid (Commonly called Non-acid Foods): All vegetables, except those mentioned as acid foods; soups, meats, poultry, game and fish are low acid.
When canning corn, place cob in angel food tube and cut off the corn. The corn will fall into pan.
If you don’t have a rack, set extra jar rings on the bottom of the pot to keep your jars off the bottom
To keep pickles from shriveling, add one heaping tablespoon of alum to first salt water
Use only sack salt for pickles and kraut because other salt has been treated, thus will soften, discolor, and give unpleasant taste.
When canning pears, add a few drops of food coloring to a jar or two. The colored pears will provide that extra touch in holiday desserts or salads.
To prevent darkening: Some peeled or cut fruits (such as peaches, apples, nectarines) will darken when exposed to the air. Use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture like "Fruit-Fresh", which is available at the grocery and drug stores. Sprinkle it over the cut fruit and mix well.
Do not add butter or fat to home-canned products unless stated in a tested recipe. Butters and fats do not store well and may increase the rate of spoilage. Adding butter or fat may also slow the rate of heat transfer, and result in an unsafe product.
Fill hot jar with prepared recipe. Leave recommended headspace. Remove air bubbles by sliding a nonmetallic spatula between the jar and food; press gently on the food to release trapped air. Repeat around the circumference of the jar.
Wipe rim and threads with a clean, damp cloth. Center heated lid on jar. Screw band down evenly and firmly until a point of resistance is met – fingertip tight.
Processing time doesn't start until the canner is brought back to a rolling boil
After processing, remove jars from canner; set jars upright on a towel to cool. Do NOT retighten bands or check for a seal while jars are hot.
After 12-24 hours, check lids for a seal. Sealed lids curve downward. Press the center of the lid to ensure it does not flex up or down. (Reprocess or refrigerate any unsealed jars.) Remove bands. Wipe jars and lids with a clean, damp cloth and dry. Wash bands in soapy water, dry and store.
Label and store jars in a cool, dry, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.
To label jars of food, write on the jar while it is still hot with a bright colored crayon I
Any jar that fails to seal can be reprocessed in a clean jar with a new lid. Reprocess within 24 hours. Generally, it is better to refrigerate the jar and use it within several days. The jar may also be stored in the freezer if the headspace is adjusted to 1-1/2 inches to allow for the expansion of the product.
Store the canner with crumpled clean paper towels in the bottom and around the rack. This will help absorb moisture and odors. Place the lid upside down on the canner. Never put the lid on the canner and seal it.
Once your canner is properly stored, take time to inventory jars and two piece lids. If properly used and stored, jars can last indefinitely. As you empty jars during the winter, check for any chips or breaks, wash and store in a safe place. Two-piece lids consist of a flat metal disc and a separate metal screw band. After canning, screw bands should be removed once the jars have sealed, instead of leaving them on the jars during storage. Wash and dry the screwbands completely and put them away in a dry place. Bands can be used over and over, unless they rust. The flat lid is used only once and then discarded after the jar of food is opened.
Designate a clean and dry storage area for your canning equipment and utensils. Use clear storage boxes, stackable racks, and other organizer accessories to make a food preservation storage center. Come spring, you’ll be ready for another year!