- August 7, 2007 at 2:34 am #253034
Canning & Preserving Basics
Food Preparation to Storage
Canning & preserving food is not difficult but it does take time and effort. And when you put that much time and energy, not to mention money, into something you want it to turn out well. Here are the basics for getting started with canning. From preparing to can to storing the finished project – doing each step correctly will result in tasty, safe food for your family.
Choose only fruits and vegetables that are fresh and unblemished. Do not use food that has sat for several days to avoid spoilage. Make sure fruits and vegetables are canned using the proper method. All meats and vegetables should be processed using a pressure cooker. Fruits, tomatoes, jellies and jams are canned using a water bath canner.
Sterilize the Canning Jars
Sterilizing the canning jars is important for anything that will be processed for under 10 minutes. To sterilize jars wash them in hot soapy water and rinse well. But the jars into your water bath canner and fill with hot water. You want the water to cover the jars plus 1 inch. Bring water to a boil and boil jars for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove with a jar lifter and set to dry on a clean towel.
There are two different methods for packing food into the jars – hot pack and cold pack. Hot pack is used when you bring the food to a boil for a few minutes before putting the food into the jars. It shrinks food before canning so there is less empty space in the jars.
Cold packing can be used for foods that don’t have a lot of shrinkage. Check the food list for which method is best for what you are canning to see which method is best.
Choosing the Headspace
The proper amount of space must be left in the canning jar to ensure freshness. Individual recipes give the headspace recommended in the directions. There are some basic rules of thumbs for headspace.
1/4 inch for jams & jellies
1/2 inch for fruits and tomatoes
1-1 1/4 for foods processed in a pressure canner
Releasing Air Bubbles
To remove air bubbles from canning jars after placing the food and liquid into the jars use a flat plastic spatula or butter knife. Insert the spatula along the inside of the jar between the food and the jar. Do this all around the inside of the canning jar, moving the spatula up and down. Wipe the rims clean after adjusting the headspace and put lids place.
Pour boiling water over the flats and the rings before placing on the jars. Put the flat on top of the jar after wiping the rim clean. Place the screwband or ring on the jar and screw in place firmly. Don’t screw down too tightly. After the jars are sealed you can remove the ring. Rings may be reused. Flats may not.
Method of Processing
What you are canning will depend on the method you use. Follow the instructions on whether to use water bath canning or pressure cooking. A great book is Putting Food By.
Resting & Testing the Seal
Allow the processed food in the canning jars to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. Make sure all the jars have sealed by testing the seal. Remove the ring and press the middle of the lid. It should not pop up or spring back when you remove your finger. If it hasn’t sealed refrigerate and eat right away.
Storing Canned Food
Store the processed canning jars in a clean, cool, dark, dry place. The temperature should never exceed 95°F. The recommended temperature to store canned food is between 40°-70°F.
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