Sunday, August 9, 2009

Gearing Up For Canning Season

I love this time of year! The garden is in full swing, and we can't eat it all! So, it is time to get ready to can. There is nothing better than opening a jar of green beans, beets, peaches, applesauce, apple pie filling, or whatever and having the taste be homegrown. Here are a list of canning basics to gather or purchase so each of us are ready to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables, and meats) of our labors....

Water Bath Canners
A water bath canner is a large cooking pot, with a tight fitting lid and a wire or wooden rack that keeps jars from touching each other. The rack allows the boiling water to flow around and underneath jars for a more even processing of the contents. The rack also keeps jars from bumping each other and cracking or breaking. If a rack is not available, clean cotton dish towels or similar can be used to pack around jars. If a standard canner is not available any large metal container may be used as long as it is deep enough for l to 2 inches of briskly boiling water to cover the jars. The diameter of the canner should be no more than 4 inches wider than the diameter of your stove's burner to ensure proper heating of all jars.

pressure canningPressure Canners

A pressure canner is a specially-made heavy pot with a lid that can be closed steam-tight. The lid is fitted with a vent (or pet-cock), a dial or weighted pressure gauge and a safety fuse. Newer models have an extra cover-lock as an added precaution. It may or may not have a gasket. The pressure pot also has a rack. Because each type is different, be sure to read the directions for operating.


Mason jars and Ball jars specifically designed for home canning are best. Commercial mayonnaise jars, baby food and pickle jars should not be used. The mouths of the jars may not be appropriate for the sealing lids and the jars are not made with heavy glass and they are not heat treated.

Jars come in a variety of sizes from half-pint jars to half-gallon jars. Pint and quart Ball jars are the most commonly used sizes and are available in regular and wide-mouth tops. If properly used, jars may be reused indefinitely as long as they are kept in good condition.

Atlas jars should not be used for home preserving and canning.

Jar Lids

Most canning jars sold today use a two piece self-sealing lid which consists of a flat metal disc with a rubber-type sealing compound around one side near the outer edge, and a separate screw-type metal band. The flat lid may only be used once but the screw band can be used over as long as it is cleaned well and does not begin to rust.

Canning Utensils

    Helpful items for home canning and preserving:

  • Jar lifter: essential for easy removal of hot jars.

  • Jar funnel: helps in pouring and packing of liquid and small food items into canning jars.

  • Lid wand: magnetized wand for removing treated jar lids from hot water.

  • Clean cloths: handy to have for wiping jar rims, spills and general cleanup.

  • Knives: for preparing food.

  • Narrow, flat rubber spatula: for removing trapped air bubbles before sealing jars.

  • Timer or clock: for accurate food processing time.

  • Hot pads

  • Cutting board

There are also many specialty utensils available like apple slicers, cutting spoons for coring and pit removal, corn cutters and peeler/cutter combinations.

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