I love to garden and part of that is preserving my harvest so I can enjoy it all during the year. Even if you don't have a garden, you can visit farmers markets and grocery stores. It is a cost effective way to have food storage and it is so satisfying to see all your pretty jars lined up when you are done! If you have never canned before, I am going to share my best canning tips for beginners.
Canning Tips for Beginners
Don't be intimidated! Even if you don't think you can handle using a pressure cooker, there are still plenty of things you can bottle using the water bath method. High acid foods like tomatoes, fruits, and pickles can be done in a water bath canner. Start out using the water bath method and then work up to using a pressure cooker for meats and veggies.
Check Your Jars. Most of mine are hand-me-down. If you can find some at garage sales or even better, free from a relative or neighbor, go for it! Just make sure to check the rims for nicks and chips. Those can't be used for canning since you wouldn't get a seal. Also, don't reuse the lids. You can reuse the rings, but the lids need to be purchased every year.
Read up on it! Just like any new skill, a little research goes a long way. The National Center for Food Preservation is an awesome resource. The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning is also a must read.
Use only approved recipes. This one can be a hard one for people because they really want to use their grandma's salsa recipe from 1956. I get it. I have a pickle recipe from my sweet grandma written in her handwriting. It is the recipe my mom used. It may or not be okay. The tricky thing with canning is that you need the right amount of acid for water bath canning, and proper processing times. It is better to use recipes that have been approved by the USDA and have gone through testing. Better safe than sorry!
Some things need to be peeled before you can bottle them and blanching will become your new favorite thing. A blanching pot is a great thing to buy even if you aren't going to can. It has an outer pot and it has an inner pot with drainage holes that you can easily lift out. Fill it with water, heat it up, put in some peaches (or tomatoes, or pears, etc) and let them cook for a few minutes. Pull out the inner pot and dump the peaches into the sink filled with cold water. You will be able to easily peel of the skin. Sometimes it even comes off in one piece.
This is my kids' favorite job. It is pretty satisfying! Even if your just making a cobbler, this is so much faster then trying to peel them with a knife.
Have your pressure cooker checked out every year. You can take you Pressure cooker places that will check out your rubber ring and the pressure gauge for free! Extension offices and health departs are two places I have gone. Search online for your area to find a place you can take yours. And if you need to replace them, they are not expensive.
When canning, your kitchen can get hot and it will be tempting to open windows near you. But be careful! When taking out very hot jars, if a cold breeze hits them, it can crack from the sudden change in temp. Open window in other areas or crank the AC up a bit.
After filling your jars, before you put the (warmed up) lids on, use a damp paper towel to wipe the rim of the jar. If there is any residue on there the lid won't be able to seal properly.
I think most of my other tips are included in the canning guides. They really are good to read before starting this adventure! And if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them for you too.
Supplies Needed for Canning:
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Quart and Pint Jars (Best price I have found is at Walmart)
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