Basics,  Canning

Introduction to Canning

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Welcome to Canning Season! Strawberries are ripe for the picking (if there is an open pick your own in the area). Last year during strawberry season, I picked 22 pounds of strawberries with my fiance and managed to can most of it. I also ate a fair amount of strawberries. There is nothing like a strawberry straight from the field. This year I had to settle for ordering two flats of strawberries (16 quarts total).

Before introducing you to all my favorite Strawberry Jam recipes, you should learn how to can and a little baout .

About seven or eight years ago, I ended up with these super sweet and amazing blueberries that I wanted to keep forever. After eating a pint of blueberries straight from the fridge, I started googling and found countless blueberry jam and jelly recipes. Lucky for me, my mother has a huge kitchen and pretty much let me do whatever I wanted as long as I cleaned up. I didn’t have the tools to make life easier, I had a large pot and a handful of mason jars. Surprisingly, no one died eating that first batch.

Useful Tools

I was lucky to find a version of this 6 piece canning kit on clearance because it has most the tools to make your life easier, the only thing it is missing is a trivet.  Before buying that kit, there were many burned hands and spills of water trying to remove jars from the pot of boiling water.

Fruit is commonly preserved as Jams, Jellies, and Preserves which is why I make a lot. There are a lot of different kinds of pectin on the market, most supermarkets have Sure-Jell Liquid Pectin, Ball Classic Pectin, and Ball Low or No Sugar Pectin. I prefer the Ball Low Sugar or No Sugar Pectin and keep this on hand all season.

Types Of Jars

Additionally, there are different kinds of canning jars on the market. Mason Jars are the most common. My theory is Ball, Kerr, and Anchor Hocking are made local so they do not have an import cost and are cheaper. Mason Jars are for sale in most supermarket. While Weck is common in the European Market. A third type of jar is Clamp Jars that are also used for preservation. I have found many jars on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace.

Before using any jar, check to make sure there are no clips in the glass or rust on the lids. Please note: the flat lid can only be used once, but the ring lid and jar can be reused many times.

Jar Storage

After jars have cooled, remove the rings and wash the jars. Washing the jars will remove any left over food drips that you might not notice. When jars are dry, label jars and return jars to storage tray or their original box. Stack boxes 2 high for 16 oz jars, 3 high for 8 oz jars and 4 high for 4 oz jars. Sadly, Jars larger than 20 oz should not be stacked.

If you bought your jars second hand, try to grab a can tray from the super market in the canned good section.

Finally, rings should not be left on the jar during storage. A tight ring will prevent gas from escaping and make it hard for you to tell if a jar has a broken seal. I have two small boxes in my closet just for the rings- one for regular mouth jars and one for wide mouth jars. These are shoe boxes, they’re nothing fancy.

On Canning

The details below will teach you how to safely can with a water bath. Pressure cookers will do a different style of canning but we will talk about pressure canning another day. The USDA does not recommend any electric pressure cookers, Instant Pots are not designed for this.

If you are new to canning, please refer to USDA Canning Guidelines for exhaustive details.

Canning 101

This is a process overview on how to can fruit and pickles safely using the water bath method. This is not a recipe for Jam or Pickle, just the process on how to preserve it.
Course: Canning
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Canning, Process, Water Bath
Yield: 12

Equipment

  • Large stock pot
  • Small Stockpot
  • Can Lifter
  • Mason Jars
  • Lid Lifter (Sometimes called Magnet on a Stick)
  • Canning funnel
  • Kitchen Towels
  • Silicone Trivit

Instructions

  • Gather Large Stockpot, Mason Jars, Can lifter, Canning Funnel, Small Stock Pot, Kitchen Towels and
  • Remove Lids from mason jars and set aside. Put the jars in the large stockpot and fill with water. When the water is 1 inch over the jars, turn on to high heat using a back burner. Set lids and rings aside.
  • Follow the recipe to make Jam/Jelly/Preserves or Pickles. Follow the recipe to make Jam/Jelly/Preserves or Pickles. When the recipe is done, use the jar lifters to remove jars from the stockpot, carefully dump water back into the pot. Place the empty jar on a kitchen towel. Jars and water are very hot, use caution.
    Put the flat parts of the lids in the hot water
  • Using the Canning funnel, funnel contents into jars. Whipping down the ring after jars are full. Make sure to note what your headspace should be for the recipe. Headspace is the amount of space between the lid and the contents of the jar. Depending on the recipe this could be up to 1 inch.
  • Using a clean damp towel, wipe the rims of the jars clean of anything that might have landed on the jars.
  • Mason Jars use a two-part cap to seal the jar. Using the lid lifter, remove hot lids from the water and place on the jar, metal side up. Tighten the ring cap around the jar, only until you start to feel resistance on closing it.
  • Using the jar lifter, return jars to hot water bath. Water should be 2 inches above the top of the jar.
    Amount of time that it has to be in the water bath will vary depending on the recipe. Tomatoes take 45 – 55 minutes while Jams take 10-15. Please note, the timer starts when the water is boiling.
  • Remove Jars from hot water bath after time has passed and set on a dishtowel when directly out of the water bath. DO NOT place directly on the counter, if your counter is cold it could shock jar into breaking. Additionally, lift directly up, without tipping the jar.
    Allow jars to cool completely before moving them. You will hear the lids making a pop noise to let you know that it sealed completely. Any jars that did not seal should be stored in the fridge.
  • When jars are completely cooled, remove rings and wash jars with soap and water to remove any food residue. Allow to dry completely before moving it to storage.

Looking to get started? Check out my Canning recipes listed here.

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