100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 6 – Canning

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plant-food-produce-vegetable-natural-fresh-573617-pxhere.comCanning isn’t complicated it’s just time-consuming. That’s why so many people choose now to freeze foods. However, that method takes up valuable freezer space that is better used for fresh meat.

Many fruits and vegetables lend themselves well to canning and everyone who cans has their favorites. In our family, we can tomatoes, stone fruits, apples, and pickles. The rest of the year we just eat what’s in season.

It’s important to note that there are two primary methods for canning: the water bath method, and the pressure canning method.

Water baths are used for high acid foods like fruits and some vegetables. Jellies, jams, condiments, vinegar, pickles, tomatoes, and fruits are canned using a water bath. Water bath canning is a much shorter, lower-temperature process that is ideal for high-acid foods. The high acidity in the foods, ideally, kills the bacteria.

Pressure canning is used for low acid foods. Meat, seafood, poultry, vegetables, soups, stews, stocks, milk, and foods with some tomatoes but not 100% tomatoes are processed using the pressure canning method. Pressure canning heats the contents up to 240° F, decreasing the risk of bacteria.

When you first start out it is best to choose just 2-3 canned goods that you are going to try out for the season. Select a well-reviewed recipe. Read all the comments by users and make sure you are prepared with all of the supplies you will need in advance.

graniteware set

Canning kits like this one can be easily found online or at local shops in the summer.

A basic water bath is the simplest of canning methods for beginners. Jams, jellies, tomato sauces, and pickles are popular with beginner canners. They are practical too because many households eat a tremendous amount of these items. Most folks work up to using a pressure canner after becoming very familiar with the water bath technique first.

However, if you are already accustomed to using a pressure cooker, you may feel very comfortable jumping right into pressure canning. Which is just fine.

If you are doing a water bath you will need:

  1. A well-tested recipe
  2. Fresh produce and other ingredients
  3. Wooden spoon and a ladle
  4. A clean sanitized canning pot with a rack
  5. Sanitized jars
  6. New lids and bands (bands can be reused)
  7. A clean, sanitized jar lifter
  8. Clean, sanitized jar funnel
  9. Clean, sanitized hot jar handler
  10. Clean, sanitized sure-tight band tool

If you are doing pressure canning you will need:

  • A well-tested recipe
  • Fresh vegetables, milk, meat, poultry, seafood, and other quality ingredients.
  • Wooden spoon and a ladle
  • Pressure canner 
  • Sanitized jars
  • New lids and bands (bands can be reused)
  • A clean, sanitized jar lifter
  • Clean, sanitized jar funnel
  • Clean, sanitized hot jar handler
  • Clean, sanitized sure-tight band tool

Make sure that all your supplies are very well cleaned and sanitized. Follow the directions in your recipe for the proper technique. This usually involves a thorough cleaning, followed by a hot water bath, boiling utensils is not uncommon.

Bacteria cannot be allowed to enter the food, containers, or utensils while canning, so your canning area should also be clean and free germs. Your hands and clothes should also be clean.

Follow your recipe’s directions. Handle everything safely and keep the area clean and clear of bacteria. After you are finished with the canning process, check for a good seal. Don’t forget to label the jars with the contents and the date. Generally, home-canned foods should be consumed within a year.

Now go post a pic to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or share with us what your favorite canning recipes are.

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