Fresh & Fit Friday: Canning your vegetables!

Canning is a great way to enjoy vegetables them all year long! Here is a basic overview on the canning process. The recipe that you select with have specific instructions, and so will the manufacturer’s instructions for the equipment that you are using! Before beginning, be certain that you understand the importance of safety in canning. If canning is done inappropriately, bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, may grow and is threatening to your health and safety. Other microorganisms may grow and cause food spoilage. However, if the proper precautions are taken, your canning process will go smoothly! 


    - Water bath canner (to preserve pickles, jams, jellies, fruit, tomatoes, relishes, and marmalades. Water bath canners are limited to these foods because they are higher in acid content. Pressure canners are used for low acid foods (vegetables, meats, poultry, etc.) because the pressure canner can reach much higher temperatures. Select the canner that is appropriate for your canning project!

    - Glass preserving jars, lids, and bands (always use new lids)

    - Kitchen utensils like a wooden spoon, ladle, and a wide mouth funnel    

    - A recipe of your choice! 

Other helpful utensils

    - Jar lifter

    - Hot jar handler

General Canning Steps

Here are general guidelines for using a boiling-water (water bath) canner or a pressure canner. Foods can be packed into jars by the raw pack (cold pack) method or hot pack method. In raw pack method, uncooked food is packed into jar and covered with boiling water, juice or syrup. In hot pack method, food is partly cooked packed into jars with cooking liquid.

    1. Sterilize and inspect jars. Check for cracks or chips. Use new lids. Bands can be reused if they are in good condition (not rusted or bent). Thoroughly wash lids, bands, and jars in hot, sudsy water (even if they are new). Rinse. Dry bands. Heat jars and lids in hot water, approximately 180 degrees for about ten minutes, prior to filling. Keeping jars hot until ready for use will prevent them from breaking when hot food is added. Lids and bands can be kept at room temperature.

Sterilization Process

To sterilize jars, they must be submerged in boiling water for 10 minutes. If the process time is 10 minutes or more, the jars will be sterilized DURING processing in the canner. So when the process is 10 minutes or greater, pre-sterilization of jars is unnecessary. 

Pre-sterilizing jars:  Place the cleaned jars right-side-up on a rack in a canner and fill the jars and canner with water to 1-inch above the tops of the jars. Bring water to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. If you live more than 1,000 feet above sea level, add an additional 1 minute for each 1,000 feet of elevation. When you are ready to fill the jars, remove them one at a time, and empty the water from them back into the canner.  This allows hot water to stay in the canner for processing filled jars.

    2. Prepare for pressure canning by filling the canner with water. Place over high heat, cover the canner with its lid and heat until the water boils vigorously. Keep water at a boil until jars are filled and placed in the canner. The manufacturer’s instructions may have specific directions for use.

    4. Prepare for the preserving by selecting the recipe of your choice! Follow the recipe’s instructions to begin canning! Prepare only the as much food as needed to fill jars. Keep workspace clean.

    5. Place hot jars on a towel to prevent them from slipping while packing. 

    6. Pack food into hot, sterile jars using a funnel. Always leave the recommended amount of headspace (as indicated in recipe).

    7. Ladle or pour boiling liquid over the food, leaving adequate headspace. Remove air bubbles by gently using a sterilized rubber scraper down the jars’ sides, or as indicated in the recipe.

    8. Clean rim and mason jar using a clean, damp cloth to remove any food residue. Center the lid on jar, and apply the band until tight. (Food on rim prevents sealing).

    9.  Place jars in the water bath canner for recommended time for sealing. Jars should not touch. Set a timer (after the water is boiling) for the total minutes required for food processing as indicated in the recipe. Keep the canner covered for the entire process time. Complete boil must be maintained. More boiling water can be added as needed to keep the water level above the jar tops.

    10. Carefully remove jars and place them onto a towel or cooling rack. Place jars in a draft-free area to cool. Allow the jars to sit undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.

    11. Check to make sure that the jars have sealed by pressing the center. Store in a cool, dry place. Any jars that have not sealed can be placed in the refrigerator to be used first. Always label jars with the contents and the date.

*Safety reminder:  Always inspect a home-canned jar of food before sreving. If the jar has leaked, has mold, or has a swollen lid or if the food has a foamy or murky appearance, discard the food and jar where it will not be consumed by people or pets. The odor should be pleasant. Always boil all home-canned vegetables for 10 minutes or more before tasting or using.

One of My Favorite Canning Recipes!

Bread and Butter Pickles

Prep:  40 minutes    Chill: 3 hours

Proces:  10 minutes    Makes: 7 pints

4 quarts (16 cups) sliced medium cucumbers

8 medium white onions, sliced

1/3 cup pickling salt

3 cloves garlic

 1 bag Cracked ice

4 cups sugar 

3 cups cider vinegar

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1.5 teaspoons ground turmeric

1.5 teaspoons celery seeds

  1. In a 6- to 8-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick kettle, combine the cucumbers, onion, pickling salt, and garlic. Add 2 inches of cracked ice. Cover with lid and chill for 3 to 12 hours. Remove any remaining ice. Drain mixture well in a large colander. Remove garlic.
  2. In the kettle, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard seeds, turmeric, and celery seeds. Heat to boiling. Add cucumber mixture. Return to boiling.
  3. Pack hot cucumber mixture and liquid into hot, sterilized pint canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). Remove jars; cool on racks.