Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Water Bath Canning

Photo Credit: CDC

Water bath canning is the easiest way to get started canning.  A typical canning kit consists of an aluminum canner, though they also have stainless steel now, a jar funnel, jar lifter and a rack.

Only certain foods can be water bath canned.  Tomatoes, pickles, jams, jellies, relishes and chutneys.
First step is to use jars made for canning.  I use Ball wide mouth.  Make sure your jars are free of nicks and cracks and sterilize.  If you are sterilizing in your canner boil them for 10 minutes and use your jar lifter to  empty and place on a clean towel on your counter.  In a separate smaller pot I do the same with the lids but I just bring it to a boil and turn it off and let sit until needed. Make sure your rings are clean, washed in hot water and dry.  Another method is to use your dishwasher on the sterilize setting.  The jars need to be hot so as not to crack when you pack them.

While doing this, whatever recipe you are using to can should already be cooking on your stove. 
Bring the water in your water bath canner back up to boiling.  Pack your jars with what you are canning and use a small spatula to run around the inside of the jar and pack down to discourage air bubbles.  Leave about 1/2 inch from the top to allow for expansion.  Place lids on the top of each jar and screw on a lid firmly, not wrenched down, then place in your rack.  Submerge the rack into the bath canner and make sure the water covers two inches on the top.  Processing times vary from size of jar you are using and type of recipe.  Once processing is complete, carefully lift jars out of the canner and place on your clean towel.

Canned jars typically take about 24 hours to cool down but you should hear the tell tale pings of sealing jars before that.  Never store a jar that hasn't sealed, just count it as a loss.  It could be a faulty lid or too much content bubbled to the top compromising the seal.  Best not take the chance.

Once cooled you can wash jars if needed and remove the rings.  Make sure they are dry and store in a cool dark space.  Clean and dry rings for next use. 

Canned food is good for a year but we have used older canned food without problems.  Always check that the lids are not rusted and the food has not spoiled before use.  There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your pantry filled with glass jars of food you processed yourself.

A good book about canning is a great investment. 

Hot pack means that you have cooked all ingredients to be filled in jars.
Cold back usually applies to fruit in which the fruit is just cut or placed in jars and a hot syrup is poured over them. Then placed in the canner to process.

A Basic Hot Pack For Tomatoes

You will need close to two dozen tomatoes depending on size.  Clean, peel and quarter saving the juice.  Simmer gently in their own juice, stirring to prevent sticking for 5 to 10 minutes.
Fill clean, sterilized pint jars leaving 1/2 inch of space, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar.  Place clean sterilized lid on each jar and clean canning ring.  Place in rack and lower into pressure canner.  Process for 35 minutes.  Remove with jar lifter and place on clean towel on counter.  Make sure seals set and let cool for 24 hours.  Label and date the contents on the lid.

Never try to short cut the process.  Also a note about glass top stoves.  Some cannot handle the pressure of having a big heavy canner with water.  I have not had trouble but I have read where others have.  A solution to this is an outside propane burner.

It will also help keep the house from becoming overheated while processing food.  I have one but not this particular brand.  As always make sure your work station is clean and jars and lids are sterilized.

Next up:  Pressure Canning

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