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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Things to Know Before you Start Water Bath Canning

Canning your own foods can seem like a huge task to undertake, but once you get the hang of it you will be at ease with the steps to take. Plus the amazing taste of fresh canned foods is sure to win you over to this method of storing food.

If you are 100% new to canning and the techniques required, it is advised that you start with high acid foods that can be canned in a waterbath canner. Good high acid foods to can using the water bath method are:
fruits, fruit juices, jams, pickles, and tomatoes.

You will want to be sure you have all the canning supplies you need on hand and ready to go before you dive head first into a canning recipe.

To start you off, today we will go over water bath canning basics, some of the steps that you will take for waterbath canning are similar to the steps that you will take when you start pressure canning.

Be sure your canning jars are clean and have no nicks or chips. Dispose of any jars that are flawed or designate them for uses other than food storage (canning jar vases make any table look nice). To clean your jars you can either run them through the dishwasher or just wash up with soapy hot water.

You will also want your jars to be sterilized before putting food in them. To sterilize your jars fill your canner or a large pot about halfway with water, add more water if needed to cover the jars. Boil your jars for 10 minutes before filling them with food and allow them to stay in the hot water until you are ready to use them.

You will also want to heat up your jar lids for about 5 minutes in hot water. But keep in mind that you DO NOT boil the jar lids.

When you start your canning recipe you can start the water in your canner to preheating. When your food is ready, pack it into a sterilized jar being sure to follow the recipes instructions about headspace. Also remove any airpockets that have formed inside your jars. To remove them use a spatula, bubble freer, or plastic knife to run around the inside of the jar, if you more liquid is needed to correct the headspace after removing bubbles add it.

Wipe the rims of the jars to be sure any food is removed before placing on the lid. If food or debris is left on the rim  your jar lid will not seal correctly. Taking the band screw it on to fingertip tightness.

Place your jars into the canner being sure they remain upright. Once all the jars are loaded there should be 1-2 inches of water over the top of the jars. If more water is needed add boiling water to your canner.

Turn your stove's heat to high, place the canner lid on and wait for the water to come to a boil. Once the water is boiling you can set your timer for the processing time* that your recipe calls for.

Be sure to maintain a boil in your canner throughout the processing time. If your water stops boiling you will have to bring it back to a boil and start the timing over from the beginning. Add more boiling water to your canner if it is needed to keep the water level above the top of the jars at any time during the canning process.

After the time is up you will turn off the heat and remove the lid of the canner. After 5 minutes you can remove the jars. I recommend using a jar lifter to remove your jars from the hot water. Place your jars onto a towel in your workspace. Each jar needs a 1 inch space around in order to cool correctly. It will take 12 to 24 hours for the jars to cool. They need to cool at room temperature.

Checking the seal: After the 12-24 hours is up you can check the jar's seal by pushing down on the center of the lid. It should be slightly concave and making no noise. If you have jars that have not sealed you can put them in the fridge so long as they are eaten within a few weeks. Sealed jars are good to store in your pantry.

Always examine your jars and the contents before you eat them if there are any signs that the food is spoiled do not eat it. You risk catching botulism.

*If you live at an elevation of higher than 1000 feet then you will have to make what is called an altitude adjustment to your process time.

1001-3000 feet over sea level: Add 5 minutes.
3001-6000 feet over sea level: Add 10 minutes.
6001-8000 feet over sea level: Add 15 minutes.
8001-10,000 feet over sea level: Add 20 minutes.

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