We always can fruit and vegetables at The Home Garden. The main vegetables we use for canning are tomatoes, from which we make salsa, spaghetti sauce and tomato juice. We also can sweet and dill pickles and my kids favorite is rhubarb-blueberry jelly. I came up with 7 steps for successful canning and a few helpful tips.
- Check Mason jars for nicks, cracks and sharp edges. Check screw bands for dents or rust. Use only jars, lids and bands in perfect condition so an airtight seal may be obtained. Wash jars and set aside. We boil our bands and lids for a few minutes, then remove them with tongs so can we avoid touching them.
- Select firm fresh food and wash thoroughly. Prepare according to recipe. Fill mason jars promptly with food and liquid. Allow ½ inch headspace for fruits and 1 inch headspace for vegetables. After your jars a filled make sure the edges are clean and dry to insure a good seal.
- Place canning rack on bottom of canner and fill half way with water. Bring water to a slow boil. Use jar lifter to place jars into canner. Check water level and make sure water is at least 1 inch above jars.
- Set a timer for the minutes required for the food based on the canning recipe. Lower the heat setting and maintain a gentle boil throughout processing.
- When the jars have been processed for the recommended time, using a jar lifter, remove the jars and place them on a towel.
- Allow jars to cool naturally 12 to 24 hours before checking for a seal. Do not retighten lids.
- As jars are cooling you should start to hear a little popping noise as lids seal and you should be able to notice lid drawn down tightly against the jar. When you open food a later date you should also notice if it has sealed or not.
- Bubbles often appear in the jar after it is removed from canner because food is still boiling in jar. Once the food has been allowed to cool they usually go away.
- Jar breakage during processing can be caused by a) packing jars too solidly or overfilling; b) weakened or cracked jars; c)jars touching bottom of container; d) lid improperly tightened; e) use of jars other than mason jars.
- Liquid lost from jars during processing is caused by; a) packing to solidly or overfilling; b) variation or sudden lowering of temperature; (loss of liquid may be unattractive but will not affect the safety of the food as long as the jar was processed correctly).
- It is better to over process food than under process. Under processed food may result in spoilage and unsafe food.
- Food spoilage or jars not sealing is caused by; a) failure to follow exact timetables and recipes; b) failure to wipe sealing edge of jar before placing lid on jar; c) jars are nicked or cracked; d) turning jars upside down while cooling.
- Mold can only form in the presence of air. Therefore, jars neither are nor sealed if mold is present.
- The black deposit sometimes found on the underside of the lid is caused by tannins in the food or hydrogen sulfides which are liberated from the food by the heat of processing. This does not indicate spoilage.
- If a jar does not seal, use at once, freeze or repack using different lids. Then reprocess the recommended time.
- Fruit which has been canned without sugar will turn brown when exposed to air just as fresh fruit does.