Canning methods for food preservation had almost become a lost art until the recent revival of homesteading skills. Now more and more people are learning this rewarding skill—and finding out that it can actually be fun and it’s also quite cost effective!
The equipment needed can make canning more expensive than dehydrating, but some foods just taste better when preserved this way. Our family likes canned homemade applesauce, salsa, spaghetti sauce, and just plain tomatoes! Not many things can compare with our canned wild huckleberry jam on toasted whole wheat bread!
So why not diversify—and along with eating fresh from your garden and orchard, storing produce in your root cellar, and dehydrating fruits & veggies—learn to can your produce too!
You’ll need glass jars (half pints, pints, and quarts are what I use). You’ll also need lids and rings, a jar funnel, jar lifter, a tall water bath canner and a pressure canner. There are two basic canning methods: the “Boiling Water Bath Method” and the “Pressure Canning Method”. An excellent and inexpensive resource book that teaches both methods, step by step, is the Ball Blue Book. I couldn’t can my fresh produce without using this book! The first few pages are like a short but very thorough safety course for canning. It’s a must!!
If you plan to can homemade applesauce, salsas, spaghetti sauce or seedless raspberry jam, a real timesaver that makes short work of these time consuming processes is a Victorio Strainer. I’ve seen a similar tool called a Roma Strainer in Lehman’s catalog and also I’ve seen one that looks very similar called a Norpro Sauce Master.
You can run your fresh pears, cooked apples, and raw tomatoes through this non-electric strainer without having to peel or core them and voila! the strainer sends out a smooth sauce into a bowl below and discards the cores and peelings etc. through a separate opening.
I like to preserve my red raspberries as seedless jam and this strainer works fabulously to remove most of the seeds!
So, once I’m ready to can my fresh produce, I use the rationale in the Ball Blue Book to determine whether I need to use the “Boiling Water Bath” canning method or the “Pressure Canning” method. Fruits and tomatoes can be processed using the “Boiling Water Bath” method. Vegetables need to be processed by the “Pressure Canning” method. But check the Ball Blue Book to make sure, as there are a few exceptions. For instance, by pickling certain vegetables you can water bath them because you’ve changed the acidity factor. But—for safe canning, always check the Ball Blue Book and follow the instructions given there.
The pressure canner that I’ve used for years and highly recommend is the All American Pressure Canner*. It has a metal-to-metal seal so does not require lid gaskets.
Once canned, it’s important to store your jars correctly. This has a lot to do with shelf life. Store your canned foods at a temperature of less than 70 degrees and away from direct sunlight if possible. The canning process itself decreases the nutrition in your foods, so the closer you get to storing your jars at 40 degrees, the longer your canned produce will retain its nutritional value.
If you need or would like a visual demonstration of canning (not to take the place of the instructions in the Ball Blue Book*) check out our “Preserving the Harvest” DVD or video download where I show the actual process for both methods.
*May be an affiliate link which helps support the mission of this blog without costing you a single extra penny.