I'm Going To Start Canning
Are you new to canning and not sure what is safe or even how to start canning foods? Maybe, you have tried to preserve foods before and the end result was not what you expected. Possibly you have purchased all types of costly jarring supplies, but your not sure what some recipes are talking about or why!This blog should help give some ideas to everyone that want's to start learning how to can their own food. So, if your new to canning and not sure what to do, relax . I've been canning for years and here is what works for me in my canning practices and maybe it will work for you, to keep your pickles are extra crunchy this year...
Grandma's Pressure Canner Exploded
We've all heard horror stories, someone's pressure canner blew up! But, can a pressure canner really explode. Sure! all pressure canners can exploded if the locks on the canner are faulty or not locked down correctly. If the vents, gauges, seals, and gaskets are old and not in working order and properly used and maintained, accidents can and will happen. So knowing how to care for you pressure canner is very important to a good canning experience.
I personally use a "Presto" Pressure Canner and Cooker, in my food preservation. Here is a link to Presto's website Presto Pressure Canners for everyone in the market for a good pressure canner. When I purchased my canner it came with a small book that answers all questions explaining care, usage, and instructions on safe canning recipes and practices. But! what if you have no book with your canner, where should you turn for answers on safe canning practices and recipe's? The old Cooner's advice would be the Ball Canning Book. The company Ball Mason, that makes canning jars also has a canning book that gives good safe recipes, that can be found online at Ball Canning Recipes. Also the Ball Canning Book gives overall general instructions for safe canning practices. Yet, another place for great free instructions on safe canning supplies and practices is the offices of the USDA agriculture department. In some states the USDA, has an on site checking station, where they can check your older pressure canner gauges.
Are Those Tomatoes Ripe Enough To Jar
Now when it comes to canning a vegetables or a fruits there are many things that you have to watch out for. Different vegetables and fruits have their own individual problems such as ripeness, acidic properties, molds, and disease you must watch out for when canning. But, for the purpose of this post I'm going to use tomatoes as the food of choice to start people off that are new to canning. I believe tomatoes, in halves and wholes are one of the easiest of all the vegetables and fruits to start canning with, especially for someone that has never canned before.
Tomatoes have a naturally high acid level which helps when you are preserving foods. Usually when you are new to canning, starting off with clean sterile canning supplies, good fresh ripe tomatoes, and some canning salt is about all it takes. Then presto, you have successfully canned you fresh ripe tomatoes. How great is it when you can preserve your own tomatoes for future use. It adds that special flavor too homemade chill, soups, spaghetti sauce, and salsa. One thing that you must first learn how to do, is spot tomatoes in a garden that are ready to be harvested. Looking for the freshest ripest tomatoes that are of a good size with NO noticeable signs of mold, rot, or disease is the way to go.
Below are a few examples of what to look for when Tomatoes are NOT good for canning!!!
A Check List To Remember When Looking For Fresh Tomatoes To Can
- Jar fresh vegetables, that are not overly ripe
- Make sure your tomatoes are not bruised, or oozing liquid
- Look for mold spots on tomatoes that have began to mold (Side Note: remember mold can be in different colors, shapes, and forms!)
What To Can In Those BALL Jars
For the new canning enthusiasts I'm going to explain the tomato canning process. Because I believe tomatoes are the easiest and most useful vegetable to put into a jar for people new to canning. But, keep in mind that different vegetables, fruits, meats, and physical location can require different pressures and practices in canning.
So, for example you have fresh washed ripe tomatoes, a safe pressure canner that you have studied all about, and a new case of canning jars, lids, and rings. So what is next in the canning process clean, clean, clean!!! No matter how new your canning equipment, I suggest that hand washing all canning equipment, is the first step to ensure safety. Next I would submerge my jars into water in the pressure canner without the lids or rings and boil all jars to ensure they are sterilized. Originally it was thought that the lids and rings also need to be in a separate sauce pan and brought to a boil. But, new canning practices from Ball recommends NOT to boil the lids because the heat can damage the red wax rings on the lids. I personally still put my lids and rings into a sauce pan but with luke-warm tap water to warm the wax ring but, not damage it.
List Of Supplies You Will Need To Start Canning Your Own Foods
- A good quality and in good working order pressure canner. (Side note: Pressure canners can usually be used as a water bath canner but, a water bath canner can not be used to pressure canner.)
- Jar's, Lids, And Rings that are made for home canning (Side note: Don't try and reuse jars such as store bought old pickle or mayonnaises jars and lids to re-can at home. The canning process and products a company uses to can foods, are different than at home canning practices.)
- Canning utensils, such as jar lifter, a lid lifter, a funnel, a headspace tool and a food press.
- Pot's and Pan's that are large enough to heat the large amounts of food you are canning.
- The ingredients you will need for your canning recipes (Examples: Canning salt, lemon juice, pepper of all kinds, sugar, cumin, thyme, or paprika) just to give a few examples.
- A good quality canning book with recipes.
- Enough time in the day to correctly can your fruits or vegetables. (Side note: some times canning can take a little time out of the day to complete correctly)
Pressure Canner or Water Bath
Most books that come with a pressure canner or the Ball canning book gives the option to pressure can, or water bath tomatoes. The choice is really up to who ever is canning the tomatoes. Both pressure canning and water bathing have advantages and disadvantages over each other. With pressure canning the shelf life of the tomatoes are usually longer than with water bathing, but water bathing is a much quicker and an easier process for canning large amounts of tomatoes. But for this post I will only discuss pressure canning the plain tomatoes.
The Starting Process For Canning Tomatoes Once your jars have boiled in the pressure canner for about ten minutes completely submerged inside and out with water, the jars are sterile, and ready to go. The lids and rings are in warm water, and it's time to boil your tomatoes to remove the skin of the tomatoes. I usually cut an "X" shape on the bottom of my tomatoes and place them in boiling water for about 60 seconds then quickly remove the tomatoes and place them in a ice water bath to loosen the skins. I then peel the loose cool skins from the tomatoes. I next top, cut, and core the tomatoes im canning. Usually, in my garden I have very large beef stake types of tomatoes, which I grow. I usually cut my tomatoes into six vertical slices, not just four from top to bottom. This is due to the fact of the physical size of my tomatoes, it fits them in the jars correctly.
How To Fill The Canning Jars With Tomatoes To ensure a safe canning practice without risk of burn! I use my canning jar tool to remove a hot jar and empty its water from the boiling bath. Placing the jar on a towel spread out on the counter top, helps keep the glass jar from cooling to quickly, causing cracking in the glass. Next, for Quarts I use 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid to each. For Pints I add 1 tablespoon or lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid. Next I add canning/pickling salt 1 teaspoon to each quart 1/2 teaspoon to each pint. The purpose of the salt and lemon juice/citric acid is to ensue that the tomatoes have enough acidity to guard against spoiling.
When packing your tomatoes into jars no matter, pints or quarts it is always a safe practice to put hot tomatoes into hot jars. Once you have packed a jar full using a canning tool, canning press, or knife up and down against the inside walls of the jars to remove airgaps or air bubbles, you have to check for head space in the jars. Meaning the tomatoes do NOT need to be flush with the tops of the lids, and most people use the headspace tool mentioned in the supply list...
" I do NOT personally use a canning tool to check for headspace of my fruits and vegetables, when canning. I usually measure off of the glass threads at the top of the jars."
I usually leave 1/2 inch head space in my jars of tomatoes. The purpose of the 1/2 inch is because, in the canning process the tomatoes need room to expand and the air will be removed. With to little head space the jars will over spill into the canner. With to much head space the tomatoes can have to much air in the jar causing spoilage. Next use a clean cloth to remove any particles of tomatoes around the lip of the jarsn and place a warm lid and ring finger tight on the jars. Using the finger tight method is very important to canning. To tight of a ring can cause the lid to bow upwards and not seal correctly.
Lets Can Them Maters
Place all jars full of tomatoes back into the pressure canner making sure the water level is correct for your canner. Usually when pressure canning there is only about 2 inches of water in the bottom of the pressure canner. But, when water bathing the entire jar is covered with water about and inch above the rings of the jars. Now reassemble the pressure canner lid and bring the temperature up in the canner. Usually I wait for steam to come out of the pressure regulator tube. When this happens I put the pressure regulator cap on and wait for air vent/cover lock to rise up. This is when I would recommend keeping an eye on the pressure gauge. Depending on your elevation and size of jars you are using depends on the amount of time the jars must spend in the pressure canner. My elevation is 896' so usually I can my tomatoes at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for pints and quarts. Once 25 minutes has passed I slide my pressure canner over but DO NOT remove the lid or regulator cap of the canner until the air vent has depressed and the pressure gauge reads zero.
Lastly, I remove my pressure canner lid and remove the jars to cool on a towel on the counter. After each freshly canned jars lid has popped and the jars have had time to cool. I then remove the rings from my newly canned tomatoes. I remove the rings (important note: because new canning practices, states that rings left on jars can cause mold to grow inward and causes broken seals and get air to the food inside the jars) Finally, after the jars have cooled and sealed I re-wipe the lids label and jars to store the jars away in a pantry. Making sure NOT to stack the jars on top of each other as done with aluminum cans. Stacking home canned jars of food can cause bad seals, which casues spoilage of the food inside.
Hopefully this post will will help everyone new to canning see the joys of canning and bringing fresh vegetables to the table in the cold winter months and at family gatherings. I thank you all for reading my post and would like to ask you all to please subscribe to our news letter, to stay up on everything going on here at the Crockett Coonhound. Make sure to leave us a review, we love to hear from our readers. Make sure to check out the rest of the Crockett Coonhound website, we have lots to see. Also, if your looking around the old inner webs, make sure to look for me The Crockett Cooner and The Crockett Coonhound on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Thank you all again for reading I hope your have a great day, and an even better tomorrow.
Do they have plastic canning lids for home canning?
Yes, Some companies do now have a reusable canning lid. Are they safe to use? Yes if used correctly by manufactures standards.
What happens if home canned food spoils, is it still safe to eat?
No, You should never eat home canned food that appears to have spoiled. (Side Note: You can not see or taste botulism, this is why safe and correct canning practices are so important)
Are there different ways and methods to preserve foods at home?
Yes, many people flash freeze foods, and use other methods, types of jars, and recipes to preserve foods. (Side Note: I have given you one of the most basic ways of pressure canning tomatoes. In other blog post I will go more in depth on different ways and recipes to home can many different types of food)
Can you can meats at home?
Yes, the Ball Canning book give explicate instructions on how to can many different things, such as meats.
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