Aug 2011
Canning 101: The Basics

If you’re like us, you’ve spent hours each week watering and tending to your garden. Now all of a sudden, you’ve got cucumbers coming out of your ears, and enough strawberries to make strawberry shortcake for an entire army. Despite eating as much of it as you can off the vine, there always tends to be an excess. The perfect way to preserve your hard work – can it!

Canning food has recently come back into the light. It is a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables grown in the summer, and allows you to eat fresh food through the winter when seasonal foods are scarce. The thought of eating preserved summer foods in the middle of winter makes me all giddy inside!

There are two basic ways to can:

  • Boiling water canning: This is a safe way of canning high acidity foods like tomato sauce, fruits, and pickles. All you need is a large pot of boiling water and some jars – no special equipment required.
  • Pressure canning: This requires a pressure cooker, but allows you to can low acidic foods like vegetables and meats safely, since you are heating the jars to a higher temperature. Since I don’t have a pressure canner, I will only focus on boiling water canning.

Canning is definitely a science, and it can be a little intimidating at first. If food is not canned properly, it can make you very sick (check out botulism).  This is not the time to alter recipes – canning recipes were specifically created to be canned safely. Therefore, you cannot can your grandma’s famous spaghetti sauce recipe!

Need some convincing to can? Here are my reasons for canning:

  • It saves money – you can buy fruits and vegetables in bulk from your local farmer’s market at a lower price than the grocery store. I purchase tomatoes, peppers, peaches and apples by the bushel.
  • It’s eco-friendly – Buying local foods (or growing them yourself) in season, is
    better than buying strawberries in January that came from Mexico. Plus, the
    jars and rings are reusable, so there is less waste, and you can reuse the jars
    for years and years.
  • It’s healthier - Most commercially canned food has BPA in the liners of the cans. Health concerns about BPA is on the rise, which is a huge incentive for home cooks to can their own food. That, in part with using fresh, organic, preservative free food with no harmful additives or loads of sodium is enough motivation for me to can.
    For more info about BPA, keep reading…
    Food News – The Latest on BPA
    Protect Yourself from BPA
    The 7 Foods Experts Won’t Eat

For more information about canning, check out these helpful links:

For canning instructions and recipes:
National Center for Home Preservation
Ball Canning and Preservation
Pick Your Own

Recommended Books:
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - the bible of canning
Put ‘em Up! – a more modern canning guide with more unique recipes

Canning labels:
25+ Canning Jar Labels
Martha Stewart Labels
Canning label templates

Stay tuned…Over the next few weeks I will be posting more information about the canning process, necessary equipment and recipes!

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One Response to Canning 101: The Basics

  1. Looking forward to what you are canning! I have canned a few times before.

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