Getting Started:

Basic Canning Instructions

food storage

If you're brand new to canning, than you'll need some basic canning instructions to get you started. If you're like most people, and have only seen others can but never tried it yourself, than don't worry, because it's easier than it looks!

What is canning? How does it work?

Canning is the method of preserving food by placing food into jars and processing them, which seals the jars. When you process the jars by boiling them in a canner, this kills microorganisims and bacteria and also eliminates any oxygen from inside the jar. When the food cools, it creates a vacuum seal, preventing any air from entering.

There are two ways of canning, both of which you'll need to learn if you want to can both fruits and vegetables.

Pressure canning is processing your jars by using temperatures higher than boiling. The pressure canner is specifically designed to hit 240*F, which kills microorganisms and botulism spores. If you are going to can meats, vegetables, or beans, you must use this method.

Water bath canning is the method of submerging your jars of food in an open pot filled with water, and boiling them for a certain amount of time. This method is to be used for canning fruits, including jams and jellies.

What kind of equipment do I need?

There are several things you will need to buy before you begin to can. You will need:

*pressure canner - this is for canning meats and vegetables. However, most pressure canners can be used for water bath canning as well; just leave off the lid. Most pressure canners sell new for around $70 - $80.

*water bath canner - if you plan to only can fruits and jams, buying a water bath canner will meet all your canning needs. You can buy one for anywhere from $30 - $50; however, if you have a large stock/soup pot, that will work as well.

If you plan to use your own pot at home, it needs to be tall enough for your largest canning jar to fit in it, plus be covered with two inches of water. Also, never place your jars in your pot without a rack - if they are sitting on the bottom with nothing to support them, they could easily shatter.

canning jars - this depends on what size you want to can with. (Click here to learn more on canning jars.) Along with your canning jars, make sure you have plenty of lids and rims (also called bands or rings).

*canning accessories - it's helpful to purchase this group of canning acessories, as they provide a lot of help when you're actually doing the canning.

*books and resources - having a good basic canning book is an absolute necessity! Most canning books will have recipes, canning instructions, and helpful tips if you need them. Here is a list of resources that we have found to be very helpful:

The Ball Blue Book of Canningcanning instructions

Canning for Dummies by Karen Wardalt text

The Encycolpedia of Country Living by Carla Emeryalt text

It is important for you to be aware that very old canning instructions, recipes or books may not be reliable. Canning instructions prior to 1990 may direct you to use the open kettle method, which has been proved to be unsafe and hazardous. Even if it's your own grandmother's recipe, don't follow the processing instructions! Stick to current, proven canning instructions and safety guidelines.

The benefits of canning

Back in a day when stores where miles away from a frontier family, growing food and then canning it was a necessity. Because they faced severe winter storms and could not just "run to the store" like we can today, pioneers of the 1800's relied heavily on home-canned foods.

Although the need for preserving food at home is not nearly as great, there are still many benefits that come from canning your own food.

It's Economical

In many cases, canning your own food is definitely a money saver! For example, pie fillings have become increasingly expensive. Preparing and canning your own is not only easy and fun, but it is SO much less money! Saving a few dollars may not seem like a big deal, but over the course of a year, or even a few years, you will have saved quite a bit - and you'll be glad you did.

It's Healthier

On the same example, pie fillings tend to be chock-full of sugar and preservatives. If you are a diabetic, or are simply trying to reduce the amount of sugar you eat, than canning your own pie fillings is definitely the way to go!

Although it's necessary to use a little sugar when you can, you can still greatly reduce the amount you use. When canning your own fillings, or any fruit for that matter, you can also choose to use organic produce, if you like.

In fact, growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to eat organically! Gardening is both affordable and fun.
Click here to learn more about growing your own fruits and vegetables!

It's a Good Emergency Back-Up

Most people don't often think about this angle, but emergencies can and do happen. Whether it's a power outage, a winter storm, or a medical emergency, having a good supply of home-canned foods is a good idea. It's wise to be always moving more towards self-sufficiency - and canning your own food is a great way to do that!

Self-sufficiency allows you to be at ease when the un-expected happens!

Practical self sufficiency through food skills

Vegetable Gardening, Home Canning and Freezing, Orchards and Fruit, Food Crafts, Wine Making and more...

It's Safer

It's a lot safer to eat your own canned food , as it comes from a glass jar. Studies show that foods which have been commercially canned in tin cans contain large amounts of aluminum, which can greatly increase your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia later in life. How often do we all open aluminum cans of food on a daily basis?! Protect yourself and your family by going the safer route and canning your own foods in glass jars!

It's Fun

What could be more fun than giving away cute little jars of jams to friends and family? Canned goods make especially nice gifts. We love surprising our friends with a favorite home-made jam or jelly on special's straight from the heart!

Canning safety

Obviously canning comes with a few risks. But they are nothing to worry about, especially if you follow basic safety requirements. Always follow current canning instructions - there is no reason to be lazy and cut corners! Botulism (food poisoning) is probably the biggest risk you face when canning your own food However, keep in mind that you face this risk any time you consume canned food - no matter if it's store-bought or home canned! If you are following good canning instructions, to a tee, than your risk of botulism is no different than consuming commercially canned food.

However, all things considered, you don't want to skimp on sanitation. There are definitely essential safety requirements to follow! Make sure you keep up with the most recent canning instructions and safety requirements.

How do I get started?

If you're ready to just jump right in and start canning, we have canning instructions

ready for you to use! Just click on the link above and read our step-by-step list.

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