Easily, Economically, and Deliciously
When your summer garden is in full swing, canning vegetables will probably be a big priority. (It is for us!) Or even if you don't have a garden, it's still a big project.
Canning vegetables is a great way to keep those summer treats fresh and preserved - whether you're taking advantage of a sale at the store, or trying to keep up with your fertile garden.
We've canned a lot of vegetables in the past - green beans have been the highlight! There are so many fun and delicious ways to can your veggies; like turning unwanted cucumbers into sweet crunchy pickles, for instance.
As with any canned food, the results are always well worth the effort.
What kind of vegetables should I can?
Great question. You can can most any vegetable safely - here's a general list to get you started:
- snap beans
- cucumbers (pickles)
- dry beans (any kind)
- mixed vegetables
- sweet potatoes
Pumpkin and squash are the only two vegetables I know of that are not safe to can, according to the USDA. Now, to clarify, you may can cubed pumpkin or squash; but it is considered unsafe to can the mashed version.
What canning method to use
First off, because vegetables are a low-acid food, you need to
pressure can them.
The reason for this is bacteria.
Certain foods have a high level of acid in them. Acid kills bacteria. Foods with lots of acid in them don't require much heat to successfully kill of all the bacteria found in them. These foods (usually fruits) are canned using the water bath canning method, because they don't need a lot of heat to get rid of all the bacteria.
But foods like vegetables and meat have a tougher kind of bacteria in them! They also don't have much acid. So low-acid foods should always be pressure canned.
A lot of people think that just because grandma canned all her meats, fruits, and veggies using the water bath method, it must be perfectly alright.
However, we've learned a lot more about safe food preservation since then, and just because grandma did it that way doesn't mean it's safe. Maybe she never died from food poisoning, but it's a very real risk she took (without knowing it, of course).
You don't want to play around with food poisoning; it is often fatal and is NOT a risk worth taking!
Sceptical? Take a look at our
guidelines for food safety page to find out more.
here for more information on buying pressure canners.
Preparing your vegetables
When you're selecting your vegetables, make sure you choose good, fresh produce. Don't try to canning vegetables that are wilted or bruised - canning them won't help the quality any! The quality your vegetables are before you can them will be the same after you can them.
In other words, if you can bad green beans, they'll still be bad green beans when you open your jar.
Bad spots on a vegetable have bacteria in them; and since bacteria is the very thing you want to avoid when canning, why preserve rotting food? If your vegetables have any bruises, bad spots, or worm-eaten areas, make sure you cut them out and discard them before canning.
When canning vegetables, (or any fresh produce, for that matter), it's very important to wash them first. Any pesticides, chemicals, or dirt have got to go.
There are two ways of doing this. If you are working with a lot of vegetables, you'll probably want to fill up a clean sink with cool water. This has worked great for me! It will eliminate the majority of dirt; but make sure you give your veggies a final rinse before packing them in jars.
Another way, if you're working with a small amount of vegetables, is to simply place them in a strainer and rinse them by hand.
Here are canning vegetables recipes to get you started!
canning green beans
canning tomatoes recipes
Canned Yams (sweet potatoes)
Since you'll be using
the pressure canning method,
it's time to get out your pressure canner and start canning vegetables!
For more info on how to choose a
pressure canner, click here.
Now, the basic method for pressure canning vegetables is fairly generic.
1. Sterilize your jars. What kind of
do you plan to use? Quart? Pint? Choose your size and boil them or run them through the dishwasher to sterilize them.
2. Chop, slice, or dice your vegetables. This part is completely up to you. It's really a matter of preference; if you like your green beans whole, then just snip of the ends. If you like them chopped into 2-inch pieces, you can do that as well.
This goes for any vegetable except for pumpkin and squash. The USDA states that you must chop these vegetables. The mashed version is considered unsafe.
3. Pack your vegetables into the jars. Make sure you leave 1/2 inch headspace; then fill with clean water.
4. Wipe rims of jars. This is an extremely important step in the process of canning vegetables. Food particles, bacteria, or microscopic crumbs and grease often lie on the rims of the jars after you have filled them. If you do not remove them, they will interfere with how your lids seal.
I have had many jars come unsealed because of this problem! This is especially true when you are canning greasy or sticky foods, like meat or jam.
5. Place lids and rims on jar. Lids go on first, then the bands. The bands should be screwed on finger tight.
6. Place filled jars in pressure canner. Of course, first your pressure canner needs to be filled with water. Check your owner's manual for specific instructions on this.
7.Put lid on. Make sure it is firmly latched or sealed.
8. Turn heat on high. Wait for your canner to begin puffing steam out of the vent on top (if it is a weighted gauge canner). Once this occurs, place the weighted gauge on the vent.
9. Process jars for however long your recipe dictates. You will need to adjust processing time for your altitude.
10. Turn off heat. It's time for your canner to cool down! This usually takes a little while, so be patient. In the meantime, do not attempt to remove the lid! Because of the extreme pressure that has built up inside, taking off the lid while it is still hot could cause serious burns or other injuries.
11. Remove the lid. You will know that it is safe to remove the lid when the small weighted gauge is resting comfortably on the lid. By this, I mean that it is no longer "held up" by the steam puffing out of the vent.
12. Remove jars. Using your
carefully remove the jars from your pressure canner and place them on a tea towel or cooling rack. They need to rest undisturbed for about 24 hours. During this time, you will hear each jar "pop", which means that the lids are sealing!
It doesn't matter if this is your first time canning vegetables, your third, or your fiftieth - it's a fun process that yields great results. You should be proud of yourself!
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