Canning: the age-old art of food preservation. Check out these 7 tips for water bath canning to start preserving your own produce!
Simply put, canning is the process of packing food such as vegetables, or meat into jars, bottles, or cans and then boiling these containers in water for a specific amount of time dependent on the food being canned.
“Sealed” In Time…
Canning was invented in France in 1809 by Nicolas Appert, in response to a need from the government to find a way to preserve food for the French army and navy.
This method worked! However, it was 50 years later when Louis Pasteur was able to explain why Appert’s methods worked. Heating the containers or jars up to a certain high temperature killed any microorganisms or bacteria still in the food, while also sealing the containers from letting any new bacteria from the outside into the preserved food until opened for use.
Since its beginnings, canning has evolved into the tin canned goods lining store shelves or even into cans of beer!
Canning can be broken down into 2 different “classifications” or methods: pressure canning and water bath canning. These methods are fundamentally the same but use slightly different equipment and can be used for preserving different foods.
Below I’m going to break down the differences between pressure canning and water bath canning. PLUS, I’ll share with you 7 tips for water bath canning!
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of canning, check out the link HERE!
Pressure Canning VS Water Bath Canning
The differences between these two “classifications” of canning are straightforward.
Pressure canning heats food at higher temperatures than a water bath canner due to pressurized steam that is hotter than the normal temperature of boiling water.
The other big difference between these two is the types of food that can be preserved whether high or low acid foods.
High acid foods can all be canned with a water bath canner OR a pressure canner. Pressure canning high acid foods will take a little longer.
High acids foods (for a water bath canner):
- Jams & Jellies
- Apples, Peaches, & Pears
- Spaghetti Sauce (Meatless)
Low acid foods can only be preserved with a pressure canner.
Low acid foods (for a pressure canner):
- Beans, Carrots, Corn
- Most Meat & Poultry
- Most Seafoods
- Dairy Products
- Soups & Stews
For bacteria to be adequately destroyed, low acid foods need to be canned at a temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Water bath canners usually reach a temperature of 180-212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Usually the best time to break that canner out is August to early September as seasonal garden goodies become available.
Looking for some tasty recipes to try? Check out this great recipe resource!
In order to do the job and do it right, you’re going to need to start with the right equipment. Here is a list of equipment for water bath canning that I use:
Once you’re armed and ready with the proper equipment, you’re ready to get started! Below I’ve outlined 7 tips for water bath canning to follow as you get started!
7 Tips for Water Bath Canning:
1) Gather your equipment and ingredients:
Seems simple doesn’t it? This is a quick step, but oh so important. Be sure you have your jars, lids, and rings washed and ready to go. Have your ingredients put together and ready to be packed into jars. And get that water started on the stove! It takes a little while to get a big pot of water boiling.
2) Follow your recipe!
This is hands-down the most important tip for canning. Find a recipe you want to try, and follow it to a tee. Keep in mind that you’re preserving food to enjoy later, so you want to make sure you preserve it right.
3) Fill jars according to head space:
Head space is the amount of space between the product and the lid. Usually your recipe will dictate how much head space is required. Head space allows for the expansion of the product or liquid that can bubble up during processing. If there isn’t adequate head space some of the product may be forced out preventing the jar from sealing.
4) Be sure jar rims are clean:
Before putting lids on your jars, wipe down the jar rim with a cloth or wet paper towel. This will ensure that there are no food particles on the rim and will help the lids seal better.
5) Be aware of your altitude and adjust for processing time:
Most recipes are fairly standard based upon where it was created and tested. But, in order to safely can food, you’ll need to determine your altitude and adjust accordingly. Below are some common altitude adjustments to keep in mind for your processing time.
- 1,001 – 3,000 feet => Add 5 minutes
- 3,001 – 6,000 feet => Add 10 minutes
- 6,001 – 8,000 feet => Add 15 minutes
- 8,001 – 10,000 feet => Add 20 minutes
6) After processing, remove jars and flip upside down until sealed:
Using a jar lifter (definitely recommend this when lifting jars in and out of hot water!) carefully remove the hot jars from the canner after processing time is up. Gently place jars on a thick towel and flip them over so the top of the jar is on the towel. Let the jars cool like this for several hours or overnight. By flipping the jars over, the hot product in the jars can help to finish sealing the jar lid.
7) Check for a seal:
Once the jars are cooled, you flip them over right side up. To check that the jars have sealed, try to press down on the lid. If there is a bubble in the lid and you can push that bubble down, then the jar did not seal correctly. If there is no bubble then the canning and sealing process was a success! Any jars that do not seal can be processed again or placed in the fridge and used right away.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed…
It can seem like a daunting process, but don’t stress. The hardest part is always starting. But you’ve got to start somewhere, so start with the basics.
Above I’ve given you a list of equipment you’ll need, resources for recipes to try, and 7 tips to use as a checklist for safe water bath canning.
And now it’s up to you! Take time out of your busy schedule and make it happen! This will take some time to plan for and make happen, but it’s INCREDIBLY rewarding to process and preserve your own food for later! You’ve got this!