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Canning 101- The Complete Guide To Home Canning and Pickling

By Jeff Wise January 04, 2021

Welcome to canning 101 - the complete guide to home canning and pickling!

Home canning is an art form. Sure, it sounds simple but there are a few steps that you need to take in order to ensure that your canning experience is the best that it can be.

If you want a crash course in how to can like a pro, then this is the guide for you.

Canning Vegetables

The Mechanics of Home Canning

The mechanics of canning jam, or anything else for that matter, are super simple.

You just need to fill a clean jar with some food, put on the lid and then the threaded ring for the jar.

You then need to submerge the jar in boiling water for a set amount of time. Sounds simple, right?

Well it is, to some extent.

Boiling times for cans can vary and of course, you need to make sure that the whole process is sterile from start to finish.

The reason why the method works so well is because when you remove the jar from the hot water, the heat starts to escape.

It takes any air that might be left in the jar with it. The escaping oxygen then quickly pulls the lid down, creating a seal that is absolutely airtight.

Foods that are high in acid, and that are prepared in this way can last for one year plus.

Take a look below to learn how to sterilize canning lids, canning jars and the equipment you’ll need.

Woman Home Canning

What You'll Need As You Read This Complete Guide To Home Canning

To begin your canning adventure, you'll need to take stock of the kitchen supplies you have. You'll need:

  • Tongs
  • Wide Funnel
  • Measuring Cups
  • Jar Lifter
  • Canning Food Pressure Canner (Optional)

It's also handy to have a wide, non-reactive pot. An enameled Dutch oven is ideal here.

Just put a kitchen rag or even a round rack at the bottom, as it helps the water to circulate around your jar.

This will help you to get the best result out of your canning and preserving experience.

Ready? Here We Go

There are tons of canning websites out there that will give you recipes.

If you want a starting point, check out Taste of Home.

If you want some raw recipes, head over to Homesteading Family.

Remember that working with the freshest ingredients you can find is always good. This is especially the case when canning vegetables or canning jelly.

Remove the lids from your jars and put them in your pot. Then, fill the pot (and the insides of the jars) with clean water to cover.

Pop a lid on the pot, and bring it to the boil. Put any lids in another smaller saucepan, and bring that to barely a simmer.

Preparing your Product

Now the canning pot is on the go, prepare your product. When this is done, remove the jars from the pot and fill your ball mason jars with the product.

Depending on the recipe, you will need to leave around half an inch at the top.

Wipe the rims of the jar with a damp paper towel, put the lids back on and screw the band down.

This will hold the lids down during the processing period. Carefully lower the jars, which have now been filled, back into the canning pot.

Add some more water, and bring back to the boil. When it's boiling, start a timer.

The length of the processing time can vary depending on the recipe you’re using.

When your timer goes off, remove the jars from the bath and let them cool.

Cooling the Jars

The jars should begin to ping right after they have been removed from the pot.

Don't be alarmed by this, the pinging is the sound of any seals being formed.

The seal on the jar will concave too. You can sometimes see this happening.

This is when the vacuum seal takes hold.

After the jars have cooled, remove the bands and then check all of the seals.

To do this, grasp the jar by the edge of the lid and lift it two inches away from the countertop. The jar lid should hold.

When you've gotten to this stage, remove the rings and store them in a cool, dark place.

If some jars don't seal, put them in the fridge and use them up first.

Canned Vegetables and Fruits

Why Didn't your Mason Jars Seal?

Having an issue with your mason jars not sealing? This can happen for a few different reasons.

It may be that you had some sticky residue on the jar, and this can make it hard for you to get a good seal.

The sealing compound may not have heated enough, and therefore didn't fully soften.

Think about it, was your product piping hot when you put it into the jar?

If not, there might not have been enough heat in the jar to create the vacuum effect for the canning process.

Becoming a Home Canning Professional

Home canning can feel intimidating if you've never done it before.

But by following these steps, you'll see it's easier than you thought.

Try the easiest way to can green beans first and you'll fall in love with canning.  Then try home canning carrots.

Before you know it, you will be a professional canner and will fill your pantry with loads of homemade canned goods.

We hope you enjoyed this complete guide to home canning.  If you have any tips or tricks please leave a comment below!

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