Monday, October 15, 2012

Hot Water Bath Canning

One of our regular readers, @Streetlights94, asked us to explain how to can (preserve) vegetables and fruits using a hot water bath, since we spent much of the summer doing canning for the coming winter. This entry is to serve as a basic primer. There is loads of information on the internet about canning, including many recipes. (we even have our personally created (Spicy) Green Tomato Chutney recipe here:

Why canning? Canning is a good way to preserve a summer bounty. Many times it's difficult to keep up with eating everything a healthy garden is producing during the summer/early fall, and rather than giving away all the extra to your friends and neighbours, it's wise to "put up" some of the food for the fall, winter and spring months.

Canning is a method of food preservation dating back as far as the 1790's (in France). Other forms include drying, freezing, fermenting, pickling, cure and smoking. See National Center for Home Food Preservation for a wealth of information on all types of preservation.

There are two types of canning, boiling water bath, and pressure canning. Hot water bath canning is commonly used for produce that are high in acid (LESS THAN 4.6 pH, so 4.6 pH to 2.4 pH, which is the pH of cranberry juice, one of the most acidic fruits), such as fruits (apples/apple sauce, peaches, pears, apricots, berries, plums, cherries, rhubarb, cranberries and *most tomatoes), fruit/tomato juice, fruit jellies, jams or have additional acids (such as lemon juice or citric acid) added to them, things such as pickled beets, pickles, relishes, "butters", marmalades, preserves, chutney. Pressure canning is used for vegetables and fruits of low acid level...which is most of them. Pressure canning is a topic for another day.
Equipment Needed:
- Sharpie – for marking the jars with date and content after being canned.
- Towels – for spillage and setting wet jars on.
- Jars, rings and covers – for filling with contents.
- Timer – to use for canning the appropriate time.
- Boiling water canner/kettle – the pot used to process the canning in.
- Tongs -
- Jar funnel – eases the filling of jars with minimal spillage.
- Jar lifter – makes removing hot jars from water safely.
The Produce:
Wash produce you plan to use well. The best types are recently picked, not over-ripe and relatively blemish-free.

Assemble all the ingredients you will need, prepare all the other vegetable fruit ingredients you plan to add to your main ingredient.

Process recipes as per the instructions you are using.

The Steps:
The Jars:
Sterilize jars with hot water and mild soap prior to filling with contents, turn upside down on towel until needed.

Fill canner/kettle about half full or more with water, so that when the jars are places inside, the water is at least 1"-2" over the top of the jars. You may have to remove some water once you place the jars in.

Sterilize the lids in very hot water, in addition to sterilization this softens the sealing compound and makes a seal easier to attain.

The Contents:
When filling the jars make sure to leave a bit of a space, about an inch. We've had them "explode", and not achieve a seal, when filled too full.
Gently tap the bottom of the jar on the counter, if not using a spatula to remove air bubbles (we use the tapping method).
Place the tightly closed jars in the water and cover the kettle/cooker.

The Bath:
Time your gentle boil, there is a chart for different foods that range between 5 (for juices) and 30 (some raw fruits) minutes.
Image Source
After you pull the jars from the water, the jars will not necessarily be sealed right away after you take them out of the water. Let the jars cool on the counter; you will hear them make a popping sound, which one of the signs of a good seal*. Sometimes it takes longer than you would expect. Once it was about 10 hours until the jar finally popped, and it popped hard.

Canning is a fun and useful skill to learn, and if you learn how to pressure can then the creativity of your canning is nearly limitless and is extended to things like meats/proteins and vegetables that don't include a high salt-preservative content.

If you have some basic questions, feel free to comment in the section below. We realize we may have missed some things due to current distractions in our life.

Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any outcomes from the information used in this entry. This is how we can foods using the hot/boiling water bath methods. If you have questions seek the advice of a professional. *For expanded information guidelines on tomatoes, additional indications of a seal, other in-depth information, including instruction on canning jams and jellies, we recommend this document from the Virginia State Extension Office:

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Thank you so so much for this great explanation. I love you all! xoxo