Do not depend solely on the grocery store for your vegetables. Grow your own and can them to stock your pantry using these basics of canning vegetables.
I grew up with a huge garden. We also had a huge root cellar and storage area in our cellar for all of the things that Mom preserved. I started helping her with all of the gardening and preserving as soon as I could stand on a chair beside her at the stove.
I was lucky to have a mother who loved to grow our food and preserve it for later. Not only was she a farmer’s daughter, but she was a Home Economics teacher. She knew how to do all of these things, and she also knew how to teach others to do the same.
A lot of the reason that I started A Hippy and a Redneck was to do the same for you all that she did for me. I don’t know where I would be in life if she hadn’t taught me how to be self-reliant with our food sources and how to make sure to keep a stocked pantry for our family in hard times. Giving you all the same information, I hope that you feel more prepared.
Here are the absolute basics of getting started canning, plus links to my favorite products for canning. Start learning now so that you can be prepared when you start harvesting this year!
Raw packing is packing cold, raw vegetables (except corn, lima beans, and peas) tightly into a container and then covering them with boiling water.
Hot packing is preheating vegetables in water or steam. Then cover with cooking liquid or boiling water. The cooking liquid is recommended for packing most vegetables because it may contain minerals and vitamins dissolved out of the food.
Boiling water is recommended when cooking liquid is dark, gritty, or strong-flavored, and when there isn’t enough cooking liquid.
Processing in a Pressure Canner
Use a steam-pressure canner (I recommend this one) for processing all vegetables except tomatoes and pickled items.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the canner you are using.
- Put 2-3 inches of boiling water in the bottom of the canner. The amount of water to use depends on the size and shape of the canner.
- Set filled glass jars on the rack in canner so that steam can flow around each container. If two layers of jars are put in, stagger the second layer on the top rack.
- Fasten canner cover securely so that no steam can escape except through the vent.
- Watch until steam purs steadily from the vent. Let it escape for 10 minutes or more to drive all the air from the canner. Then close the vent or put on the weighted gauge.
- Let pressure rise to 10 lbs. (240F). The moment this pressure is reached, start counting processing time. Keep pressure constant by regulating heat under the canner. Do not lower pressure by opening the vent.
- Keep drafts from blowing on your canner.
- When processing time is up, remove canner from heat immediately.
- Let canner stand until pressure is at zero. Never try to rush the cooling by pouring cold water over the canner. When pressure registers zero, wait a minute or two, then slowly open the vent or take off weighted gauge. Unfasten cover and tilt the far side up so steam escapes away from you. Remove jars from canner.
How to Check Canning Jars
The first step in home canning should take place long before the food and equipment are assembled, cooked and ready to go. Jars and other supplies should be checked prior to the canning session. That way, you can replace damaged supplies and purchase new ones to avoid costly delays or inconveniences.
Choosing Mason Jars
Jars manufactured specifically for home canning are typically called mason jars. These must be used when canning at home. They are designed with a specially threaded mouth for proper sealing with mason jar lids. So, please can with standard mason jars like these only.
Preparing Mason Jar Lids
Check all of your jars, rings, and lids carefully. Discard any with nicks or cracks in the top sealing edge and threads that may prevent an airtight seal. Rings should be free of dents and rust. Select the correct size of closures (wide-mouth vs. regular mouth) to fit your jars. Wash jars in hot, soapy water and rinse well. (I actually just run them through the dishwasher making sure to run the Sanitize cycle.) Place in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Keep your jars in hot water until you are ready to use them. Boil the lids according to the directions on the packaging.
Closing Mason Jars
Always, I repeat always, wipe the rim of the jar clean after you pack your food products. Place the lid on the jar with the button side up. Screw the rings on firmly, but do not overtighten. Do not re-tighten rings after processing and cooling.
A lid is properly sealed when it snaps down and “pops” as the jar cools.
Use a jar lister to transfer jars carefully to and from the canner. Place hot jars on a rack or towel, allowing at least 2″ of air space around all sides for the jars to cool evenly. Do not disturb until completely cooled.
Remove rings from the sealed jars to store. By taking off your rings, you can tell if a lid is disturbed or broken. Leaving the ring in place runs the risk of your lid coming undone, but resealing itself (with airborne bacteria inside) from the pressure of the ring. The same can occur if you stack your jars. Do not store by stacking! Stay safe!
Canning is an art form. Make sure that you are doing things safely in order to keep your family healthy and happy with the joy of knowing that their food was made by your loving hands.
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