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Do you follow me on Instagram? If you do, you might have noticed that my past two weeks have been CONSUMED by canning. I’ve been thinking about it morning, noon and night. Every summer my family and I frequent a family run farmer’s stand called Hop On Farms. Visiting Hop On each week has become a summertime family tradition for us. The Hubs and I started going there when I was pregnant with Bean and the Hop On family has watched Bean grow up and our family expand with the birth of Turtle. I can’t believe that we’ve been shopping there for over 6 years now!
One of the ladies was teasing me the other day because I’ve bought a box of just about everything they sell in bulk! 25 pounds of pickling cucumbers, 20 pounds of peaches, 10 pounds of carrots, 20 pounds of field tomatoes, 40 pounds of roma tomatoes and 10 pounds of beets. (I currently have 40 pounds of romas and 10 pounds of beets sitting in my kitchen waiting to be processed.)
The photo above is a sampling of some of the things that I’ve canned this year. I sent the photo to my mom and she responded to me saying “Girl! You’ve been canning your ass off!” LOL.
Looking at the variety you might think I’ve been canning for years. I have a secret for you… This is my first year seriously canning (I made pickles once 4 years ago). It is SO EASY and not at all scary… SERIOUSLY. 3 weeks ago I was terrified of canning, now I’m doing it like a pro, and you can too.
2 weeks ago I took a canning and preserving class that took all of the fear out of canning for me. Today I’m going to share with you a few tips and tricks that will get you canning today.
- Don’t Be Afraid- I was terrified of canning because I thought that if I did it wrong I would kill people from botulism. I think fear of having botulism in your canned goods is the number 1 thing that keeps people from canning. Guess what? Botulism can’t live in an acidic environment. Vinegar and fruit is acidic, therefore botulism can’t live in canned fruit or pickles. If you do something wrong your food might spoil, but you would know it’s spoiled because of sight and smell. I’m going to repeat this because this was the number one thing that got me canning this year: MAKE CANNED FRUIT AND PICKLES AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BOTULISM.
- Follow a recipe- Canning is a science and we usually can in bulk. There is nothing worse than throwing a bunch of food away because you put a bad combination of sugar and salt in your pickles. Especially when you are first learning, visit a site that you trust and follow their recipe.
- Have the right supplies (but you don’t need to spend a fortune)– Another thing that kept me from canning for a long time was thinking that I needed to have a special canning pot and a special canning rack. Nope. I actually won a canning set at the class that I took and I’ve started to use a different pot instead.
1. A big pot- I have a Martha Stewart 20 Quart Stock Pot that I use most often. I also have a Bernadin Canning Pot but it’s only high enough to to 1/2 litre jars. You need to have a pot big enough that you can have approximately two inches of boiling water above your cans when you lower them into the pot.
2. Something to keep your lids off the bottom of the pot- The one drawback of not using an “official” canning pot is that it’s hard to find a canning rack that fits. Guess what? You don’t need one. Tie a bunch of canning jar rings together with kitchen twine and lay them on the bottom of your pot. It makes a great DIY rack.
3. Canning/Mason Jars and Canning Rings- You can buy canning jars at most grocery stores and places like Walmart and Canadian Tire. You can also find them at garage sales and on Craigslist. Look for a variety of sizes for different canning needs and make sure they don’t have any chips around the rim or bubbles in the glass (chips in the rim will prevent sealing and bubbles in the glass can make your jars break when they are submerged in the hot water… ask me how I know the second one.) You can use your jars year after year. I’ve had people give me canned food and ask for the jars back when I’m done. This is a great way to keep from having to re-invest in mason jars.
Canning rings can be used year after year.
4. Canning lids- These are one time use. If you buy new mason jars they come with them. Otherwise if you are re-using mason jars you can buy boxes of them. Just make sure you look for the right sized lid for your jars.
5. A Jar Lifter- This one is optional, but especially if you are canning without a rack I HIGHLY recommend it. It makes it easy to get your hot jars in and out of the water bath.
6. Optional- Bubble remover, magnetic lid lifter and jar funnel- These are all completely optional. You definitely don’t need them to get started but if you start canning and really enjoy it I’d suggest you purchase a canning set (it will come with a jar lifter, bubble remover, magnetic lid lifter and jar funnel) it will save you a bit of time and make the canning process a bit easier.
How to Can- The Basics
1. Wash your jars- When doing pickles or fruit you don’t need to sterilize them. A run through the dishwasher is fine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and heat up a small saucepan of water to heat your lids in.
3. Prepare your food according to the recipe and fill jars (for example with canned peaches you would want to peel and slice your peaches, pack them in the jars and fill the jars with fruit juice or a light syrup leaving 1/2 of headspace *headspace is the amount of room between the top of the liquid in your jar and the lip of the jar)
4. Drop a few lids into the saucepan of hot water. Allow them to sit for a minute heating.
5. Wipe the lip of your jar with a clean towel dipped in hot water.
6. Place a heated lid on top of the jar.
7. Screw a ring onto the jar until it is fingertip tight (You want your rings loose enough that air can escape out of the lid but tight enough that the lid is held snuggly to the jar. They suggest screwing the rings on fingertip tight which means just using the power of your fingertips to tighten the ring on.)
8. When you have enough jars to fill your pot or canning rack ready, carefully lower the jars into the boiling water. Make sure that you have 1-2 inches of water above your jars. Wait until the water comes to a boil again then set your timer for the suggested time in your recipe.
9. When the time is up, carefully remove your hot jars from the pot and set them on top of a dishtowel or hot pads on your counter. Wait for every canners favorite sound… the pop, pop, pop of the jars sealing!
10. 24 hours later check to make sure all of your jars have sealed. You will know that they are sealed because the center “button” of the can won’t pop up and down when you press on it or turn your jar upside down. If any jars haven’t sealed they are still fine to eat, just store them in the fridge and consume first.
There you have it! Canning 101 with Crystal! Have any questions? Make sure to ask. If I don’t know the answer I’ll do my best to find it out.
Ready to start canning? Check these out!
Spicy Pickled Carrots Canning Recipe (It has canning recipes from other bloggers included as well!)
Not canning, but another fabulous foodie preservation technique! Check out our Raspberry Vinegar Recipe!