Canning 101

What you need and why

I want to talk a little bit about canning. You can’t live on a self sustaining, off grid homestead without learning how to can. You need to be able to put up enough of your hard earned harvest to survive the winter.

Here is a list of things you should have to begin canning and why they are needed or useful:

YOU WILL NEED

  • Tested preserving recipe book: Such as the Ball Blue Book® Guide to Preserving: A recipe book is helpful when starting out. Until you get the hang of how much will fit in a particular number of jars, or whether the acidity is correct for water bath, or whether you should use a pressure canner, you should follow a tested recipe.
  • Fresh vegetables, meat, poultry or seafood and other quality ingredients: You want the freshest possible ingredients. Your canned products will turn out much better, have more saved nutrients, and will last longer.
  • Common kitchen utensils, such as wooden spoon, and ladle: Anything you will need to cook your recipe and get it in a jar.
  • Canner
    • Pressure canner: You will need this to can any low acid foods such as meats and vegetables, or any combination off foods that includes meats or vegetables as to make the acidity low. (ie. spaghetti sauce with meat.) I have a large Presto canner
    • Water canner: This is perfect for high acid foods such as fruits, jams and jellies, pickles, etc.
  • Glass canning jars: These are what you are canning in. Despite the name canning, you are actually using class jars, not tin cans. 🙂
  • Lids and bands: Most new jars come with a lid and band already, but as you use up your canned food you will need new lids. The jars and bands are reusable countless of times provided they are free of chips or dents. Always start with new lids also called seals.
  • Funnel: A canning funnel or wide mouthed funnel will save you much frustration trying to get your food into the jars. I would not can without one. I prefer the type with the measurements on the side, also saves headaches. 🙂
  • Jar Lifter: Another item you don’t want to do without… This gets the jars into and/or out of the hot water of the canner. They also help to move the jars around when filled with hot food. When you pull jars out the contents will still be boiling, so this is essential in my book.

Optional Items

  • Lid Lifter: Not so necessary any more. New theory on canning is that you do NOT need to preheat your lids/seals prior to canning. But if you prefer, you can use this to get the lids from the hot water bath.
  • Sure tight – Brand Tool: for tightening rings prior to canning, or removing bands once full seal is achieved. Also good for those with arthritis.

Pressure Canning – How To

Water Bath Canning – How To

Canning Recipes

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