Canning Methods


Date: July 6th, 2011

Sick of wasting fruits and vegetables after the growing season? Do you want to know how to preserve all of your hard work in the garden?

Listed below are home canning methods to preserve the fruit (and vegetables) of your labor.

Home Canning

Preparing Food, Fruits and Vegetables
Choose only fresh fruits and vegetables - the less amount of time the produce spends transferring from the garden to can the better. Wash them thoroughly in small batches under running water or through several changes of water. Be sure to remove all particles of garden soil as this contains the disease-causing bacteria that are hardest to kill. Do any cutting, peeling or coring quickly to minimize the time food is left sitting.

Make sure to handle all meats very carefully to avoid contamination. Refrigerate purchased meats, but chill freshly slaughtered venison, poultry, etc. to 40°F or lower immediately. Chill freshly cleaned fish and soak it in a salt solution for about an hour.

Preparing Jars
Inspect each jar for cracks and chips. Be sure to run your finger over the edge of the mouth of the jar, checking for small chips in the sealing edge. If any chips or cracks are found, discard the jar.

Wash the jars thoroughly in hot soapy water, and give them a thorough rinse. Place them in a deep pot and pour boiling water over them. Leave them standing in the hot water until the moment you are ready to fill each one.

Filling the Jars
There are two methods which may be used to fill your jars: raw pack and hot pack. Raw packing is the method of packing raw food into jars and then adding a boiling liquid to the desired depth, usually a pickling syrup, water or fruit juice. Hot packing is the practice of partially cooking the food before placing it into the jars. Boiling liquid is then added to these as well.

For both packing methods, always pack food into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top for low starch vegetables and fruits and 1 inch for meats and vegetables high in starch such as potatoes and lima beans.

You may find it helpful to place a towel or small mat under each jar as it is filled to prevent it from slipping. Jars become hot to the touch as they are filled, so use a pot holder or a Ball Utensil Kit to protect your hands.

When the jar is sufficiently filled with food, ladle the boiling liquid over the food until the desired depth and head-space are reached.

Work out any air bubbles in the jar by running a table knife around the inside. Take care not to break up the pieces of food. Add more boiling liquid if necessary.

Wipe off the edge of the mouth of the jar carefully with a paper towel to remove any food particles from the sealing edge. Place a lid on the jar firmly. Add the metal band and tighten it securely.

Canning Methods 

Water Bath Canning
This method is recommended for all pickles, relishes, most fruits and vegetables with a high acid content such as tomatoes, pimentos and sauerkraut. Either packing method may be used when filling jars.

Place 4 to 5 inches of water in the bottom of the canner. Place the rack inside and set in on the stove. Put on the lid and begin to heat the water on high heat. Heat more water in a teakettle or other pot. This will be used to fill the canner the rest of the way once all the jars are in the rack.Water Bath Canning

Once the water in the canner is hot, begin filling the jars. As each jar is lowered into the canner, replace the canner lid. Make sure jars do not touch. When the last jar is in, check the water level. Then add the boiling water in the tea kettle until the water level is 1 to 2 inches above the tops of the jars. Replace the canner lid and bring the water in the canner to a rolling boil.

When the water boils, begin timing the processing according to the times listed in the recipe you are using for the size of jar you are canning in. Higher altitudes will require adjustments in time.

Adjust the heat so that the water boils gently during the entire processing time. If the water level drops, you may need to add more from the tea kettle. If boiling stops when you add water, stop timing the processing until boiling resumes, then start timing again.

When processing is finished, turn off the heat. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the rack onto a table or other surface to cool. Make sure the jars do not touch to allow for air circulation, and minimize drafts in the area.

Pressure Canning
This canning method is absolutely necessary for foods with a high starch or low acid content. Corn, peas, potatoes, beans, beets, most garden vegetables and greens, and all meats and poultry fall under this method. This is the only method that will destroy botulism in low acid foods. When the canner reaches 10 pounds of pressure, a temperature of 240°F is created inside it. The processing time assures that the heat penetrates the food and kills the bacteria. If your canner has a pressure gauge instead of a weight, you may want to contact your county extension agent about having it tested for accuracy. If it is more than 5 pounds off, it should be replaced.

Pressure Canning CountryMax.comAssemble the canner and place it on the stove. Fill it with 2 or 3 inches of boiling water (or depth specified by the manufacturer) and turn the burner under it to a low heat setting.

Fill hot jars as above and per your canning recipe. Remember to leave enough space at the top of each jar depending upon what you are filling it with. As you fill each jar, place it into the basket inside the canner. Always process the same food and the same size jar per canner load.

Place the cover on the canner and lock it down securely. Raise the heat to high. Keep an eye on the open vent and watch for when steam begins to escape from the pipe. Reduce the heat so that the steam flows at a medium rate. Let it flow for 10 minutes to exhaust the air from inside the canner and jars.

Referring to your owner's manual, close the vent and begin to raise the pressure. Turn the burner up to high heat again and maintain it until the canner reaches 10 pounds of pressure.

Begin to count the processing time when 10 pounds of pressure is reached. If pressure should drop, stop timing and resume when pressure reaches 10 pounds again. To avoid having too much liquid drawn out of the jars, 10 pounds of pressure must be maintained throughout processing.

When processing is finished, turn off the heat and set the canner on a wooden board or wire rack. Do not open the canner until the pressure has normalized by itself. Do not rush cooling by running the canner under cold water. If your canner has a gauge, wait until the gauge returns to zero and the safety plug is normal. If your canner has a weight, nudge the weight with a fork, if no steam escapes, the pressure has returned to normal. Pressure should normalize about 20 - 25 minutes after the canner has been removed from heat.

When pressure is down, unlatch the canner. Lift the lid pointing away from you to avoid being blasted by hot steam. If the food in the jars is still boiling, wait another few minutes before removing the jars from the canner. Place the jars 2 or 3 inches apart on a rack, wooden board or towel to cool.

Loud pops may be heard as the jars cool. This is the sound of the metal lid suddenly being pulled down into an airtight seal. Don't be alarmed if you don't hear a popping noise - not all jar and tops pop. Sealed jars have a slight depression in the center of each lid. You can test the seal on each jar by pressing a finger down on the center of the lid. If it does not spring back and stays depressed, the jar is sealed. Jars which do not seal must be repacked with a new lid. They must then be processed again for the full length of time. If there is only one jar which did not seal, do not reprocess it. Refrigerate it and serve the food within 2 days time.

With these tips, you can have the fresh taste of produce even when your garden is under three feet of snow.

It always tastes better when it's homemade!


If you have any further questions, email them to, or visit your local CountryMax store today!

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