Home canning concepts

home-canning-concepts

When you first start out in home canning, all you need are tested recipes and directions from reputable sources in order to produce high-quality, delicious preserves at home.

That can be all you ever need, with the proviso that you check once in a while that the directions you are following have not been updated.

That being said, there are several concepts or “principles” behind home canning that many people like to know, or understand, as time goes on. They feel that it helps to make them a better home canner.

Acidifying tomatoes for safe home canning

Acidifying tomatoes for safe home canning

  Tomatoes cannot be relied on to be acidic enough on their own to be safely canned. They often are, but not always, and people have gotten sick and died from when they weren't. Fortunately it's really easy to nudge tomatoes down into the...
Acidity / low pH is what makes water bath canning safe

Acidity / low pH is what makes water bath canning safe

Heating your filled and covered jars in a hot water bath (or steam canner) kills off a lot of things. But it won't kill botulism spores ; the food will just never get hot enough. But, if the food is high enough in acidity, you don't have to kill them....
Acidity of water and vinegar combinations in home canning

Acidity of water and vinegar combinations in home canning

In modern home canning, the accepted rule of thumb for safe vinegar / water pickling solutions is that the vinegar should be of at least 5% acidity, and that the vinegar ratio in that mix should be a minimum of 50%. So that is, 50 % of 5% acid vinegar...
Adjusting batch size in home canning

Adjusting batch size in home canning

Household sizes have been changing in the past several decades. Gone are the days when every household could be just about presumed to have 8 to 12 people in it. Many households in North America (and in other first world countries) now have...
Altitude and home canning

Altitude and home canning

As you increase altitude at which you are doing your canning, you need to increase the length of time you water bath process (or steam can), or, if you are pressure canning, increase the pressure. This is because atmospheric pressure decreases (the...
Approximate Yields for Canned Fruits

Approximate Yields for Canned Fruits

How much fruit do you need to fill a jar? Here's a handy chart from the Georgia State Department of Agriculture that helps answer that question. Modifications made: Added metric equivalents. For rough canning estimations, one pound (lb) was roughly...
Bacterial Load

Bacterial Load

An important part of canning prep is reducing the bacterial load -- getting rid of as much bacteria as you can easily by good preparation practices before you seal food in jars. Background The fewer bacteria going into your canner, the fewer to...
Canning on Glass and Induction Stove Tops

Canning on Glass and Induction Stove Tops

  Two types of glass stove tops There are two types of glass (aka ceramic aka smooth) stove tops: 1. Regular smooth tops, also known as radiant In wells below the smooth top, there are electric heating elements. These elements radiate heat...
Canning on hot plates or portable burners

Canning on hot plates or portable burners

There comes a time when many canners have to contemplate canning on electric hot plates or gas stand-alone burners. It's could be because of an overload of produce arriving all at once. Every last canner has to be pressed into service, but there...
Creative home canning

Creative home canning

Creativity in home canning is a topic that often comes up -- and is often hotly debated. There remain, however, two indisputable facts: In canning, the rules -- not  IQ, not instinct, not being a good cook, nor common sense or years of experience ...
Crisping Pickles

Crisping Pickles

If the vegetable you are thinking of pickling has already gone soft, then there is nothing you can do to recrisp it through any means after which you'd want to still eat it. Nothing short of taxidermy will perk a limp cucumber back up. Washington...
Crushing (aka mashing) fruit

Crushing (aka mashing) fruit

Some preserves such as jams call for crushed fruits. A clever cook, upon reading that, might instantly start reaching for a food processor or blender to crush the fruit with. However, this is one time you need to go low-tech, and there's science...
Debubbling

Debubbling

It's important to de-bubble jars after filling them and before you put the lids on, to make sure there is no trapped air in the jar. (See the page on headspace to understand why.) You use something to poke the each side of the jar, pressing the...
Don't tilt your canning jars

Don't tilt your canning jars

As you are lifting your jars out of the canner after processing, there is often water trapped on top of the lids of the jars, and it is very tempting, even natural, to want to tilt the jars above the canner to drain that water off. Don't. The...
Fat and oil in home canning

Fat and oil in home canning

  In general, you want your home canning to be as fat free as possible for technical reasons. Fat, in canning, can: Interfere with a good seal taking effect and holding; Go rancid in the jar over time, whether there is a good seal...
Flat Sour

Flat Sour

Flat sour is an unappealing off-flavour that canned goods, home or commercial, can develop. It's caused by keeping jars of just-processed food warm too long after processing, either by keeping them in the canner, or by covering them with a towel,...
Heating patterns inside jars

Heating patterns inside jars

When processing times are given for tested recipes of a particular food product, the times are not guessed at: they are based on studying and documenting how heat moves inside jars with that particular food product inside. How are heating times determined?...
Heirloom tomatoes: were they really more acidic?

Heirloom tomatoes: were they really more acidic?

  You may see the need for acidification of water-bathed (or steam canned) tomato products being credited to "new varieties" of tomatoes. These new varieties, the explanation continues, don't have the same acidity level as the old, "heirloom" ...
Home canning fruit sugar-free

Home canning fruit sugar-free

  You do not have to can fruit in a sugar-laden syrup. You can can fruits with no sugar at all (barring, of course, the sugars naturally present.) Added sugar does not provide any safety in home canned fruit. Sugar can be a preservative...
Home-canned Jelly

Home-canned Jelly

In a home canner's bag of tricks, jelly was always the pièce de résistance .  A canner would be judged on the looks and texture of their jelly -- how it shone in the jar when light hit it, and how it quivered on the spoon (or its "wiggle and wobble", as...
How to jazz up your pressure-canned vegetables

How to jazz up your pressure-canned vegetables

There are easy ways to safely jazz up your pressure canned vegetables and still remain within the vital safety guidelines set by the USDA. Safe tweaks for home-canned produce Depending on the vegetables (carrots, green beans, tomatoes, beets, etc)...
Just how nutritious are home canned foods?

Just how nutritious are home canned foods?

Just how nutritious are home-canned goods anyway? That's a fair question to ask. After all, all home-canned goods have to go through some form of heat processing to make the jar safe. Food safety trumps food nutrition, every time. Still, would-be...
Labelling home-canned goods

Labelling home-canned goods

It's important to label each jar with the food product inside it, and the month and year it was canned. Some people like labelling: for them it's the crowning artistic moment of their canning. For other people, having to label three dozen green...
Loss of liquid during home canning

Loss of liquid during home canning

  Jars will often lose or appear to lose some liquid during processing, especially during pressure canning. It seems to rarely happen during water-bathing. This is not a safety concern, but it will shorten the shelf-life of those canned...
Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment

Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment

The "Low-Temperature Pasteurization Treatment" is a low and slow method for processing home canned jars of pickles. Respected home-canning author Linda Ziedrich writes, Many people hesitate to subject their pickles to a lot of heat for fear it...
Miscellaneous information about home canned pickles

Miscellaneous information about home canned pickles

  Pickle recipes on healthycanning.com See here for pickle recipes on healthycanning.com .   Not for beginners? Beginners seem to be drawn to making pickles, as something that seems to be easy. In fact, though, getting the knack...
Pack types for home canning

Pack types for home canning

In home canning, pack is a term that describes the method used for preparing and placing food in a jar prior to sealing the jar for processing. Pack is actually a word that comes from the commercial canning industry, thus they were often called...
pH's role in home canning

pH's role in home canning

  All food to be preserved at home through home canning must be processed either via water bath canning, or pressure canning. Which technique is used is determined by the pH of the food product, which we'll explain in a second. If a food...
Pickling versus slicing cucumbers

Pickling versus slicing cucumbers

Broadly speaking, there are two types of cucumbers grown: pickling cucumbers, and slicing cucumbers. Pickling versus slicing Cucumbers "Pickling" refers to cucumbers that are primarily used for processing or pickling. Pickling cucumbers have thin...
Safety margins in home canning recipes

Safety margins in home canning recipes

  Sometimes well-meaning canning people lecture people so much about what can go wrong in home canning that at times it truly seems they think their job is done if they put people off canning for life. People who have been frightened out...
Smarter sweet choices for your home canning

Smarter sweet choices for your home canning

In the canning world, sweetening alternatives are often referred to either as "noncaloric sweeteners" or "non-nutritive sweeteners." The home canning company, Ball, says: Whether you have a dietary requirement, or a desire to make healthy eating...
Sterilizing canning lids & jars

Sterilizing canning lids & jars

  Summary of new rules for sterilizing canning jars and lids Here are the modern, up to date rules for sterilizing jars and lids for home canning, as of 2015 onwards. You don't need to sterilize jars anymore if your water-bath processing...
Store your home canned food without the canning rings

Store your home canned food without the canning rings

  It is considered good, safe practice to store mason jars holding food with the rings (aka bands, aka screw bands, aka rims) off. Note this topic applies to sealed mason jars with food in them on a shelf at room temperature. For fridge...
Sugar and salt-free canning

Sugar and salt-free canning

It is possible to eliminate the added sugar and salt in many home canning recipes, leaving only the naturally occurring amounts. Not in all recipes, for sure. There is absolutely a small handful of traditional recipes that rely on either salt for...
Sugar-free jams and marmalades

Sugar-free jams and marmalades

  Today's home canners want to make jams that are as good for you as they taste: they are looking to make wholesome, nutritious jams that aren't going to cause teeth to rot in your head, send you into white refined sugar shock, and pack on...
Sugar's role in home canning

Sugar's role in home canning

  Summary There are two aspects to the word "preserving." Food safety, to avoid food poisoning; Preserving the "appeal" of the food: the quality of the food in terms of texture, colour, taste,and  appearance. In the quantities ...
The role of headspace in home canning

The role of headspace in home canning

Headspace is the space at the top of the jar between the underside of the lid, and the top of the food or liquid in the jar. Judy Harrison at the University of Georgia explains, When filling the jars, it is important not to overfill. We call the...
The role of salt in home canning

The role of salt in home canning

  Summary of salt's role in canning In almost all home canning, salt's role is flavouring; it is not present in sufficient quantities to prevent spoilage or act as a preservative in terms of safety. Is it safe to do home canning without salt?...
Using zucchini instead of cucumbers for pickling

Using zucchini instead of cucumbers for pickling

    Using zucchini (courgettes) instead of cucumber for pickles Zucchini (aka courgettes) can be used interchangeably usually for cucumber in sliced pickles such as bread and butter, sweet mix, etc. This is a good tip to keep...
Wash your jars of canned goods before storage

Wash your jars of canned goods before storage

  It's important to wash your jars before storing them away. Why wash your jars All of nature is constantly in search of food, and in particular, it seems, food in your house. After the canning process, there will often be minute particles...
Water Activity

Water Activity

  Preserves, jams and jellies are usually high-acid from the fruits used (or from the acidic juices or the vinegars added), which makes them safe from bacterial growth if the jars are properly processed. In a very few instances, however,...
What does processing time mean in home canning?

What does processing time mean in home canning?

In home canning, the phrase "processing time" refers to the time period that a jar, filled with food and with a lid put on and intended for shelf stable storage, is subjected to the full force of the heat treatment for the length of time called for...
What is the definition of home canning?

What is the definition of home canning?

While people associate the word "canning" with "cans", as in "tin cans", it actually comes from the word "canister" (from which the word "can" is also derived.) Canning refers to a defined heat process of preserving food in canisters of various materials. Definition...
What is the shelf life of home canned goods?

What is the shelf life of home canned goods?

How long can you store home canned goods? We are advised to date home canned goods, and to regard one year from that as the "best before" date. That is not intended as a date for safety purposes, but rather as an inventory management date to help...
What the heck does fingertip tight actually mean?

What the heck does fingertip tight actually mean?

Fingertip tight. Tighten the screw ring band on your mason jar to "fingertip tight." There may never have been before a looser definition of tightness! It leaves many people confused. What is the purpose of the canning ring? The purpose ...
Why do some tomato products need acidification but not others?

Why do some tomato products need acidification but not others?

It can be hard to understand when you start home canning as to what exactly is required to make tomato products safe. Is it salt? Sugar? Are the tomatoes safe on their own, is it how long you boil tomatoes for before putting them in the jar, is it...
Why would a canning jar lose its seal?

Why would a canning jar lose its seal?

Having a jar on the shelf that loses its seal happens to everyone once in a while. If it happens frequently, there is a problem. What are the most common reasons? Generally some experts say, your recipe was bad or your processing method was bad....
Why you have to peel some vegetables for home canning

Why you have to peel some vegetables for home canning

  Leaving the peel on vegetables such as carrots and potatoes whenever possible is the hallmark of a good, thrifty and nutrition-wise cook. In fact, under World War Two rationing in Britain, you'd have got your knuckles wrapped for wasting...

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