Since spring is approaching, I thought I would do a blog about the items you will need to start canning your own salsa, applesauce, and whatever yummy goodness that you’ll harvest through the next several months!
Having the proper equipment makes canning a whole lot easier. The items I’m going to show you today are what I use during my boiling-water canning method. Please keep in mind, that there are other options available… but these are the items I like to use.
First, you will need to find the jars that fit the product that you’re canning. I like to use Kerr jars. There are a variety of different sizes, so be sure to pick the size that your recipe calls for. I tend to use the larger jar (pint-size) shown for my homemade salsa. However, I’ve also used the smaller, half-pint jar for salsa when I’m giving it away as a gift. I like the shorter, wider half-pint jar for my homemade ketchup, and the small crystal-like jar, I use for things like apple butter. Recipes will usually describe which jars are recommended. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use jars that previously held pre-packaged foods that you got at the supermarket. Kerr jars aren’t very expensive and they’re a good investment. You can keep reusing the jars as long as there are no chips or cracks. You can also reuse the metal bands, provided they aren’t rusty. However, you will want to replace the lids each time. Recycling the lids can result in an inadequate seal which could result in spoilage.
Other important tools for canning are shown here. The first item on the left is used to grab the hot, boiling jars and move them around as needed. Next, we have a simple bamboo skewer. I use this to get the air bubbles out of the jars before sealing them. The center item is used to determine how much head space is remaining in the jar. Each little notch that you see indicates 1/4″. Next we have a magnetic wand which is perfect for lifting the lids out of hot water. And last, but not least a funnel. I’m sure you all know what this one is for! 😀
As far as the cooking equipment goes, I have 2 main pots that I use. The bigger of the two is for the actual canning process. You want to have 1-2 inches of water above your jars. So if you’re canning with pint-sized jars, you’ll find that you need quite a tall pot to pull it off. Not pictured is a rack that goes inside the larger pot to lift/lower the jars in/out of the boiling water. I use the smaller pot to cook the product before transferring to the prepared jars.
For canning with the boiling-water method, the steps are usually the same. The goal is to create a great tasting product while preventing food spoilage and deterioration. Proper steps must be taken in order to ensure a safe and delicious product.
Please keep in mind, that when selecting your produce, foods that are bruised, or have insect damage or disease often have greater levels of microorganisms that lead to a ruined product. Try to always select the best produce for your recipe.
The boiling-water method is meant to be used to process high-acid foods. By placing full jars of your product into the boiling-water canner, the jars are completely surrounded. It’s important to process the jars for the length of time described in your recipe in order to destroy molds, yeasts, and some bacteria.
In order to processes your jars, you will want to follow the following steps:
1. Fill boiling-water canner half way with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Prepare your recipe. Fill sterilized jars as directed in your recipe. Be sure to wipe the rims clean of any product before adjusting your cap.
3. Place the jars on your canner rack after each jar is filled. Carefully lower the rack into the water. Remember that the water must cover your jars bu 1-2 inches. You can add more boiling water if needed.
4. Put the lid on the canner. Turn the heat up to bring the water to a rolling boil. Set your timer as directed by your recipe. It is important that the rolling boil continues for the entire length of the processing time.
5. After the processing period has completed, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the canner cool for about 5 minutes before removing the jars.
6. After removing the jars, set them upright on a dry towel to cool. Make sure there is about 2 inches of space between the jars. Let them cool naturally for 12 hours before checking for a seal.
It is likely that you will hear them seal. They make a funny little noise when the “button” pops down on the lid. After they’re cool, I like to remove the band, and lightly tug on the lid to make sure a good seal has established. Then I tighten the rims, label the jars, and put them into storage. Most jars will keep for 1 year. Usually your recipe will say how long they can be kept for.