There are two methods for canning, the boiling water method of canning (or water bath canning) and pressure canning. Water bath canning is used for foods high in acid. Pressure canning is used for low acid foods. These methods are not interchangeable!
Boiling Water Canning
High acid foods are processed using the boiling water (or water bath) method. The jars are surrounded by water, including one to two inches on the top of the jars. A temperature of 212° must be reached and maintained for the time specified in each individual recipe. Most recipes you find in books and online are for processing at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. If you are located at a higher elevation, you will have to adjust processing times.
Foods that are processed using the boiling water method are: fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies, fruit butters, conserves, preserves, tomatoes, pickled vegetables, relishes, and some sauces.
Equipment for boiling water method: boiling water kettle or large stockpot (large enough to hold a canner rack), stockpot for your food, canner rack to hold jars, stainless steel canning funnel, jar lifter, bubble remover, jars, lids and rings. I prefer to use a “pasta pot” with an insert for draining the contents. It saves me a lot of time reheating the liquid used in canning!
In the boiling water method, you ladle hot food, into hot jars, following the head space recommendation in your recipe. Remove any air bubbles in the jar, and wipe the rims to remove any splattered food or liquid that might interfere with the seal. Next, top the jar with the seal and ring of your choice (which has been simmering in hot water). These jars are placed in the rack of the canner and then lowered into simmering water. (Hint: Put a splash of white vinegar in your water to keep your jars from getting cloudy or discolored on the outside!) The water must cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Place the lid on the canner and bring the water to a rolling boil. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, then you begin your timer. The jars will stay in the boiling water for the time specified in the recipe you are using.
Once the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the canner’s lid by tilting it to shield your face from escaping steam. Remove the jars using a jar lifter and place them on a towel, several inches apart, to cool. Never put a hot jar on a cool surface! Once cool, make sure your jars have sealed. Wipe off jars with warm soapy water to remove any food particles or residue and tighten the band/ring. Label the jars with contents and date and store in cool, dry, dark place.
Steam Pressure Canning
Commonly called pressure canning. Low acid food must be preserved through pressure canning to kill bacteria. In the steam pressure method, your canner will only have a few inches of water in the bottom. We aren’t boiling the jars this time – we are using pressure! The pressure must reach the amount that your recipe requires and be maintained for the time specified in the recipe. There is a gauge on the canner that lets you monitor the pressure inside. Because steam in the canner is pressurized, its temperature exceeds the boiling point of water. The pounds of pressure given for low-acid foods in most books is based on the use of a weighted-gauge canner and for processing at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. If you are located at a higher elevation, you will have to adjust processing times.
Foods that are processed using steam pressure canning are: meats, poultry, soups, stocks, vegetables, tomatoes mixed with low-acid vegetables, and any other low-acid food.
Equipment for steam pressure canning method: Steam pressure canner (I prefer the All American Canner), elevated “shelf” for bottom of canner, stainless steel canning funnel, jar lifter, bubble remover, jars, lids and rings
Put the amount of water in the bottom of your canner that the manual requires. Keep this water at a simmer as you work on filling your jars. (Hint: Put a splash of white vinegar in your water to keep your jars from getting cloudy or discolored on the outside!)
You will ladle hot food, into hot jars, remove any air bubbles in the jar, and wipe the rims to remove any splattered food or liquid that might interfere with the seal. Next, top with the seal and ring of your choice (which has been simmering in hot water). These jars are placed on the rack in the bottom of the canner – be careful that your jars are not touching! Once all of your jars are in the canner, attach the lid and turn up the heat! Follow your canner’s instructions to proceed. The usual process is to let the steam vent from your canner for the allotted amount of time your canner’s manual recommends and then to place a weight over the vent tube. This will allow the canner to pressurize. Allow the pressure to rise to your recipe’s requirement and then monitor the heat to keep the pressure at the recommend number for the minutes required in your recipe.
I like the All American Canner because it self-vents and requires less monitoring during this time. It leaves me free to do other things while canning.
Once you have maintained the pressure for the required time, turn off the heat. Do not touch the canner until the gauge registers ZERO. If you open the canner before this, your jars can explode. Once the gauge registers zero, wait two minutes, remove the weight and the canner’s lid by tilting it to shield your face from escaping steam. Let jars sit in open canner for 10 minutes to adjust to the lower temperature. Remove the jars and place them on a towel several inches apart to cool (never put a hot jar on a cool surface). Once cool, make sure your jars have sealed. Wipe off jars with warm soapy water to remove any food particles or residue and tighten the band/ring. Label the jars with contents and date and store in cool, dry, dark place: pantry, canning shelves in your basement etc.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to label your jars. Some things are obvious – you will recognize green beans, corn, peaches etc. However, jams and jellies can be confusing as can relishes, vegetable combinations etc. Dates are important too – you probably don’t want to be eating something you canned 15 years ago!
I prefer to use Tattler Re-usable Canning Lids. The process for using Tattler lids is a little different. The boxes come with clear instructions and their website has an excellent video on applying the lids. They save a lot of money over the years and add to my food security because they are re-usable!
Note: Although tap water is fine for filling your canner, please choose spring or distilled water in preparing your food to fill your jars. Tap water contains many contaminants and chemicals that are not healthy – why add those to your canned goods?
Canning for Everyday!
Canning is not just for putting up summer goodies. If you make a large pot of soup or stew, can the extras. Find a sale on meat or veggies? Buy in bulk and can the extra! Hunting season? Can what you harvest instead of freezing it all! You can constantly be adding different things to your pantry as you find them on sale throughout the year.
Canning saves you money and gives you some food security in the case of weather issues, the temporary loss of a job or national crisis!
This is my term, actually it is called vacuum sealing! I use a Foodsaver to seal canning jars filled with rice, dried beans, dehydrated food and more! I also use it to seal freezer items in bags. It is a quick and easy way to add to your food pantry. We use our Food saver on a weekly basis!
You’ll find an affiliate link to the right with all of my favorite canning resources! If you make a purchase, I might earn a small commission (at no extra charge to you). Thank you for helping to keep this blog up and running so I can continue to share with y’all!
What will you be canning next?