Canning food is an affordable way to prevent waste. But learning to can food can be challenging. If you want to start canning, it’s helpful to understand the basics before you begin. Once you get the hang of the process, you will be looking for even more things to can. After all, there’s not much that’s more satisfying than shelves overflowing with food that you preserved on your own. One of the most important things to understand about canning is the two different processes: water bath canning and pressure canning. These processes vary in the equipment you need and the time required.
Water bath canning
The easiest canning method for beginners is water bath canning. In the past, I’ve made jam but this year I decided to try canning other foods. Water bath canning is my go-to method because it doesn’t require much equipment and it works well for most acidic foods. Water bath canning is ideal for tomatoes, pickled vegetables, and fruit preserves. You can use a large pot for water bath canning, and I have in the past, but this year I decided to invest in a Granite Ware water-bath canner. A jar lifter, canning funnel, and magnetic lid lifter are also really helpful tools to have on hand. Water bath canning is used for foods that are safe once processed at boiling temperatures.
Using a pressure canner can be intimidating. I’ve yet to try it myself because I’m not sure I want to invest in the equipment. But pressure canning is a must if you want to be able to safely preserve low-acid foods. If you want to can meat, potatoes, and some other foods with a low pH, pressure canning is needed to get the food to a safe temperature during the process. This high-temperature process kills the botulism spores that can survive through boiling temperatures. Pressure canning equipment is pricier than what you need for water bath canning but it’s worth the expense if you want to can beef, chicken, beans, corn, and other alkaline foods.
Before you start
When you’re learning to can, it’s important to have the right equipment. Always start with a clean kitchen. After watching some Youtube videos on canning, I was surprised at some people who attempt a large canning project without cleaning up the kitchen first. Successful canning relies on you following safe food practices. So, wash all those dishes, clean your counters, and sanitize your canning tools and equipment to prevent contamination and keep your preserved foods safe for consumption.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of canning your own food. It’s very satisfying work and can be a great way to preserve food that would otherwise go to waste. Do your research and follow the recommended steps based on whether you’re water bath canning or pressure canning. Learning to can food can give you peace of mind that you’re able to provide food for your family in a time of need. It’s also a great way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen.