Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

The canning of food has been used by many generations before us, and is still used today. Preserving fresh produce is one of the main reasons why canning is still popular. We are talking about preserving the nutritional value. This can not be fully achieved if you put preservatives. They will only keep food edible, but they will lack their nutritional value. Therefore, canning remains one of the preferred ways to preserve the vitamins and minerals in food.

It is true that canning will lose up to half the nutrients and lose 5 to 20% of the remaining nutrients each year. However, that is still impressive, considering the fact that fresh produce loses more than half after 1-2 weeks in the store. Even if you keep the product in a refrigerator, the loss of nutrients will occur within 2 weeks and it will be too quick to consider preservation.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

In this article we will share with you the steps and processes of canning different types of foods.

How does canning work?

First, we must see why the food spoils. The reason is the high water content. As a result, many microorganisms and bacteria grow, and therefore spoil food. Enzymes present in food also contribute to deterioration.

Oxygen is another important factor, which leads to the decomposition of everything organic (including our own bodies). And finally, the loss of water / moisture is another factor.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

If the canning is done correctly, the four factors above will be considerably reduced, which will significantly slow down the deterioration process. Some important steps of canning include thoroughly washing the product, removing any part that may be ripe and smooth (this can accelerate spoilage even if it is canned), add vinegar or lemon juice and finally press the can or use boiling water as a product . solution.

Good canning practices

Be careful when choosing the types of foods to be canned. As the spores of Botulinum exist around us and are very difficult to eliminate only with washing or even with boiling water, they can spoil canned food or even cause food poisoning. Therefore, care is required. To make sure you can do the canning correctly, make a list of all the acidic and alkaline foods you plan to can.

Low-acid foods should be made acidic by adding lemon juice, vinegar and sterilizing them at high temperatures (boiling water). This will ensure that Botulinum spores have little chance of spreading and causing spoilage. Acidic foods do not specifically need sterilization. A simple pressurization can be enough. Of course, it is still recommended to use boiling water to sterilize, even with acidic foods.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

Another thing to consider is to be able to produce almost immediately after the harvest. In the case of some fruits such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and pears, it is better to wait one day (after harvest) until they ripen a little more. Then it’s time to power them. In case you do not want to immediately can the product, you can store it in a cool and dry place until you are ready to do so. This should not go on too long, as the food will mature and, therefore, the deterioration will have begun (even if there are still no visible signs).

When it comes to fresh meat, make sure you can immediately. The meat can spoil very quickly and is a fertile ground for microorganisms and bacteria.

Preparing the jars and lids.

Although packaging can be done using metal containers, it is much more expensive and, in addition, metal cans must be used only once. Therefore, it is preferable to use glass jars. Glass jars can be reused again and again, as long as they are kept clean before each canning process. We recommend the use of self-sealing caps.

When preparing the jars, you must first clean them thoroughly with detergent. Make sure the detergent is washed well. Detergent residues can cause color or taste changes in canned foods. Then make sure to sterilize the jars, submerging them in boiling water. Keep them on low heat until you are ready to fill them with food. For foods that will be sterilized for more than 10 minutes (in boiling water) in a separate canner, you do not have to pre-sterilize the jars. Such foods are pickled or fermented foods, plus certain fruits and tomatoes.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

When you have collected the exact amount of caps you will need, be sure to also find a screw band. It will help you to screw the lid firmly onto the opening of the bottle. In general, if you correctly store a screw band, it can be reused again and again. Keep it away from the opening of the jar, or you run the risk of having a screw band rusted over time. It can even be difficult to unscrew it if it is left there for a year or more.

Another important thing to consider is that the lid should not be too tight or too loose in the jar. If it is too loose, the lid can not prevent water from escaping from the container. If it is too tight, the inner product will lose its color over time. There is also the risk that the bottle or lid may break and, therefore, spoil the canned food of the entire bottle. The screw bands do not have to be left in the jars. Once you use the screw band to place and tighten the cap, remove the screw band.

Types of canners

There are two types of canneries: water canner and pressure canner.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

To be able to compare the use of these two types, you must know that a jar load would require up to 100 minutes of processing in a pressure plant. With boiling water canners, take a little less (for acidic foods), from 30 minutes to 1 hour in total. Boiling water canners require up to 30 minutes before the water starts to boil.

With pressure packers, this time is equivalent to 15 minutes, but it takes more time in total to ventilate and pressurize the packer and, finally, up to 10 minutes to process the food in a jar. Keep in mind that, for safety reasons, you should wait up to 1 hour before removing the jars, because they are too hot. The cleaning of the canner also requires that the water be cold to the touch.

Canned fruits

To eliminate any possibility of deterioration of canned fruit, be sure to add syrup or sugar. It is considered one of the best preservatives for canned acidic foods. Depending on the natural sweetness of each type of fruit, you can put more or less syrup. For example, very sweet fruits only need a light or very light syrup.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

For apples, berries and cherries, medium sweet is needed. For acidic fruits such as sour cherries, nectarines and apricots, a heavy syrup is required. For reference, light syrup has 10% sugar. The heavier syrup has 50% sugar.

Canned tomatoes

It is important to keep in mind that tomatoes that are too soft or tomatoes extracted from dead vines should never be eaten. This also applies to vines bitten by frost. Both ripe and green tomatoes can be canned. However, green tomatoes are much more acidic and, therefore, it is perfectly safe to can them with only a little vinegar or lemon juice.

As for ripe red tomatoes, you have to add a lot more acid. If you want to reduce the acid taste, for purely aesthetic reasons, you can add a little sugar.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

For different products that use tomatoes, you can choose between boiling water canner and pressure canner. However, any of these offers the same result, therefore, it is entirely up to you which method you want to choose. The only difference is the time used to process the canned food. However, we must mention that often the pressure of canning results in better conservation of nutrients.

Canned vegetables

When it comes to vegetables, due to their low acid content, they do not need sugar or vinegar as preservatives.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

It is often sufficient to add sufficient amounts of salt. It is possible that some vegetables do not even require boiling water, since canning under pressure is considered more than enough.

Canned fish and meat

The canning of meat and fish requires more attention to avoid deterioration of food. As we said, meat deteriorates much faster and, due to the variety of bacteria, there are health risks. You can avoid them if you follow the instructions below.

When it comes to fatty fish (except tuna) it is highly recommended to capture it yourself, drain the blood and clean it quickly. You can keep it on ice, but no more than 2 hours. We do not advise canned fish after two hours of catching it. If it’s in ice / fridge, you can keep it longer.

If you are canning frozen fish, let it thaw (preferably in the fridge) and rinse it with vinegar to remove the slime. Be sure to remove the head, fins and tail. However, you can keep the bones, since they soften due to fermentation. They are also a favorable source of calcium. Fill the jars with hot water, fill them with the fish slices and then add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

When you talk about tuna, The process is slightly different in some aspects of the preparation. Once again you need to clean and eviscerate the fish and drain the blood. Cut it and pre-cook it on a baking sheet at approximately 250? F for 2 to 4 hours (depends on the size of the fish). Optionally, if you want to do it faster, bake at 350? F for not more than 1 hr. Then you have to refrigerate it for one night. The next day, remove anything different from the main white meat, such as blood vessels and skin. It is necessary to remove all the bones and the discolored or dark flesh.

You are ready to place them in hot jars. For the liquid inside you can use water or oil. Both are good. Put about 1 teaspoon of salt per pint jar. The processing time is about 100 minutes.

Container chicken or Rabbit meat It is a relatively easy and fast process. Clean the meat (preferably fresh meat, freshly slaughtered). Make sure you remove any fat and skin. You can preheat the meat by cooking it (any method is fine: bake, boil, steam). Cut it into pieces and add one teaspoon of salt per liter of a jar. Add the broth to the jar and then place the meat inside. Be sure to eliminate the bubbles that are present in the bottle.

If you want to pack the raw meat, you should only place the meat in the jars and fill them with salt (1 teaspoon per liter). For this method, no liquid is needed. You are ready to hermetically close the lids and process the meat. The process will take from 65 to 90 minutes depending on the types and capacity of your jars.

Canned preserves in vinegar and fermented.

There is a third method that can be used to package foods with the idea of ​​fermenting them. This method is called Low temperature pasteurization.

To do it correctly you need to follow these steps. Fill the jars with the vegetables in mind (pickles) and place them in a canner. Fill the packer with warm water (120 to 140 ° F) so that there is a 2-inch water coverage over the jars.

Then you need to heat the water a little more until 180-185? F. This must be done for no more than 30 minutes. If the water is too hot (warmer than 185) or if you heat the pickles for too long, they will soften too much). This process makes the food more delicious and appetizing. Use a thermometer to regulate the temperature.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

An important note should be made regarding the use of salt for fermented or pickled foods. In general, any type of salt is good, both iodized and non-iodized. Salts with a reduced sodium content can be used for quick pickles, while should do not be used to make fermented pickles.

Fermentation cucumbers

Clean and cut the cucumbers. Remove any damaged place in the cucumber, including the ends. You can add dill and fresh spices (which you prefer) in the jar. Mix salt and vinegar in a solution. Place the cucumbers in the jars and cover them with the solution. Put a lid on each jar and keep it at temperatures of about 70-75? F. It will take up to 4 weeks for the pickles to be ready to eat.

Keep in mind that if you discover a strange silt in the pickles or if an unfavorable odor comes out of the jar (when you open it), you should discard the entire jar. Even if only one pickle is spoiled, it will spread throughout the contents of the jar.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

If there is any mold or scum covering the gherkins, remove it. Optionally, you can even rinse the affected brines under the water and return them to the jar.

To store fermented gherkins, keep them in a refrigerator or in a cold place for no longer than 4 to 6 months, or take them away. To can them, you can fill a large can with the brine from the jar. Use a filter to remove any unpleasant particles or mold (even cloudiness). Then, heat the brine slowly, boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Then, finally, you can refill the jars with the hot solution / brine and add the cucumbers in vinegar. Be sure to keep the jars clean and clean the openings with a clean, damp cloth.

If you want to continue canning with boiling water, the required boiling time is not more than 15 minutes.

Fermented cabbage

The process is again easy. First make sure that the cabbage is fresh and that there are no damaged or deteriorated areas on the leaves. If so, remove them and cut a larger circle around the damaged place. This is to ensure that deterioration does not occur while the cabbage is fermented.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

Start shredding the cabbage and place salt in the jars. Place 3 tablespoons of salt in a jar (if it is large enough). You can mix cabbage with salt even with your hands, if they are well cleaned. Then, you can add water to cover the shredded cabbage and not float the cabbage. If so, place a lid with weight on top of the cabbage. When this is done, it is not necessary to place the covers. In fact, cabbage needs to breathe while fermenting, so you can simply place a clean cloth over each jar.

Will cabbage ferment within 70? and 75? F for approximately 3-4 weeks. With higher temperatures, it will take less time, but the sauerkraut will become too soft and discolored. Less than 60? F cabbage may not ferment at all.

When this fermentation process has finished, store it in the refrigerator, or in the sauerkraut. However, pay attention to the fermentation process, since mold or foam can cover some jars. If so, remove the silt and continue the process.

To make the sauerkraut, it is necessary to boil the brine with the sauerkraut inside a large pot or canner. When they have boiled, fill the hot jars with the solution and the vegetables. Make sure you have some brine that covers the sauerkraut.

Preserves of jams and jellies


When it comes to making jellies, manufacturers often use pectin. This is not really necessary since there are fruits that contain enough natural pectin and the jellying is produced without added pectin.

In addition, it is recommended not to use frozen or canned fruits to make jellies and jams. These commercial products contain negligible amounts of pectin (too low to be considered). Keep in mind that soft fruits are better crushed, while firmer fruits should be cut into small pieces or strips. Do not always remove the shells or cores, as they contain high levels of pectin.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

Some fruits require that you add water for the canning process. These fruits are hard fruits like apples and plums. Blackberries and grapes, on the other hand, do not require water. Those fruits that require water should also be cooked (simmer) for a little longer (up to 25 minutes). The blackberries and grapes do not need more than 10 minutes of cooking at low heat. All fruits require up to 1 cup of sugar per cup of strained juice.

Therefore, once the process of simmering is finished, it is necessary to eliminate the juice using a strainer or pressing through a cheese cloth. Finally, mix the sugar, lemon juice and juice extracted from the fruits and boil again. When the temperature has reached 220? F, remove from heat.

The last step is to fill the jars clean with the jelly and sterilize in a can of boiling water. This should be for no more than 5 minutes.


To make jams, clean and rinse fruits well and mash. Make sure all the fruits are ripe enough, but do not spoil or ripen too much. Remove the stems and seeds, including the peel and the pits. Then the steps are more or less similar to the previous ones. Mix the crushed fruits with lemon juice and sugar, and bring to a boil. Make sure to stir frequently to avoid burning fruits. Cooking must be done for no more than 5 minutes. You’re ready to fill the jars with the jam. Finally, place the jars in a container to boil water and do not boil more than 5 minutes.

The manufacture of jams and jellies with pectin is usually more productive and makes the need to try the products if they are ready is useless. Add pectin reinforces the original flavor of fruits. The process described above can be repeated, but add pectin to jams and jellies while boiling. Immediately you will notice that gelation occurs.

Complete Guide to Home Canning: All You Need to Know About Canning Food

The processes and information described above are basic enough to start canning your own foods. Canned foods can be time consuming and, at the same time, be fun to do with your family or friends. Enjoying the food you prepared during the cold winter days can be a great pleasure for the senses. If you use the above information as a starting point, you can develop it and gain deeper knowledge with time and practice.


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