How To Can Fruits and Vegetables

There are many options available when it comes to preserving fruits and vegetables. Freezing and drying are two easy methods that take very little time and do not require much equipment.

Canning may be a little more complex, but the results are as close to fresh as is possible, the food can be stored for a longer period of time and there is less chance of food-borne illnesses.

Canning is an economical food preservation method that uses heat to destroy enzyme action and spoilage microorganisms.

Food is sealed in sterile and airtight containers to prevent food from coming in contact with contaminants. During the heating process, air is removed from the container and kept out by an airtight seal.

Because each food requires a different amount of heat to kill harmful organisms, different canning methods and different ways to apply heat are used for different groups of foods.

How To Can Fruits & Vegetables

There are two different canning methods: the boiling water bath method and the pressure canning method. The boiling water bath is used to can acidic foods such as fruits, pickled foods and tomatoes. Pressure canning is used for low acid foods such as most vegetables.

The boiling water bath method and pressure canning method both require some similar canning supplies:

  • Mason jars with smooth glass all around the top. Do not use jars with chips, scratches, uneven rims or cracks.
  • Sealable lids and rings that match the type and size of canning jars. Always use new lids; never reuse the sealable lids.
  • A rack to hold the jars during processing. The rack must hold the jars at least 1/4 inch above the bottom of the pan. This allows the water to circulate freely.
  • A jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the boiling water.
  • A funnel to pour foods into the cans without leaving a mess around the jar openings.
  • A good recipe book for canning.

For the boiling water bath method, a large kettle with a cover will be needed. The kettle must be deep enough to allow at least 1-1/2 inches of water above the top of the jars.

For the pressure canning method, a large pressure canner will be needed. A pressure canner can be a big investment but the right canner will last a lifetime.

Choose a pressure canner with a weighted gauge that does not need to be calibrated and a metal to metal seal that will not need to be replaced.

Once all of the canning tools have been readied, it is time to clean the area in which the canning will be performed. The most important part of the canning process is ensuring that the canning jars, lids, pots and countertop surfaces are clean.

In order for the canning process to be successful, the process must destroy molds, yeast and bacteria. Jars must be completely sealed to keep contaminants out of the canned foods.

Using The Water Bath Method For Fruits

The easiest canning method is the boiling water bath. Before setting up the canning equipment, first clean and prepare the fruit, pickles or tomatoes. Different foods will require different preparation techniques but a few preparation tasks remain the same:

  • Wash everything.
  • Remove stems, pits and cores.
  • Peel, halve or slice fruit.

Depending on the type of fruit, tomato or pickle that will be canned, there are different ways in which the fruit is prepared and varying amounts of time that the food will be processed. Read and follow the recipe directions carefully. Here’s a checklist to ensure that food is canned properly using the water bath method:

  • Preheat the water in which the filled jars will be processed.
  • Wash the jars and rings in hot soapy water, rinse in scalding water and dry on a clean white towel.
  • Cover sealable lids with boiling water and let sit until needed.

With the boiling water ready on the stove, the jars clean, and the fruit washed, it is time to fill the jars and finish the canning process:

  • Place the food in the jars.
  • Run a knife through the jar to release air pockets.
  • Pour boiling syrup, juice or water into the jars.
  • Clean the jar opening so that there is no food between the jar and the lid.
  • Place the sealable lid and ring on the jar and tighten the ring by hand.
  • Place the jars in the boiling water and process for the required amount of time.
  • When processing is complete, remove jars from the water, let cool and check the lids for the proper seal.

Pressure Cooking For Vegetables

Low acid foods, such as vegetables, should be canned using a pressure canner. Pressure canning is the most complex food preservation method but it provides an assurance that germs are destroyed.

When using a pressure canner, be very careful to follow the manufacturer’s directions for operating the canner. Also, it is important to adhere to the processing times for the type of vegetable being canned.

There are some basic principles that are common to both the water bath method and pressure canning:

  • Jars and lids should be clean and prepared for use.
  • Vegetables are washed, cut and packed into jars.
  • The filled jars are placed in the pressure cooker and processed according to the operating directions.

Home canned vegetables should always be cooked for 15 minutes before being consumed. This is a precautionary measure against the possibility that the processing may have been done improperly and is used to eliminate any toxin produced in the canned food. If a jar has a bulging lid, discard the food without opening the jar.

Before taking on any food canning project, have all of the required equipment and make sure that everything is clean and ready before starting the process.

By adhering to sanitary food handling practices and by following the canning recipes, canning can become a fun activity that will provide fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables all year long.

Categorized as Food

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