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A Beginners Guide to Canning

Saving money is just one of the many benefits of the age-old practice of canning foods. Read these notes and tips to get you started on your canning journey.

A Beginners Guide to Canning

Canning may seem like an old-fashioned practice only for those who have plenty of time on their hands. The truth is, canning is a truly satisfying DIY activity that can help you save loads of money. Canning is making a comeback! Anyone who can boil a pot of water is capable of canning. Here is our beginner’s guide to canning to get you going on your canning journey.

Benefits of canning

We all love a bulk discount deal, right? But, what do you do with all those tomatoes before they go bad? That's where canning comes in! Canning fresh produce is a great way to make the most of Summer's bounty and bulk discount specials at the supermarket. Here are a couple more reasons why you should give canning a try:

  1. Canned goods can keep for one to two years.
  2. Support local farmers by buying fresh produce in bulk when it is in season. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also reduce food miles too!
  3. Have fun with your kids while teaching them about where food comes from.
  4. Canning food is a helpful way to minimize your impact on the environment.
  5. Decrease your carbon footprint by making the most of fresh produce from your garden.
  6. Spoil friends and loved ones with thoughtfully made gifts of your famous pickled jalapenos or secret salsa recipe!
  7. Prevent food wastage by canning fresh foods that you won’t be able to consume before they go bad.
  8. Most canning recipes require very few ingredients. Canning at home means that you know exactly what is going into your food. So, you can skip the extra sodium, flavorings, colorants, or BPA. 
  9. Canning foods can help you keep food fresher for longer without clogging up freezer space.

Canning: The process

At the heart of it, the canning process is fairly simple. The time investment is totally worth the rewards that you reap – having your very own tasty, healthy, preserved foods. Here is the canning step-by-step.

  1. Wash the canning jars, canning lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Rinse well and dry.
  2. Sterilize the jars by placing them, upturned, in an oven preheated to 240 °F for fifteen minutes. Don't place the lids in the oven. Heating them to that extent might compromise their sealing ability.
  3. If you are pouring hot food into the preserving jars or if the recipe calls for hot packing, keep the jars hot until you need them. You can do this by keeping them in a pot with simmering water. Alternatively, place them on a rack in the oven at a low temperature (176 – 212 °F).
  4. Prepare your canning equipment. If using the water bath method, place a canning rack in a deep pot. (Hint: If you don’t have a canning rack, you can fold a dishcloth to fit into the bottom of your pot.) Fill the pot to about halfway with water and bring the water to a simmer. Keep the pot covered until you are ready to place the jars into it. If using a pressure canner, place the rack inside the canner. Fill with two to three inches of water.
  5. Prepare the food that you are going to be canning.
  6. Pour the food into the jars. Use a wide-mouthed funnel to help you prevent spilling and messing.
  7. Wipe the rim of the jar using a clean, damp cloth. Dabbing a bit of vinegar on the cloth will help for an extra-sanitary clean.
  8. Place the lids on the jars and secure them with the bands or rings. Screw the rings on finger-tight. In other words, tightened just with your hands.
  9. Put the filled and sealed jars in the hot water bath or the pressure canner and heat for the specified time. This time will depend on what you are canning and which method you are using.
  10. Once the jars have been heated sufficiently, use a pair of jar lifter tongs to remove them from the hot water. Place the jars on a cooling rack or a dishcloth to cool for 12 hours.
  11. If you hear popping sounds coming from the jars while they are cooling down. Don’t be alarmed! This is actually a good sign. It means that the jars are securely sealed.
  12. After 12 – 24 hours, you can check the seals on your jars. To do this, press down on the lids to ensure that they don't move or have any give.
  13. Remove the bands or rings from the jars and lift the lids with your fingers. If the lids remain attached, your jars are sealed properly.
  14. Store your canned goods in a cool, dark place for 12 – 24 months, depending on the recipe. Any jars that weren’t properly sealed should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed quickly.

Foods that are suitable for canning

You can preserve just about anything with the correct canning process. Anything from peaches to prawns and beans to minced beef. Foods with a high acid content (fruit, pickles) are great for beginners. Start by canning tomatoes because they are so versatile. Use them in soups, stews, salsas, and spaghetti sauce. Go berry picking with your friends or your kids in summer and bring home a nice big box of sun-ripened berries that you can cook your own homemade jam with!

Canning is a great way to save money on fresh produce

Saving money is not just about spending less on what we need. It is also about making the most of what we have. If you love saving, canning is a helpful way to preserve fresh produce when you have an abundance. When there is a discount at the grocery store, you can buy loads of fresh tomatoes or raspberries and make your own pasta sauce or jam. If you have a vegetable garden, there will be times when you are harvesting more than you can consume before it goes bad. Canning is a great way to make sure that none of that goes to waste. Check your Save mailer for deals on canning essentials and bulk fresh produce.