Have you ever considered learning how to preserve vegetables from your garden? Do you think it would be fun to stock your shelves with homegrown produce from your beautiful home garden?

We do too!

Before refrigerators were standard in every home, canning and food preservation used to be necessary to feed our families. Food grown in home gardens could be canned to help families feed themselves through the winter months.

While no longer a necessity in modern society, food preservation, and canning homemade goods is a great way for families to save money and eat healthily. Baskets filled with homemade goods that you preserve yourself make a thoughtful gift for any occasion.

Whether you’re looking to stay on a budget, feed yourself through the winter, or give baskets of your jams and jellies for the holidays, learning to preserve food with canning is a great skill and its fun too!

There are many reasons to talk yourself into learning how to can and preserve foods. Keep reading for an introduction into the two methods for canning and preserving foods, as well as our recommendations for the supplies needed to begin canning your favorite recipes today! 

Methods for Canning Food

There are two methods of canning food. Both approaches have a purpose and depending on what types of food you are preserving, you may need to use both ways. 

Hot Water Bath Canning: 

Sometimes considered the easier of the two methods, hot water bath canning can be done with any standard large kitchen pot with a lid. Hot water bath canning only works when canning high acid foods such as fruit jams and pickled foods. Water bath canning consists of submersing filled canning jars in a pot of water. You then cover and bring the pot to a rolling boil for a certain amount of time (processing time) depending on your recipe. The boiling and then cooling of the jars help to create a vacuum inside the jars, and the lids seal tight. Air, bacteria, and moisture are unable to get into the jars, and the naturally acidic foods inside the jars can fight off any bacteria not killed by the boiling process. 

When canning foods using the hot water bath method, we recommend that you follow recipes approved by the National Center of Home Food Preservation. These recipes undergo a scientific examination to ensure proper processing times for your specific recipe and food product.

Recommended Foods for Hot Water Bath Canning: 

Foods that are a candidate for the hot water bath method for canning must be acidic foods with a pH of less than 4.6

  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Apricots
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Fruit Juices
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pickles
  • Plums
  • Rhubarb
  • Tomates (With some added acid such as vinegar or lemon juice)

Homemade jams and jellies typically fall under this category as do fruit pie fillings which make a lovely gift around the holidays.

Click here for a great recipe for homemade jam using the hot water bath preserving method!

Pressure Canning Method

Pressure canning also involves heating the jars. Instead of merely boiling, a pressure canner puts the contents under pressure allowing the jars to come to much higher temperatures than boiling alone. 

When pressure canning, you use the same process for preparing your supplies and packing your recipes into your jars as you would for the water bath canning method. Pressure canning preserves foods that are not acidic (higher pH). 

Because botulism spores can survive boiling temperatures, pressure canning kills all bacteria by essentially sterilizing the food during processing. Pressure canning brings the contents under pressure and to much higher temperatures than boiling alone. The pressure canning process sterilizes the contents, the jars, and seals the jars. 

Recommended Foods for Pressure Canning: pH higher than 4.6

  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Hominy
  • Meat
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Seafood

Using approved recipes, you can preserve entire one-jar meals using a pressure canner.

Please see an approved pressure canning manual for proper processing times and pressure ranges for preserving low acid foods. We recommend this Ball Complete Canning Guide

Recommended Supplies for Hot Water Bath Canning:

Recommended Supplies for Pressure Canning:

Try not to let the idea of learning how to preserve food intimidate you. Once you preserve your first jar of apple pie filling or fruit preserves, you will find yourself searching for recipes and making plans for what to preserve next. Knowing how to pressure can entire meals helps on those busy weekday nights when you don’t feel like cooking. You will feel good when instead of reaching for a takeout food menu, you reach for a jar of your home-canned soup or stew.

Let us know what you want to try canning first!

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