Canning is a method where heat is applied to food to stop the natural process of spoilage. Generally, there are two methods to do this
- Water-bath canning
- Pressure canning.
Why Do We Can?
Canning builds self reliance and produces high quality flavorful food that can save you money. It’s a great way to fill your pantry with food the old fashioned way.
How Canning Works
All cooking involves some science and canning is no different. Food preservation is in essence, freezing time by either stopping natural processes from occurring or encouraging specific good bacteria to thrive and crowd out all the harmful bacteria.
The easiest method of canning is by using a water bath. This is done to acidic food, such as tomatoes, cucumbers in vinegar or even berries. The food is put in a jar and covered then boiled in an open pan of water so as to form a seal under the lid. This forces all the air out of the jar and creates a vacuum in which bacteria cannot thrive. Water-bath canning produces jams, jellies, pickles and a number of other delicious condiments.
Pressure canning is more advanced and requires some specialized equipment. While water bath canning is mainly done for condiments pressure canning unlocks more flavor and food options allowing you to pack the main ingredients of a variety of meals.
What to Can?
The first step in deciding what to can is determining your favorite seasonal foods; Plump strawberries, plums, corn, hot peppers, asparagus , or marmalade? Anything you fancy can be easily canned and stored until your ready to indulge.
Beginner Canning Equipment
You can purchase a canning kit, but this isn’t necessary, even if you’re a beginner. The water bath method requires items that you probably already have in your kitchen:
- A canning jar with a two part lid. This is a flat lid with a rubberized gasket and ring to hold it in place
- A stock pot that’s a little taller than your canning jar
- Tongs for lifting the jar out of the boiling water
- A cake cooling rack that can fit in your stock pot. This raises the jar off the bottom of the
- A funnel- makes filling jars easy
- Plastic knife, skewer or even a chop stick- this helps to release air from the jar.
Is it Safe to Use old canning recipes?
Over the years, a lot has been learned about canning and this is one instance where old is definitely not gold. Modern recipes take into consideration the proper amount of heat needed to kill microbes as well the size of fruits and vegetables you intend to can, that will ensure the right amount of heat is used to fully penetrate the jar and the food.
They also have precise measurements as to how much acidity, salt and sugar levels are required to ensure the best results. A hand-me-down recipe may not have taken such concerns into consideration.
You can change some aspects of these recipes, such as the types of spice or pepper as long as the same amounts are utilized as stated in the recipes, or you may eliminate sugar or substitute water for fruit juice when canning fruits.
Some of the older recipes include some un-orthodox methods such as flipping jars so that they can seal properly or setting them in an oven. This does not guarantee results. The best way to ensure that your food has reached the required temperature for storage and the jar has sealed properly is to follow the instructions as laid out. Chances are no harm will come to you if you use your great grandmothers old jam recipe, but there are better recipes out there that will give you great results.
Give canning a try and add another tool to your collection of food storage, emergency preparedness, and self-sufficiency repertoire.