Does home canning sound like a chore?
A task reserved for only those flawlessly organized and pulled-together?
If so, you better prepare yourself for this – wait for it – canning is so easy and even (dare we say it?) downright fun.
Everything tastes sweeter when it’s had the chance to ripen under the summer sun. While true, it’s less than pleasant to find yourself up to your ears in zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers.
A flourishing garden may provide a welcome bounty of food, but sometimes we just can’t eat it fast enough! Don’t let those fresh flavors go to waste: home canning is a wonderful way to preserve your favorite summer veggies.
Benefits of Home Canning vs Buying Commercially Canned Foods
Store-bought canned goods are often loaded with preservatives. DIY canning ensures you enjoy the most nutritious produce all year long.
Another downside to buying canned food in stores? They are expensive!
For a frugal Summer, stock up on jars and jars of homemade canned vegetables at a fraction of the price.
Supplies Needed to Get Started Canning
You will need:
- A pressure canner with canning rack
- Quart or pint canning jars
- Enough vegetables to fill your jars
- A jar lifter for retrieving hot jars
- A timer
- A pressure canning recipe for your vegetable of choice
- Table or canning salt (optional)
- A canning funnel (optional)
How to Can Vegetables at Home
1. Clean your pressure canner with a quick swipe of vinegar and inspect it
- Pay special attention to the pressure gauge. If it has been dropped, cracked, or submerged in water, it might not be accurate.
- Your local agricultural extension office can test it for you.
2. Wash and inspect jars, lids, and rings
- Unlike with water bath canning, you don’t have to sterilize your jars before you pressure can.
- Fill your jars with hot water to keep them warm and set them aside.
- Filling a cold jar with hot canning material can cause jars to shatter.
3. Add water and rack to your pressure canner
- This step varies based on the canner. Follow your own canner’s directions.
4. Put canner on stovetop over low heat to get water started while you fill jars
5. Prepare your vegetables according to your recipe
- Most pressure canners come with recipes, but you can also find instructions online or in books on canning available at Amazon.
6. Empty the warm water from your jars and fill them with vegetables
- Always allow at least one-inch of “head space,” the empty space between the top of your canning materials and the jar opening, to allow for expansion.
- Use a non-metallic spatula to eliminate air bubbles and wipe the jar edges clean.
7. Put lids on your jars
- Make sure the sealing compound, which is usually an orange, slightly tacky ring around the inner edge of your lids, is facing down.
- Then screw on the lid rings.
8. Place your jars in the canner on the rack
- Make sure your canner’s lid vent pipe is open before closing up your pressure canner.
9. Process your jars according to the canner’s instructions
- Be mindful of adjustments needed for high altitudes.
10. When processing is complete: move canner away from hot burner
- Wait for pressure to drop.
- This can take an hour or more.
- Afterward, open the pressure regulator and vent.
- Allow your canner to cool another 10 minutes before opening it carefully.
11. Use jar lifter to remove jars from canner
- Place them away from drafts to cool.
- Make sure not to tilt them.
- This can take up to 12 hours.
- When they have cooled completely, check the jar seal.
- The tops of your lids should be sucked downward and not click when pressed.
- Any unsealed jars should be stored in the fridge and eaten immediately.
12. Label your jars and enjoy
- Canned foods will stay tasty for a year or two and remain safe even longer. Always check your seals before eating.
You might be familiar with traditional water bath canning.
While it is great for fruits, it’s no good for veggies.
High-acid foods will kill most bacteria, but vegetables are low-acid foods.
To can low-acid foods safely, you’ll need a pressure canner:
- Pressure canners heat food to 240-degrees Fahrenheit, destroying bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
- They’re easy to use, but be sure to read their instructions and safety information.
A Note About Salt
Salt isn’t necessary for safe home canning, though it will preserve your food’s fresh flavor.
Table salt will work fine, but canning salt keeps your food’s color bright.
With home canning, you can hang onto those feel-good summer vibes all year long.
This winter, you may not be basking in the sun, but you sure will be soaking up summertime veggie sweetness. For more inspiration, you can check out these canning recipes at Whole Foods.