The art of canning started back in the early nineteenth century when Napoleon, who was looking for a way to feed his troops, offered a cash award to any inventor who could figure out a cheap method of preserving large amounts of food for the military.
Since that time, canning practices have evolved and become a lot safer, but the basic principles of canning remain the same. Today, we are going to look at one of the oldest methods of canning food; the Boiling Water Bath Method.
What You Need to Start Canning:
The Canner: In general, any metal container with a tight-fitting lid will work. The main thing you are looking for is a container that is large enough to allow the water to freely circulate around your jars. It should be deep enough for 2 inches of boiling water to cover and freely circulate around each jar.
Wire Basket: A wire basket or wire rack is needed to prevent your jars from touching the bottom of the container. It will allow boiling water to freely circulate under the jars.
A jar lifter or canning tongs: If your basket doesn’t allow you to easily remove your jars, a jar lifter is a must have. This will allow you to easily remove your jars without burning yourself in the process.
Jars & Lids: Mason-type jars that are specifically designed for home canning are great for preserving foods. They are easier to use, less expensive, and allow you to see what’s in your jar. Using commercial food jars (mayonnaise, pickle jars, salad dressing jars, etc..) is not recommended. Your jars should be clean, free of cracks and defects which would prevent an airtight seal, and should have a two-piece lid. The Jars themselves can be used multiple times, but the lids should be replaced after each use.
Preparing your Food for Canning
The most important part of canning is to start with high quality fresh food. When packing fruits, we generally recommend using the hot pack method. This means heating your freshly prepared fruits in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes.
Next, you want to quickly fill your jars and then add boiling water, juice or syrup to the jar. This will help shrink the fruit, remove air from the food, improve shelf life, and help to ensure a proper seal during the canning process. Hot packing is probably the best choose for anyone using the boiling water method of canning, because it’s the best way to remove air from the food and jar.
How Much Space to Leave in the Jar:
You want to leave some head-space. Fruits generally require about ½ inch of space; jams and preserves require about ¼ inch of space.
Sealing the Jars:
Most Commercially available canning lids are self-sealing lids. They have a flat metal lid with a gasket compound that softens and makes an air tight seal during the canning process.
- Fill Jar with food and liquid.
- Use a plastic Spatula to release any air bubbles that formed.
- Clean the top of the jar with a rag.
- Place a preheated flat metal lid, gasket side down, on the jar.
- Hand Tighten the Metal screwband on to the jar.
Boiling Water Bath Canning Method
The boiling water bath method is recommended for processing fresh high quality high-acid foods like fruit. You should never process low acid foods like vegetables, meats, poultry and fish with this method because it raises the risk of botulism.
- Fill the Canner half way with hot water.
- After filling and capping your jars, carefully lower the jars into the water and on to your wire basket.
- Add boiling water, if needed, so that the water level is at least 2 inches above the jar tops. It’s important to make sure water can flow freely around your jars.
- Cover and then bring your water to a rolling boil; start timing according to your recipe and type of food.
- Keep an eye on the water level and add more boiling water as needed.
- When your processing time is up, carefully remove the jars and allow them to cool – at room temperature – on a wire rack.
After the jars have cooled, make sure you test your lids seal. If your lid springs up when pressed, the can is not safe for storage and should be placed in the refrigerator for use within the next couple of days.
Processing times for commonly canned fruits with the Boiling Water Bath Canning Method
|Fruit||Style of Pack||Boiling Time for Pints|
|Plums||Hot and raw||20|
Processing times above are estimates based on altitudes under 1,000 feet. Home canned foods must be processed for longer times at higher altitudes. The chart below is the recommended time to add based on your altitude.
|Altitude above Sea Level||Boiling Water Time in Above Chart is Under 20 minutes ADD MINUTES||Boiling Water Time in Above Chart is Over 20 minutes ADD MINUTES|