How to Get Started Canning
Preserving Your Fruits, Vegetables, and Soups by Canning
Like our great grandparents, who preserved their farm and garden produce, many people preserve by canning. And you can too!
Below I will list and explain all the necessary hardware to can the fruits of your garden labor.
Get Started With Canning Starter Kits
You can buy very highly rated starter kits for canning and then pick up the specialty equipment that the kit may not have included.
I prefer to start out with a good quality starter kit because I can get the basics and then add the fancy equipment, as needed.
All the basics and you can buy your favorite steam-pressure canner.
Boiling Water Canners
First up are the boiling-water canners which are are for boiling water, at 212°F, to can high acid foods. Boiling-water canners come in many varieties and should include a deep enough base to hold the jars, plus 1 to 2 inches of water to cover them.
Preferably the boiling-water canners should be able to hold at least 5 jars, without touching the sides. It should also include a snug lid and a rack to keep your jars off the bottom.
The most common type are enamel. However, you can also buy very high quality stainless steel.
Steam Pressure Canners
The most recognizable piece of equipment is the steam-pressure canner. These pressurize-able pots may bring back old stories of food stuck to the cieling of Great grandma's kitchen after having exploded.
Those were the good 'ol days!
But these days are even better!
Modern steam-pressure canners are much, much more safe than the antiques from yesteryear.
Steam pressure canners can reach the desired temperature of 240ºF, which as mentioned will kill the botulism bacteria.
The first thing to understand are the pressure gauges. There are two types, one being a dial gauge and the other a weighted gauge. The dial gauge is most appreciated by those living in high altitude areas, in which a 1/2 pound adjustment is necessary for each 1000 feet above sea level. However, the dial guages must be tested once a year for accuracy. The weighted gauge has three markings; 5 pounds, 10 pounds, and 15 pounds of pressure. It does not need to be tested for accuracy, unless it is damaged. Spend the extra money and buy a weighted gauge. Take care of your weighted gauge and it will take care of you.
The gauges tell you how much pressure is being generated by the steam-pressure canner. The pressure is very important, in that it determines the length of time to boil the jarred ingredients.
The Basic Canning Utensils
Although these are not essential tools, they are designed for canning and make the work much easier.
The most helpful tools are the jar lifter, jar funnel, the bubble remover & headspace tool, and the magnetic lid lifter.
The jar lifter allows you to remove the hot jars safely. These tongs can handle any size jar.
The jar funnel is either plastic or metal and lets you can fill the jars easily. A translucent plastic is usually best because you can see the fill level, which means there is less mess.
The bubble remover & headspace tool is a flexible measuring device for getting the right amount of space at the top of the jar, and it helps you remove bubbles from each jar before boiling.
The magnetic lid lifter (or jar wand) is a simple magnetic wand used to remove lids that have fallen into the hot water.
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