Are You Ready for Canning Season?
Canning season is really all year round. Summer, however, produces more available food to preserve by quantity, so many folks call this the season.
Water Bath Canning versus Pressure Canning
The difference between pressure canning and water bath canning is that pressure canning preserves low-acid foods while the water bath canning method is used to can high-acidic foods.
When preserving food, you must heat the food to a point where there’s no risk of bacteria forming. Bacteria can form on food and produce toxins, which cause botulism. There are certain foods which don’t have a high enough acid content to stop this bacteria from forming on their own. To solve this, use a pressure canner, which heats the product at a higher temperature than water bath processing.
When done correctly, both of these canning methods are effective.
This article will focus on water-bath canning.
Water Bath Canning at Home
Acidic foods are food which has a pH of 4.6 or below. These foods have enough acid within themselves naturally, they don’t require a higher temperature to kill bacteria. Some of these foods include:
- Fruit Butters
Low-acid foods include meats and vegetables. Low-acid foods lack the acidity needed to inhibit the growth of bacteria and spores that can survive the temperature of boiling water (212°F).
Tomatoes are the one exception to the rule. They’re acidic enough to get by with being water bathed in general. However, I always add extra lemon juice or citric acid to the recipe when going to water bath tomatoes for safety purposes.
Equipment needed for water bath canning
- Boiling water canner
- half pint, pint or one quart mason jars
- home canning screw bands and lids
- jar lifter
- lid rack
- magnetic lid wand
- canning funnel
- nonmetallic spatula
- timer to ensure proper processing time
- Always sterilize jars and lids.
- Preheat jars in the dishwasher or simmering water prior to filling them.
- Use two-piece lids (a new flat disk and a screw band).
- Adjust process times or pressure for altitudes that are 1,001 feet or more above sea level.
- After processing, set jars at least 2 inches apart to cool on a wooden cutting board or towel-lined surface.
- Do not turn jars upside down.
- Place jars on a rack in canner.
- Turn heat to its highest position until water boils vigorously; then lower heat setting to maintain a gentle boil while processing.
- Add more hot water if necessary to cover jars with at least 1 inch of water.
- If water stops boiling at any time during the process, return to a boil and start the process time over.
This article is by no means all inclusive. These are just a few tips to help you along the way. Here are a few more sites that can help you along your journey to homesteading:
Sources and further reading:
The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
National Center for Home Food Preservation
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