The other night we asked this question on our Facebook page: What would be the ONE topic you would want to learn more about? You can only pick ONE, no cheating.
Overwhelmingly the response was that everyone wanted to learn more about CANNING. We’ve posted about different canning projects over the years but have never done a comprehensive “How-To” for you so today we’re going to give you a run down on everything you need to know to get started.
Get a GOOD Canning Guide
Ball has put out several canning books that I think are very helpful. Our favorite go-to manual is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. If there is anything you are thinking of canning, there should be instructions in there for you. Make sure to take note of the sections on altitudes as you may find that your processing times are different if you live in a very high (or low) area.
Another book we’d recommend if you like to see more step by step instructions, beautiful photography, and personal tips, is Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too by Daniel Gasteiger. Click here to see a full review on why we love that book. It’s really fun to sit and browse through and great for seeing instructions laid out very clearly.
My pressure canner also came with a booklet with details on processing times for that particular machine. That’s a great resource to use as well.
Get Your Canning Tools
Water Bath Canner and/or Pressure Canner
If you are wanting process high acid fruits and vegetables all you need is a basic water bath canner. If you want to process meats, beans, and some vegetables, you will need a pressure canner. Here is a video we did explaining some of the differences in pressure canners and pressure cookers.
As mentioned in the video, you can also use a pressure canner as a water bath canner (you need a 23 qt pressure canner in order to water bath quart jars due to the size). So if you think you will do both kinds of canning just go with a large pressure canner to avoid making two purchases.
Here are a few links to the canners we recommend.
|Presto Pressure Canner
I have the 16 quart shown here but would love to upgrade to a 23 quart some day.
|All-American Pressure Canner
This is a higher-end model of canner. It doesn’t have any gaskets and it is a heavy-duty machine. You will never need another canner.
|Water Bath Canner
This is your basic canner. I see these at garage sales quite often, so keep your eyes peeled. They are also fairly inexpensive to buy new.
For all canning projects you must have canning lids and rings. This can be an expensive part of canning because you are supposed to buy new lids every time. At $4-$5 per box of 12 that can really add to the expense of one jar of food. I recently have started to buy Tattler Reusable Canning Lids (I buy a few boxes before each big canning session I do so it’s not too expensive all at once). I’ve had a great experience with them so far and I love that I don’t have to throw them away after one use.
I usually see these in Wal-Mart at this time of year. Another great place to look is at garage sales or second hand stores. If you buy new jars it’s nice because they come with lids and rings. If you are going to use the Tattler Reusable Lids you’ll need enough rings for a few batches since you process the jars using rings, and then have to leave them on while the jars cool. You can also find jars at a reasonable price on Amazon.
You can buy extra tools that you may want to have on hand such as tongs, a large funnel, a lid lifter, etc. which will make your canning tasks much easier. This kit is comprehensive and a great price if you are buying everything to get started.
How to Actually Can Things!
Over the years we’ve done several tutorials on canning some of our favorite things. If you are new to canning, these can be a great way to follow step-by-step and give you the confidence to get started on your own.
How to Make Strawberry Jam
Homemade strawberry jam is such a treat, it is so much yummier than store-bought, which is truly the reason to make it.
How to Pressure Can Ground Beef
Jodi gives a step-by-step overview of her experiences with this process that intimidated her for a LONG time. (Includes a video)
How to Pressure Can Chicken
See how easy it is to can your own chicken so that you can have shelf stable chicken ready for recipes, and in case of emergencies. (Includes a video)
One of the things people seemed most interested in with canning was canning MEATS. We know that meats are one of the more intimidating things to consider for food storage. We are going to be sending out an informative newsletter on this topic later this week to all who are subscribed to our Babysteps Checklists or our newsletter list. So make sure to get on one of those lists to get the full details on meat preservation and usage in food storage.