Because you can… preserve the deliciousness of summer’s produce, and enjoy it all year long! Here is a quick guide with tips, tricks, and how-to’s, written by my mother, Diane Lutzke, on how to preserve by water-bath canning.
Most days in the summer, you will find my mother in her kitchen, surrounded by food projects. Each week she receives fresh produce from her farmer friends, with a special deal that she will process/cook with it, and give the farmers a week’s of home-cooked meals, and preserved goods for their winter pantry- and she gets to keep a portion for herself.
One project she always has in the works is her canning. It’s something she can multi-task with, a quick and easy way to deal with much of summer’s bounty. She can easily fill a few cabinets with her colorful jars by the time the season is over (see photo).
If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at canning, I would highly recommend it. Several benefits to preserving your own food are:
-Healthy, homemade sauces and products that make for a quick meal.
-Garden produce and seasonal products are always cheaper. Look for ‘canner’ produce at farmer’s markets
-Food is now shelf-stable and keeps well for at least a year
-Give gifts of good taste! Who wouldn’t love a jar of garden tomato salsa, or some spicy pickles?
It can seem like a daunting project to some- but luckily, my mother loves to teach and share her wisdom. Below is a great guide she put together with water-bath canning how-to’s, tips and hints, straight from her kitchen to yours.
First of all, there are two ways to can:
1) Water-bath canning, for foods that are high in acidity: fruits & fruit juices, tomatoes and tomato juice, sauerkraut, pickles, relishes, and other sauces containing vinegar.
2) Pressure canning, for low-acidity foods: most vegetables, potatoes, meats, low-acid sauces. This process requires the use of a pressure cooker and is a bit more intensive.
*For beginners, the water-bath method is recommended.
Equipment Needed for Water-bath Canning:
-Water-bath canner, which consists of a large pot and wire rack; or, you can use any pot deep enough to hold your canning jars plus two inches of water; and use extra canning lid rings to keep jars off the bottom of the pot, and to allow water to fully circulate.
-Jars and lids: Always use new lids, but always be on the lookout for used jars and equipment (be sure jars are not chipped or cracked) at garage sales and thrift stores!
-Canning utensils kit. Typical kit includes: wide-mouth funnel, rubber-grip jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter or tongs.
Basic Water-bath Canning Method:
-Clean well and trim food; remove any blemishes.
-Pre-heat jars in boiling water. Using a funnel, fill with raw or cooked food (as per recipe).
-Add boiling liquid to fill (as per recipe).
-Wipe mouth of jar clean. Place lids and screw bands on.
-Place jars in canner or stock pot with two inches of water covering the tops of the jars.
-Bring water to boil and boil for recommended time to create a seal, as per recipe.
-Remove with tongs and allow to cool before storing. Always check lids to make sure they have sealed properly.
Remember: always follow a recipe or guide book’s specific instructions. Most importantly, have fun! Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be multi-tasking in no time.