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1.1.6 What does home canning entail?


This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker ericnospam@getcomputing.com with numerous contributions by others.

1.1.6 What does home canning entail?

These are two sample recipes, just to give a general idea of what is
involved, one is for a waterbath treatment, the other involves pressure
canning. Some comments of special interest have been added (in [with
initials]), to benefit the canning newbie. Both of these recipe files are
taken from Susan Brewer's fact sheets.


Fresh fruit for home canning should be at the peak of ripeness--they should
have lost their greenish color and should yield slightly when squeezed.
[The peak-ripe fruit has the most dependable amounts of acid and
pectin--LEB]. Fruit should be prepared (peeled, trimmed), treated to
prevent browning, and hot-packed to exhaust air and make fruit more
pliable. Hot packing will help prevent fruit from floating in the syrup.
Prepare syrup, hot pack fruit and water bath can. Use USDA Complete Canning
Guidelines or "Canning Card" (EHE-660) for processing time.[The USDA
Canning Guideis on- line, check part 16 under Internet Sites.--LEB
Recommended Quantities: Peaches, apples, pears: 17 1/2 lb fresh = 7 qt. ll
b = 9 qt. 1 bushel = 48 lb = 16-24 qt (2 1/2 lb per quart) Berries: 1 1/2-3
lb (1-2 qt) fresh = 1 quart canned Plums: 1 1/2-2 1/2 lb fresh = 1 quart
canned Preparing Jars 1. Wash jars by hand or in dishwasher. Rinse well.
[Please remember that the dishwasher cleans the jars a little, and keeps
them warm--it does not sterilize them.--ED, LEB] 2. Prepare lids according
to manufacturer's directions. [Take a careful look at the rims, the
counterpoint to the lids.--LN] Preparing Peaches [0. Wash your
hands.--everybody, your mom :)] 1. Wash peaches under running water.
[Important to remove dust and dirt. Soil bacteria are important source of
spoilers.--LEB] 2. Skin removal (peaches, apricots): [Blanching step.] a.
Dip peaches in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. b. Dip in cold (ice) water
to stop heat treatment. Do not soak-- remove immediately. 3. Cut peaches in
halves, remove pits, slice if desired. 4. To prevent darkening put slices
in any of these antidarkening solutions: a. a solution of 1 tsp or 3000 mg.
of vit. C/ gallon of water. [From Tips 'n Tricks--can use a Vitamin C
tablet] b. a citric acid or lemon juice solution (1 tsp citric acid USP
grade or 1/4 cup lemon juice / gallon of water. [Check below for a list of
citric acid sources.] c. a commercial antioxidant solution. [Fruit Fresh,
et al.] 5. Remove from antidarkening solution and drain just before heating
or raw packing. 6. Syrup a. Sugar [Granulated] (a) Thin: 2 cups sugar to 4
cups water Medium: 3 cups sugar to 4 cups water Heavy: 4 1/2 cups sugar to
4 cups water (fruit may float) b. Honey: 1 1/2 cups honey to 4 cups water
Thin honey: 3/4 cup honey, 3/4 cup sugar, 4 cups water. [Test the flavor of
your honey before using it your jars.--LN] c. Corn syrup: Thin: 1 c corn
syrup, 1 c sugar, 4 c water Medium: 1 1/2 c corn syrup, 1 c sugar, 4 c
water Heavy: 2 c corn syrup, 2 1/2 c sugar, 4 c water d. Fruit juice:
pineapple, apple, etc. h. Water: fruit may fall apart during processing.
(b) a. [For ease of use, sugar may be added directly to the jars, then
processed --LN, Embarcadero Home Canning] b. [Need the sugar to maintain
plant cell osmotic pressure-LEB.] 7. Pack a. Hot pack: heat fruit and syrup
or water to boiling, then pack. b. Raw pack: do not heat fruit prior to
filling jars. c. Pie pack: heat fruit in sugar only, no sugar, until juice
drawn from fruit nearly covers fruit. Heat slowly to prevent scorching.
Fill jars with hot mixture and process as for hot pack fruit. 8. Overlap
fruit pieces in jars to minimize air spaces. 9. Work out air bubbles with
plastic or wooden utensil. (a) 10. Add liquid (syrup, fruit juice, water)
leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.(b) 11. Wipe off jar rims thoroughly to make
sure the sealing surface is clean and free from fruit or sugar which would
prevent sealing. (c) 12. Add lids to the top, using tongs or a lid lifter.
(d) 13. Screw ring bands onto the jars finger tight, plus a quarter turn
more. a. [If large amounts of air remain after processing, you get less of
a vacuum and weak seals.--LEB Plastic/stainless steel utensils best, wood
can put splinters in food, thus is verboten.--LN] b. [Headspace is where
the seal will develop. Too much/too little will pro- duce weak seals.] c.
[Very important for a beginner to remember to do.] d. [Don't touch the
inside rim with your fingers.

Processing Procedure: 1. Place filled jars on rack in canner so they don't
touch sides. 2. Add hot water until the level is 1-2" over jar tops. (a) 3.
Place the lid on the canner and bring to a boil. 4. Start timing the canner
when the water returns to a full boil. 5. Add more boiling water as needed
to keep level 1-2" over jar tops. 6. Process according to USDA Guidelines,
see "Canning Card" (EHE-660) (b) a. [2" far better than 1", because the
water will boil off. Too little water will leave an underprocessed jar.--LN
Should add boiling water instead of just hot water, to keep the water
boiling.--ED, LN If you are a newcomer to all this, might want to measure
the water depth.--LEB] b. [Remember that you need to know your elevation,
and convert accordingly. Recipe times assumed for sea level. Check part V
for way to determine your elevation.

Cooling Jars: 1. At the end of the processing time, remove the jars from
the waterbath canner without disturbing lids or bands. 2. Place jars right
side up on towel or rack away from drafts. 3. DO NOT tighten screw bands.
4. Lids will seal in 12-24 hours as they cool. [Hot glass can break or
crack if cooled too quickly. BTW, If you hear a loud pop or click, the
vacuum seal formed very quickly. This is the nicest sound in all

Checking Seals: 1. Jar is sealed if lid is depressed in center and does not
move. (a) 2. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, wash off any syrup which
may have boiled out during processing, and store jars. (b) 3. Unsealed jars
should be reprocessed with new lids, or refrigerated and used within a few
days. (c) a. [Another seal test: hold the jar up by the lid w/o the ring.
If the jar falls, the seal was bad. Catch the jar. :)] b. [If the jars are
very sticky, might want to reprocess, because some of this is trapped in
the seal.--LN] c. [Must do the reprocessing within 24 hrs of original
processing time.

Storing Home-Canned Fruits: 1. Remove screw bands from sealed jars. 2. Wipe
jars with warm, sudsy water and dry (do not disturb lid). 3. Label and
date. 4. Store in clean, cool (less than 90F), dark, dry place. [Under 65F
if possible.--LN] [Want to be able to use your canned goods within a year
or so.] Prepared by Susan Brewer/Foods and Nutrition Specialist/Revised,
1992 EHE-663 ---- Tomato-Vegetable Juice Blends Tomatoes are a somewhat
acid food. To make them safe for home canning ACID MUST BE ADDED. To each
quart jar of tomatoes or tomato juice, 2Tbsp of lemon juice, or 4 Tbsp of
5% vinegar, or 1/2 tsp of citric acid must be added. When adding
vegetables, which are low in acid, the instructions must be followed
exactly. You may add less vegetable, but you must not add more vegetable
than the re- cipe calls for. You may adjust the spices and seasonings to
your taste, for example more or less pepper, add a little tabasco, or more
sugar. And, you may vary the kinds of vegetables as long as you do not add
more than three cups total vegetables to 7 quarts of juice. For example,
you may use 2 cups of onions and 1 cup of celery, or 1 cup each of green
pepper, onion, and carrots. But no more than 3 cups total of vegetables
will be safe. [Check out the V. Recipe Caveats and Troubleshooting Guide
for the vegetable/acid rules.] An average of 22 pounds of tomatoes is
needed per canner load of 7 quarts.

Preparation for Canning: 1. Wash jars by hand or in dishwasher. Rinse well.
[Check the dishwasher question 1.3.6 for more info.--LEB] 2. Prepare lids
according to manufacturer's directions. 3. Put 2 to 3 inches of water in
pressure canner, or 5 to 7 inches of water in boiling water bath canner. Be
sure canner has rack. 4. Start water heating. It should be hot but not
boiling when the jars go in.

Prepare juice: [0. Wash your hands. :)] 1. Wash tomatoes and vegetables
under running water. Trim and discard any bruised or discolored sections.
2. Chop carrots, onions, celery and green peppers, or your preferred com-
binations. For 7 quarts of juice you may add up to 3 cups of chopped
vegetables. 3. To prevent juice from separating, quickly cut about 1 pound
of fruit into quarters and put directly into saucepan. Heat immediately to
boiling while crushing. Continue to slowly add and crush fresh tomato
quarters into the boiling mixture. Make sure the mixture boils constantly
while you add the remaining tomatoes. 4. Add the chopped vegetables to the
boiling tomatoes. 5. Add sugar, salt, and spices. For 7 quarts of juice, a
mixture of 1/3 C sugar, 1/4 C salt, 1 Tbsp celery seed and 1/8 tsp cayenne
pepper is a good combination. 6. Simmer mixture for 20 minutes. 7. Press
hot mixture through a sieve or food mill to remove skins and seeds. 8.
Reheat juice to boiling.

Fill jars: 1. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice (or alternatives-see above) to each
quart jar. 2. Fill boiling juice into jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 3.
Wipe top sealing edge of jar with a clean damp towel. 4. Adjust 2-piece
canning lids. Tighten ring bands using thumb and two fingers until just
snug, then using whole hand, tighten 1/4 turn fur- ther. [Don't tighten
further especially if pressure canning, need the interior of the jars to
equilibrate with the pressure during processing.

Processing: 1. Place jars on rack in canner so that they do not touch
sides. 2. Add hot water to boiling water bath if necessary to bring water
1-2 inch over tops of jars. 3. Cover canner, or lock pressure canner lid
into place. 4. Turn up heat. 5. Process: Boiling water bath canner: when
water reaches full boil, begin to count processing time. Set timer for
specified time. Add water to boiling water canner if necessary to maintain
proper depth. [Your *accurate* timer is important here. Should be clock
wound or use an electronic battery.--LN] Pressure canner: When steady
stream of steam issues from vent, set timer and allow to exhaust steam for
10 minutes. After 10 minutes, close petcock or put weighted pressure
regulator on vent. When dial gauge reads 11 psig, or when weight begins to
rock or hiss at manufacturer's stated rate, set timer for specified
processing time, and gradually reduce heat to maintain proper pressure.
[Gradual is important here--don't cut the heat so radically to lose
pressure, otherwise have to retime.] PROCESSING TIMES for canning in
Illinois: Boiling Water Pressure Canner (10/11 psig) Pints 35 minutes 15
minutes Quarts 40 minutes 15 minutes [Check your p.canner gauge at least
once/year.--LN] [Remember to alter times/pressure for your elevation. If
you live in the US, check the geographical nameserver listed in part
V.--LEB] After processing time is complete: 1. Remove canner from heat.
Allow pressure to drop to zero. Wait 3 more minutes. Open canner with lid
away from you to avoid steam in your face. [Don't try to speed this up;
just simply turn off the burner and allow to cool. Even moving a canner to
a cool burner can be a bit dangerous.--LN] 2. Remove jars from canner.
Place upright on rack to cool away from drafts. 3. Do Not Tighten ring
bands. They will tighten as they cool. 4. After 12-24 hrs check seals.
Center of lid should be depressed and not give when touched. A tap with a
spoon should give a clear ring. 5. Remove ring bands, wipe with warm sudsy
water, rinse, label and store. 6. Unsealed jars may be reprocessed, or
refrigerated. Prepared by Mary A. Keith, Foods and Nutrition, July, 1991
Revised by M. Susan Brewer, Foods and Nutrition, June, 1992 EHE-692 ----


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previous page: 1.1.5 pH determinations of common foods and condiments.
page up: Food Preserving FAQ
next page: 1.1.7 Where do I get the Ball Blue Book? And the USDA Canning Guide?