I want to begin by saying the BEST advice I can give ANYONE who is starting their adventure in canning is READ, READ, READ! Read EVERYTHING you can get your eyes on about this subject. The more you know, the better off you will be. The best source I have found for teaching myself how to can has been my local library. There you will find endless amounts of books, both new and older on this subject. And, what the library doesn’t have they can find for you by searching other branches. It is an amazing resource and the best part, it’s FREE! Also, pick up the Ball Canning Blue Book. You can find this book at just about any location that sells Ball Canning supplies. My local Walmart carries this book so it is easily accessible. It will teach you all of the basics. Another great resource is the world wide web. Blogs and dedicated websites are amazing. Not to mention places like You Tube and canning groups on Facebook which have been priceless to me. Use all of these free and available resources to your advantage!
So, there are two methods of canning:
Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning is for high acid foods ONLY. Think pickles, jams and jellies, and some tomato products. Tomato’s are on the borderline and only safe to water bath can if you are adding acid of some kind like vinegar, lemon juice or citric acid. When using the boiling water canning method, hot food is placed into HOT sterilized jars and are submerged in a pot of boiling water and processed for a predetermined amount of time according to your recipe.
Pressure canning is for low acid foods.. Vegetables, soups, broth, fruits, sauces, meats, and just about anything that does not contain a high amount of acid. This is my FAVORITE method of canning. Just about any left overs i may have gets pressure canned at night and goes right into my pantry instead of into my fridge in tupperware containers.
There are some foods you just shouldn’t “can”. Starches like flour, rice, or pasta because of their density will slow down the processing time and anything that isn’t processed properly for a predetermined amount of time can result in bacteria in your foods. Botulism is the the number one threat to home canned foods. ONE PINT of botulism can kill the entire human race! Also, NEVER can raw onion because of the gasses it produces…. it can pop the seal to your lids and it can also create bacteria, so always precook your onions first before adding them to your jars. These are the types of things you will learn as you read and educated yourself on canning. So, READ, READ, READ!
You will also need Mason jars…… I use Ball brand and I have a few Golden Harvest brand. Just know that Ball, Golden Harvest and Kerr and produced by the same manufacturer. Their price points vary due to the the design logo’s on the glass jars themselves. So you’re paying for the “look” not so much the quality. These 3 brands are the ONLY brands recommended by most of the homesteaders/canners I know. Store brand jars are not highly recommended due to breakage, and lids puckering during canning. So stay away from the generics.
You will also need some basic canning tools to get started. These tools can be bought individually or as a kit. A jar lifter, magnetic wands, a funnel, spatula, head space measurer, a hand grip for jars, an opener, ect….. are all handy to have. WARNING: Canning gadgets are addicting! haha
If anyone has any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to ask. Hit me up in the chat room if you see me in there OR fill out the “CONTACT ME” form and I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can to answer them! 😀 Happy Canning, Guys!