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Canning Tips

Forget about the mystique surrounding canning. Being familiar with a few basic techniques and precautions turns the task at hand into a far simpler undertaking than you'd ever imagined. Success comes by following an easy formula: Use the best produce you can find, and make sure the jars are properly sterilized and sealed.

Sterilizing
1. Don't use jars with any chips or cracks. Wash the jars, lids, and screw bands in hot, soapy water, making sure to rinse well.

2. Place the jars upright on a wire rack in a large pot, fill pot with hot water until the jars are submerged, and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and leave jars in the water. Sterilize the lids according to the manufacturer's instructions.

3. Using stainless-steel tongs, lift the jars from the pot, and place them on a padded layer of clean towels.

Sealing
1. Pour fruits or vegetables into the jars, and wipe the rims carefully. Each jar should be filled up to a quarter-inch from the top.

2. Eliminate air bubbles by poking through the contents of the jar with a chopstick or wooden skewer.

3. Place the lid onto the rim and, using one finger to hold the lid securely, twist on the screw band until it's tight.

4. Put a wire rack on the bottom of a large pot, and fill the pot with hot water. Use a jar lifter to place each jar on the rack. Add enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches, and bring the water to a boil.

5. Boil the jars for 10 minutes; remove from the water with a jar lifter, and allow the jars to stand on the towels for 24 hours. When the jars are cool, check for a slight indentation in the lid, which indicates a vacuum seal.

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