Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Preparing for Water Bath Canning

Once you learn some basic skills, your world of cooking expands.
Water bath canning is one of those skills.
Being able to store for later your garden produce, flavored with herbs for use deep in the winter is a joy.

Preparing for Water Bath Canning isn't scary

British Style Lemon Marmalade from
British Style Lemon Marmalade
Unlike pressure canning, water bath canning uses a few simple hand tools to safely preserve low acid foods like jams, jellies, fruits and vegetables.

The most important thing to remember when getting your jars ready it that cleanliness is ESSENTIAL for healthy canned foods.
I want to say that again, Cleanliness is Essential.
More than any other aspect of making jam, jellies, fruits and vegetables your jars need to be clean, unchipped, hot when filled and sealed completely to make sure your food is safe to be stored.

Luckily, it isn't hard to do.
Inspect the jars for any nicks or deep scratches. If you find a deep scratch, save the jar for dry storage. Dispose of chipped jars. This is why many people purchase jars each time they want to can. Well, that and the fact that many people don't return jars to the friends who created the lovely jam or fruit they gifted.
Want to be on the generous gifting list of your favorite gardener? Return your jars, clean and with perhaps a package of new lids and you are likely to move up to star status.
You will need a few tools to can but they are likely inexpensively found in your grocery store.
I like this set from Norpro since it contains them all and for under $15.
Wash jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water by hand or in your dishwasher.
Rinse well.
Dry the bands that hold the lid to the jar well.
Place the clean jars into a stockpot or canning kettle.
Cover the jars with water plus 1/2 inch.
Heat the canning jars till not quite boiling, and hold until ready for use.
Once your food is ready to be jarred, lift the jars out of the water, using the jar lifter and let the water drain out into the pot.
Place on a heatproof surface, like a towel, on the counter.
Using the canning funnel, fill jars leaving the headspace appropriate for your product.

1/4" headspace for Jams, Jellies, Marmalade, Chuntney, Spreads & Butters
1/2" headpace for Pickles, Tomatoes, Fruit
1" headspace for Vegetables (not pickled)
Food In Jars by Marisa McClellan 
The little stairstep tool in the kit measures for you.
Wipe down edges of the jars with a clean wet cloth to make sure no food will interfere with the sealing of the lid.
Add the lids for a couple of minutes before lifting them out with the lid lifter, a nifty tool that is nothing more than a magnet on a stick. Perfect for lifting that slippery disc of metal and sealer.

Place a hot lid on each jar and twist on the band. It doesn't have to be very tight,  just firmly connecting the lid to the jar. This allows air bubbles inside the jar to move out while in the water bath.
Using the jar lifter, gently replace the jars in the water bath.
Allow to process for the duration demanded by your recipe.

Looking for recipes?  This is my favorite small batch book for home processed foods.

Need some inspiration for filling those jars?
Lemon Marmalade Recipe-American Style
Lemon Marmalade Recipe-British Style

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