Oh canning, how I love thee.
Ok, here’s the deal. There are two things that I can say with all honestly I really love to do – gardening and canning. Wait – knitting and sewing too. Ok, whatever – I love to do a lot of things, but today I’m talking about canning. Again.
It is funny to me that more people don’t embark on home preservation of their food. Probably about as funny to me as it is to people that I love it. Anyway.
It has become evident that some don’t know how simple it is and how far-stretching it can be. You don’t have to grow your own food, although in my opinion that is the best way. Every go to a Farmer’s Market? No? Ok. How many times have you been at the grocery store and something is at a rock bottom price and it just doesn’t seem fair that you can’t possibly eat enough of it before it goes bad? No? Ok, well this will get you. Ever have meat in your freezer that you have to throw out because it is beyond its “good” period? Ah – got ya there, didn’t I? Even if you don’t have your own garden, you can hit up your local Farmer’s Market (when in season) and get a lot of bountiful food that is just as good had you grown it. Grocery stores regularly put seasonal produce on sale, so absolutely over buy and can what you cannot possibly eat before it goes bad. And, we’ve all been there – food that goes bad in the freezer because it gets too old, freezer burned, etc. can be thawed, and then canned up which would give it a lot longer shelf life.
And it is a lot easier to do than you probably think.
The above photo shows all the equipment you will need. The only exception that I can think of is Pectin which is used in canning fruit spreads, but that is another post.
First and foremost you need a vessel to actually do your canning in – low acid food like veggies and meat need to be processed in a pressure CANNER (PC)(not cooker!), and high acid foods like fruits, tomatoes and juices can be processed in a Water Bath Canner (WBC). The pressure canners can get pricey, so make sure you keep an eye out for them at garage sales. We use our Turkey Fryer for water bath canning – it just makes it easier to do a lot of jar, and we can do it outside. What? Of course we use it to fry turkeys – every other holiday and only on weekends. Sheesh.
Next of course, you need jars. The ones pictured above range in size (l to r): 4 oz. Jelly, 8 oz Half Pint, 12 oz Jelly, 16 oz Pint, 32 oz Quart, 64 oz Half Gallon. There are more sizes, and shapes too, but these are the basics. When you purchase jars brand new, they come in a case of 12 usually, and with lids and rings. If you get jars from garage sales or second-hand, you will need to get lids and rings.
Lids have to be purchased new each time you can a product – do not try to recycle! It isn’t worth “questionable” food. There are a new kind of lid on the market that is supposed to be reusable, but I have not tried them yet.
Rings go around the lids during processing. After processing you can keep them on if they aren’t screwed on too tight (you want lids to be able to pop if they go bad. If you have a ring tightened down, you won’t know if a seal has been broken). A lot of canners just take the ring off after processing, and perhaps replace it if giving a jar of goodies as a gift.
The Jar Grabber is used to lower jars into the water, and lift them out. The curvy part wraps around the jar. I’ve seen some people use them upside down… ha ha ha, novices! Not that I did anything like that… uh, moving on.
The green magnetic wand – not a have to have if you can rig up your own method. I used a combination of pinchy pliers and a magnet for a couple of years, and this is definitely easier. By far.
And, the funnel – used to get the product into the jar – definitely a must have.
That’s it – that is all you need for equipment to can with – most of this can be found in garage sales, basements or second-hand stores. Easy peasy. If you have any questions about canning food, send them in, or comment – I would love to hear from ya!