Water Bath Canning Learnings…

Canning does not mean, preserving produce in tin cans, it’s actually referring to glass jars instead.

There are two main ways to can produce, water bath and pressure can.

Water bath canning is for acidic produce only, like tomatoes, jams, chutneys and pickles.  If your produce is not acidic you must use a pressure canner instead.

Although you can, can acidic produce without a water bath canner, it’s slightly safer and keeps for slightly longer if you do.

You can buy a special water bath canner (like mine in the picture) or you can just use a large saucepan, stop watch and a means of keeping an eye on the temperature.

You can’t use any old jars when water bath canning, it’s best to use glass jars that are made for higher temperatures (It also does not have to be the expensive pressure canner jars).

You must make sure there is no damage to the lid or the seal inside the lid.

Even acidic produce if left with a high water content may not be acidic enough, so make sure to drain off any excess water before canning.

Use a canning rack in your water bath canner (or saucepan) to prevent breakages.

Make sure you heat your jars up before putting the hot produce in them to can.  I pour boiling water into mine, put the lid of and swish them around.  Some people put them in the canning water itself to heat up as the water heats up.

Make sure the correct headspace (air gap) at the top of the jar is left (usually as per the recipe) but if the recipe does not mention it, then at least a couple of cm’s.  This will minimise the chances of syphoning.

Make sure the jars are all fully submerged (1 -2 cm’s) of water above your jars your water bath canner.

Always run a knife around the inside of the jar’s before sealing then to remove any air bubbles, that can the produce bad.

Always clean the rim of the jar before sealing, to make sure there is a good seal.

Remove jars from the water bath once the time is finished, do not allow them to cool down with the water, as they will ‘cook’ for way too long.

Don’t let you jars touch each other or the sides of the water bath canner when you put them into it.

Once you have removed the jars from the water, place them on a kitchen towel overnight to cool down.  Make sure the lid has been sucked under by then, if they have not then use then refrigerate these ones and use them right away.

The length of time you can for will vary depending on your attitude.  So, you’ll need to look this up online and make adjustments.

If you can your produce that’s not acidic in a water bath canner, saucepan, or just by putting hot food into hot jars and sealing them, then be care of dangerous bacteria (like botulism) growing inside the jars (plus they won’t keep good and nutritious and healthy more than a few weeks like this).  Acidity stop botulism etc.

Water bath canned produce can last up to 3 years (most online resources state a year to be safe) and pressure canned produce (including meat, fish, beans and vegetables) can last up to 15 years.  This depends on what the produce is of course and if you don’t mind discolouration and potentially less nutrients.

I’ll talk about pressure canning separately another time!


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