Canning 101: An Important User's Guide

Tracy R. | Sugarcrafter

Sit right down and listen up, Food Fanatics. Canning 101 is in session!

Canning Items

Before I begin sharing some canning recipes here, I wanted to share some basic information about the process of canning. If you're new to putting up, it can be a lot to digest at once - but once you get the hang of it, it's not bad at all. Welcome to Canning 101!

When I began my jam-making adventure, the first step I took was to collect some resources on canning. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving was at the top of my list; it includes many recipes for both jamming and pickling, and it also explains the difference between water bath and pressure canning:

  • Water bath canning is when you boil canned foods in hot water for a certain amount of time (high acid foods - your jams, jellies, and marmalades).
  • Pressure canning is when you enclose canned foods in a pressure canner and process them for a certain amount of time (low acid foods - your canned vegetables, tomato sauce, etc.).

When it comes to recipes, it's a good idea to make sure that you always follow a recipe from a trusted source, especially when you're first starting out. Also, if you want to know all about the science behind canning, the USDA Food Preservation and Home Canning guidelines are a great place to start - explanations, diagrams, recipes - pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about the process of canning.

Their canning book, So Easy to Preserve, can be ordered via printable form on the University of Georgia’s website. It currently runs you about $18, and has all the USDA's latest and greatest information on safe home food preservation.

Once you have some resources and reliable canning recipes, it's time to take stock of your canning supplies.

I use a large stockpot for processing jars and a large stainless steel pot for cooking my jams and jellies, both things you probably already have in your kitchen.

I also picked up a 5-piece canning kit as shown in the above photo, just to make life a little easier. And of course, the jars - I usually use half-pint (8-ounce) jars for jams and jellies, but sometimes I'll buy 4-ounce jars as well, which are nice for gift-giving.

Pint and quart jars are nice for pickled sliced vegetables, salsas, and relishes. You can usually find an assortment of jars at your local grocery store. You may even be able to get some used ones from a thrift store or garage sale - in that case, just make sure to sterilize the jars thoroughly.

You can reuse bands as long as there are no signs of rust - but make sure not to reuse old lids. New lids are inexpensive, and can be purchased separately at the grocery store as well.

Now that you have a brief introduction to canning and some resources at your fingertips, stay tuned for some recipes!

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About Tracy

Tracy fell in love with locavorism, and built a business out of Canning & Preserving. She shares all sorts of recipes on Sugarcrafter, and her passion for canning here, but we love her rhubarb jam most of all.

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    This is great! I've always wanted to can but have always feared it!!!

    Avatar

    I can't wait for summer! I want to get cannin'!

    Amber
    bluebonnetsandbrownies.com

    Tracy, you're my go-to canning guru. Thanks so much for this simple tutorial. I hope people realize that once they've done this once or twice, it's going to feel like you've done it your whole life.