I’ve been intermittently away from my writing work, so here is a repost of my Canning 101 guide to coincide with my radio appearance on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius. If you are new here, sent from Morning Living, welcome! You’ve discovered a fabulous website! Be sure to enter your email address on the left and keep up to date with all the recipes and news from my kitchen and urban farm. Happy Eating!
October 24, 2009
The farmers markets are flush with apples these days and I just finished canning up some applesauce for gift-giving and the cold winter nights ahead. Here are some pictures and step-by-step instructions to put your own food by:
Step 1: Make applesauce according to your, or your grandmother’s recipe*. Acquire canning jars from your local hardware store or online. Note: The flat top that creates the seal under the ring can only be used once. Jars and rings can be reused. Sterilize jars, rings and lids by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing well and simmering for 10 minutes. The simmering part does two things. First, it sterilizes the jars, second it brings the glass up to temperature, so that when you pour in boiling applesauce, they don’t freak out and crack.
Step 2: Remove the jars from the hot water carefully.
Step 3: Fill jars with boiling applesauce carefully – its hot! Wipe the rim with a dry paper towel.
Step 4: Seal the jars by placing the lid on top then screwing on the ring. I was taught to do this one-handed – place the ring on and twist shut with one hand. When the jar spins, its tight enough. You want the ring on snug so that it holds the lid in place, but loose enough that the air inside can escape, creating a vacuum.
Step 5: The Water Bath. Here’s the only tricky part. You have to bring a huge pot of water to a boil and need some sort of rack set in the bottom so that the jars do not sit on the bottom of the pot when lowered in. I used the inverted steamer insert that came with my pot, tongs and a slotted spoon. You can purchase a canning kit that comes with everything you need, but most well-equipped home kitchens have everything you need to improvise.
Step 6: Cover and gently boil for 20 minutes. This is called “processing.”
Step 7: Carefully remove the jars to a cooling rack…
…and let cool 24 hours. Test the seals by pressing on the top and make sure it doesn’t pop back. Store in a cool, dark pantry until you are ready to use or decorate and give away as holiday gifts.
*You can can practically anything. If you need recipe ideas, an online store that sells everything you need to get started and has a great list of resources, FreshPreserving.com is my go-to place.
Additionally, the USDA has a series of food safety guidelines that you can check in with to make sure you are doing everything right.