How to can the Vegetables from your Garden

Canning the vegetables from your garden gives you the assurance of safe, clean processing, better tasting foods preserved at the peak of flavor, control of chemical additives and a big savings at the grocery store. There are no surprises when you can your own vegetables and it’s an easy process to learn and do.

*Equipment Needed

While the initial cost may seem a little high, once you have the canner and jars, additional expenses are only for new rims and lids each year. There is no need to buy both types of canners as the pressure canner can also be used for the boiling water method. Canning in quart jars is more economical than pint jars though the cost of the jars doesn’t differ that much.

1-Pressure canner with rack.
2-Canning jars, lids and bands, always use new lids.
3-Clean towels for wiping jar rims
4-Heavy duty potholders or jar tongs
5-Large boiler for blanching
6-Canning salt, which is free of iodine and anti-caking additives.

*Preparing The Jars

Run jars through a complete cycle in the dishwasher or wash jars in hot soapy water, even new jars, and allow to air dry. Check the jars carefully for any chips or cracks, especially the rims. Place the jars in the rack of the canner, which should be on the stove and heated to a low boil. Place lids in a few inches of hot water (180 degrees F) for 15-minutes.

*Preparing The Vegetables

Only the freshest vegetables should be used for canning. Wash well to remove any pesticide residue, dirt or insects. Depending on the vegetable you are canning, there are varying blanching times before adding them to the jars. Usually when the vegetable turns colors as with green beans or loses its rigidity, as with squash, it is sufficient. You can use the same water for blanching and filling the jars after the vegetables are packed.

Many vegetables may be canned whole such as tomatoes and beets. Dipping them in a hot bath and then a cold bath will cause the peels to crack and roll, which speeds up the peeling process. Other vegetables need additional prep work such as corn or lima beans and peas, which must be shelled before canning.

*Filling The Jars

Using a spouted cup, fill the jars to within 1-inch of the top. Insert a non-metallic utensil into the jar to remove air bubbles that can cause the jar to not seal as they force water and food particles out of the jar during processing. If, you are using salt add the appropriate amount.

Wrap the clean dishtowel around your finger, wipe the jar rim clean, and immediately place the hot lid on the jar. Slip a band onto one finger and use that finger to hold the lid firmly in place as you tightly screw the band on. Place the jar in the rack of the canner and repeat process until the canner is full.

*Processing The Canned Vegetables

The timing is important to killing any bacteria in the vegetables. You will find an excellent chart of processing times at this site for both water bath and pressure canning, as well as high altitude processing times, and many tips.

*Processing With A Water-Bath Canner

Lower the rack into the hot water and add enough boiling water to cover the jars. Cover the canner and begin timing once the water reaches a full boil. You will need to replace the water lost as steam with boiling water to keep the jars covered. Once the canning time has elapsed, turn off the burner and remove the lid to the canner.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the jars and space them on a towel to cool completely. When the center of the lid pops down, you will know the jar has sealed, but continue to monitor the jars for at least a week to be sure they remain sealed.

*Processing With A Pressure Canner

Once the jars are added, check to make sure the water level is correct. Position the lid and lock into place. Allow the canner to boil for 10-minutes before placing the steam weight on the vent. Once the gauge shows the correct pressure, start timing and watch to be sure the pressure doesn’t rise any more. If it does, simply lower the heat of the burner. Once the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

DO NOT attempt to open a hot pressure canner and do not remove the vent weight until the pressure gauge reads zero. Open the canner by lifting the backside up to allow any steam to escape away from, rather than toward you.

DO NOT retighten the lids when you remove jars from the canner, as this may result in the seal being broken.

DO NOT shorten processing times or alter proven methods for canning. Doing so may result in food poisoning or death.

When you buy a new canner, you will receive a booklet complete with safety tips and canning instructions that will include step-by-step instructions for how to can the vegetables from your garden as well as fruits and meats. You’ll find great rewards in canning your own foods and the personal satisfaction of knowing you did it.


So Easy to Preserve published by The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service

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