Allow me to tell you, home canning requires a lot of work. However, the rewards that come with it make all of the work well worth the effort. For mepersonally, I love to experiment with unusual recipes. When I started canning it was not entirely for the standard jams and jellies you can find just about everywhere. As soon as I discovered recipes which comprised sexy and spicy elements I figured I had found the right market to work with. I was not disappointed.
But before I started to do any home canning I needed to determine what canning method to use. I chose the latter as I’ve had experience with both but found that a hot water bath far easier for the canning recipes I had chosen. Besides, the recipes I chose were not the kind that required a pressure canner.
Water Bath Canning In Short
In a word, for me, canning with a boiling water bath is simple. Even if I didn’t have a genuine canner I really could use a large stock pot with a rack at the floor to place jars. The only specialized equipment I’d need is jars, lids and screw tops. The science involved is all about boiling water and the length of time that the water is boiling.
Additionally, acidic foods, which I preserve, are safe to process in a tub of boiling water. This includes fruit, pickles, sugar maintains and tomato-based salsas since the acid content of those items – along with the warmth produced by the boiling water bath – preserves the contents safely.
Here is my home canning routine. I have my canner filled with boiling water to sterilize my jars. In a different pot I’ve the jam, jelly or salsa cooking. In yet another pot of boiling water I have the sealing lids. I eliminate a sterilized jar from the pot, fill it with hot contents leaving some head area, and then place a sterilized sealer lid on top. I add a screw top (just finger tight). Once time is reached (time varies with recipes and elevation) I removed the processed jar and put it on a countertop to cool.
Pressure Canning In a Nutshell
Quite honestly, I can’t bring myself to use a pressure canner. I’m sure I am not the only man with a childhood canning story that begins with the sentence,”One day when my mother was having a pressure cooker…” and recounts an episode where there was an explosion of some sort. My story on that topic ends with the sentence,”… and it covered the ceiling.” The thing to notice here is that is my expertise.
Canning under stress is the only way to preserve many items – usually non-acidic foods. The reason for this is that the heat produced by the steam in the pressure canner will be a lot higher in temperature than boiling water and that safely processes these foods. Typically vegetables canned in water or a salt water mix and animal products (fish, for example) should be pressure canned.
When canning is done properly, there’s nothing to be concerned about. When it isn’t lots of bad things can happen. For me, the worse thing I’ve encountered is jams or jellies that didn’t set correctly. As far as I am concerned, these batches are failures. The more serious effects from improper canning would be the possibility of bacteria growth, especially botulism.
Boiling water kills botulism bacteria but spores can bear that warmth. There are two ways to get rid of them in canning. By using temperatures higher than boiling water (as in pressure canning) or by creating a high pH level with sweet preserves or pickled foods with a high vinegar content (as may be processed with water bath canning).
The Only Sound I Wish to Hear
I find it quite satisfying to finish a mini batch or several batches of merchandise for sale and am careful to follow the instructions carefully with each recipe. The only variations I’ll make would be to maybe change one ingredient to another similar one. I never change anything associated with processing as no two recipes I use are the same.
Home canning is fun and a great way to preserve your harvest or favorite recipes to share in the off-season. I buy the majority of my produce ingredients fresh and use many that are locally-grown in the area where we live. In a way it allows me to celebrate the terrific growers and the crops they produce for us. It’s also turned into a profitable hobby for me. I really like the sound of freshly processed jars of product popping in my kitchen telling me they’ve properly sealed. In fact, nothing says home canning to me over the sound of a popping jar late at night.