How to Prepare for Seasonal Canning
Canning season is right around the corner! It’s that exciting time of year when the work of growing and harvesting comes to a close and is replaced with the efforts of storing your goods for use later in the year. Whether you harvest them yourself or not, canning fresh foods is a great way to stockpile your pantry and allow you to have a stable stash when the need arises. Although it's not a difficult process, it's important to use the proper techniques and supplies to ensure safety when canning. So before you begin, make sure that you have a plan, collect the supplies you need, and are organized for an efficient use of time.
Collect Canning Jars
Depending on what you are canning, you may need a range of canning jar sizes. For jam, look into pint and half-pint sizes. For most sauces, consider pint or quart sizes. Evaluate your usage. If you have a large family, canning peaches in a quart-size jar makes sense. If your household is just yourself, pint-sized jars of green beans are likely large enough. There are a variety of jar types, but the important thing is that whether you use a rubber cork or a traditional flat lid and ring, the seal must be precise. This means that you will want to inspect each jar for chips on the rim that may affect the seal. Also use new lids whenever possible. You can find jars at most box stores that carry home goods, but canning jars are expensive at the beginning of the season. Try to purchase off-season or visit your local garage and estate sales for a better price.
Accumulate Additional Tools and Supplies
There are many handy tools when it comes to canning. After all, it is a process. Here are what we consider to be the essentials:
Canner, Water Bath, or Pressure Cooker
Most jams, fruits, and tomatoes can be canned in a canner especially made for holding the jars. You can also use a large water bath as long as you put a towel beneath the jars, since they can shatter if they come into contact with the bottom of the pot. Vegetables require a certain temperature, measured through the use of a pressure cooker.
Typically, this is a long handle with a magnet on the end that allows you to retrieve lids and rings out of hot water.
This tool was created to grip hot jars and lift out of the water. You can also use it to lower the jars into the water when they are empty or full.
You will need a cloth to wipe the rim of each jar before adding the lid. Have additional towels on hand for setting jars on to cool and for handling jars and pans.
Depending on what you are canning, you may need a thermometer to ensure you reach the proper temperature.
Whether you use a wide neck or narrow neck jar, a funnel is pivotal in helping you get the hot ingredients from the pot into the jars.
Pots, Cutting boards, Knives, Peelers, and Spoons
From the garden to the jar, you will need to prep your foods, typically through cleaning, peeling, and cutting, before cooking and placing into jars. Be sure to read your recipes to ensure you have any necessary supplies and ingredients on hand.
Create a Space
The process takes up a good chunk of space. Make sure you have room for your ingredients. Think about the flow from the raw product to the end result and put your stations in order to avoid a lot of back and forth. Designate a space for cutting and chopping. After preparing the ingredients, you will cook on the stovetop. At the same time, you’ll want your water bath, canner, or pressure cooker getting up to temperature. Heat your jars and lids and keep them warm until you are ready to use them. Next, prepare a cooling space, which can be as simple as a thick layer of towels on the counter. It's essential that the canning space remains sanitary to avoid contamination through bacteria.
Canning is the perfect way to keep your fresh foods ready to eat year-round. Although it takes some pre-planning and a bit of organization, with the right system, you’ll be labeling jars and filling your pantry in no time. As a result, your labor of love will feed you for months to come.