People have been canning for generations, each generation often running into the same problems as the one before—it’s messy, it’s time consuming and it doesn’t always work. Anyone who has tried canning understands how difficult it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Canning is one of the most effective ways to store food and a great way to be self-reliant. If you have a garden and the proper know-how, you can store whatever you grow and not have to worry about rising food prices or, even worse, a calamity resulting in widespread food shortage. Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, there are plenty of good reasons to can food, not the least of which is preparing yourself for emergencies. Canning is also a great way to save on grocery costs while eating healthier and wasting less. Here are some tips that will help you avoid the problems that have plagued generations of canners.
1. Create a good workspace. Clear off and sterilize the countertops and sink with a light bleach solution. Sterilize jars in boiling water for about 10 minutes (washing them in the dishwasher won’t do the trick). Set up the jars on the countertop in the order you will be filling them. Give yourself plenty of space to work. Also give yourself plenty of time-- don’t start canning if you’re going to be rushing off to an appointment in a half hour. Doing these things will help you avoid frustrations during the canning process. It may take a few extra minutes to get started, but it will save you time and effort in the long run.
2. Throw away your creativity. One of the challenges for some canning novices is the temptation to either cut corners or to try and get creative with the recipes. This is risky behavior and usually results in frustration and failure. Instead of jumping right in, take some time to read the recipe several times in advance and then follow it precisely. Canning has been going on for generations. There’s no need to make the same mistakes as the experts who have gone before. Unless you’re a skilled canning veteran, don’t be experimenting or substituting ingredients. For a smooth canning experience, just stick to the recipe
3. Seal the deal. There is perhaps nothing more crucial in the canning process than making sure your jars are properly sealed. You may have heard of methods such as using paraffin wax or running jars in the dishwasher to seal on the lids. Neither of these methods will give you the seal you need to prevent spoilage, food borne illness and dirt or debris from getting inside. To create the proper seal, you must first be sure there are no chips or cracks in your jars. Foods high in acid may be canned using the water bath method (placing jars into boiling water for at least 10 minutes). Low acid foods need to be canned at higher temperatures, which requires a pressure canner. Be sure and select lids that are safe to use. Although it might be tempting, you should NEVER reuse metal lids. If you want lids that you can reuse safely, go with (made in America) TATTLER lids, which are made of a plastic compound that is safe for direct contact with food products and can be reused again and again. When storing your sealed jars, keep them in a cool, dry place that is off of the ground and away from direct sunlight. For added protection, use a JarBOX Canning Jar Storage Container as a convenient way to keep your jars safe and organized.
So the next time you can food, remember to follow the recipe instructions closely, keeping these tips in mind. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from being self-reliant and prepared. Happy canning!