Canning: Getting Started

by GettingFreedom on June 10, 2009

Canning your own food during the summer months, for use throughout the rest of the year, can be a great way to save on your grocery budget. Not only that, but it is very rewarding to step back and look at all your work and have peace of mind that if things got really tough–you would have a little bit of a back up.

If the peace of mind isn’t enough–knowing exactly what you put into those jars is very comforting. But, the idea of canning your own vegetables, jams/jellies, pickles and sauces can sound pretty intimidating. Once you know the basics and do your first few batches–you’ll not only feel like a professional, but you’ll be looking for new things to can.

One of the first things you should know before beginning is that there are 2 different canning methods. Each of which serve their own purpose.

Water Bath/Boiling Water Canning

This method is used when wanting to can High Acid foods such as tomatoes. You do not have to buy a specific Water Bath Canner. As a matter of fact, as long as you have a big sauce pot with a lid (and something that you can put in the bottom so that the jars are not directly on the bottom) you are good to go. If you are wanting to buy a Water Bath Canner–keep your eyes peeled in the fall when the typical canning season is over. I scored my canner, originally priced at $18.75, for $8!

The boiling water inside the canner heats up the contents of the jars, ultimately destroying any mold, yeasts or bacteria that might be present. DO NOT process Low Acid foods in a Water Bath Canner. The temperatures are not high enough to destroy the bacteria spores present in the lower acid foods, which could result in botulism.

Pressure Canner

This method is used when wanting to can the lower acid foods such as Green Beans, Corn, Carrots, and Okra. Over the last few years, pressure canning has gotten somewhat of a bad rap. If done correctly, while using caution, there is no reason to fear it. I got my pressure canner last year and now use it for more than just canning. It does wonders on cheap cuts of meat (with very little time), and I also use it when preparing pumpkin for Homemade Pumpkin Pie.

Pressure Canners are heated to 240° and stay there for a specified amount of time, under pressure, which varies with the item you are processing. The weights on the canner, pressurize the steam inside.

Now that you know the 2 methods to canning, and their purposes, in the next installment I will go over Canning Equipment and Tools.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney June 10, 2009 at 3:53 am

i hope to can some stuff this year. I have never done it but look forward to reading your future post!


mub June 10, 2009 at 9:12 am

I love home canned stuff, it's so much better than store bought!


Miriam June 10, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Don't you just love how you can work hard all summer in your garden, and then eat from it all winter??

The *only* thing I have about canning is that I've found that most things I prefer frozen over canned, but that's our personal preference. The only thing I can anymore is peaches, pears, applesauce/butter, pear butter and tomato sauces/soups. I freeze our corn, beans and peas.

On the other hand, if we did't have freezer space (we have 2 sm. chest freezers that were free), canned would still beat buying it from the store hands down :)

One tip: Cantaloupe does NOT can. LOL!!! My mom tried it in 1999 when we had it growing out our ears and she was canning/freezing EVERYTHING for "Y2K"… it all unsealed and was gross within days.


JusFrugal June 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm

I am going to try to do this this year… just hoping to have success with our first garden!


Michelle June 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm

This is year 3 for me on canning- I got the pressure canner last year and love it! I also got a food mill to make tomato sauce a little easier. That took a LONG time last year. LOL

this year I'm going to attempt green beans and sweet pickles.


Renee June 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm

This year we planted a really big garden and I really want to try canning to save money on our groceries. I can't wait to read your posts.


Annikke June 10, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I can't wait to follow this process with you. When is the next installment? I am very interested in canning. We did a little bit for the first time last fall. I loved it!


Ethelapple June 10, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I learned to can from my MIL…we've canned peaches, tomatoes, sweet tomato relish, and made jam (raspberry and strawberry). I've also made my own bread and butter pickles, but just stored them in the fridge.
I LOVE to can. Not sure if it's necessarily cost effective — jars can be so expensive! — but if you can get a good deal on the jars, it's an awesome way to feel self-reliant.
I've also found some great deals at garage sales (like an apple corer/peeler/slicer and a cherry pitter) for next to nothing.


Jenny June 11, 2009 at 4:36 am

wow, you can can stuff on your own? I never knew that.


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