[ Creative Cooking ]

Cooking Tips
Home Canning

Preserving Methods & Equipment

[ line ]

[ Home Canning ]

Preserving Methods & Equipment


Food is cooked in an uncovered kettle, then transferred, still boiling, into hot sterilized jars. Each jar is sealed immediately after being filled.

Recommended for jams, jellies, conserves, marmalades, relishes, and some pickles.

Cold or Raw Pack

Clean hot jars are packed with prepared raw fruit. Hot water, syrup or, in the case of tomatoes, hot tomato juice is added to cover the fruit completely. The jars are sealed and then processed according to directions.

Recommended for fruit and tomatoes only.

Hot Pack

All vegetables, except tomatoes, must be packed by the hot pack method. The vegetable is precooked for a short time in a covered kettle, then packed into clean hot jars and covered with the boiling cooking liquid or with fresh boiling water. The jar is then sealed and processed according to recipe instructions.

The hot pack method can also be used for fruit juice, most fruit and tomatoes. The precooking reduces air in the jars to a minimum and shrinks the food, making it easier to pack in the jars. This method also shortens processing time.

Water-Bath Processing

The water bath processes food at a temperature of 212 degrees F. (boiling) and is recommended only for fruit, jams, marmalades, preserves, pickles, relishes and tomatoes. NEVER process low-acid food such as vegetables, meat, poultry, or seafood in a boiling-water bath.

Water should be hot, but not boiling, when filled jars are lowered into the processor. Jars are likely to break if put into a processor of boiling water. More water should be added if needed, to keep the jars covered and the water is brought to a rolling boil as quickly as possible.

Timing for processing begins when the water begins to boil. Water should be kept at a steady boil but not hard enough to shake the jars. Jars are removed from the water-bath as soon as the processing time is up.

Steam-Pressure Processing

The steam-pressure processor is especially designed to cook food at very high temperatures for a short length of time. During processing the high temperature (240 degrees F) kills bacteria that are capable of withstanding boiling-water bath temperatures of 212 degrees F.

Processing in the steam-pressure processor is the only method recommended for low-acid food such as vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood.

[ Cooking Tips | Home Canning ]

Miscellaneous Equipment

Equipment you may want or need while doing your canning. All equipment used to fill jars (funnel, dipper, measuring cup, knife, etc.) should be clean and should be sterilized in boiling water for 20 minutes before use.

  • Glass preserving jars
  • Metal lids and screwbands
  • Wire rack for cooling processed jars
  • Jar lifter
  • Wide-mouth jar funnel
  • Tongs
  • Paraffin wax - to seal jelly glasses
  • Double boiler - for melting wax
  • Grain alcohol for pectin test (nonpoisonous denatured alcohol)
  • Tea kettle
  • Jelly bag or cheesecloth - for jelly-making
  • Blender
  • Kettle - A large kettle is necessary cor cooking jams, jellies, preserves, pickles and relishes. Do not use copper, zinc, galvanized iron ro chipped enamel pans when making pickles.
  • Large saucepan - use for blanching fruit an vegetables.
  • Cheesecloth
  • Candy thermometer
  • Kitchen scales - use to assure accuracy
  • Timer
  • Labels
  • Rotary food mill
  • Food Chopper
  • Sieve
  • Colander or wire vegetable basket - washing fruits and vegetables
  • Vegetable brushes
  • Large chopping boards
  • Large knives
  • Paring knife
  • 2 or 3 large glass, plastic or stainless bowls
  • Liquid measuring cups
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Slotted spoons
  • Wooden spoons or paddles
  • Dipper or ladle
  • Rubber scraper
  • Clean towels
  • Paper towels
  • Trays

[ Cooking Tips | Home Canning ]

Types of Jars and Capacities

Preserving jars come in several shapes and sizes and can be sealed with a variety of fittings.

    Jelly Tumbler

  1. Jelly Tumbler with protective metal cover
    Capacity: 7.5 fluid ounces (about 1 cup)
    The lid is only a protective cover. It cannot be used for any food which requires an airtight seal.

    Mason Jars

    The small, medium, and large Mason jars are sealed by using a flat metal lid and metal screw band or an all-in-one metal lid. The jar is self-sealing by vacuum. One size lid and screw band fits all three sizes of narrow mouth jars.

  2. Small Narrow Mouth Mason - Pint
    Capacity: 16.5 fluid ounces (about 2 cups)

  3. Medium Narrow Mouth Mason - Quart
    Capacity: 32 fluid ounces (about 4 cups)

  4. Large Narrow Mouth Mason - One-half Gallon
    Capacity: 60.4 fluid ounces (about 7 1/2 cups)

    The small, medium, and large Mason jars are sealed by using a flat metal lid and metal screw band or an all-in-one metal lid. The jar is self-sealing by vacuum. One size lid and screw band fits all sizes of wide mouth jars.

  5. Small Wide Mouth Mason - Pint
    Capacity: 16.5 fluid ounces (about 2 cups)

  6. Medium Wide Mouth Mason - Quart
    Capacity: 32.5 fluid ounces (about 4 cups)

[ Cooking Tips | Home Canning ]

Working with Jars
Sterilize, Seal, Test for Seal

How to Sterilize Jars

Jars to be filled with food that will not undergo processing in a water-bath or steam-pressure processor, such as some pickles, relishes, jams, jellies and preserves, must be sterilized.

  1. Fill a deep water-bath 2/3 full of water. Cover and begin heating on stove. The water-bath should have a wire basket or rack to prevent jars from sitting on the bottom of the pan.

  2. Examine all jars with fingertips for nicks, chips or scratches in the sealing edge. These tiny imperfections can cause improper sealing which can be the cause of food spoilage.

  3. Jars and lids should be washed in hot suds and rinsed in clear water. Do not use cleansing powder, harsh brushes or scouring pads for cleaning jars. They can damage the glass.

  4. Rinse jars and lids well.

  5. Sterilize jars by placing them upright in the water-bath. Hold each jar with tongs and allow it to fill with warm water until it can stand alone. When jars are in position, add additional hot water until they are covered by 1" to 2" of water. Cover water-bath, bring water to a boil and boil 20 minutes.

  6. Boil lids 5 minutes.

  7. Remove jars and lids from boiling water one at a time as needed for filling and sealing. Removing jars from boiling water and allowing them to stand exposed to the air defeats the entire process of sterilization.

  8. To prevent jars from cracking when removed from boiling water, place on a dry wood surface or on several thicknesses of paper toweling.

How to Seal Jars

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for sealing, as the instructions below are for the jars mentioned above.

Jars with flat metal lids and metal screw bands

  1. Fill jar. Wipe rim clean.
  2. Put lid on jar with sealing compound next to glass.
  3. Screw metal band on tight, by hand. Do not use a wrench.
  4. Do not tighten further after processing; this jar is self-sealing.

Jars with glass lids and metal screw bands

  1. Fill jar. Wipe rim clean.
  2. Fit wet rubber ring on glass lid.
  3. Put lid on jar, rubber side down.
  4. Screw band on until almost tight. Then turn it back nearly a quarter turn. Be absolutely certain jar and band meet.
  5. As soon as jars are taken from processor, screw band on tightly.

Jars with domed glass lid, rubber ring, and wire bail

  1. Fit rubber ring on ledge at top of jar.
  2. Fill jar. Wipe jar rim and rubber ring clean.
  3. Put on glass lid to fit into groove. Leave short wire up.
  4. After processing, and immediately upon removal from processor, push short wire down to complete seal.

Cooling Sealed Jars

  1. After processing, remove jars from water-bath or steam-pressure processor and stand upright on a wire rack, wooden board, several thicknesses of paper toweling or dry cloths. Inverting jars may break the seal. Place away from cold drafts, which may crack jars.

  2. A popping noise may be heard during the cooling process from jars sealed with metal lids and screw bands or with one-piece metal lids. Don't worry; this indicated that a good vacuum has been reached and that the jar has an airtight seal.

  3. Do not make any adjustment to lids after the jar has cooled, and do not remove or loosen screw-top metal bands. This may break the seal.

Test for Seal

[ Click here for instructions ]

[ Cooking Tips | Home Canning ]

Storing Preserved Food

  1. Wipe jar with damp cloth, taking care not to disturb the screw band.

  2. Label and date jar.

  3. Store in a cool, dark, dry place where the temperature is as close to 50 or 60 degrees F. as possible. Failure to store in the dark may result in a change of color of stored food. If the storage place cannot be kept dark, wrap each jar in paper or store jars in closed cartons.

  4. After one week, recheck each jar. Any sign or leakage indicates food spoilage and, painful though it may be, the food must be discarded.

[ line ]

[ Cooking Tips | Back to Top | Creative Cooking ]

[ Creative Computing ]

©   Copy & Copyright 1998   Creative Computing     All rights reserved.

Site Index

Creative Cooking

Gourmet Recipes

Cooking Tips

Kids' Cooking

Tips & Tricks

[ Cooking Search ]

Recommend Us

Guest Book

Links Directory


    [ Cross ]