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Canning Basics

I’m curious to try out canning on a level I’ve yet to go.  Oh sure, I’ve made some jams here and there but nothing like full scale preserving.  I’m curious to try it and really make a go of it.  So here is some great hints, tips and information to help that happen.

From Eat-Drink Better:

Canning Fruits. In general, canned fruits are safe. Almost all fruits (exceptions include bananas, figs, and tomatoes) are high-acid, which means both that spoilage is less likely and that any spoilage is likely to be evident — you’ll see mold, or the jar when opened will have an off smell, or the seal will be broken. This is why so much home canning is about jams, jellies, marmalades, and other fruit spreads. HIgh-acid fruits are all safe to can in a boiling-water bath using a wide variety of recipes.

Canning Vegetables. This is where the serious food-safety issue comes in. All vegetables are low-acid foods and are unsafe to can in a boiling waterbath unless sufficient high-acid ingredients, generally in the form of vinegar, bottled lemon juice, or citric acid, are added. The proportion of high-acid to low-acid ingredients must not be altered from that specified in the recipe. The problem is that often an experienced-cook-but-inexperienced-canner picks up a canning recipe and assumes her cooking experience can be used to improve and adapt the canning recipe. It can’t.

Tested Recipes for Canning Vegetables. Unlike cooking recipes, which the cook can adapt to her own tastes — increasing the proportion of one ingredient, omitting another entirely, using an unspecified technique such as sauteeing the veggies — the canning of vegetables should be done using a tested recipe (that is, a recipe that has been tested by the USDA — or the equivalent, in other countries — and found to be safe for home canning) with no changes in the proportion of high-acid to low-acid foods. To be sure the recipe you are using is a tested recipe, use a trusted resource such as the Ball Blue Book (use a new edition, as canning recommendations have changed over the years), the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving , the Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving, or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.