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It wasn’t that many years ago that the idea of canning produce freaked me right out. Yup. All I could think about was giving my family food poisoning. But, slowly and surely, I somehow got over it and started canning. (Probably about the time that my garden was producing a lot more than we could eat!)
Waterbath canning is fairly simple and doesn’t require a lot of equipment. Waterbath canning is different from using a pressure canner, so the foods that you would do this with are the ones higher in acid, like fruits and tomatoes. For more information about the times and what you can waterbath can, get yourself a copy of the Ball Canning book. This book as been the standard for canning for a long time. Worth the investment, I promise.
Tutorial: How to can using a waterbath:
First things first, find yourself some jars. If you are not using new jars, one of the most important things you do is to check for cracks in the jar, but especially around the rim. If you have even a tiny chip, your jar is not going to seal.
After you have established your jars are good, you need to sterilize them. You can do this in the dishwasher, boiling water or in the oven. (I prefer the oven than messing with one more pot of water.)
Get your fruits/veggies ready to can. This step will differ depending on what you are doing.
Fill those jars. Use a ladle and funnel to help keep the mess down. You want to leave enough head space in each jar, generally 1/4 inch for jams and jellies and 1/2 inch for fruit or tomatoes.
During this step you also want to make sure you work out the air bubbles in the jars. There is a tool for this or you can just use a butter knife to run around the inside of the jar.
Once your jars are filled, take a clean wash cloth and wipe all the rims of the jars. Any residue will keep your jar from sealing.
In small pan, heat up water and put your lids in the water until boiling. This will help soften the seal to put on the jar. This little tool, if you indulge in nothing else for canning, is awesome for getting those hot lids out!
Put your lids on your jars and tighten on the rings.
Place your jars in your waterbath canner. (Make sure you have a rack of some from in the bottom, most canners come with one already) Fill with water until the jars are covered.
Bring your water to a boil. As tempting as it is, try not to lift the lid to check if it is boiling. You will know it is boiling when you see steam coming out. (That’s my Grandma’s trick and she has done a ton of canning over the years!) Once you see the steam then set the timer for according to the recipe for what you are canning.
When the timer goes off, turn the burner off and carefully remove your jars from the canner. If your rack doesn’t have handles, I love this lifter to get jars out. It has saved me from many a burns.
Listen for the ‘ping’! That is the glorious sound of all of your lids sealing on the jars. My favorite part!
When your jars are cooled to room temperature. Take the rings off and make sure they are all sealed. (Sometimes even when the lid goes down, it doesn’t seal) If they are sealed, go ahead and put the ring back on, wipe the jars clean and label.
Stand back and look at what you accomplished. One of my favorites sites in the fall is seeing jars of the summer bounty full and ready for my family!
If you are totally new to canning, you can find a set of canning equipment with all you would need, here.
I know it sounds like a lot of steps, but after a few times, it will be come habit. You wouldn’t believe how many jars of tomatoes I can get done in a day. 😉
What was the first thing you canned for your family?