Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I know it's not canning time.  Yet.  I generally tell anyone wanting to start canning that the very first thing they need to get is the "Ball Blue Book of Canning".  This is just a thin paperback book that you can even buy at Walmart in the canning section, but it has the best, most trusted information.  I want to add, I love old cookbooks, I even collect them.  This is NOT a book that you want to use an old edition of.  

So much has changed since our Grandmothers canned.  Some of the ways that prior generations canned is now considered to be very dangerous.  It's important to follow the instructions carefully as to what foods need a water bath canner (such as tomatoes) and what ones need a pressure canner (such as green beans).  In Grandma's time, they'd boil green beans in a water bath canner for something like 7-8 hours.  In a pressure canner, you can can them in a matter of minutes once the pressure comes up.  Time isn't the only reason that you should use a pressure canner when it is called for.  Low-acid foods should never be processed in a water bath canner, it simply can't get hot enough to be sure the food is free of anything botulism risk.  Higher acid foods, or those that have had acid (citric acid or lemon juice for example) added are safe to can in the water bath canner.  Here is a website that describes the acid contents!  

While looking around on Pinterest, I found a really cool website from the Utah State University Cooperative Extension that has a self-guided canning class.  You can find it here!  This site also has some really cool excel calculation worksheets to figure the cost of either canning or freezing produce.  Remember, if you are growing your own food to can or freeze to not forget to include the cost of the seeds or plants.

I also always suggest to people who are new to canning to stick with foods that require the water bath canner for the first year.  It's not just because canning in a water bath canner is just a little more forgiving but, the equipment cost is far less as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you don't need brand new equipment.  As long as the water bath canner doesn't have rust or a hole in it, you're good.  Even if you buy a pressure canner, you can always order a new seal and weight.  I, personally don't use a digital weight, I use the old-fashioned one that jiggles.  Watch yard (garage, tag, whatever you call them where you live) sales, the Goodwill, Craigslist, auctions or estate sales for jars of all sizes.  I also found a wonderful sale last year at Meijer that was amazing.  Buy 2 cases of jars get one free!  I'm waiting on that sale again as I will put the hurt on Meijer!  I reuse most jars, I just buy new lids each year.  I am always looking for jam jars though because, I sell the jam I make!

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