*A Beginner's Guide To Canning Without A Pressure Canner*
By: TooshieGalore
17 September 2015

Many people mistakenly believe that you must own a pressure canner for home canning. While it is true that a pressure canner is required for canning meats, there is a lot of canning you can do without the expense of a pressure canner.

The water bath method of canning can be used for high-acid fruits and vegetables. A water bath canner is any large, deep saucepot with a lid and a rack. The pot must be large enough to immerse the jars in water plus have an extra 2 inches to allow for the water to boil rapidly with the lid on. If you don't have a rack designed for home preserving, use a cake cooling rack or extra jar-rings to cover the bottom of the pot you don't want jars sitting directly on the bottom of the metal pan. Any large pot will do or you can buy a complete canning kit from Amazon or Wal-Mart for about $25. It contains everything you need to get started except jars.

Successful water bath canning is all about the acid content of the food. Botulism is an illness caused by a bacteria found naturally in soil that can grow in low acid fruits and vegetables even without air. This bacterium releases a nerve toxin and is responsible for some food borne illnesses. But this bacteria does not reproduce in high-acid foods.

You can Can, with confidence, by knowing that your food has high-acid content. This is easily done by testing the pH of food with pH test strips. Simply dip the test strip into your food and wait 15-30 seconds for the test strip to change color. Then match the color of your test strip to the pH range-chart. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Water is about 7.0. The lower the pH number, the higher the acid value. You want a pH of 4.6 or lower to have a high enough acid content to use a water bath canning method. If your food has a pH lower than 4.6 you can can!

Which fruits and vegetables may be canned using the water bath method? In general (because there are differences in varieties) apples, applesauce, peaches, pears, beets, cherries, cranberries, pickles, jams, jellies, fruit juices, rhubarb and all-tomato products (meaning a product that contain only tomatoes) not "all tomato products". Please don't waterbath your grandma's pasta sauce with meat. Use the test strips until you gain confidence in the varieties you like.

You'll need a canning reference guide. If you buy a kit, it will come with instructions. The National Center for Food Preservation (http://nchfp.uga.edu/) is also a wonderful resource. Ball is a manufacturer of canning supplies that offers online resources and books.

How-to:

The water bath method:
  1. Gather equipment. Wash everything in warm, soapy water, rinse well.
  2. Place clean jars in oven and then heat oven to 200-degrees F.
  3. Fill canning pot, two-thirds full of water and turn the stove burner to high. (It will take a while to boil.) Add the rack into the bottom of the pot.
  4. Fill a small saucepan half full of water; turn on heat to slow boil. Insert lids and rings into saucepan.
  5. Remove one jar and only one jar at a time from oven. (Keep them hot; keep them sterile)
  6. Transfer hot prepared food into the hot jar. Most food must be prepared in some way. (Blanched, peeled, sliced, adding ascorbic acid to keep apples from turning color, etc) Refer to your online resource or canning reference for specific recipes or instructions.
  7. Slide a non-metallic spatula around the inside of the jar to release air bubbles.
  8. Add more prepared food to the jar after releasing the air bubbles to maintain the recommended headspace.
  9. Wipe the jar rim with a clean, paper towel. Rims must be clean to set a good seal.
  10. Remove a hot lid from the saucepan and place onto the jar.
  11. Remove a hot ring from the saucepan and hand-tighten. Do not over-tighten.
  12. Place the filled jar on the jar rack, in the canning pot.
  13. Repeat, with enough jars to fill the canning pot. Jars must stand upright and should not touch each other. Jars must be completely submersed in water.
  14. Cover the canning pot and maintain heat to maintain a gentle boil.
  15. Start the processing time after water is in a full boil. Maintain a boil for the entire time. Tables are available on line and in canning reference for processing times. It varies with the size of your jar, the type of food and your altitude.
  16. At the end of the processing time, remove jars from the canning pot and place them on a towel on the countertop to cool for 12-24 hours. You may hear the lids pop during cooling this is good!
  17. Test seals on the cooled jars by pushing on the center of the lid. If the lid feels hard and doesn't indent, it's a successful seal.
  18. Label your jars with contents and date, and store in a cool, dark, dry place.

That's it. It's simple. I think water bath canning is the first kind of canning a beginner should try. It will cost you less than $50 for a kit, jars and test strips. In two hours you will have completed your first successful canning and using the pH test strips gives you the confidence to know your food is safe.

Note: Yes, there are advanced methods of adding vinegar to some foods to raise the acid level, but this is a beginner's guide!

Graniteware Canning Kit. http://www.amazon.com/Granite-Ware-0718-1-Enamel--Canning/dp/B002KHN602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440649851&sr=8-1&keywords=graniteware+canning+kit

Ph Test Strips. http://www.amazon.com/Phinex-Diagnostic-Results-Seconds-Balance/dp/B003PDB79W/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1440649977&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=ph+test+strips+for+canning

Canning Jars. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=canning+jars

TooshieGalore


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