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The Basics of Canning

Discover the essentials of canning. From choosing the right equipment to selecting the best produce, we cover everything you need to know to get started with this timeless food preservation technique. Learn the basics of canning and enjoy the taste of your favorite fruits and vegetables all year round!

Canning can be overwhelming. But knowing the basics of canning and sticking to them will make you a confident pro in no time. Keep these few tips in your back pocket. They hold true for most canning jobs and will make you a successful and calm canner.

I use the Ball Canning website and cookbooks are my canning bibles and always double check the specifics to assure I am practicing best practices.

Canning Safety Basics

These include:

  1. General Canning Procedures

  2. Washing

  3. Filling Jars

  4. Canning Jar Lids

1. General Canning Procedure

These general procedures help to keep canning simple and safe. These are the basics to keep is simple and safe. I always like to say, when starting with a solid foundation you are always more successful.

Select fruits and vegetables at their peak of ripeness to insure a flavorful and worthwhile product.

I tend to can throughout the seasons in smaller batches at the peak of freshness. This allows me to have the best of the best as well as not be overwhelmed. I prefer to can each night in season rather than spend long days just canning.

Make a wide berth for your canning station so you have all the area you need. Be prepared to make a place for those hot and possibly sticky jars. I make sure I have a lot of old towels and clear an entire space just for canning in season.

I keep my equipment out but out of the way to make it accessible.

Finally, have the right equipment. Having the right equipment is a must to get started.

And here is a quick tip for you too: One trick shared by canning gurus for tomatoes is to core the tomatoes and freeze them as they become ripe. Then thaw them out in a colander when you have enough to can a batch. This will take the skin right off the tomatoes and save a step in the canning process.


Cleanliness is next to Godliness in the canning world. This is true for both your equipment and your produce. Before canning, be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables. Dirt is just that, and you don't want any possible contamination when canning.

Wash small batches at a time. And handle gently to avoid any bruising.

There are many thoughts on washing fruit and produce. I just use water but use what you are comfortable with.

Filling Jars

Filling jars may seem easy and it is. You just need to know two techniques.

There are two ways to fill a jar; either raw are hot packed. Fruits and vegetables can be packed raw. Jellies would be filled hot. There are also sauces that can be packed hot.

Be sure you pack your product tightly in the jar, because it will shrink during processing. You also do not want any air bubbles. But foods such as corn and peas should be packed loosely, as they tend to expand during canning.

Hot food, such as jellies, salsas, and such should be packed rather leaving space in the jars.

When canning fruits with syrup or juice, the liquid should fill all around the food and cover it completely.

Just remember to leave enough space at the top of the jar, so the liquid doesn’t expand. Leave enough air space from the food and the lid to prevent overflow during the processing.

Check your local Extension Service website , Ball or other Canning Jar sites for complete and safe canning information.

The rule of thumb is somewhere between ½ to 1 ½ cups of liquid for a quart jar to cover food.

And that depends on what you are canning. The liquid might vary some.

This may all seem like a lot but even I re-read this 1000 times before the canning season starts so I have the basics in my brain.

Canning Jar Lids

The single most important thing to remember about canning jar lids is to stock up on new lids before each season.

Closures consist of two rings: the outer ring and the metal sealing lid. The sealing lid has a sealing compound on the lid that securely seals the jar after the canning process. You can tell if a lid is sealed by tapping on the lid. If it springs up, it’s not sealed.

If it’s indented and doesn’t spring up, it’s sealed completely.

Some jars won’t seal and will need to be processed again. This is normal, so don’t get discouraged if some of your jars didn’t seal.

It’s fun and so satisfying to listen for the popping sound the finished canned food lid makes when it seals.

Once you get used to canning, you can tap your finger on the lid and tell by the sound if the jar has sealed or not. That pop is the single most magical moment in the canning process. That sound and opening the jar in the middle of the winter when there is little fresh to enjoy.

Canning is not that overwhelming when you know the basics. Practice gives confidence and is oh so satisfying. They look great on your shelves too. Show them off.

Above all follow the directions of your trusted sources. Use canning techniques and processes that is best for what you are canning.



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