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Canning Foods at Home

Canning Foods at Home

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Published by: kathy1000 on Jul 07, 2011
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1-888-656-9988HGIC 3040 http://hgic.clemson.edu
Canning Foods at Home
Canning is an important, safe method of foodpreservation if practiced properly. The canningprocess involves placing foods in jars and heatingthem to a temperature that destroys microorganismsthat could be a health hazard or cause the food tospoil. Canning also inactivates enzymes that couldcause the food to spoil. Air is driven from the jarduring heating, and as it cools, a vacuum seal isformed. The vacuum seal prevents air from gettingback into the product bringing with it microorgan-isms to recontaminate the food.The
Clostridium botulinum
microorganism is themain reason why pressure canning is necessary.Though the bacterial cells are killed at boilingtemperatures, they can form spores that can with-stand these temperatures. The spores grow well inlow acid foods, in the absence of air, such as incanned low acid foods (vegetables and meats).When the spores begin to grow, they produce thedeadly botulinum toxins (poisons).These spores can be destroyed by canning the foodat a temperature of 240 °F or above for the correctlength of time. This temperature is above the boil-ing point of water so it can only be reached in apressure canner.
There are two safe ways of canning, dependingon the type of food being canned. These are theboiling water bath method and the pressurecanner method.
Boiling Water Bath Method:
The boiling waterbath method is safe for fruits, tomatoes and picklesas well as jam, jellies and other preserves. In thismethod, jars of food are heated by being completelycovered with boiling water (212 °F at sea level).High-acid foods contain enough acid (ph of 4.6 orless) so that the
Clostridium botulinum
spores can’tgrow and produce their deadly toxin. High-acidfoods include fruits and properly pickled vegeta-bles. These foods can be safely canned at boilingtemperatures in a boiling water bath.Tomatoes and figs have ph values close to 4.6. Tocan these in a boiling water bath, acid in the form of lemon juice or citric acid must be added to them.
Pressure Canning Methods:
Pressure canning isthe only safe method of canning low-acid foods(those with a ph of more than 4.6). These includeall vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. Be-cause of the danger of botulism, these foods mustbe canned in a pressure canner. Jars of food areplaced in 2 to 3 inches of water in a pressure can-ner and then heated to a temperature of at least240 °F. This temperature can only be reached in apressure canner.
Assemble and wash equipment and containersbefore gathering fruits and vegetables. Gatherproducts early when they are at their peak of quality. Do not use over-ripe products. Gatheror purchase only as much as you can handle within2 or 3 hours.Wash the product carefully, handling small amountsat a time. Lift the food out of the water, drain thewater and continue rinsing until the water is clearand free of dirt. Dirt contains some of the bacteriathat are hardest to kill. Don’t let the food soak; itwill lose flavor and nutrients. The cleaner the rawfoods, the more effective the canning process. Donot can decayed or damaged food items.
Preparing the Jars and Lids:
Examine jars anddiscard those with nicks, cracks and rough edges.These defects will not permit an airtight seal on the jar, and food spoilage will result. All canning jarsshould be washed in soapy water, rinsed well andthen kept hot. This could be done in the dishwasheror by placing the jars in the water that is heating inyour canner. The jars need to be kept hot to preventbreakage when they’re filled with a hot product andplaced in the canner for processing.Jars that will be filled with food and processed forless than 10 minutes in a boiling water bath cannerneed to be sterilized by boiling them for 10 minutes.NOTE: If you are at an altitude of 1000 feet ormore, boil an additional minute for each 1000 feetof additional altitude. Jars processed in a boilingwater bath canner for 10 minutes or more or in apressure canner will be sterilized during processing.Be sure to use new two-piece lids. Follow themanufacturer’s instructions for treating them. Someneed to be brought almost to a boil and then left inhot water, while others need to be boiled for aperiod of time.
Fruits and vegetables may be packed raw or theymay be preheated and then packed into canning jars. The hot pack yields better color and flavor,especially when foods are processed in a boilingwater bath.For both raw pack and hot pack, there should beenough syrup, water or juice to fill in around thesolid food in the jar and to cover the food. If notcovered by liquid, food at the top tends to darkenand develop unnatural flavors. It takes from ½ to1½ cups of liquid for a quart jar.
Raw Pack:
For this method put raw, unheated fooddirectly in jars. Pour boiling hot water, juice orsyrup over the food to obtain proper headspace.Fruits and most vegetables packed raw should bepacked tightly because they will shrink duringprocessing; however, corn, lima beans, potatoes andpeas should be packed loosely because they expandduring canning.
Hot Pack:
For this method, heat the food to boiling(or cook it for specified time) and then pack the hotfood and boiling hot liquid in jars. Foods packedhot should be packed fairly loosely, as shrinkagehas already taken place.
Fill the canner about halfway with hot water.Turn on the burner and heat the water.
For raw-packed jars, have the water in thecanner hot but not boiling to prevent break-age of the jars when they’re placed in thecanner. For hot-packed jars, use hot orgently boiling water.
Fill the jars as described above in “Methodsof Pack.”
Allow the proper headspace according toprocessing directions for specific foods.This is necessary so that all the extra air willbe removed during processing, and a tightvacuum seal will be formed.
To make sure that air bubbles have not beentrapped inside the jar, run a bubble freer orany plastic or rubber-like utensil around theedges of the jar, gently shifting the food, sothat any trapped air is released. After the airbubbles have been removed, more liquidmay need to be added to the jar to ensureproper headspace.
Wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean,damp cloth.
Screw on the lids, but not too tightly — airneeds to escape during processing.
Put filled glass jars on the rack in the canner.Add more boiling water or take out some asneeded so that the water is at least 1 inchover the tops of the jars. (If you add morewater, pour it between the jars, not directlyon them, to prevent breakage.) Put the lidon the canner.
When the water in the canner reaches arolling boil, begin counting the correctprocessing time. Boil gently and steadily forthe recommended time, adjusting the heatand adding more boiling water as necessary.
Use a jar lifter to carefully remove the jarsas soon as the processing time is up. Placethe hot jars right side up on a rack, drytowels, boards or newspapers to prevent the jars from breaking on contact with a cold
surface. Leave at least 1 inch of spacebetween jars.
Do not tighten the lids.
Allow the jars to cool untouched for 12 to14 hours.
Be sure to read your manufacturer’sinstructions on the use of your pressurecanner.
Place 2 to 3 inches of water in the canner.It should be hot but not boiling when can-ning raw-packed food; hot or gently boilingfor hot-packed foods.
Fill the jars as described above in “Methodsof Pack.”
Allow proper headspace, remove air bub-bles, wipe jar rims and put on lids. (Seedetailed instructions above in “Steps forBoiling Water Bath Methods).
Process according to instructions below.
Processing Instructions:
Set the jars of food onthe rack in the canner so steam can flow aroundeach jar. Fasten the canner lid so that no steambegins to escape except through the vent. Turnheat to high and watch until steam begins to escapefrom the vent. Let the steam escape steadily for10 minutes.Close the vent, using a weight, valve or screw,depending on the type of canner. If you havea weighted-gauge canner that has a weight of varying pressures, be sure your are using thecorrect pressure.For a dial-gauge canner, let the pressure rise quicklyto 8 pounds of pressure. Adjust the burner temper-ature down slightly and let the pressure continue torise to the correct pressure. (If the burner were lefton high, the pressure would be hard to regulatewhen the correct pressure is reached.) Start count-ing the processing time as soon as the pressureis reached.For weighted-gauge canners, let the canner heatquickly at first and then adjust the heat downslightly until the weight begins to rock gently or“jiggle” two to three times per minute, dependingon the type of canner you have. Start counting theprocessing time as soon as the weight does eitherof these.Keep the pressure constant by regulating the heatunder the canner. Do not lower the pressure byopening the vent or lifting the weight. Keep draftsfrom blowing on the canner. Fluctuating pressurecauses loss of liquid from jars and underprocessing.When the processing is completed, carefullyremove the canner from the heat. If the canner istoo heavy, simply turn it off.Let the pressure in the canner drop to zero. Thiswill take 30 to 45 minutes in a standard heavy-walled canner and nearly an hour for a larger 22-quart canner. Newer thin-walled canners depress-urize more quickly. Do not rush the cooling bysetting the canner in water or by running cold waterover the canner. Never lift the weight or open thevent to hasten the reduction in pressure.Older canners are depressurized when the gauge ona dial-gauge canner registers zero or when a gentlenudge to the weight on a weighted gauge cannerdoes not produce steam or resistance. New cannersare equipped with a safety lock. These canners aredepressurized when the safety lock drops to normalposition. When a canner is depressurized, open thevent or remove the weight. Wait two minutes andthen open the canner.
: Sometimes safety locks that are located in thehandle of a canner will stick. If a nudge to a cannerweight shows that it is depressurized, remove theweight, wait two minutes and then run a knife bladebetween the handles to release the lock.Unfasten the lid, and tilt the far side up, so thesteam escapes away from you. Do not leave thecanner unopened, or the food inside could begin tospoil. Use a jar lifter to carefully remove the jarsfrom the canner. Place the hot jars on a rack, drytowels, boards or newspaper, right side up to pre-vent the jars from breaking on contact with a coldsurface. Leave at least 1 inch of space betweenthe jars. Do not tighten the lids. Allow the jars tocool, untouched for 12 to 24 hours.

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