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Canning Guide: How to Can Safely

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Canning your vegetables or fruit? Here are general steps on how to can your food safely so that you can preserve your produce longer!

Guide to Canning

If there are any canning instructions or tips missing, please post a comment below!

  1. Use only clean, perfect canning jars (no nicks or cracks). You may reuse jars, but always use new seals and rings.
  2. You'll need to boil the jars, seals, and rings to sterilize them. Start with COLD water.
  3. Cover the jars with water in a pot. Use a rack or trivet to keep jars off the bottom of the pot.
  4. Heat water to the boiling point; then lower to a gentle boil for ten minutes.
  5. Use tongs to remove the jars and place them on a clean dishtowel so that the cans won't slip.
  6. Have your food ready to fill jars. (Only prepare the amount that you can fit in the jars you sterilized.)
  7. Use a canning funnel (to avoid spills) to fill jars.
  8. Leave recommended space between top of food and jar rim to promote sealing. Add salt to canned vegetables, if desired (use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for pints; 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for quarts). Add boiling liquid to jar, maintaining headspace.
  9. Run a hot, sterilized knife around the inside of each jar to release air pockets.
  10. Don’t touch the seals. Use tongs to remove the seals from the hot water and place them on the jars. Repeat with screw rings. Quickly screw the rings down as tightly as possible.
  11. If you’re going to give these jars a boiling-water bath, put them back into the kettle for additional sterilization. Leave the jars in place until they’re cool and you hear the “pop” of the seal contracting, creating a vacuum inside the jar. Label and date each jar. Store in a cool, dark place. Jars processed this way will keep at least a year.

For complete canning and pickling instructions, go to:

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

Find more canning tips plus delicious recipes for jams, jellies, and pickled vegetables! See our Canning and Pickling Library.

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I am interested in water bath

By CandyG

I am interested in water bath canning a cranberry relish recipe that I can only make when cranberries are fresh but don't know if it's safe since the relish isn't cooked. The recipe includes cranberries, sugar, cilantro, jalapeno, green onions and spices. Is it possible to can or do I need to modify to bring the mixture to a boil first?

We recommend cooking the

By Almanac Staff

We recommend cooking the relish before canning.

Why is it that you can use

By Terri Wheeler

Why is it that you can use meats straight from the jar but with vegetables you are supposed to boil the contents for 20 minutes? And why is it that vegetables commercially canned do not come with this warning?

Home canned meats and

By Almanac Staff

Home canned meats and vegetables are processed in a pressure canner (water baths are not recommended). Commercially canned vegetables have already been processed and can be eaten straight from the can.

USDA guidelines have stated

By Lois seidl

USDA guidelines have stated that vegetables must be pressure canned for as long as I have been canning, over 40 years. If you are going to be giving canning advice please make sure it is correct. People have died from incorrectly canning vegetables.

Lois, you are correct.

By Almanac Staff

Lois, you are correct. Low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to be free of botulism contamination.

Has anyone ever used a steam

By vcross1960

Has anyone ever used a steam canner? They're supposed to use a lot less water and be just as safe as waterbath canning.

The USDA does not recommend

By Almanac Staff

The USDA does not recommend steam canners because they have not been adequately researched. Because steam canners do not heat foods in the same manner as boiling-water canners, their use with boiling-water process times in recipes may result in spoilage.

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