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 ¼ to ½ teaspoon for pints; ½ 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.

Reader Comments

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can i can pickels now or do i need to wait un til the 21,22


I boiled my brine of white vinegar sugar sea salt and seasoning to make my bread and butter pickles once the brine came to a light boil I poured the hot brine in my jars that were pack with my cucumber slices , red onions and carrot pieces I then used a two piece lid and the recipe did not call for a water bath as my jars cooled they pop and sealed on their own should I still do a water bath or is it to late if its to late do I need to toss or refrigerate and eat asap ????? I am new to this and only remember my grandmother always doing a water bath when canning everything lol


Hi Audrey,

There are two techniques typically used for home canning: boiling-water bath canning and pressure canning. For pickles, onions, and carrots, use the pressure canning method. If they have been refrigerated since making them (and they were made within the week), they should be fine to eat (sooner rather than later). If the contents are cloudy, do not eat. Next time, plan to pressure can.


Where should the signs be when making sauerkraut? My grand mother always went by the signs when she planted her garden and when she did her pickling, but the only thing I remember is she said not to do any of it when the signs were in the bowels. I would be greatful for any help you can provide.

best days to make sauerkraut

Hi Shirly, For the best days to can, pickle, or make sauerkraut, please see our Best Days timetable here:

canning preserved lemons

This is my first ever canning and started with lemons is there room for a slight error. I missed the step of placing lids in hot water also do I have to warm jar ince it is filled.

It’s important to sterelize

It’s important to sterelize all the jars and lids before canning. And all high acid foods should be processed in a water bath canner and all low acid foods in a pressure canner to be safe to eat.


Canning Green Beans in a hot bath???

I have always canned my green beans in a hot bath for 4 hours! It is important to reach an eternal temperature temperature hot enough to kill all bacteria. I have never heard of completeing the bath in 30 minutes.

We have a problem we have

We have a problem we have canned green beans in a boil bath We sterilized the jars
Lids as by the book We boiled the pint jars in hot water bath for 30 min.
Now we've noticed there isblikeca light milky look to the water in the jars .
We did some quart jars to and now they're are starting to look the same way .
Please could you advise of this problem. LaueaH.

Cloudiness is often caused by

Cloudiness is often caused by using table salt instead of kosher or pickling salt. Sea salt may also make the brine cloudy depending on what minerals it contains. If this is the cause the pickles are still safe to eat.

It is no longer acceptable or

It is no longer acceptable or safe to can green beans using only a water bath go read the USDA safe guidelines for home canning and you will see that green beans is a low acid food which cannot be can using a water bath method. Today you are dealing with germs and microbes that have mutated from the use of antibiotics and if you want to avoid botulism you must use a pressure canner only to process green beans canned at home.

I am interested in water bath

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

We recommend cooking the relish before canning.

Why is it that you can use

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

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

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.

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

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

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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