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Basic Canning Procedures July 04, 2008 8:47 AM


DO NOT use copper, brass, iron or galvanized utensils. These metals may react with acids or salts and cause undesirable flavors, or even form toxic compounds in the mixture. Wash glass jars.
Prepare lids according to manufacturer's instructions. Fill jars uniformly with product. Do not pack so tight that the brine cannot surround and cover the food.

Certain foods, foods with a high starch content in particular swell more than others and require more headspace. Too much headspace and the jar won't seal properly ,and, the food at the top of the jar may be discolored or spoiled. If too little headspace is allowed, the food may be forced under the lid, leaving a residue on the sealing surface and possibly prevent the lid from sealing.

As a general rule, leave a 1/4 inch headspace for juices, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes.1 inch headspace for low-acid foods, 1/2 inch headspace for acid foods, fruits and tomato.
Remove the air bubbles by running a rubber scraper or nonmetal spatula between the food and the jar.

Wipe sealing edge of jars with a clean, damp paper towel. Add lids and tighten screw bands.
Process jars in a boiling water canner or use the low temperature pasteurization treatment.

If you decide to do extensive home canning, it would be advisable to purchase a steam pressure canner or water bath canner.
A steam pressure canner is basically a large pressure cooker which is used to process food under high temperature and pressure. It will destroy bacteria that can cause sickness and spoilage.

A Water bath canner is a deep kettle with a wire insert that holds your canning jars. It's used to preserve foods high in acids , such as fruits and berries.

To process in a boiling water canner, fill canner halfway with water and preheat to 180 F for hot packs or 140 F for raw packs. Load sealed jars into the canner rack and lower with handles or load one jar at a time with a jar lifter onto rack in canner. Cover canner and turn heat to high. Add water if needed to a level of 1 inch above jars. When water boils vigorously, lower heat to maintain a gentle boil and process jars for the time given in manufacturers instructions

To process using low-temperature pasteurization treatment, place jars in a canner filled halfway with warm (120 F to 140 F) water. Add hot water to a level 1 inch above jars. Heat the water and maintain 180 F water temperature for 30 minutes. Use a candy or jelly thermometer to be certain that the water temperature is at least 180 F during the entire 30 minutes. Temperatures higher than 185 F may cause unnecessary softening of pickles. This treatment results in a better product texture but must be carefully managed to avoid possible spoilage. Use only when recipe indicates.

After processing is completed, remove jars from canner with a jar lifter and place on a towel or rack. Do not retighten screw bands. Cool jars 12 to 24 hours and remove screw bands. Check lid seals. If the center of the lid is indented, the jar is sealed. Wash, dry, label and store sealed jars in a clean, cool, dark place. If the lid is unsealed, examine and replace jar if defective, use new lid, and reprocess as before. Wash screw bands and store separately. Pickles are best if used within a year but are safe as long as lids remain vacuum sealed

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And thank you so much on these canning tips!!   I was recently wanting to learn how to can!  

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 July 05, 2008 7:49 AM

Hi Vicky!

Canning is fun. (In fact I've got pickles in the canner while I'm typing this). Been canning for 2 days now. I do what my family calls my "marathon canning". (Yesterday I put up watermelon rind preserves & lime jelly). Today is pickles and salsas.
Need any help let me know! I'm no expert but I'll be glad to help you anyway I can. (you can email me at

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 July 05, 2008 8:42 AM

Thanks, J T!!!   Do all canned recipes have to use vinegar to prevent botulism?   That's what I'm afraid of.    Me and mom canned some hot pepper jelly once but didn't use vinegar in one batch and we didn't if it was safe or not so we tossed those couple of jars!

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 July 05, 2008 9:30 AM

Not sure-  but I'll check and see.

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 July 05, 2008 11:34 AM

**IMPORTANT**The acidity of pickled products is important because it helps prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum. Only recipes with tested proportions of ingredients should be used in pickling. Proportion of ingredients should never be altered. Vinegar (cider or white) having an acidity of 4 to 6% (40 to 60 grains) should be used. This is the range of acidity for most commercial vinegars. Homemade vinegars or other vinegars with unknown acidity should not be used. Vinegar should never be diluted unless this is specified in the recipe. "Pickling" or "canning" salt, Sea salt and Kosher salt can be used. Iodized salt can darken pickles, and table salt contains anti-caking agents that can make the brine cloudy. Alum and pickling lime should not be used. Alum, if used in excess, can cause digestive upsets, and lime decreases the acidity of pickled products.

Brined pickles can be fermented in stone crocks, glass jars and bowls, and food-grade plastic containers. Non-food-grade plastic containers can be used only if they are lined with a food-grade plastic bag. Garbage bags or trash liners should never be used. Products should not be fermented in aluminum, copper, brass, galvanized or iron containers.

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