I have been getting asked about my canning and preserving quite a bit the last couple of days. The best part of that is that it is making me really look at what I’m doing and try to go back to the beginning. I think I will go over some of my tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the last several years of canning.
Follow a recipe. I’m bad at this but it really does work better if you follow a recipe plus you know it is a tried and tested method that has proven to be safe the majority of the time.
Get yourself a Ball Blue Book. This book is worth every penny and it doesn’t cost much. Almost every recipe I use comes from this book.
The tools I use:
Foley food mill
stainless steel stock pot
water bath canner
All-American pressure canner
A chopstick. This is used as my lid lifter and work as a non-metallic something to get bubbles out of your jars.
A funnel for filling your jars.
A handy tool kit like this ONE is great if you are just starting out and need everything. I got lucky and inherited a good portion of my stuff.
Of course on top of that stuff I use lots of various sized bowls and pans for cooking, peeling, roasting, and mixing. Plan on lots of dishes. A dishwasher can be a saving grace during canning season. If you have an automatic one you can sterilize your jars in there too without them cluttering up you countertops. If you don’t have an automatic one an extra person to act as a dishwasher would be very handy. You’ll be elbow deep in produce and by the time you’re all done with that you don’t want to do dishes.
Warm your lids in a pan of almost boiling water on your stove. This softens the rubber seal and makes it so they actually seal.
Wipe the tops of your jars with a wet cloth after you’ve filled them. This makes sure you don’t have any food stuck on the top that will keep your jars from sealing. I prefer my flour sack towels for this. They seem to be less linty (is that a word?) than others. I use these kind of towels for just about everything in my kitchen. They almost always are the ones I grab to cover my bread dough when it is proofing too.
Have everything handy before you are ready to fill jars. I lay all my tools out on towels (those flour sack ones again) on my counter top within arms reach before I start dealing with hot stuff.
I will be taking some pictures over the next several days as I can. I’m realizing I have very few pictures of this process. Probably due to the fact that I’m usually buried in tomato sauce and whatnot when canning and not wanting to get stuff on the camera.