This is our second post on the basics of canning fresh fruits and veggies. To get started with our first post, click here!
Now that you've read our first blog post and picked up all the necessary supplies and equipment, you're well on track to can everything in your Farm Box. Here are your next steps!
Step One: Sterilize Your Jars
First, wash everything (jars, lids, rings) thoroughly and rinse well. Next, boil them to sterilize; you can remove the jars after ten minutes, but leave the lids in the water until you’re ready to use them so they don’t touch anything which could contaminate them.
Step Two: Prep Your Produce
If you’re using fresh fruits and veggies, you should refrain from processing them until just before you are ready to use them. This helps keep the flavors fresh and the nutrients intact. If you’re canning prepared foods from a recipe, you could prep them in advance of jar sterilization, especially if they need time to cool. Do not use copper, aluminum, or iron pans or utensils to prep your recipes, as these can cause produce to discolor.
Step Three: Add Your Acids
If you’re canning tomatoes, be sure to add lemon juice (or your acid of choice). You want to make sure their pH level is above 4.6. Acids can be added to other fruits to prevent browning.
Step Four: Fill Those Jars!
If you’re doing jams or other liquidy preparations, just pour that stuff right in there. If you’re canning cut fruits or veggies, put your produce in the jars and pour your liquid of choice (boiling water or pickling juice) over the slices to cover. Leave a little room to allow for expansion—your produce will swell during boiling, and leaving some space ensures that you won’t get leaks or cracked jars. Tap the jars gently on your work surface to remove any bubbles then give the exteriors a wipe and put the caps on.
Step Five: Pick Your Process
There are two ways to process your jars: Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning. The water bath method is probably the most widely-used technique, and what people think of when they talk about home canning. The pressure method is often regarded as more intimidating, but it is simple once you understand the technique. Each method works best with certain types of canned goods, so make sure you use the technique that is most appropriate for the kind of food you’re preserving.
Stay tuned for Part Three, where we break down the differences in canning methods and walk you through the processes!