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Everyday Cheapskate: The Basics of Home Canning and How to Get Started -- Quick and Easy!

Mary Hunt on

So, you planted a garden, lucked out when your property included fruit trees, stumbled upon a produce sale you just couldn't pass up, or joined a Community Supported Agriculture group. Good for you! Now what? What will you do with all that bounty?

Your choices are: 1) quickly consume your harvest before it spoils 2) give it away or 3) preserve it to enjoy in the future. One of the best ways to preserve -- the method of food preservation that is making a big comeback -- is known as "home canning." Canning is not tricky, but it is a procedure that should be followed precisely.

HOME CANNING OVERVIEW

Generally, the process begins by sterilizing canning jars in boiling water. Then, once you've filled them with hot jam or another prepared recipe, and applied lids, you boil them again. Proper canning or "heat processing" hermetically seals the jar, meaning no air or tiny organisms can get in. It also kills any undesirables that may be present, like bacteria, yeast or mold. In addition, it destroys naturally occurring enzymes that cause food to spoil.

For this process known as home canning, you need a few pieces of equipment, a little time, and beautifully ripe produce. Your investment will pay off in spades come winter when you can enjoy summer all over again.

Beginners should start with fruit, jams, pickles and tomatoes because these items are highly acidic and do not require a pressure canner -- a process used for low-acid vegetables like green beans, using high pressure and high heat.

 

HOW TO CAN

Step 1: Sterilize the jars, lids and rings

In a big cooking pot filled with water, place jars and lids in the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow to boil for 10 minutes. Keep jars hot by turning heat down to simmer until ready to fill.

Step 2: Make the recipe

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