Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning is the easiest form of canning. Anyone can do it.
Very few supplies are needed. You just need....
A deep pot with a lid
canning jars with lids and rings
something to lift them from the pot
There are fancy water bath canners, plain water bath canners, and even electric water bath canners. I have or have had all of the above at one time. The equipment you need depends on how many jars you will can at a time. Unless you have a garden or can buy/forage for fruit in large amounts, you don't need a designated water bath canner. Just a big stock pot will do.
I am going to show you the different pieces of equipment that I have and you can see the variety. I have heard people say they find this kind of stuff at thrift stores and garage sales, so keep your eyes out. Of course, you can buy them online, at most hardware stores, and some stores like Walmart.
What can be water bath canned? Most fruits, pickled fruits and vegetables, tomatoes, jams, and jellies – high acid foods.
What cannot be water bathed? Vegetables and meats – low acid foods.
As we go through the lesson I will explain the different ways you can do the canning with various equipment.
Here is the recipe for strawberry jam with pectin. You can certainly make it without pectin and with less sugar, but for beginners, this is an easy way to start.
When you buy a box of pectin at the store, the recipe and amounts needed will be on a paper on the inside. This will include instructions for all kinds of fruit. Be sure to use the recipe in the box because it will be put together differently if it is a powdered pectin or a liquid pectin. You can also buy pectin in bulk if you are going to make a lot of jams and jellies.
This recipe says it makes 6 half pint jars. My experience is that it usually makes more than it says, so have some extra jars ready. In this case, we are going to use half pint jars.
5 cups crushed strawberries (about 5 lbs.)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice (must be bottled)
6 tablespoons pectin
7 cups granulated sugar
Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
Prepare the berries. Trim them and crush them. Do not use a food processor. Yes, it makes a difference.
You can't use fresh lemon juice because it has to have a certain acidity in order to be safe.
Yes, there is a lot of sugar in jam. It's not like you eat a ½ cup or anything. You can buy low-sugar pectin and you can make jam with honey, but like I said in the beginning, this recipe is for beginners.
Combine strawberries and lemon juice in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add entire measure of sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.
Ladle hot jam into a hot jar leaving a ¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
Process jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
This recipe is for half pint jars only. If you use a pint jar, the processing time would be longer. It is not recommended that you use a jar bigger than a pint for jams and jellies.
Unfortunately, there is so much information that I want to tell you and I couldn't possible include it all here, but if you are really interested in canning and preserving foods, get yourself a good canning book like the one from Ball. Follow those recipes exactly and you will be off to a great start.
For those of you who aren't into jam, you can make pickles using the same canner. Of course, you will use cucumbers and a different recipe, but just follow the same directions for canning.
Here is an easy recipe for dill pickles by the jar. If you want to make more than one jar, multiply the ingredients.
DILL PICKLES BY THE JAR
This recipe makes 1 quart of pickles.
1/2 cup vinegar
1 1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
Heat this to a boil.
Prepare your cucumbers however you want them – sliced, spears, whole.
Put them in jars – pack them tightly.
Pour the hot mixture over the cucumbers in the jar.
Add to each jar:
2 teaspoons mustard seed
3 teaspoons dill seed
fresh dill if you can find it
Wipe off the rims of the jars and put lids on. Either refrigerate or process in a water bath for 10 minutes.