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The Basics of Canning

Written By: LuAnn

Let me start this article with some of my history canning. I have been canning now for about 14 years, beginning when my hubby and I moved back to live on the farm. I was taught by my mother-in-law who has canned for over 50 years. I have also won many ribbons at the county fair for my canned goods! I hope that this article will encourage all of you with gardens to forget giving away all that wonderful produce and store it for the winter!

The first thing you will have to do is either..visit some yard sales, borrow some of this stuff or go buy will need some equipment:
  • Boiling water canner (for Acid foods like tomatoes, fruits, and fruit juices)
  • Pressure canner (for non-acid foods like beans, corn, and beets) canning jars (not mayonnaise jars) like Ball, Mason, Atlas, and Kerr. two piece caps which consist of new lids and bands..the bands you can use over and over but the lids must be new. Personally, I prefer Ball canning supplies :o)
  • A Jar Lifter...this is a kewl lifts the jars out of the boiling water!
  • A Canning Funnel ..this is a funnel that looks like a coffee cup, with a big hole in the bottom.
  • Large Pan (like a soup pan)
  • Plus you will need general kitchen wooden spoons, spatulas, tongs, ladle, Measuring cups and spoons, Pot holders, kitchen towels, and a grater.
OK...lets get started!!


Our tomatoes look and we are going to store them for the winter!

Canning tomatoes is pretty easy. First you want to wash, and check the tomatoes for any bad spots, throw out any tomato that you think has gone bad! The next step is to clean your jars, while checking for any cracks or nicks in the glass. If any are found, throw them out, a chipped jar will not seal! I learned the hard way! Heat your jars and lids in a sauce pot of simmering water. (I use the dishwasher on the sanitization cycle) Shhhh...don't tell my mother-in-law! Fill a big pan with water and heat to boiling. Add fresh, cleaned tomatoes to the boiling water, and blanch them. Blanching is a process when you add fruit and vegetables to boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds and then immediately dipping them into cold water. I use ice in my water to keep it really cold. This makes the skins of the tomatoes almost fall off.

Remove all skins, and any green areas. Leave them whole, or cut into half or quarters, it doesn't really matter. Put them into a big sauce pot. Cook for about 15 minutes at a boil. Now you can do a few things with the tomatoes when they are done. I prefer to just take the tomatoes after boiling and add them to the jars, then if I want juice later I put them in the blender later, or you can make juice with them by straining out the seeds and pulp.

Ok, now we are ready for those jars, pack HOT tomatoes in a HOT jar. Leaving 1/2 inch headspace, add 1 teaspoon of salt, use a non-metallic spatula between jar and tomatoes, to get out air bubbles. Wipe off rim of jar with a clean damp cloth, Removing spilled tomatoes or salt, put HOT band and lid on jar, and screw down the band tightly and firmly. Add the filled HOT jars in to the boiling water canner. Water level must be 1 to 2 inches above the jars. Put the lid on the canner and start counting process time after the water comes to a boil. Leave quart jars in for 45 minutes, and pint jars 40 minutes.

Remove jars from canner after the time is up, with your jar lifter, and put them on a clean dish towel to cool. Don't touch the jars and let them cool for 12 hours.

After they have cooled, check the seal by pressing down on the middle of the lid, it should be pulled down and not flexible. Try to gently remove lid with your fingers. If the middle is down, and it wont lift off..the jar is sealed until you are ready to use it. Clean the outside of the jar with a damp warm cloth and store in a cool dry place. Oh, don't forget to label the jar with the date of canning, and what it is!

Green Beans

Now Green Beans are a non-acid food they are a little different to can. You check and wash your vegetable just as you did the tomatoes, same thing with the jars and lids. Most beans will need stringed. (They have a string the runs up both sides of the bean, you take a knife and cut the top off, with out cutting all the way through, and peal the sting off, then just snap the other end off with your fingers and peal the string off the other side.) Snap them into small pieces (the smaller the pieces, the more beans you can get into a jar).

Pack the beans tightly in jar, up to just under the rim. Add water to cover the beans and 1 teaspoon of salt. Wipe off top of jar and add lids and bands (just like the tomatoes).

Put your filled jars with the lids and bands on them in a pressure canner. Add 2 quarts of water to the canner. You must have 2-3 inches of water in the bottom of the pan. Put lid on canner and put the little jingly thing on 10 lbs pressure. Process quarts 25 minutes and pints 20 minutes. Wait on pressure to return to 0 naturally and remove lid. If your canner comes with different instructions, be sure to follow those instead.

Remove the jars with your jar lifter and finish just like you did the tomatoes, checking for seal, cleaning the jar off and storing in a cool dark place, with the date and what is in the jar!

I hope this explains the process of canning to you, if you have a question you can find me in chat or e-mail me at

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