Safe Canning Tips

Just because grandmaw did it that way doesn’t mean it’s the correct way to do it now.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I ain’t dissin’ your grandmaw. I’m sure your granny was a wonderful lady. Mine sure was. But, just because she did something a certain way, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. We have access to technology, testing, and good old science that our grannies didn’t.

  • Hey! My grandmaw did it THIS way and she never killed anyone.
    That you know about. While we can’t go back in time and prove it there has been speculation that mysterious deaths in the past could have been caused by canned foods that were not safe. We have many more years of knowledge that she didn’t have available to her. How about let’s go with the scientists here?
  • You can boil green beans for 3 hours and they’ll be safe.
    No. Actually you can’t be sure of that. You might get lucky. You might poison someone. Research tells us that it would take more than 12 hours in a boiling water bath to ensure their safety. For the record: I’m not eating green beans you BWBathed. And I’m not letting my family eat them. And I’m going to discourage your family from eating them.
  • Dry canning is safe.
    What do you mean by “dry canning”? If you mean putting dry foods in jars, putting lids on those jars and putting it all in the oven – um, probably not a great idea. Canning jars aren’t supposed to go in an oven. The glass isn’t meant for that dry heat – it can shatter! The newest recommendations for lids is to not even simmer them, much less throw them in a hot oven! If, by “dry canning”, you mean vacuum sealing with something like a FoodSaver – yeah you can do that.
  • You should turn your jars upside down after processing to make sure they seal.
    No. Not really. Even where this is written down as an approved method, it is said to be questionable. You are dealing with the safety of your family here, not to mention yourself, do you really want to take a chance? We know that turning jars upside down can allow food to get between the rim of the jar and the lid and cause a seal failure.
  • My granny left the rings on her jars, why should I take mine off? Just because you say so?
    Not just because I say so. How about three reasons? One, and most important, is that the ring can hide from you an unsealed jar and you may not know it’s spoiled – the ring can hold that lid down. Two, hygiene, pure and simple – there is frequently foodstuffs under those rings and: eww. Three is money. If you remove your rings you can wash them and reuse them for your next round of canning.
  • I’ve got a big family and I’m going to can my green beans in half-gallon jars. It’s ok because I’m using a pressure canner, right?
    Just because you are using a pressure canner, does that mean that the heat has reached all the way to the middle of those big jars and has been hot enough long enough to kill everything that could kill you? You can’t be sure. Only high-acid juices are approved for canning in half-gallon jars.
  • About that heat reaching the middle of the jars thing . . . is this why pumpkin puree is not safe? I don’t need a half-gallon of that!
    Pumpkin puree is very dense though, isn’t it? I mean when we dump it out of a commercial can, it pretty much sits there without slumping, doesn’t it? It’s so thick and dense that the heat can’t get through to all areas of the jar – leaving some areas under processed and unsafe.
  • I’ve got this great recipe that’s been handed down in the family. I’m going to can that!
    Has it been tested so that you know how long to can it to make it safe? I didn’t think so. Maybe you should reconsider and use only tested recipes.
  • I’m going to do it the time-honoured, traditional way!
    You can also speed and maybe you don’t get a ticket. I don’t recommend it; eventually the Officer Botulism will catch you.

I recommend going to the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation. They are the ones who do the testing, after all.

Blueberry Jelly

Blueberry lovers rejoice!

This jelly turned out great with a subtle blueberry flavor that blends well with butter and biscuits.

4 cups prepared blueberry juice
2 pouches [easyazon-link asin=”B004SQUNR2″ locale=”us”]Certo Fruit Pectin[/easyazon-link]
7 1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup bottled lemon juice

Add juices and sugar to an [easyazon-link asin=”B000FNLT8E” locale=”us”]8 – 10 quart, heavy-bottomed kettle[/easyazon-link].

Bring to a full, roiling boil, over high heat, stirring constantly.  Add pectin and return to a roiling boil.

Boil one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and skim any foam (if desired; I don’t bother).

Process according to USDA recommendations for jams and jellies for a shelf-stable product:

Jim’s List of Essential Canning Tools

What do you need to do some major canning? Here are my suggestions for a happy canning experience.

  1. A Stainless Steel Canning Funnel
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00004UE88″ locale=”us” height=”115″ src=”” width=”160″]A [easyazon-link asin=”B00004UE88″ locale=”us”]canning funnel[/easyazon-link] is a requirement to easily transfer foods into a jar. Sure you can go with plastic, but stainless will hold up better and isn’t going to melt if you get it too close to a hot burner.

  2. A Jar Lifter
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B007QT4GM6″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”108″]You don’t want to try to lift hot jars out of a pot of boiling water by hand, do you? A [easyazon-link keywords=”jar-lifter” locale=”us”]jar-lifter[/easyazon-link] will let you grab those jars without burning your hands.

  3. Commercial-Grade Stainless Steel Ladles
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B008K3Z76Q” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”110″]You want a [easyazon-link keywords=”nsf stainless ladle” locale=”us”]ladle with a long handle[/easyazon-link] so that you can get into large stockpots. Most ladles made for home use are way to short for this task and don’t hold anywhere near enough. You can find [easyazon-link keywords=”32 oz ladle” locale=”us”]quart-sized commercial ladles[/easyazon-link]. I find myself using an [easyazon-link keywords=”8 oz stainless ladle” locale=”us”]8 oz stainless[/easyazon-link], NSF-approved ladle I picked up at a local restaurant-supply store. If you are only canning small jars, you may find a [easyazon-link keywords=”4 oz stainless ladle” locale=”us”]4 oz[/easyazon-link] or [easyazon-link keywords=”6 oz stainless ladle” locale=”us”]6 oz[/easyazon-link] ladle more appropriate.

  4. Large Stainless Stockpots – induction capable
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B000ZMHDRQ” locale=”us” height=”82″ src=”” width=”110″]You can cook a small amount of something in a large pot, but you’ll not be cooking a large amount in a tiny pot! If you were to go for a [easyazon-link keywords=”22 quart stainless stock pot” locale=”us”]22 quart stockpot[/easyazon-link] (a common size), it could do double-duty as a boiling-water-bath canner. I suggest an [easyazon-link keywords=”induction cookware” locale=”us”]induction-capable pot[/easyazon-link] because induction technology seems to be becoming very popular and your next stove-top may be induction. Also, many people buy hotplates to help out in the kitchen during canning season – there are several [easyazon-link keywords=”induction” locale=”us”]portable induction burners[/easyazon-link] on the market these days.

  5. Commercial-Grade Stainless Steel Spoons
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00915HNZK” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”110″]Again with the commercial thing? Why do I need a [easyazon-link keywords=”commercial spoon stainless professional” locale=”us”]commercial spoon[/easyazon-link]? Because they have the long handles to get to the bottom of a tall stockpot.

  6. Stainless Steel Skimmer
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B000P9TKC0″ locale=”us” height=”58″ src=”” width=”160″]When canning, you frequently want to distribute the solids out of a pot of soup evenly between jars, or only have a jar half-ful of solids before topping-off with broth. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is with a [easyazon-link asin=”B000P9TKC0″ locale=”us”]skimmer[/easyazon-link]. If you are fan of deep-frying, perhaps you already have one lying about the house?

  7. Stainless Steel Colanders
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00555ETXY” locale=”us” height=”68″ src=”” width=”110″]A couple [easyazon-link keywords=”stainless colander” locale=”us”]large colanders[/easyazon-link] make rinsing large quantities of vegetables much easier! If you have a steam juicer, you should probably just grab the colander out of the top if it.

  8. Stainless Steel Steam Juicer
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B0002IBQL2″ locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”110″]The best invention for clear jellies, the [easyazon-link keywords=”stainless steam juicer” locale=”us”]steam juicer[/easyazon-link] also is great for removing water from tomatoes or preparing apples for apple sauce. The large colander can be used for straining anything, or with the [easyazon-link asin=”B0002IBQL2″ locale=”us”]Krona model[/easyazon-link] can be used as a normal steamer. A [easyazon-link keywords=”stainless steam juicer” locale=”us”]steam juicer[/easyazon-link] consists of 5 parts: A water pan on the bottom, A collection pan, with spout, above the water pan, A colander into which you place your product, A lid sitting on top of all, and a heat-proof hose attached to the collection pan’s spout, for draining-off your juice.

  9. A food mill or berry-press attachment for your stand mixer
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00004SGFJ” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”110″]How do you remove all the seeds and peels from the produce you’ve just run through your steam juicer? Hook up a press attachment to your [easyazon-link asin=”B00004SGFJ” locale=”us”]Kitchen Aid[/easyazon-link], Bosch or Assistent stand mixers.

  10. Pressure Canners
    [easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00004S88Z” locale=”us” height=”110″ src=”” width=”97″]Canners? Plural? Why would you need more than one canner? And what about water bath canners?I feel a tall [easyazon-link keywords=”pressure canner” locale=”us”]pressure canner[/easyazon-link] is a must unless you have need of a small canner. A tall [easyazon-link keywords=”pressure canner” locale=”us”]pressure canner[/easyazon-link] is one that is 21 quarts by volume or greater. It will be tall enough to do two layers of pint jars as well as be used as a boiling water bath canner.[easyazon-link keywords=”Presto pressure canner” locale=”us”]Presto[/easyazon-link], [easyazon-link keywords=”Mirro pressure canner” locale=”us”]Mirro[/easyazon-link] and [easyazon-link keywords=”All-American pressure canner” locale=”us”]All-American[/easyazon-link] all make 21 quart, or larger, pressure canners. I suggest more than one canner if you are doing large batches. You can start a second canner-load as soon as the first has finished its time, or you can have two canners going at once.

Interesting Canning Jar Seal Failure

They didn’t finish the jar!

I guess most people who can check the rim of their jars for nicks or chips. I typically run my finger around the edge to feel for them. This didn’t exactly work in this case.

When the lid on this jar didn’t seal, I looked at the rim of the jar to try and figure out the problem. And then, I looked again. It took me a good while to see it.

One section of the rim looks like it was just starved for glass in the manufacturing process. It’s nice and smooth – which is why I didn’t feel anything – but it’s apparently too thin to hold a seal.

I’m going to have to start inspecting more closely!

This canning jar didn't get its full share of glass at the factory!

Thin-rimmed canning jar.

Not enough glass in this canning jar.