Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canning Tips & How to make Canning Economical

I have a lot of canning tutorials and recipes coming up. So I'm going to share some basic canning tips that I use a lot. This post will be a work in process, I will add to it as I see fit. I do not consider myself an expert, but I did grow up canning and have been doing it myself for 10 years. So, for what it's worth, here are my tips:

Tips for ensuring that your jars seal:

1. After you fill your jars always wipe down the rims with a clean wash cloth. This will help your jars to seal properly. 

2. One thing I always do is boil my lids before placing them on the jar. It softens up the rubber seal and helps it to seal. 
Just place them in a pan, cover with water and boil. Place every other one upside down so they don't stick together.

3. Once you remove your jars from the water bath, or pressure cooker, do not move for 24 hours. 

I've never had a jar not seal using these tips.

Adjusting for Altitude:

Processing times are meant for sea level. If you do not live at sea level you may have to adjust your processing time. 

Processing Jars Correctly:

Water Bath Canning: Fill canner about 1/2 full with water. Place jars inside. Then you MUST add enough water to cover jars by 1-2 inches.  Bring to a boil. Once the water is at a hard boil then the time starts. If, at any point your water stops boiling, you must bring it back to a boil and start the time over.

Pressure Canning: There are a couple different kinds of pressure cookers.  Follow the instructions that came with your pressure cooker. Once you have reached the pounds of pressure required, that is when your time starts. If the pressure falls below the required amount, you must bring it back up and start the time over. You should not let the pressure get into the danger zone either. You should always stay where you can keep an eye on your pressure. I usually do dishes or something else in the kitchen so I can glance over every few minutes and check it.

Reduce Foam in Jams/Jellies:

To keep from getting to much foam on top, when making jams/jellies, add 1/2 t. butter to the fruit. This tip is included in the pectin instructions.  
The last time I made Raspberry Jam I made two batches. The first batch I'd forgotten this tip and the second time I remembered. The first batch without the butter had twice as much foam as the second batch with the butter.

Keeping Fruit from Browning:

To prevent browning, place 1 T. salt and 1 T. vinegar in a bowl filled with water.

Then place the fruit in the water as you peel them. Don't worry, you won't taste the salt or vinegar. This is an extra step that I think is totally worth it. The fruit stay so nice looking even a year later. If you skip this step, the fruit will still be edible, but they won't look as appetizing, especially over time.

How to make Canning Economical:

Canning can be a big investment. Here are a few tips of how to keep the cost down.

1. Start small: You can start out with just a water bath canner, a jar lifter, a canning funnel and some jars. Can something simple, like peaches, and see if it's something you enjoy before you spend more money. There are a lot of things you can can with just these basic items. Once you have them, the only expense will be buying new lids and the cost of the food you are canning.

2. Find used canning supplies and equipment: My water bath canner and my pressure cooker both were passed down to me by my husband's grandma. No one else wanted them. I totally lucked out. 
I also got tons of jars from my mom and m-i-l. Yard sales are another great way to find used supplies and equipment. My m-i-l has gotten me tons of jars at yard sales. You could also borrow canning equipment - especially if it's something that you're not sure you want to keep doing or not. I always borrow my m-i-l's juicer for grape juice. I use it once a year and there's no point in buying my own, since she's always willing to share hers.

3. Grow your own fruits and veggies: This will depend upon where you live if you have room for a garden. We grow raspberries and strawberries. We planted five fruit trees this last year and hope to get lots of apples, peaches and  cherries in the coming years. We've got some grape vines and of course the vegetable garden, where we always grow tomatoes. Our lot is not quite 1/4 acre so it's not huge, but we try to make the best of the space we have.

4. Never say no to free produce: Last year a neighbor had more pears than she needed. My kids don't really like pears, so I decided to make pear sauce. With the pear sauce, I then made fruit roll ups.  One year another neighbor gave us some plums and we made plum jelly.

I hope you've found these tips helpful. If you have tips of your own please leave a comment.


  1. Great tips Rachel! Do you use salted or unsalted butter to keep the foam down? Or does it matter?


    1. I actually used margarine. I'm not sure if real butter, salted or not would work better.

  2. Great tips! We just started canning this year, making our own pickles from cucs from our garden. Next year we hope to try jams/ jellies.

  3. What a great list of tips... We are just starting spring down here in Australia and I am about to plant seeds for our spring/summer veggie garden, and trying to keep in mind if I can preserve some of our extra produce. I'm a beginner canner so this is super helpful!

  4. That's a great list!

  5. good tips! i've been wanting to learn this stuff but didn't know where to start! thanks

  6. Great tips!! I love canning. We started last year with tomatoes and when we have our own home and garden we will can more. I'm stopping by from You're Gonna Love It Tuesday's linky party and your newest follower.

    Here is what I shared this week:

  7. Great tips!! Thanks so much for linking up to Tasty Thursdays on The Mandatory Mooch!! I hope you will link up again. The party will be live tonight.

    Thanks, Nichi

  8. Rachel,
    Thanks for the great tips. I know my readers will love them. Thanks for linking up to Creative Thursday each week.