Canning 101

May 17, 2013

Canning Basics | CHEFS MixCanning is a fantastic way to preserve foods you love, from jams and jellies to all manner of pickles, so that you can enjoy them throughout the year. Many people hesitate to jump into canning, but it’s actually a very simple and safe process, especially if you consult this walk-through of how to can foods using a water bath.


Pasterilize the jars | CHEFS MixIt’s easiest to sterilize jars using your dishwasher. Alternatively, wash them in hot, soapy water and then simmer them in your canning pot, covered with water, for 10 minutes. The jars should still be warm when it’s time to fill them. To avoid damaging the lids, simmer them separately in a small pan of hot water over medium heat. You don’t have to sterilize the bands or tongs, but dipping the funnel and ladle in the pot of boiling water is quick and simple.

Heat Water, Make The Recipe, Fill The Jars

Because boiling the large amount of water necessary for processing takes time, fill your canning pot with water and start heating it well Fill the Jars | CHEFS Mixin advance. Your food and jars should both be warm when it’s time to can, so if your recipe takes more than 30 minutes, you can prepare it before sterilizing the jars; otherwise, prepare it after sterilizing the jars. Fill the still-warm jars with the prepared recipe, leaving headspace at the top as specified in the recipe (typically 1/4- or 1/2-inch). If pickling, make sure that the fruit or vegetable is fully covered by the pickling liquid. Stir the contents to release air bubbles, wipe the rim of each jar clean, and then put on the lids and screw on the bands fingertip-tight (don’t completely tighten them; otherwise, air in the jars can’t escape).


Process Jars in Waterbath | CHEFS MixPlace the filled jars in the canning insert and lower the insert into the pot of boiling water (or lower the jars into the pot and onto the rack using a jar lifter), making sure that the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Process the jars for the amount of time prescribed in the recipe, making sure that the water is at a rapid boil before you start the clock. Processing times vary based not only on the size of the jars you are using but also on altitude. As elevation increases, water boils at lower temperatures that are less effective for canning. We specify the times for various elevations in each recipe. After the processing time is up, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes.


Remove the cans from the pot using the canning insert and jar lifter (or just use a jar lifter to remove the jars if you are using only a rack) and let the jars cool on a wire rack or a towel for 24 hours. During cooling, you should hear a popping noise, which is the sign that the jars are sealed airtight and the process is complete. You can check the seal by removing the bands; the lid should be taut and should adhere tightly to the rim of the jar. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place; they will keep for at least 1 year.

pH and Canning

What's the pH necessary to inhibit bacteria when canning? Good question. Here's a short video answering that very question:

Big-Batch Summer Tomato Sauce

A little bit of work gives you a yearlong payoff.

By Elizabeth Carduff | July 31, 2012

Why This Recipe Works: My garlic- and basil-infused tomato sauce starts with fresh farmers’ market or homegrown tomatoes. I prefer to peel the tomatoes—I find the peel’s presence distracting in the final product. A simple blanch and shock makes them easy to peel, and pureeing them in the food processor before adding them to the pot breaks them down quickly and avoids any splattering. Oil can cause botulism in canned goods, so I forgo sautéing and go straight to simmering the tomatoes with garlic, tomato paste, basil, and salt. Once the sauce has reduced for a couple of hours, I divvy it into jars, sanitize them, and store them.

Big Batch Summer Tomato Sauce Recipe | CHEFS Mix


30 pounds tomatoes
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper
½ cup red wine vinegar


  1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot over high heat. Fill large bowl halfway with ice and cold water. Remove core from tomatoes and score small X in base. In batches, lower tomatoes into boiling water and cook just until skins loosen, 15 to 45 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to ice bath and let cool, about 2 minutes. Remove tomatoes from ice bath and remove loosened skins.
  2. Process garlic in food processor until minced, about 10 seconds. Transfer to small bowl. Process peeled tomatoes in batches in now-empty food processor until almost smooth, 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer to second large bowl.
  3. Combine 3-1/2 quarts tomato puree, one-quarter of minced garlic, 1/4-cup tomato paste, 1/4-cup basil, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt in each of 4 Dutch ovens or large pots and bring to simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce in each pot has thickened and reduced to 2 quarts, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar into each pot, seasoning with additional sugar to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To Process for Long-Term Storage: Transfer hot tomato sauce to 8 hot, sterilized quart jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace at top, and process. Processing times depend on your altitude: 40 minutes for up to 1,000 feet, 45 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet, 50 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet, and 55 minutes for above 6,000 feet. Store in cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Opened jars of tomato sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Makes 8 quarts

For more Canning Recipes, visit CHEFS Catalog

Canning your own fruits and vegetables—and more—is healthier and saves you money. Check out our other blogs on the subject here at CHEFS Mix:


Giveaway AlertGrandmother's Kitchen!! We love the Cook's Country From Our Grandmother's Kitchen cookbook so much that our friends at Cook's Country graciously gave us 5 copies to giveaway to you! We will randomly select 5 people responding to today's Your Turn question to receive a copy of this fabulous cookbook!

Your turn: Experienced canners--What tips do you have for beginners? Beginners--What canning questions do you have about getting started?

Giveaway update: this giveaway is closed.


Shop CHEFS New Summer Items & get FREE Shipping on $25+ | CHEFS Mix


  • Venetrise Jackson

    I'm a beginner when it comes to canning. I've already purchase the canning set, which has everything I need to get started, at least that's what it says on the box. But my question, how do you know if you've done everything correctly, to ensure safety for consumption? I'm still nervous about canning, but I'm also excited to get started.

  • Cora Ann Gordon

    A friend of mine gave my husband and me some homemade canned salsa which was awesome. My husband wants me to try my hand at it. I've never canned before and decided that it was time to start. I've bought all the supplies and still can't make myself do the canning for fear of not doing it right! I'm guessing that having a canning book in front of me would be a big help.

  • Maryanne Marke

    Love canning & jelly making. The biggest thing I've learned over the years is in jelly making you must use all the sugar they tell you or it won't jell properly.

  • Linda Alexander

    My hint for beginning canners is to select the size of your canning jars that best works for your family--sometimes a half-pint jar works better than a pint-size jar. (I hope this qualifies me for consideration in your "From our Grandmothers' Kitchens" cookbook giveaway.)

  • Laura O

    I am a beginner. I was wondering about whether the flavor seems to change with canning, e.g. should you under or over salt/sweeten. I ask this because when I make homemade fruit popsicles, they always seem to be too bland after freezing. Therefore I make the fruit smoothie sweeter than I would if I were drinking it, if I am going to freeze it into popsicles.

  • C Beasley

    I grew up canning for a full size household, mostly fruits. I recommend canning the stone fruits (pears, peaches, apricots, etc.) as halves rather than slicing them. I am looking for recipes and tips for small batch canning now that it is just me and my husband.

  • Cathy Richardson

    My grandmother canned most fruits and vegetables from the garden. Her applesauce was delicious year after year. Due to sugar shortages out of the Great Depression and WWII, she never sweetened the applesauce until the jar was opened and ready to serve, just in case the seal went bad. Grandmama would not risk wasting the sugar.

  • lynnemp

    Preparation--Make sure you have everything you need ready before beginning. Clear ample counter space, assemble all ingredients, etc. Be sure to follow instructions exactly if you are inexperienced.

  • CHEFS Mix Editors

    Hi Andrew: I would recommend you start with smaller batches. Mine is a household of two, and many of the recipes that would make a couple of dozen jars I will cut back to 1/3 of the amount. You can still can for smaller households, it just takes a bit of planning. Or, see if any of your friends are interested in helping and splitting the costs and finished goods. I have a group of friends that get together a couple times a year and can a few items and share in the results. It works like a dream :-)

  • CHEFS Mix Editors

    Hi Venetrise: If you are nervous about canning, start with a reliable source for recipes and instructions. I love the Ball website (http://www.freshpreserving.com) They have some great guides and recipes for beginning canning. Start with a basic jam and stick to the instructions.
    When I started canning, I found that High-acidic fruits, jellies, and jams were the easiest. They usually only required a water bath to seal the jars and got me over the canning-jitters. Once you are comfortable with that, then test out a pressure canning recipe.
    Most importantly, if you have a jar whose seal breaks (you can push down on the center and hear the popping sound of the lid flexing), don't use it unless you just canned it. I just made some strawberry jam and had 2 jars that didn't seal. I put one in the refrigerator to use immediately and gave the other to a neighbor with the instructions to do the same. Had I found them after being stored I would have just emptied the contents into the composter.

  • CHEFS Mix Editors

    Hi Guys! Thanks for the tips and comments. I put the 9 names in the hat and pulled out the following: Maryanne Marke, Cathy RichardsonlynnempLinda AlexanderAndrew L Colvin
    If you would email me at CHEFSmix@chefscatalog.com with your mailing address, I will get your copy of From Our Grandmother's Kitchen from Cook's Country.
    Thanks to all, and we will have more giveaways soon!

  • Holly

    For beginning canners, I suggest starting with fruit jam or applesauce. Also, I like to keep some white plastic lids for canning jars on hand to use when I open a jar of jam and need to put the remainder in the fridge.

  • Venetrise Jackson

    Thanks! I plan on making some strawberry jam this weekend, after a visit to the farmers market.

Add a Comment

Tags: Canning, Preserving, Cook's Country

Categories: Food & Recipes, Tips & Advice