Apart from the feel of the sun on our backs, the dirt under our fingernails, and the personal satisfaction of seeing something grow out of nothing, we garden enthusiasts love that we can walk into the backyard and pick what we need fresh off the plant. There is nothing so flavorful as a just picked tomato or cucumber.
Ahh. In a word, delicious.
But there can be one problem for the home gardener: Overabundance. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and the worst culprit of all, zucchini, if tended properly are known for their excessive production. After you’ve had the 12th zucchini casserole of the season and all your friends avoid eye contact when you ask (beg?) if they need a few more zucchini, what do you do with the extra produce?
Is it overstating the case to suggest that this is exactly why canning was created? Well, maybe so. Truthfully, canning came about as a food preservation method before the advent of widespread refrigeration. Until then, people lived between harvests by canning the excess for later use.
The basic principle of canning is to kill all the microorganisms that spoil food and then seal the jar tight to keep them out. That's why canning places such emphasis on sterilization, cleanliness, and hygiene.
Canning is a fantastic way to preserve foods you love, from jams and jellies to all manner of pickles, so you can enjoy them throughout the year. You might hesitate to jump into canning, but it’s actually very simple and safe.
If jams are your thing, consider the Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker. This new product will have you canning jam in three easy steps and 30 minutes. Whether you’re craving good old-fashioned strawberry jam to make the perfect PB&J sandwich or tangy pepper jelly to dress up your cream cheese and cracker appetizer, this tool is for you.
The Ball® FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker uses SmartStir™ Technology to automatically stir your jam or jelly while it cooks. No more guesswork—just set it and go! Once your jams and jellies are made you can enjoy them right away, freeze them for up to a year, or use a simple waterbath canning process to fresh preserve them.
Store your jam, or other canned foods in industry-standard jars made by Ball Corp. Choose stock jars in either 16 ounce or 32 ounce sizes, 8 ounce jars with a quilting pattern, or celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first true “Perfect Mason” jar with the limited-edition Ball® Heritage Collection pint jars. Made of period-inspired blue glass and vintage-inspired packaging, these jars have all the quality and reliability modern-day canning requires.
If you’re new to canning—or you’re picking it up again—here are the basics from America’s Test Kitchen to get you started.
It’s easiest to sterilize your canning jars using your dishwasher. Or, wash them in hot, soapy water, 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 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.
Because boiling the large amount of water necessary for processing takes time, fill your canning pot with water and start heating it well in advance. Your recipe and the jars should both be warm when it’s time to can, so if your recipe takes more than 30 minutes, 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 ¼ or ½ inch). If pickling, make sure 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, then put on the lids and screw on the bands fingertip-tight (don’t completely tighten them so air in the jar can escape).
Place 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 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 the water is at a rapid boil before you start the clock. Processing times vary not only based on the size of the jars you are using but also altitude. As elevation increases, water boils at lower temperatures that are less effective for canning. After the processing time is up, turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for five 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 only using a rack) and let the jars cool on a wire rack or 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 one year.
Granite Ware’s kit includes everything you need to safely prepare, pour, transport, and open jars and lids. The tools are vinyl-coated for a comfortable, secure grip. The pot and lid are PFOA-free and chemical-free. (Hand wash. Made in the USA.)
The Fagor Home Canning Kit includes a 10-quart pressure cooker and makes traditional canning obsolete. Fagor’s triple-lock safety system provides a simple “one-touch” operation. Features low setting for delicate foods, high for regular canning. Pressure indicator valves make it easy to monitor cooking progress. The aluminum-clad base between durable stainless-steel layers ensures even, consistent distribution of heat.
Beyond canning, this pressure cooker creates meals in 70 percent less time, maintaining the natural color, essential vitamins, minerals, and flavors of foods for healthier dining. (Instruction booklet and easy-to-follow cookbook. Body is dishwasher-safe.) Includes: