What Should I Know About Home Canning?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Home canning is a time-honored process of preserving fruits and vegetables for later consumption. When performed properly, it can make it possible to store the food for months or even a couple of years without the need to refrigerate anything. While canning food was a matter of practicality in the days before mass-produced canned goods, many people today enjoy home canning as a way to stretch the food budget or for health reasons.

A canning jar of pickled cornichons.
A canning jar of pickled cornichons.

It is important to assemble all your supplies before undertaking the actual process. Essential to the task are containers that will house the preserved fruits or vegetables. Glass is the safest material to use for canning. Tempered glass jars will hold up to the heat necessary for the process, along with lids that will create an airtight seal.

Fruits and vegetables are typically preserved in glass canning jars.
Fruits and vegetables are typically preserved in glass canning jars.

In the way of equipment, many home canners prefer to use a pressure cooker that includes a wire basket. The basket makes it possible to arrange the glass jars, fill them with the food to be canned and easily remove them from the cooker after the cooking is complete. Make sure to read the instructions for using the pressure cooker carefully before beginning your first round.

Recipes are also an important part of your canning supplies. These recipes will provide you with instructions on how to prepare the food, what additives to use, how long the food must cook before sealing, and how to go about storing the finished products so they will remain fresh for the longest period of time. While there is no one step of the process that is particularly difficult, following the recipes to the letter will ensure the novice home canner does not accidentally overlook anything that is crucial to the process.

While preserving food today is not as common as in decades past, there are several good reasons to consider home canning. First, it makes it possible to stretch the food budget by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables in bulk. The lower cost for the larger quantities can translate into preserved food that can be used at a later date, when those fruits and vegetables are out of season and more costly.

Another advantage to home canning is the storage factor. All that home canned foods really need is a comfortable temperature and a storage area that is away from direct sunlight. Instead of taking up room in the freezer, your canned fruits and vegetables can be stored in a basement or a closet equipped with shelves. This means over time you can enjoy fresh tasting food without having to spend a lot of money for refrigeration.

This technique also is a great option for people with various types of food allergies or health issues that require a special diet. Because fresh food that is canned at home does not contain a lot of preservatives and does not have to contain a lot of sugar, it is easier to enjoy the foods you need in your diet without ingesting additives that you don’t need.

If at all possible, it is a good idea for the new home canner to ask a more experienced canner to oversee that first round. Often, this can make the learning curve associated with home canning much easier. In addition, the experienced canner is able to provide the novice with little tips and ideas that may be hard to locate elsewhere.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


My Arkansas father's mother used to put up foods all the time. I just recovered from a long illness, bought some pork neck and pinto beans, set them on to boil yesterday and made soup.

First thing this morning I brought them to a boil and put the soup into two of those big Hoody's Peanut Butter jars which seem to be made for that purpose.

Nothing engages one's home survival instincts like putting up food, or is such practice at planning one's decisions.

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