Preserving food is a time-honored past time that has become popular again. Here are step-by-step directions on How To Can Using Boiling Water.
Preserving food is a time-honored past time that has become popular again for those families who want to control what goes into the foods and mouths of their families. From jams and jellies, to pickles and peppers, even meats and vegetables, hot water canning is not only economical but also a fabulous way to enjoy foods all year long.
For homesteaders, that means preserving all of the abundance of fruits and vegetables you grow at home. For fisherman, it means canning your own tuna to enjoy whenever you want it. For those of us who love our trips to the farmer’s market or were gifted a box of fresh peaches, it is another way to extend the life of a very perishable food.
When I first started canning, I was terrified. Terrified I was doing it wrong. Terrified I would make people sick. Terrified I would waste my precious jams and pickles because I didn’t seal or sanitize the jars correctly. But the process to can with boiling water is easy. Here are step-by-step directions on how you can sterilize your Mason jars and how to preserve your favorite foods using water bath canning.
Supplies needed for water bath canning
There are some basic supplies you need when it comes to canning. And luckily for us, canning supplies are not super expensive. Glass jars are reusable. You can purchase mason jars or use your own leftover jars. You only need the canning bands and lids to fit your jars.
The actual lids, the flat circle with the sticky seal, should only be used once. So even if you have a lot of lids from previous canning adventures, you will nee to purchase new ones. This guarantees that anything you can and seal, keeps the seal, and keeps the food inside from spoiling.
- 1 canner (large pot) with a wire insert
- jar lifter
- wide-mouth funnel
- Long handled tongs
- Newspaper or dishtowel
- Canning jars, bands and lids
How to sterilize mason jars
The first step to water bath canning is to sterilize your canning jars, bands and lids. Wash everything in hot soapy water and rinse clean. To sterilize, set the empty jars (without the lids) upright onto the wire rack set inside of your canner (large pot).
Do not place the bands and lids in the canner. Do not stack the jars on top of each other. Do not over-crowd them or they might break in the boiling water.
Pour in enough water to cover the jars, making sure there is at least one inch of water over the top of the tallest jar. Cover your canner and bring water to a boil. Depending on altitude, this might take up to 30 minutes.
Always start with room temperature water. You never want to add glass jars to a pot of boiling water because you can crack or shatter the jars. When the water has reached a full rolling boil, keep the jars in the canner for an additional 10 minutes.
Turn the heat off from under the canner and add the bands and lids into the hot water. Keep bands and lids in the hot water for 5 minutes, then using tongs, remove from water and set it on a dish towel.
Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the hot jars from the hot water, pouring any water inside of it back into your canner. This can be a little tricky, so work slowly. Long handled tongs with no slip silicone tips are also useful in grabbing the hot jars and pouring out the hot water. Place the jars on a dish towel to rest.
Canning your food
All of this sterilizing and preparing of the jars, bands and lids is done AFTER the food you want to preserve is prepared and ready. You also want to make sure you are adding hot food into the hot jars. A wide mouth funnel is a great way to pour or ladle in your jam or any other food into your jars without making a huge mess.
Using a wide-mouth funnel, spoon the hot food mixture that you want to preserve inside each hot jar. Leave ¼-inch gap from the top of your food inside the jar to the top of the jar open. This is called the head space. Remove air bubbles by running a rubber spatula between the jar and food. Repeat around the jar 2 to 3 times.
Wipe rims with clean towel. Center lid on jar. Screw the band down until fit is fingertip tight. Do not over tighten. Place the filled and closed jars back in the hot water in the canner and make sure jars are completely covered with water.
Once all of the jars are in the canner, bring the water to boiling again. Again, do not over-crowd the canner. Process jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Make adjustments depending on altitude.* Turn the heat off and allow jars to stand in the canner for 5 more minutes.
Remove jars from canner and set upright on a dish towel to prevent jars from breaking. Leave jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Bands should not be retightened as this may interfere with the sealing process.
Check lids for seals. Lids should not pop up or down when you press on the center of the lid. It should remain flat. That is how you know your seal has held. Remove bands and try to lift lids off with your fingertips. If the lid cannot be lifted off, the lid has a good seal. If a lid does not seal within 24 hours, the product can be immediately reprocessed or refrigerated.
Recipes for canning
Here are some of my favorite recipes that are perfect for canning. Remember, homemade canned goods make a great holiday gift for friends and family:
- Paleo Blueberry Jam Made with Honey
- Strawberry Balsamic Jam
- Sour Cherry Jam (Moraba Albaloo)
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
- Blueberry Jam with Brown Sugar
- Homemade Peach Jam
- Cinnamon Fig Jam
- Pomegranate Jelly
- Kumquat Marmalade with Orange Blossom Water
- Quince Jam
- Valencia Orange Marmalade
- Homemade Pickled Okra
- Pickled Eggplant and Vegetables with Pomegranate (torshi-yeh bademjan va anar)
Final tips on water bath canning
Once you know your lids have kept their seal and the jar has cooled to room temperature, give them a final wipe down and make sure they are clean on the outside. Label and store your canned food in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.
Be sure to follow proper canning and sterilization procedures for the boiling water canning process to ensure the safety of your food. For more information on canning and preserving food, visit the Ball website.
* For altitudes higher than a 1,000 ft (305 meters), an additional minute is added for each 1,000 ft (305 meters) above sea level.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.