How canning works

Home canning

Knowing how canning works allows us to make sure we have the best outcome in our canning process and also gives us a way to understand if everything worked the way it should have. Make sure you have all the needed items before you begin canning to ensure a great experience. Go pick out some fresh produce and get to canning.

Discover how canning works

The canning world has seen little change since Nicholas Appert first came up with the idea in the late 1800s. Basically, you seal the containers, heat up the inside and when cooled, form a vacuum seal on the jar. Now, there are quite a few different ways to can, as well as different requirements for canning certain items. Let's take a look at how canning works.

The basics

There are two main types of canning; boiling water and pressure. Different types of foods, based on their pH, use a specific type of canning. For instance, ripe plums can use a boiling water canning process, while most tomatoes absolutely must use pressure canning.

There are four main parts to canning, with numerous others for various tasks associated with canning, but for simplicity, we will focus only on the jar, lid, ring and heating device. For home canning, glass jars are the most popular choice. Canning in the industrial setting uses the steel alloy cans you see on your supermarket shelves. Glass jars can withstand heat and pressure and, if thoroughly cleaned, can be reused every year.

Lids, on the other hand, cannot be reused as they are the main sealing component and once they are sealed, the gasket begins to wear down. The ring holds the lid on during the heating process and the heating device, well, heats everything up.

Heating process

The heating process is the most crucial part of canning. Once the jars are filled and lids and rings placed tightly on, the jars are placed in the heating device. As the heating begins, the foods in the jars begin to expand and give up a little water in the form of steam, pushing air out of the jars.

Different foods require different amounts of heating and time. For instance, tomatoes will require pressure canning for about ten minutes while the ripe plums can be canned in a boiling water bath for fifteen minutes. Making sure you heat for the required time ensures that mold, yeasts, bacteria and any harmful enzymes that may be hanging around are killed.

Cooling

Once the jars are removed from the canning device, they begin to cool and the steam condenses back into water. Since there is now less air in the jar, a vacuum is created, pulling the lid down onto the can. After the product has been cooled, the ring can be removed and the vacuum seal will still hold.

It is important to allow the items to cool thoroughly before you remove the rings to ensure a proper seal. Also, once cool, it is imperative to check the lids to make sure the seal took and there are no openings in the top of the jar. If there is a leak, be sure to consult your canning manual for what to do with the canned goods.

The importance of canning recipes

If you are looking for actual canning recipes, you will not find any in these lines. This is about the importance of using canning recipes. There are so many things that cause a canned food to spoil that it is important, until you know the science behind canning each type of food, to have a recipe to help guide you through the safe storing process.

Why recipes are needed

When canning items, it is important to keep them safely stored. This could mean adding citric acid to some jars while adding simple syrup to others. The best way to know which is which, is to have a recipe for the item you want to can. Just like you might look to a recipe for how to make the best Chicken Parmesan in the world, a recipe for canning does the same thing.

Canning recipes can give you different flavors to try out and also develop over time. The best way to pick out a recipe is to try it out. Cook a small batch with the recipe and see if it would be something that you would eat as a meal. It is also important to pick out a recipe that has been tested at your altitude. If you are uncertain about what a recipe for your altitude looks like, check out your state extension service for verification.

When to use a recipe

The short answer is always. You will be able to tinker with recipes once you get comfortable with time and temperature as well as what ingredients are strictly needed, but if you are just starting, be sure to stick with a tested recipe. Also, if you are trying to can something for the first time, it is suggested that you use a recipe in order to make sure the ingredients reach the proper temperature and pressure to be safe in the can.

How to use a recipe

Using a recipe is as easy as reading a book. Just like baking is a matter of exact measurements, canning is also an exact science of food making. It is important to make sure canned foods are safe, and the only way to do that with some types of food are to follow the directions for the recipe exactly. Keeping the foods in the canner at the right temperature and time ensure the lack of bacteria and the less chance for the food spoiling.

Be sure to look at all of the ingredients needed before you start the canning process because the last thing you want to do is have to run to the store because you forgot something while you are trying to can.

Canning is a lot of fun and a great way to store your hard work for a later time. Recipes are there to make the process easier and to take some of the guesswork out of how to bottle your goodness safely and with a lot of flavor. If you are just starting out or trying something new, stick with the recipe on the first go-round because the last thing you would want is a spoiled jar of hard work.

Knowing how canning works allows us to make sure we have the best outcome in our canning process and also gives us a way to understand if everything worked the way it should have. Make sure you have all the needed items before you begin canning to ensure a great experience. Go pick out some fresh produce and get to canning.