Canning with Pressure or Boiling Water Canner: How to Use Those Steamy Contraptions

Canners look kind of frightening, but you can can the best fruits and vegetables that you will enjoy during the winter when nothing will grow.

After the jars are sterilized the fruits and vegetables can be put in either raw or hot packed. Each fruit or vegetable can be different as to the way it is prepared so make sure you read up on each one. Make sure to leave 1 inch head room at the top of each jar. Slide a rubber or plastic spatula down the sides of the jar to release any air bubbles. DO NOT use a metal knife as sometimes it will react to any other substance you may have put in the jar.


Some recipes for canning use salt. This is not regular table salt; instead use special canning salt that can be found at most grocery stores near the canning supplies. In all reality salt does not have to be added to most vegetables and never to fruit.


If you are using a boiling water canner, used frequently for canning tomatoes, covered jars in the canner fill canner half way with water. Preheat the water to about 140 degrees for raw packed and 180 degrees for hot packed. Place jars with lids screwed on into the canner with tongs. Add more boiling water from your tea kettle until it goes about 1 inch above the jars. Turn heat high and watch until water boils well. Cover with lid and lower to maintain a boil. Set a timer for the amount of time the canning recipe requests you boil – do not go under that time. Check every so often to maintain that the water is above the jars so keep your tea kettle full of hot water. Turn off the heat after time is done and using tongs or jar lifter remove jars and place on a towel leaving about 1 inch between jars so they can cool.

If you are using a pressure canner it gets a little more complicated. Make sure to read the instructions of your canner before you try to can anything. Put about 3 inches of hot water into the canner. Place rack in bottom and place jars on the rack using the tongs. Fasten lid securely as per instructions. Leave weight off of the vent, if you have a weighted canner or leave the petcock open on a gauge canner. Heat at high temperature until steam starts to come out of the vent port or petcock. Keep heat at high for 10 minutes then place the weight on the vent or close the petcock. This is when the canner starts to pressurize and will complete that procedure in 3 to 5 minutes. Pounds of pressure will be different if you live in a high altitude so make sure to keep that in mind. Start timing as per individual canning recipes once the correct pressure is reached on a gauge canner or when the weighted gauge begins to jiggle and make a little noise. Watch the heat and turn it up or down to keep the pressure slightly above a gauge or jiggle constantly or every 2 or 3 minutes on weighted canners.

When the time is complete turn off the heat and remove canner from stove if you can. Let the canner depressurize do not force cool by running cold water over it. It should depressurize in 30 to 45 minutes, but check your canner instructions to be sure. After depressurization remove weight or open petcock. WAIT 2 MINUTES and open lid. Open away from you so the steam doesn’t burn you. Remove jars with tongs and place on towel.


Don’t touch the rims to tighten them after they come out of the canner. Cool for 12 to 24 hours. During this time you might hear little pops or sucking sounds. That is the seal tightening and sealing. To test wait 24 hours. Remove screw lid and press the middle of lid with finger. If it springs up when you move your finger, it didn’t seal right. Or you can tap the lid with the bottom of a teaspoon. If it makes a dull sound the lid isn’t sealed. It should ring.

Follow these instructions and you should have garden food all through the winter up to 9 months and sometimes longer.

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