Summer Produce: A Beginner's Guide to Canning Your Own Food

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Posted on 07/30/2013

Can canning food save you money? Fans of preserving produce say yes. It's a great way to stretch summer produce into healthy meals for months to come. Add nutritious food with no artificial ingredients to your diet with the help of this beginner's guide to canning your own food.


Gather Produce
Whether you stumbled upon an incredible close-out sale of green beans at the local farmers market or you enjoyed a bumper crop of tomatoes in your backyard garden, you'll need plenty of produce to kick off the canning process.

Clean Canning Jars
You may be able to find used canning jars on Craigslist or at a yard sale. In the off-season you'll also have a better chance of scoring a deal. Once you are ready to can, make sure your containers are clean.

Fill the Jars
Fill your jars to the top with food. You can add a little bit of salt at this point as well. Leave the recommended head space at the top of the jar in order to achieve the proper seal. The space is necessary to allow for expansion of food as you continue the canning process. According to pickyourown.org, plan on leaving about a half-inch of empty space for fruits or tomatoes.

Add Boiling Liquid
Now you'll add a boiling liquid to the jar, keeping your head space. The liquid you add depends on the recipe you choose. For this pickled beets recipe, it's sugar, beet water, vinegar and pickling salt. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the jar.

Clean and Seal
Wipe around the lid of the jar to remove anything that could hinder a firm seal. Attach the lid and tighten.

Set Jars into Canner
You'll need a canner to complete the process. Borrow your grandmother's or pick one up for less than $100 like this multipurpose canner from Williams-Sonoma.com. It includes a built-in temperature indicator and a rack that accommodates both steam and water-bath canning. Follow the canner's instructions.

Allow Jars to Cool
Let your jars cool completely. Ensure that the seal is tight and store until you're ready to eat. Experts recommend consuming your canned produce within a year. And by then you'll be ready to whip up another batch.

By Alison Storm

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