That Canning Jar ‘Pop’—The Sound of Satisfaction…
That oh-so-recognizable metallic ‘pop’—Home canners absolutely love that sound, as the lids seal when those home grown veggies or fruits have been processed, and then as the jars are opened, to enjoy the fresh flavors only home canning can provide.
That pop as the jars cool after processing means the jars have sealed properly; the pop when you open the jar means the seal is good and the contents are safe to eat. For anyone who cans homegrown or bought-in-bulk foods, that unique but very recognizable sound equals pride, satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and for many, peace of mind in the knowledge their family is eating the absolute best quality in terms of taste and nutrition.
Until you’ve experienced the feeling you get from that pop, it’s impossible to imagine what could be so fantastic about it. It’s kind of like childbirth: no one can really tell you what it’s like; you have to experience it for yourself!
If you’re considering canning for the first time, you have to start with the right equipment. Your initial investment in canning equipment can be somewhat expensive, but before laying out all that money, ask around or advertise for a used canner. (You can even find really good deals on barely used canning supplies at thrift stores.) However, before buying, thoroughly check the seals and ensure all the canner parts are there. We have a complete line of replacement parts for just about any canner you can find, but you don’t want to be scrambling to find canner parts when you’ve just pitted all those cherries or when you have a bushel full of beans ready to be harvested. Check the integrity of the canner, looking for gouges along the edges of the lid or the reservoir, and cracks or pin holes in the metal. Those cannot be fixed!
Once you’re hooked, you can invest in the new canner and the accompanying canning accessories that will work best for you. Opening your first new canner is SO exciting!
Before you look for new or used equipment, you should know what type of canner you will need. It will depend upon what types of fruits and produce you plan to preserve. Less acidic foods, like pears and meats, should be canned with a pressure canner, while more acidic produce, like tomatoes, can safely be processed with a water bath canner. Some canning pros have numerous types and sizes of canners, while some invest in a single, large, dual-purpose canner. It may help for you to do a bit of light research first. Any of the canning books in our Canning Library are full of helpful advice, recipes and illustrations. If you’d just like to get an idea of what’s involved, we have a number of blog articles on canning.
And then there are the few necessary accessories that make home canning so much easier. We suggest you have good, thick pot holders and some old towels and washcloths handy. The washcloths are for wiping the threads on the jars before sealing and the towels will ensure a softer landing place for the hot jars as you lift them out of the canner. Thin, hospital-type gloves are also a must-have, especially when working with acidic produce like tomatoes or those that will stain your hands, like blackberries and blueberries.
Finally, a word on canning jars, lids and bands. The bands and the jars are reusable, while you should always use a new lid, or seal. These will also be a hefty investment in the beginning, though you can find them at garage sales, estate sales and flea markets or on sale at retail locations at the end of the season. If shopping for used jars, always run your finger along the top edges to check for chips. A chipped jar will not seal properly. You also want to ensure the jars are clear. If you find jars that appear to have a white film on them, do not buy them! This cannot be cleaned off and is not considered safe. Even new jars should be washed with warm soapy water and rinsed well prior to use. And then, as you give away your home-canned products (and you will), ask the recipients to kindly return the jars. They are usually more than happy to do so.
When choosing the size you will need, bear in mind what you will be canning. Jams and jellies are usually preserved in 1/2-pint or pint jars, while whole pickles may be processed in quarts, 1/2-gallon or gallon jars. You will also have your choice of wide-mouth or standard-mouth jars and lids, which will depend upon the size of the produce being preserved and how easily it can be gotten into or out of the jar. By the way, Kerr, Ball and other branded jars are sized the same, and their lids and bands are interchangeable.
NOW is the time to be thinking about home canning, not as you realize you have more than enough tomatoes to make your own tomato sauce. If you know that you have planted an overabundance or if you live in an area where the farmers sell produce by the bushel, you may want to try home canning as an alternative to freezing or drying. You should be shopping now for your supplies and deciding what recipes to use. It is definitely not rocket science, but there is a little bit of planning, skill and learning involved.
We wish you Happy Canning and a pantry full of home-canned produce~
From All of Us at Garden Harvest Supply