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It's Canning Season
The harvest is beginning to come in and you've given a thought or two to home canning in order to preserve your fruits and vegetables. But the question remains, where to begin?
Before beginning any home canning adventure, you need to make sure you have all of the essential tools. The first season you begin canning will be expensive as you gather your tools and equipment. So what do you really need? I've listed the essentials below.
The Ball Blue Book of Preserving. This book is the canner's bible and contains all the information of how to preserve your food safely. I purchase a new copy of this book every year, as safety guidelines change occasionally for different foods. (Plus I usually have so many spills on last years that it is almost unreadable.) Other great books to own are Putting Food By and Stocking Up.
Canning Jars. These come in sizes from 1/2 pint to 1/2 gallon. Quart jars are the favorites for vegetables, while many use pint jars for jellies and fruits. Jars come in standard mouth sizes and wide mouth. No matter what type or size jars you purchase, be sure they are actual canning jars. Old mayonnaise and tomato sauce jars are not stable for home canning and should never be used.
Canning jars can be reused repeatedly provided there are no nicks and cracks in the glass or on the rims.
Canning Lids and Rings. These can be picked up yearly from your local grocery or super center. The rings can be used numerous times, but the lids can only be used once. Make sure you have enough for all of your jars.
Canning Funnel. This item makes getting hot food into the canning jars a breeze while helping to keep the rims clean. Canning funnels come in plastic or metal and only cost a dollar or two.
Jar Lifter. Jar lifters are oversized tongs that wrap around the top of the jar to remove it from the hot canner. Jar lifters are an absolute necessity for both water bath and pressure canning.
Kitchen Tongs. The best way to get hot foods into the jars. Makes filling the jars simple.
Water Bath Canner. This is an oversized stockpot that includes a rack to hold up to seven quart jars. Jellies, fruits and certain vegetables can be water bath canned, so this is a good investment.
Pressure Canner. The pressure canner is a must if you are going to can most vegetables and/or meat. Pressure Canners come in a variety of sizes and styles. I have three ranging from holding 7 quart jar size to 14 quarts jars. I prefer the type that has screw down locks, but I have used the other type (locking lid) as well.
All that is left is the fruits and veggies from your garden or local farmers market.
Many of these items can be picked up used, such as jars and even canners. Check your newspapers and if available, put an ad on your local freecycle or trading post. Make sure that all parts are included when buying used. Refer to your Ball Blue Books for the necessary parts.
For Rural and City Living