Everything You Need to Know About Canning Vegetables
, the perfect season has come, and it is time to harvest your very own produce. But when you reached your backyard garden, you noticed that your crops have vastly grown larger in numbers than what you expected.
There is no way you can fit all of them inside your fridge. Let alone your cupboard or pantry which is reserved for kitchen utensils or canned goods only. So, what are you going to do about these crops? Simple! It is time to do the canning method!
But what is this canning method, you say? That’s why you are here in this article today. Below, we are going to talk about the importance of canning vegetables as well as the two common methods in doing them. So, without further ado, get your jars and kitchen equipment ready, and let’s begin.
Food Canning: What is It?
Canning is the act of preserving foods by placing them inside jars and heating it at a desired temperature. The purpose of heating these foods while inside the jars is to destroy micro-organisms that are responsible for food spoilage.
During the heating process, the air inside the jar will be driven out and a vacuum seal is formed once it cools down to fully secure the food inside. This prevents air and other bacteria-carrying micro-organisms from entering back into the jar.
If done properly, canning can make your foods last for longer, which is ideal for stockpiling in times of an emergency. Do keep in mind that improper food canning is just a disaster waiting to happen. So make sure that you have the right canning equipment as well as following instructions carefully.
The canning method can be used in meat, seafood, and poultry but it is mostly used for fresh vegetables and fruits that are harvested straight out from the garden.
The Two Methods of Food Canning
Now that we know what food canning is, it is time to talk about the two methods of doing it. These methods are the Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning. Both methods have their pros and cons depending on the food type that you want to can.
Water Bath Canning
The water bath canning is touted as the safe canning method for fruits, recipe ingredients, or condiments. This is because it involves boiling foods inside a can at a low temperature with a specified amount of time. It is ideal for high-acid foods such as fruits, pickled vegetables, salsas, jam, pie fillings, and jellies.
The pressure canning method is ideal for low-acid foods such as fresh produce like the vegetables you have in your backyard garden. It involves using a pressure canner where you can put the foods that are inside the jars and heat it at a high temperature of 240°F. Do keep in mind that this temperature level is only attainable with a pressure canner. not by using ordinary kitchen pots which are small in size.
The reason behind the insanely high boiling temperature is to completely destroy micro-organisms called the clostridium botulinum that causes food spoilage. Although they are already destroyed using the water bath method, but this micro-organism can create spores that can withstand normal boiling temperatures.
These spores can grow rapidly in low acid foods such as meat, poultry, and fresh produce. And that is why heating them with a temperature of 240°F (or even above) is necessary to kill these spores and prevent them from forming back.
Canning Equipment Differences
Both water bath canning and pressure canning have separate equipment that is necessary for using such method and these are:
Water Bath Canners
A water bath canner looks like a large cooking pot with a lid that fits tightly to prevent heat from escaping. Inside the pot is a wire rack where the food jars will be placed. This is to separate the food jars where some will be put on top while others are below it. This wire rack is also to prevent the jars from bumping to each other which may lead to cracks or even breakage.
Alternatively, you are also able to improvise by using cotton dish towels to keep the jars safe inside the pot. Water bath canners are lightweight and inexpensive because it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a pressure canner, which we are going to talk about below.
A pressure canner looks like a water bath canner with a few additions. It is heavy and has a lid that can be closed steam-tight. The lid is usually paired with a vent or a dial pressure gauge along with a safety fuse depending on the company that designed it.
In our time, most pressure canners are built with a dial pressure gauge. The purpose of this gauge is to indicate pressure readings. Which is important so that you’ll know if the pressure has already reached 240°F or higher. Pressure canners also come with a wired rack just like water bath canners too.
But How About Jars?
For jars, commercialized jars that are used in mayonnaise or baby food should never be used to store the food. This is because these jars tend to break when in contact with high temperatures of heat. They are thin, not made from heavy-duty glass, and have lids that can’t securely lock the food inside.
Therefore mason jars are best used for food canning. A mason jar is specifically designed for preserving foods. It is made from durable glass and has an airtight screw-top to secure the food inside. The lid of a mason jar has a two-part function. It has a rubber ring inside that creates a vacuum seal and an outer band with screw threads for an added layer of security.
But keep in mind that the lids can only be used once. But when the time comes where you are finally going to consume your home-canned foods, you will be able to use the jar for other purposes without the lid.