Part 2 :: Preserving 101

BASIC CANNING EQUIPMENT

 

Basic canning equipment and supplies are available at most hardware stores and at our local Mountain Feed and Farm Supply in Ben Lomond. Amazon also offers a wide variety of canning equipment, jars and small wares.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Large Bowls: Use stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls. Heavy plastic bowls are acceptable.

Boiling Water Canner: This is a large pot with a removable divided wire rack that fits inside.

Large, Heavy Bottomed Pot: Invest in a heavy bottomed, non-reactive (non-alumininum) pot. A medium sized stock pot or a large enamel dutch oven will work, but if you plan to do a lot of preserving, purchase a confititure pot that is wider at the top than the bottom. It is also shallower than a stock pot, which allows for quicker evaporation.

Canning Jars, Lids, and Screw Bands: Home canning jars are available from supermarkets, hardware stores and online and come in a range of sizes, from half pint sizes to wide mouth quart sizes. They are topped with a two part closure: a flat metal lid with a rubber seal around the edges that forms a seal and metal screw bands that fasten down the lids while processing and are removed once the jars are vacuumed sealed. You can reuse your canning jars, provided they are in good shape (no nicks or cracks) year after year, but you’ll need to buy new lids. You can reuse the screw bands, too, as long as they are not rusty or bent. Another great place to find canning jars is at garage sales! Check each jar carefully after washing. Do not use antique canning jars.

Jar Lifter Tongs: Removing hot jars from boiling water is a breeze with the right equipment. Jar lifter tongs have a non-slip coating that helps to grip the tops of the hot jars as you move them. Don’t use regular tongs.

Canning Jar Funnel: A jar funnel (with a wide mouth and shorter spout) is needed to fill the jars neatly and help keeps the rims of the jars free of product (which might prevent sealing). Invest in a stainless steel jar funnel – it will last a lifetime, and is only slightly more expensive than the common plastic funnel.

Colander, Metal Mesh Strainer and Cheesecloth: Keep these items on hand for draining and straining. You’ll need a colander for draining washed fruits. Cheesecloth is used to suspend spices in fruit mixtures while cooking, as well as for straining juice from softened fruit and pulp. (Cheesecloth is a loosely woven, gauzy cotton cloth available at hardware stores or and in the kitchen supplies aisle of most supermarkets.)

Small Wares: Long handled metal spoons for stirring; long handled ladle; hot pads and mitts; 1 quart glass measuring cup with pouring lip; measuring cups and spoons; spatula or wooden chopstick; potato masher for crushing fruit; paring knives, vegetable peeler, and zester.

Labels: Always label jars with contents name and date that you made the product before storing. You can design your own attracive label or keep it as simple as an adhesive label with the information printed by hand. The point is, don’t forget this step. After several months, it may be dificult to tell the difference between strawberry jam and rhubarb strawberry preserves. Don’t rely on your memory!

If you plan to can on a regular basis, it’s good to have these items on hand:

  • Candy or Jelly Thermometer
  • Fine Mesh Skimmer
  • Food Processor
  • Jelly Bag
  • Food Mill

Part 3 :: Canning Food Safely