Jar Lifter -
A very handy tool for removing freshly processed jars from the boiling water. It looks like a wide tongs.
Wide mouth canning funnel -
Used to fill the jars...especially useful for jars with regular size tops.
A non-metallic spatula -
Or, a long plastic knife to run through the filled jars to release trapped air bubbles.
You'll also need a clean dish cloth to wipe the rims before placing the caps on the jars and a heavy dish towel or absorbent mat to sit the hot jars on after they're removed from the canner.
Then just take it step by step....
1 - Have all your equipment ready to use - Wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Thoroughly rinse and air dry. Check glass jar rims for even minute chips or cracks as these will not seal. Rinse new caps with hot water before using them.
2 - Prepare the food.
Always start with fruit at the peak of freshness. Fruit and vegetables should be washed, peeled and prepared according to your recipes for preserves, pickles, salsa, spaghetti sauce, etc.. For fruit, I recommend using a product such as "Fruit Fresh" to prevent discoloration. Follow the package directions for the desired amounts of sugar and water for a light, medium or heavy syrup. Prepare jams and jellies according to the directions for the brand of pectin you're using or follow a trusted recipe.
3 - Pack prepared food into hot jars, leaving a head space....usually 1/2" to 1" below the top of the jar rim or the amount stated in the recipe you followed.
|Hot Pack or Cold Pack ???? (sometimes called raw pack) - The term "hot pack" in canning directions, means the food is first cooked in a syrup or other liquid. Foods that have been pre-cooked are already hot when they go into the canner, "Cold packed" means the food is raw when it's packed in the jars. Pickles and other foods that easily become soft or soggy go into the canner uncooked.|
4 - Carefully run a wooden or other non-metallic spatula or knife down through the ingredients to release any trapped air bubbles.
5 - Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth to remove all traces of food on the rims.
6 - Place a cap on each jar, making sure it's centered and seated with the rubber edge directly over the rim.
7 - Screw the lid band onto the jar, but do not over tighten.
8 - Fill the canner with hot water - the amount depends on the size of the jars you are using. Most canners have pre-marked guides to give you a general idea.
9 - Place the jars on the rack in the canner or stock pot, adding more water if necessary to cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches.
10 - Cover with lid and bring the water to a full rolling boil. Continue to boil for the time stated in your recipe. A rough guide is about 5 to 10 minutes for pickles, 10 minutes for jam, about 20 to 30 minutes for fruit, fruit pie fillings, and applesauce, and 30 to 45 minutes or more for tomatoes. (Begin timing after the water begins to boil.)
11 - Turn off heat; carefully lift the lid away from you to prevent burning by steam. Using a jar tongs, remove jars from water. Place jars on a dish towel or absorbent mat. Allow to cool several hours or overnight.
12 - Check seals. Lids should be lowered in the middle and not move up or down when you lightly press or tap them. Remove bands wash them and dry them thoroughly. Some sources suggest taking them off for storage. This is important if they will be in a damp area such as a basement where the rims could become rusty. For storage in a dry pantry, I prefer to store them with the bands in place. If you do store them without the bands, leave a few bands in a convenient spot, to use on jars to hold caps in place after they have been opened for use.
13 - Label and date the jars, then store them in a dark, cool, dry area. where there's no danger of freezing.
If any jars did not seal, the center of the cap will be raised, not lowered. Refrigerate the unsealed jar and use the contents within a few days. Unsealed jars may also be reprocessed. Remove their bands and caps; wipe the rims. Carefully check the rim for any small chips. If the jar rim is okay, add new caps and clean bands. If damaged, replace the jar too, then reprocess in a boiling water bath. Most foods can also be frozen instead being reprocessed.
Before using, always examine jars for signs of spoilage - a bulging lid or leaking. To open - remove the band if it was left in place. Use a lift type can opener and gently pry the cap to break the vacuum seal. If the food spurts out when opened; if liquids are cloudy or frothy; if food is slimy or moldy, or if it smells bad, do not use. Never taste the contents of a jar of food with a broken seal or food with even the slightest sign of spoilage. As with any spoiled food, discard it where it is completely out of reach of animals.