I thought that I would write a little something for beginners. You do a process every time you can food. You always have to sterilize the jars and heat the lids. There are always things that you should have ready before you start. Here is a step-by-step process that I use and it seems to work out well for me.
- Sanitize your jars. For this you need and water-bath canner or a pressure canner. The amount of water you need depends on the jars you are using. The water should always be and inch to two inches above tops of jars.
- Place jars in canner, fill with water to at least, and inch above tops of jars.
- Bring water to a boil and boil for at least ten minutes. I usually take them out right before I start to cook the food I am going to can.
- After I get the jars on the heat, I put whatever lids I am going to use in a small sauce pan and cover with water. I put the pan on a low heat just to get those seals warmed up.
- When you take the jars out, using your jar lifter, line them up next to where you are cooking for easy access.
Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher that has a sani rinse you could always skip steps one, two, three, and five. Sani rinse your jars in the dishwasher and line them up for easy access.
Next up is getting ready to preserve. If you were one of the lucky ones you are going to have to get your canner ready.
- Fill canner with water to get it boiling. This could take some time so get the water boiling before you start getting your ingredients together.
- Get your food prepared for canning. For hot packed stuff get it cooking. For jams and jelly, prepare fruit.
- I will then get any ingredients ready for use. For example, I will get all my sugar and pectin measured out for jams and jellies. All the pickling solution or syrup premade for pickles or fruit. It makes life so much less hectic in the long run.
- Get to cooking. Follow the recipe as instructed. One thing I have noticed, with some recipes, it will tell you to sanitize your jars and get the canner ready even when the ingredients have to sit over night. I have learned to read the recipe all the way through (I have a bad habit of starting things without reading all the way through.)
- When you are finished preparing, fill your jars and leave the proper amount of headspace. Clean the tops of the jars and put on the two-piece lid and ring set.
- Do not tighten the rings to tight. If you man handle it the will not seal properly. Just finger tight.
- Now you are ready to get your jars into the canner. Please use the jar lifter.
- Make sure the water is at least one inch over the tops of your jars.
- Once the lid is on the canner and the water is at a boil again, set your timer for the proper time.
- After the timer has gone off there may be a period, usually five minutes, that you have the canner off the heat, lid removed (always remove lids facing away from you) and let the jars sit in the water. I always put down a towel to put the jars on. After the rest time is up, remove the jars from the water and wait for the wonderful pop of the jars sealing.