Home SELF RELIANCEFOOD STORAGECanning/Preserving FOOD STORAGE: CANNING/BOTTLING

FOOD STORAGE: CANNING/BOTTLING

by A to Z for Moms Like Me

The art of canning aka bottling foods in mason jars Canning foods are a great way to preserve homemade and fresh foods and know exactly what’s in them.

Canning has been done for hundreds of years. With the harvest from the garden, food was then canned to be eaten in the winter and before the next harvest. Canning is a very simple process that anyone can learn to do!

Here are some things you will need:

  • Bottles & Rings- they come in half pint, pint, and quart sizes and also include regular or wide mouth which refers to the circumference of the lid. Personally, I prefer wide mouth, especially if you’re canning something large like peaches or pears or something you’ll want to scoop out. But for things like salsa or applesauce regular mouth are fine.
  • Seals- (usually come with the bottles the first time but you will have to purchase more in order to reuse the bottles)
  • Jar grabber- to use taking hot jars out of the water
  • Magnetic Seal grabber
  • Funnel- makes filling jars easier
  • Canner- this pan is what you will process water bath jars in (mostly fruits)
  • Pressure Canner-Cooker- this is a special pan for canning meats & vegetables

Here are the items I have or would recommend:

Water Bath Canning

The most common type of canning is a water bath canning process.

Fruits and jams are easy to bottle and need only to be processed in a water bath which takes far less time to process. When canning fruit you want to fill the jar to 1/2” from the top with syrup (made of sugar and water) after you fill the jar with fruit.

Your altitude will determine the amount of time needed to process jars in a water bath. The most important thing to remember is you want the water to completely cover all the jars by about 1/2″ and the time doesn’t start until the water is at a full boil.

Pressure Canner-Cooker

This type of canning uses a special pan that must be used for meats and vegetables in order to get all the bacteria out in the sealing process.

All meats, and most veggies must be processed in a pressure canner-cooker in order to make them safe. Your pressure canner-cooker gauge may need to be adjusted depending on your elevation, most local extension offices have the ability to do it and it is typically free or very cheap.

In the next section I have included step by step instructions on canning different types of foods.

Fruits & Jams

By far the EASIEST thing to bottle, so if you’re just learning I recommend starting with fruits & jams.

Fruits and jams need only to be processed in a water bath which takes far less time to process. When canning fruit you want to fill the jar to 1/2” from the top with syrup (made of sugar and water) after you fill the jar with fruit.

Pectin is needed for jams (it thickens it) or in some recipes Jell-o is used and does the same thing. Inside the pectin box there is instructions and charts for ingredients and processing time based on the type of fruit being used. Some general instructions are below:

If making a freezer jam:

  1. Remove any stems, blanch, & peel if necessary
  2. Slice if large
  3. In a large bowl use a potato masher (or a food processor for more fine jam)
  4. Add sugar– usually twice as much sugar as fruit
  5. Stir well and let sit for at least 10 minutes
  6. Boil pectin according to directions inside the box
  7. Add pectin to fruit & sugar mixture
  8. Mix well, then fill jars leaving ½” from the top
  9. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  10. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  11. Place a seal on each jar
  12. Screw the ring onto each jar
  13. Keep in the freezer (no need to process in a water bath canner)

If making a shelf-stable jam:

  1. If necessary: blanch, peel and slice fruit
  2. In a large pan combine fruit with twice as much sugar
  3. Cook on Medium until fruit is very soft
  4. Mash with a potato masher or puree in food processer for fine jam
  5. Add pectin to boiling fruit & sugar
  6. After 2 minutes remove from heat
  7. Pour into jars leaving ½” from the top
  8. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  9. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  10. Place a seal on each jar
  11. Screw the ring onto each jar
  12. Place in water-bath canner
  13. Fill water to 1” above the jars
  14. Process for time according to fruit and altitude
  15. Processing time starts once water is at a full boil

Whole Fruits

If the fruit is soft and has a skin to be removed (such as peaches):

  1. Blanch the fruit to soften it
  2. Place into cold water and the skin should remove easily
  3. Remove pits or seeds if necessary
  4. Slice and fill jars
  5. Fill to ½” from the top with syrup
  6. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  7. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  8. Place a seal on each jar
  9. Screw the ring onto each jar
  10. Place into your water-bath canner
  11. Fill the water bath canner with enough water until about 1” over the top of the jars
  12. Processing time starts once water is at a full boil
  13. Process for time according to the fruit and your altitude

If the fruit is hard with a skin (such as apples):

  1. Use a peeler-corer-slicer
  2. Cut in half if desired
  3. Fill jars
  4. Fill to ½” from the top with syrup
  5. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  6. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  7. Place a seal on each jar
  8. Screw the ring onto each jar
  9. Place into your water-bath canner
  10. Fill the water bath canner with enough water until about 1” over the top of the jars
  11. Processing time starts once water is at a full boil
  12. Process for time according to the fruit and your altitude

How to make syrup:

  1. Heat sugar with water or juice until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add fruit and cook until heated through.
  3. Pack fruit into clean Mason jars to within 1/2-inch of top of jar.
  4. Cover with hot liquid leaving 1/2-inch head space.
  5. The liquid may be syrup, fruit juice, or plain water.

Salsa, Pie filling, Spaghetti sauce, soups and other mixtures

There are lots of options when it comes to canning foods. From whole foods, meats, sauces, soups, to even bottled meals!

When it comes to bottled meals, personally I stick to soups. Whenever I make a homemade Turkey or Ham soup it’s great to bottle some! Because soups generally have veggies and/or meat in them they HAVE to be processed in a pressure canner/cooker.

*Process time is for the ingredient that has longest processing time in your manual that came with the pan.

* You don’t want to bottle soup with noodles because they will get VERY soggy!

It’s best to just bottle the soup without noodles, then when you open it if you want you can add noodles to it as it’s used.

Pie filling is super easy to bottle and only requires a water bath since it’s fruit. The USDA no longer recommends canning foods with cornstarch (even though some have done it for decades) So use your own judgement, it’s always better safe than sorry. You can always thicken pie filling when you take it out of the jar to be safe.

Salsa CAN be bottled in a water bath, however you want to make sure you only use an approved and safe recipe that has the safe amount of acids to prevent botulism (which is deadly), salsa is not one to experiment with your own recipe and water bath it, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to pressure can it.

Spaghetti sauce should be processed in a pressure canner. Because it’s done this way you can make your own recipe!

Meats & Veggies

Bottling meats is a great way to have shelf stable meat in your food storage. You can bottle any meat. The meat will be cooked inside the bottle and makes a quick meal preparation when used.

When you bottle meats you can pack them into the bottles cooked or raw– depending on your preference. There is no need to add water to any jar of meat with the exception of ground meats.

You can season the meat, but be careful to not over-season as the flavor will get stronger and sometimes bitter when bottled (such as garlic).

Meat MUST be bottled in a pressure canner/cooker.

Always use high-quality jars when bottling in a pressure canner/cooker and make sure you set the bottles on the rack inside the pan.

Bottling Chicken or Chunks of Meat

Chicken can be packed into the bottles raw or cooked. You can fit more chicken into the bottle if it’s raw so that’s what I do. Either way the chicken will be fully cooked when you are finished.

There is no need to add water when bottling chicken. Be sure to pack the meat tight and still allow the ½” space at the top. The meat will shrink as you process it. Even when I pack my bottles tight, after processing they are about ¾ full.

  1. Pack chicken or meat into the bottles
  2. Add ¼- ½ teaspoon of salt
  3. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  4. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  5. Place a seal on each jar
  6. Screw the ring onto each jar
  7. Place into your pressure canner/cooker
  8. Fill the pressure canner/cooker with about 3-4” of water
  9. Follow processing lbs. of pressure according to your altitude

Meat-processing time is 75 minutes for pints, and 90 minutes for quarts. It may not LOOK appetizing, but it tastes good! And in an emergency situation when everyone else is eating beans and rice your family can enjoy some delicious meats with your meals.

Ground Meats

Cook the ground meat just as if you were going to use it. Seasoning can be done but is optional. Some like to add taco seasoning for an easy taco night in the future. Some seasonings such as garlic can go bitter, so if you do season it add sparingly.

  1. Fill each jar with the cooked meat
  2. Cover with water until ½” from the top
  3. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  4. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  5. Place a seal on each jar
  6. Screw the ring onto each jar
  7. Place into your pressure canner/cooker
  8. Fill the pressure canner/cooker with about 3-4” of water
  9. Follow processing lbs. of pressure according to your altitude

Meat-processing time is 75 minutes for pints, and 90 minutes for quarts.

Vegetables

Vegetables also have to be bottled in a pressure canner/cooker. They are a great way to store and use your garden veggies all year round. When you find a good deal on veggies, have lots from your bountiful basket, have or know someone with a plentiful garden, bottling is a great way to preserve them so they don’t go to waste!

  1. Prepare the veggies– such as cut up, peel, etc.
  2. Fill the jars with the veggies leaving ½” room at the top
  3. Cover with water until ½” from the top
  4. Wipe the top of the bottle clean– where the seal will go
  5. Boil the seals in water to soften them (good to do while filling the jars)
  6. Place a seal on each jar
  7. Screw the ring onto each jar
  8. Place into your pressure canner/cooker
  9. Fill the pressure canner/cooker with about 3-4” of water
  10. Follow processing lbs. of pressure according to your altitude. Charts are usually provided when you purchase your canner or can be easily found online.

Below is a reference chart.

Charts

Below are some reference charts for foods & altitude.

What is Botulism?

Botulism: A severe, sometimes fatal food poisoning caused by ingestion of food containing botulin and characterized by nausea, vomiting, disturbed vision, muscular weakness, and fatigue. Symptoms also include difficulty in swallowing, speech and breathing.
The reason most vegetables and all meats MUST be processed in a pressure canner cooker is to avoid botulism. If you’re ever in doubt, pressure can it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here’s some great resources to help. (see pictures for credit/sources)

My Book with ALL this information:

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