How to Can Your Own Fruits and Veggies
Step 1: Round up your supplies. You’ll need: a water-bath canner (basically a giant pot); two more big pots (one for jars, one for produce); a wire jar-rack (which prevents jar rattling and breakage); a jar-lifter (or some tongs); and enough 1-quart Ball jars, gum-sealed lids, and rings to hold your harvest. (Jars and rings can be reused but lids cannot.)
Step 2: Wash and warm your jars by running them through the dishwasher, or rinsing them with soap and water and heating (not boiling) them in a big water-filled pot (not your canner) on your stove top. (Your jars don’t need to be sterilized because once you pack them, you’ll boil them for more than 10 minutes.) Prepare your lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Some will ask you to heat them, too.)
Step 3: Prepare your produce, using the instructions. Add lids and tightly screw on the rings to secure.
Step 4: Fill your canner with enough water to cover upright jars by at least 1 inch, place a lid on the canner, and bring the water to a boil.
Step 5: Once the water’s boiling, remove the lid, set your filled jars in your jar rack, and submerge them in the canner. If the water does not cover jar tops by at least 1 inch, add more boiling water. Your jars must always be fully submerged, or the contents may spoil. Boo! Replace the canner lid.
Step 6: While maintaining a vigorous boil, set a timer for the appropriate length of boil. (See “Details, Details” for produce-by-produce recommendations.)
Step 7: Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and wait 5 minutes. Then remove the jars from the canner using a jar-lifter or tongs.
Step 8: Allow the jars to completely cool in an upright position for 12 to 24 hours. Remove the ring on one, hold your breath, and check the lid’s seal by pushing on its center. If it pops, the seal is no good. Either replace the lid and boil again within 24 hours, or store in the refrigerator and eat within 2 days.
Step 9: Store in a cool, dry, dark place, away from sunshine and hungry thieves. Most canned fruits and veggies will last at least a year.
Details, Details: Your Produce Guide
Apples: Wash, peel, core, and slice apples. (Nineteen pounds fills seven 1-quart jars.) In a large pot, add 2% cups sugar to 9 cups water and bring to boil, stirring constantly until the granules dissolve. Boil the apples in syrup for 5 minutes. Pack the slices and syrup into hot, empty jars, leaving У2 inch space at the top. Seal and boil for 20 minutes.
Peaches: Peel, halve, and pit peaches. (Seventeen and a half pounds fills seven 1-quart jars.) Add 2% cups sugar to 9 cups water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the granules dissolve. Add the peaches and boil for 5 minutes. Pack the hot peaches in hot, empty jars, and cover with syrup, leaving У2 inch headroom. Seal and boil for 25 minutes.
Tomatoes: Remove skins and halve, or if small, leave whole. (Twenty-one pounds fills seven 1-quart jars.) Pack in jars. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice to each jar and fill jar to within У2 inch of the top with boiling water or hot tomato juice. Remove any air bubbles with a plastic spatula. Seal and boil for 45 minutes.
Berries: Eat your strawberries fresh (or turn them into jam). They’re too low in acid to can without a pressure cooker. For any other kind of berry, wash and remove stems. (Twelve pounds of berries fills seven 1-quart jars.) In a large pot, add 2% cups sugar to 9 cups boiling water, stirring constantly until the granules dissolve. Add У cup syrup to each hot, empty jar; pack with berries; then top off each jar with more syrup, leaving У inch space at the top. (To preserve berries without sugar, replace syrup with boiling water.) Seal and boil for 20 minutes.
- To prevent fruit from browning after cutting, soak in 1 gallon of water mixed with a teaspoon of ascorbic acid or spritz with lemon juice.
- To remove skins from tomatoes and peaches easily, first submerge them in boiling water for 45 seconds and then plunge them into ice water. The skin’ll slide right off!
- All the fruit here is packed in light syrup. To make the syrup less sweet, add 1% cups sugar to 10У cups water. To make it even sweeter, add 3% cups sugar to 8% cups water.
- All boiling times are good at sea level. If you’re above 1,000 feet, add 5 minutes to your boil. Above 3,000 feet, add 10. Above 6,000 feet, add 15.