Canning Basics 101: Q&A

Are you new to canning? If so, this is for you!! I am going to answer some of the most common canning questions, to help get you started!

Since many people felt the shortage of food over this past year, many people have realized the benefits of home canning. Being able to have shelf stable food for long term storage is truly beneficial for many families. Over the years canning and dehydrating have become less and less of the norm, until recently. Now we are seeing a boom again, and I think it is wonderful to see so many wanting to learn.

So I wanted to take a few minutes and have a Q&A. I hope this helps knock out some of those beginners jitters, and helps get you started!

What is the difference between a pressure canner and water bath canner?

A pressure canner (PC) is a pressurized canner that raises the temperature of the food in jars or cans above boiling for a certain amount of time, and at a specific amount of pressure. Pressure canning is used specifically for low-acid foods.

You will find that pressure canners have either a weighted gauge or a dial gauge. I will explain the difference below.

A water bath canner (WB) or water bath canning is a process where your jars are completely covered with boiling water (in a large pot or a water bath canner) for a certain amount of time. Water bathing is used for high acid foods. ALTHOUGH, many will shiver at this…you can water bath almost anything. I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I will just stick with the basics.

What is the difference between and weighted gauge and a dial gauge?

A weighted gauge will control the pressure, but it cannot measure it. A dial gauge is the opposite. It can measure the pressure, but not control it.

With a dial gauge you can one notch above what your altitude calls for. Example: If you have a weighted gauge, they are accurate and made for the exact pressure they marked for. A dial gauge is great as well, but it is suggested to go up just a bit. So if you can at 10lbs of pressure and have a dial gauge, you would can at 11 pounds of pressure.

Is canning safe?

ABSOLUTLY it is! Use common sense, and don’t rush the process. When in doubt, ASK!!

Can a pressure canner explode?

I would never say never, BUT the newer canners have come along way from the older ones. So if you follow the instructions for your canner, there is no need to worry. If you buy a used pressure canner be sure to check all the parts and replace any that may look worn down. Also your local extension office can check to make sure your PC is working properly.

What is Botulism?

Botulism is a rare and potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.

What is the percentage of people getting sick from home canned foods?

You have a higher percentage rate of getting sick from store bought canned goods than from home canning. Botulism is rare, roughly 4-6 cases a year from home canning.

If your concerned, you can boil your canned food after opening for 10 minutes before consuming.

What do I need to get started?

Just the basics.

  • Jars
  • Lids
  • Jar lifter
  • Funnel
  • Head space tool
  • magnet for lids
  • Bubble Remover (chop stick, or butter knife works)
  • Towels
  • Water Bath Pot
  • Pressure Canner (if you choose to PC foods)
  • Here is a great kit that includes many of these items. I have had this exact kit, and it has held up for over a decade now!
  • Rack for the bottom of your pots.

Helpful Tips

If you pressure canning for the first time, do a test run. This will help get you more comfortable with the process. Check our my YouTube video where I walk you through a test run with water.

ALWAYS have your jars and food the same temperature as the water in your canners. Cold food/jars=cold canner and hot food/jars=hot canner

When cooking acidic foods be sure to use stainless steel pots and utensels. This keeps your food from having that metallic taste.

NEVER NEVER NEVER place hot jars out of your canner directly onto your countertop. Place them on a towel.

If your PC gets black on the inside, add some cream of tater to it before you can. That will clean it up.

If you have hard water, you can add a splash or two of white vinegar to your water in your canners. That will help your jars not to have water spots on them. Do not add vinegar if you are canning any dairy.

I always remove the rings and wipe down my jars if they need it. Not all do, but it is good to check.

Always remove the rings and check for a proper seal. I lift it up by the lids. If it holds, it is properly sealed.

Let your jars sit for 24 hours before you move them.

Always have fun!

If you have any questions or comments please be sure to leave them below!

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