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My First Experience with Canning

09.02.11 My First Experience with Canning

weck canning jars

For a couple of years now I've really wanted to try canning. For many reasons including: seeing blogger's (like Soule Mama) beautiful photos of rows upon rows of canned goods lining their pantries and learning that the grocery store canned tomatoes I use for winter soups and stews have BPA lining their cans. Plus, we started a small garden a few years ago and I thought I wouldn't want all those fabulous tomatoes go to waste. So although our garden has not exactly produced enough bounty to warrant putting up for winter, I decided to take the plunge anyway.

I was feeling pretty intimidated by all the rules and preparations in canning. I love to cook, but I'm not so great at following lengthy highly specific directions. Plus my husband was afraid I'd give us all botulism poisoning.

Here is a rough account of how things went down.  First I consulted 2 resources: Homemade Living's Canning & Preserving and The Weck Canning Guide.  Next I picked up some beautiful glass Weck canning jars right here at MightyNest.  If you're not familiar with Weck canning jars - they are made in Germany and use glass lids with natural rubber rings and stainless steel clamps. Traditional canning jars have lids made from aluminum with an epoxy coating that contains BPA. The Weck jars are more expensive but are worth the investment in my opinion.

By combining the information in the Homemade Living book with specific information about using Weck canning jars found in their canning guide I basically followed these steps. Disclaimer: Don't just follow these steps alone - consult an actual expert on the subject!  (And be sure to the read to the end of the post for "Things I will do differently next time!")

  1. I gathered everything I was going to need (In my case this was: canning jars, canning bath, jar lifter, smaller stock pot, 2 medium size pans, cutting board, knife, colander, big bowl for ice bath, pot holders, clean towels, peaches, sugar, citric acid powder -  whew that's a lot of stuff, I started feeling a little worried at this point!)
  2. Washed everything in hot soapy water
  3. Sterilized jars lids and rings in boiling water
  4. Blanched peaches to easily remove skin (Boiled for a minute, then put in ice bath, then peeled)
  5. Cut peaches, removed pits and placed in anti-browning solution
  6. Made syrup from sugar and water and boiled on stove top
  7. Drained and rinsed the peaches
  8. Packed peaches into hot sterilized jars
  9. Ladled in syrup to cover peaches
  10. Wiped rims and applied lids
  11. Processed the jars (Put the sealed jars into the canner bath of boiling water for 25 min)
  12. Let cool, then removed clamps and checked seal
  13. Drank about 5 glasses of ice water and went to go lie down!

How did it turn out? The peaches are tasty, but not extremely beautiful to look at.  Since I used the unbleached raw cane sugar to make the syrup, it's sort of a beige color instead of clear like in the book's photos.  Also my peaches seem to be making little loose peach fiber all over (again, not like the pictures in the books - although maybe they touched up those photos just like they do with super models in magazines.)

Ready for the things I'd do differently next time?  

  • For one, I had these romantic notions of my children wide-eyed and eager by my side as we did this highly domestic activity together.  But the thing is, there's not a lot that small children can do what with all the high temperatures. And it takes a REALLY long time.  So next time, I will invite a friend over so we can do it together and the daddy's can take the little ones out for an adventure!
  • Secondly, before I start I will eat a good breakfast and drink lots of water. I got so involved I forgot to take breaks to do those things, and found myself slightly weak and dehydrated at the end! 
  • I also recommend planning to go out for dinner that night, because you're not going to feel like cooking anything else!

My next project swill be canned tomatoes and applesauce.  What have been your experiences with home canning?  Any tips to share?

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