12 Lifesaving Canning Rules

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When it’s that time of year for canning your garden bounty, or when canning any time of the year, before you dust off your canner and heat the stove, first take a look at these 12 lifesaving canning rules.

Having just canned 18 pints of beans, time for a refresher:

If done properly, canning is entirely safe; however certain precautions should be taken.

Generally, I will say that the most important thing to remember (especially for newbies) is to follow the instructions of a modern canning recipe.

Choose a reliable source for home canning recipes because they are tested, proven, and designed to provide a wide margin of safety.

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

Safety Rules Of Canning

 
1. Don’t use jars larger than a quart. Home canning technology cannot guarantee that larger quantities will be sufficiently heated through for enough time. Rather, the food on the outside will overcook, while that on the inside won’t get hot enough for food safety.

2. A water-bath canner may only be used for high acid foods such as tomatoes, fruits, rhubarb, sauerkraut, pickles, and jams/jellies. A pressure canner MUST be used for low acid foods including vegetables, meats, and stews.

3. Use only modern canning recipes from reliable sources (especially when first learning canning as a beginner).

4. Never reuse jar lids. Used lids aren’t reliable for sealing correctly. If a screw-on band is rusty or bent, it won’t work right and should be discarded and replaced. That said, you might consider purpose-designed reusable Tattler lids.

5. Don’t use antique or ‘French’ -type canning jars. They aren’t as safe as the modern, regular ‘Ball, Kerr’ type.

6. Check the jar rims carefully every year by running your finger over the top of the rim and checking for nicks. Even the tiniest nick makes the jar unusable for canning. A nicked jar rim won’t seal reliably.

7. Raw pack is not safe for certain foods: beets, all kinds of greens (spinach, etc.), white potatoes, squash, okra, a tomato/okra combination, and stewed tomatoes.

8. You must allow the correct amount of space (head-space) between your food, together with the liquid that covers it, and the jar lid (follow the recipe instructions).

9. Water Bath Method: Do not begin counting the processing time until after the water in the canner comes to a rolling boil

10. Pressure Canner: Do not begin counting the processing time until after steam has vented for 10 minutes AND until the pressure gauge has risen to the recommended pressure after placing the weight on the vent pipe.

11. Process the full recommended time (and at the recommended pressure if using pressure canner).

12. If a jar did not seal, discard the lid, check to see if the jar rim is chipped (discard jar), check for food residue on the rim (clean), put on a new lid, and reprocess. Or consume the food and/or put in the refrigerator as you would any other leftover food for later consumption.

 
Some recommendations gathered from The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Top-of-the-line “All American Pressure Canner”
All American Pressure Cooker Canner

 
Add your own recommendations below:

12 Lifesaving Canning Rules