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- Acid levels in foods affect processing method
There are two basic methods for canning foods at home, boiling water or pressure processing. The food's acid content, or pH, is a key factor in determining the minimally safe method. The boiling water canner method is used for acid foods and the pressure canning method is used for low acid foods.
- Understanding altitude effects on processing
The amount of time that jars are held at a certain temperature during canning is important to producing a safe product. Because altitude affects the temperature of boiling water or steam inside a pressure canner, adjustments are needed in canning times based on your altitude.
- Using a canning funnel to fill jars
Using a canning funnel to fill jars makes the process neater and keeps the jar sealing surface (rim) cleaner. These funnels are also known and sold as "jar fillers."
- The importance of headspace in canning
Headspace is the completely empty space left in the jar underneath the lid and above the food. Headspace allows for food to expand during canning and not have food come out of the jars. Recommended amounts also allow for good vacuums to be formed for holding lids in place and good food quality to be maintained during storage.
- Applying lids to jars
It is important to have a clean sealing surface when lids are applied to filled jars. Lids should be prepared according to manufacturer's instructions and then applied with ring bands tightened without too much or too little pressure.
- Cooling jars at end of process
Jars are placed on a protected surface after canning and allowed to air cool, undisturbed, until sealed. After boiling water canning, jars are removed from the canner at the end of the process. After pressure canning, the canner must be allowed to cool naturally to 0 pounds pressure after turning off the burner. The jars are removed after the pressure is gone from the canner.
The following video segments offer some specific recommendations for boiling water and pressure canning.
- The boiling water canning process
Boiling water canning is recommended for processing acid foods such as fruits and properly acidified tomatoes, pickles, and relishes. This information covers most of the basic steps in managing the boiling water canning process.
- The pressure canning process
Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning low acid foods such as vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood. This information covers most of the basic steps in managing the pressure canning process, including venting air out of the pressure canner before it is brought to pressure.
These next two segments demonstrate hot pack and raw pack steps. Raw packs do not call for preheating food pieces before they are filled into jars. Hot packing by preparation steps that call for boiling or simmering foods before filling jars is the best way to remove excess air that could lead to color and flavor changes over time during storage. Hot packs are often preferred for many fruits canned in boiling water. Hot packs also usually allow you to fit more food into less jar space than raw packs.
- Hot pack for fruits
Prepared fruit is heated in water or syrup as described for specific foods prior to filling jars. This information demonstrates the hot pack process for filling jars with peaches.
- Hot pack for vegetables
Prepared vegetable pieces are heated in water or other liquid, as described for specific foods prior to filling jars. This information demonstrates the hot pack process for filling jars with green beans.
- Raw pack for vegetables
Raw prepared vegetable pieces are placed into jars without preheating. The vegetable pieces are then covered with hot or boiling liquid as described for specific foods. This information demonstrates the raw pack process for filling jars with green beans.
- Preventing browning of cut fruits
Ascorbic acid is an effective anti-darkening agent when used as a pre-soak while peeling and cutting light-colored fruits and vegetables. It can also be added to syrups used in containers to pack fruits for freezer storage.
- Syrup pack for freezing fruits
Sugar syrups are a good packing medium for many fruits being frozen. The syrup can result in maintaining a good texture for many frozen fruits during storage. This segment also discusses headspace for freezer containers and achieving a good seal on a plastic container for freezing peaches.
- Sugar pack for freezing fruits
Some fruits can be frozen by mixing the cut pieces with dry sugar and allowing the sugar to draw out the juices from the fruit. This method can help maintain a good texture for many frozen fruits during storage compared to a water or plain pack without sugar. This segment covers the process of a sugar pack for sliced peaches.
- Dry or tray pack for freezing fruits
Many fruits work well for an unsweetened pack of fruit pieces individually frozen on a tray before they are packed into containers. This segment demonstrates a tray pack for whole strawberries. Fruit pieces frozen in this manner are easily removed from packages without having to first thaw them.
- Drying vegetables
Vegetables are easily dehydrated in an electric dehydrator and preparation steps for different vegetables will vary. Small, uniform pieces make the process easier to manage. This information shows drying for green beans and discusses blanching as well as a short freezing step prior to dehydrating that is specific for green beans.
- Determining doneness of dried fruit
Many fruits are good candidates for preservation by drying. Specific directions can be followed for preparing each fruit for the dehydrator. This segment discusses determining when fruit is dry enough to stop the process, and how to package dried fruits for storage.
If you would like to purchase the full set of videos, So Easy to Preserve, with more and longer demonstrations and discussions, please visit www.soeasytopreserve.com. The shows are described on this website and ordering information is on the printable order form. (There is no online ordering.) Please note that the videos do not contain the text of the book also called So Easy to Preserve.