Monday, January 4, 2021

Home Hot Water Canning: the Necessary Parts

Hello! I'm David from the Assorted Calibers Podcast. Erin asked me to join this blog so that I could share my knowledge of prepping. Of course, back when I first got into this world, we were called survivalists and the media and Hollywood made fun of us. 

Some things don’t change.  

The Basics of Canning
Canning has been around for a long time. Just after the dawn of the 19th century, a French brewer by the name of Nicolas Appert developed the basic principles we still use in hot water canning today.

When canning, food is put in glass jars with sealable lids and submerged in boiling water for a specific amount of time. This both heats the food above the survival temperature of most bacteria (also called Pasteurization) as well as driving most of the air out of the container. Foods properly preserved using the hot water method are shelf stable for years, in some cases even decades.

The most important details are about following the proper canning procedure, which is the subject for my next post. Right now I’d like to cover the basic equipment needed for hot water canning so you can have the materials on hand. 

What You Need
Most if not all of these items can be found at your local big box or hardware store, especially this time of year. There are also additional items that can make the process easier, but I’ll stick with these for now. 

Obviously, clean water and a reliable source of heat are a must for this process as well. 

Canning Jars
Not just any glass jars can be used for canning. They need to be made of the proper heat resistant glass or they’ll break during the canning process, so don’t use that old mayonnaise jar that’s been in the cupboard forever!

I prefer wide mouth jars for a few reasons. They’re easier to fill, easier to clean, and if I want to freeze something in them, I’m less concerned about the expanding content pressing against the shoulder, causing the jar to break.

Pre-COVID, I got most of my jars from yard sales. Online swap and sale groups are still a good resource.

Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon to lose one or more jars in a session of canning due to undetectable flaws in the jar. Proper jar preparation can reduce this occurrence.

Jar Lids and Rings
While the rings can be reused multiple times, the lids (or domes as they’re still sometimes called) are single use items. After the rubberized sealant is heated and cooled once, it’s unlikely to create a proper seal if used in canning again.

However, once-used lids can be kept for non-canning use. For example, I keep some spices and baking supplies in canning jars of various sizes.

When filling the jars, it’s important to keep food off the rim and threads. A wide mouth food funnel makes this much easier. Most available today will fit both standard and wide mouth jars.

This is a special type of tongs which allow you to add and remove jars from hot or boiling water without getting scalded hands, as well as reducing the likelihood of dropping a jar.

The jar rack goes into the canning pot and will hold four or more jars, depending on the size of the jars and the size of the rack. Part of the purpose of the rack is to keep jars off the bottom of the pot, which reduces the chance of breakage due to uneven heating of the glass jars.

A Large Lidded Pot  
While dedicated canning bath pots are available, most any pot of the right size with a lid will do. It just needs to be wide enough to fit the jar rack and deep enough that there will be at least an inch or two of water above the top of the jars when submerged. Don’t forget to take the height of the jar rack into account when choosing a pot!

Boiling Times Reference Chart
This is a must for safety, as you need to boil different foods for different times. 
This should give you a general idea of what supplies are needed if you plan on giving hot water canning a try. In my next installment, I’ll go over the actual process of home hot water canning. 

Thanks for reading. Till next time!

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