Fall is officially here, and with it the bountiful harvest of garden produce all over the Midwest. Canning is a perfect fall activity, great for getting family and friends together and making use of excess fruits and vegetables. Once you’ve gathered your produce from your garden or the local farmer’s market, it’s time get to work. Check out these helpful tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable canning experience for everyone involved!

 

Preparation:

  1. Choose your canning method: Hot water bath canning or pressure canning.
  2. Gather your equipment: Use only jars designed for canning, like Mason or Ball jars. You’ll also want to have a funnel handy to help get the product into the jars cleanly. Jar lifters, clean cloths, ladles, and lid wands are also useful tools to have when canning. Last but certainly not least, you’ll need the right pot for the job: choose from a water bath canner or pressure canner based on the acidity of your foods.

Process:

  1. Select tested canning recipes. “A tested recipe will provide you with the correct weight and/or measurement of the produce, additional acid, salt, water, etc., in order to preserve your food. The recipe will also give you the correct processing time for the jar to reach the correct temperature that will kill off any bacteria in the jar and the recommended headspace in order to create a solid vacuum seal.” [Chowhound]
  2. Wash canning gear. From the jars to the rings and lids, it’s vital that you wash all items in hot, soapy water.
  3. Sterilize. “Jams, jellies, pickles, or any products processed less than 10 minutes need to be sterilized. To do this, put the jars and lids into a large pot. Fill the pot with enough warm water so it is 1-inch above the tops of the empty jars. Bring the water to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. You may have to boil longer if you live at a higher altitude. Reduce the temperature to a simmer and leave the jars and rings in the water until it’s time to fill the jars. Place the lids in a smaller pot of simmering water. (If your recipe calls for processing the jarred food for 10 minutes or longer, you can skip this step.)” [Chowhound]
  4. Follow The Recipe. It’s important to follow the instructions closely on your tested canning recipe.

 

Happy canning! If you didn’t have the time or space to plant a garden this year, check out this Minnesota Grown toolto find local farmers markets near you.