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Safety Tips for Home Canning

10 Tips for Safe Home Canning and Preserving


Follow these tips to start canning and preserving food at home with confidence. For more information about home canning, check out these Must-Have Canning Resources, as well as the Ball Canning Website. Obviously, one key aspect of safe home canning is to be scrupulously clean. Clean all surfaces, containers, and equipment before you begin so you start with a clean slate.

1. Check Out 10 Steps for Easy Home Canning

Lots of Canned Tomatoes
Photo © Molly Watson

From preparing the hot water bath to labeling your final jars, these steps give you an overview of what's involved in home canning before you get started, and having a big picture view before you start will let you know what to expect and keep things clean and safe.

2. Use the Right Equipment

Make sure you have the right equipment to can successfully with this list of must-haves (and a few items that just make life easier!).

3. Follow Recipes

Proportions are important when canning. Follow recipes exactly and avoid the temptation to add extra herbs or other flavorings. Acid, sugar, and salt are all important elements to safe and successful canning, additions or subtractions or substitutions in recipes can mess up the pH levels and threaten food safety.

4. Use In-Season Produce

The whole point of home canning is to save the flavor of the season. Use only fresh, in-season, delicious produce.

5. Can One Food Per Day

Keep the work manageable. Work with only one kind of produce per day to avoid canning exhaustion.

6. Make A Lot

Make all the work (and heat) worthwhile. Choose recipes that make at least 4 pints, if not more.

7. Don't Double Recipes

Recipes are tested as written. Instead of doubling recipes, make two batches, cooking one batch while the other batch is being processed.

8. Use Bottled Lemon Juice

When canning tomatoes, use bottled lemon juice or Fruit Fresh citric acid for standardized acidity. Fresh lemon juice varies in acidity and can threaten food safety when working with tomatoes or other low-acid foods.

9. Add Sugar All At Once

When making jam or other sweet preserves, add the amount of sugar called for in the recipe to the fruit all at once. It will help the mixture gel properly.

10. Keep Pickles Crisp

Keep pickles crisp by processing them in water that is 180°F to 185°F instead of boiling. This is hot enough to seal the jars properly, but not so hot that it will cook the vegetables to tenderness.

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