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All you need to know about food preservation methods and techniques

How to Treat Your Fresh Produce: Canning Food Preservation

canning food preservation

Is canning food preservation your thing? Are you a pickling and preserving kind of person, or do you prefer to consume only fresh food?

Even if you choose the second option, canning food preservation is a perfect way of extending the life of your food. This skill might come in handy one day!

There are so many ways to preserve fresh harvest – you can keep fruits and vegetables by sealing them in jars or bottles with hot syrup. Or you can hold them in other ways, such as by making jams, jellies, and syrups.

Don’t forget pickling or drying as well. However, this post is about canning food preservation. So, let’s start.

Why Should You Care About Canning Food Preservation?

Whether you’re ready to take up residence in a cabin somewhere remote or want to be prepared for unexpected events that might force you to live off the land for a while, knowing how to preserve your own food is pretty important.

After all, if stored improperly, even the most expensive fruit and vegetables will rot pretty quickly. Moreover, canning and other methods of preserving food at home are economical and healthy.

As mentioned before, this article will look at some valuable tips on storing fruits and vegetables using canning techniques.

On our other posts, you can find more information on alternative methods using natural processes like fermentation (pickling)and dehydration (drying).

canning food preservation

Canning Food Preservation At Home

When most people think about home canning, they think about fruits, jams, and jellies. However, vegetables can also be canned.

Canned vegetables are particularly useful during winter when fresh vegetables are unavailable or cost more due to cold weather. 

Some vegetables are better suited for canning than others. Vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, eggplant, or cauliflower are best eaten fresh, while others, like tomatoes, green beans, carrots, beets, and peas, are better for canning because they are firmer and hold up well.

The first step in canning vegetables is to select the best quality vegetables. The fresher the vegetables, the better the quality and flavor. Start with good quality products, and you will have good quality canned vegetables.

Canning Fruits For Beginners

Many fruits are good candidates for canning. If you don’t have much experience in canning food preservation, start with fruits with a high acid content and a low pH, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, and apricots.

Fruits and vegetables that are lower in acid are better preserved using other preservation methods.

While some fruits, like peaches and plums, are best preserved by canning in a syrup, berries, like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, are best preserved using a different technique called jam.

Canning Vegetables And Other Food Products

Vegetables can be canned in a boiling water bath, or you can use a pressure canner.

Water Bathing

When considering water bath canning, it is essential to remember that this technique is best employed for preserving food items with high acid content.

The pH level measures acidity, and foods labeled as ‘high acid’ have a pH of 4.6 or lower. These products can include fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, and marmalades. 

Tomatoes generally have a higher acidity, but if the pH level is above 4.6, it is necessary to add an acidifier like lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to reduce the pH to 4.6 or lower before it can be processed.

Pressure Canner

It is necessary to use pressure canning for foods with low acidic content, such as red meats, seafood, poultry, and vegetables like okra, carrots, green beans, asparagus, and spinach.

Since these foods contain a natural acid level that is insufficient to stop the development of the heat-resistant spore-forming bacteria (C. botulinum), they must be canned in a pressure canner to make them secure and eradicate vegetative and spore-forming pathogens.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves pressure canning as the only safe way to can these low-acid foods.

Canning Fresh Tomatoes

Canning food preservation is an excellent way to go if you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes or just want to preserve tomatoes harvested from your garden.

The important thing to remember when canning tomatoes is that you should use a recipe that includes the “addition” of lemon juice. This is the only way to ensure the acidity level is high enough to be preserved using a water bath canner.

Fresh tomatoes are a delicious and nutritious food, but they don’t keep well. If you grow tomatoes in your garden or purchase them at a farmers’ market, you should preserve some fresh goodness for later use.

By the way, when making fresh tomato sauce, one way of preserving it is by canning it.

Canned tomatoes are best suited for soups, stews, and other dishes. Of course, you won’t be able to make a fresh tomato sauce with them, but they will keep for several months or even a year.

The best tomatoes for canning are well-colored, firm, have no bruises or wrinkles, and are heavy for their size. For the best results, tomatoes should be at their peak freshness.

Tomatoes are one of the easiest choice to preserve and are loaded with nutrients. When you can tomatoes, you will keep the nutrients, but you will also remove some pectins, which have been linked to various health issues. Pectin can cause problems like bloating, gas, and even constipation.

Canning Blackberry Jam

Blackberries are beautiful, vibrant, and delicious berries that appear in markets and farmers’ markets in late summer and early fall. They are ideal for jam thanks to their high pectin content.

It’s essential to choose very ripe berries for jam so that the pectin content is high and the seeds have mostly blackened. You can also pour a little lemon juice to increase the acidity of your jam.

Blackberries are also excellent in tarts and galettes, served with ginger ice cream. Use fresh, ripe blackberries and follow a basic jam or jelly recipe. 

Using a jelly or jam recipe with a higher sugar content will ensure that your blackberry jam will be shelf-stable. You can use your blackberry jam as a backing sweetener or put it on your pancakes or waffles.

Blackberry jam is simple to make but requires patience, as it has to sit for 24 hours. The best berries for jam are plump and firm but not overripe.

When it comes to preserving the freshness and flavor of your favorite berries, timing is everything. For example, raspberries and blueberries are typically in season in the summer months, while blackberries generally are in season in the fall months.

So, blackberries can be preserved anytime, but they are best in the fall.

Canned Apple Sauce

Homemade apple sauce is delicious and healthy food for kids and grownups. While you can buy it in some supermarkets, it is usually packed with sugar and preservatives.

To make a healthy, homemade apple sauce suitable even for babies, you can use good-quality apples and put them through a food processor or blender.

Apple sauce is a delicious way to preserve apples and is a healthy, nutritious side dish as well. You can make applesauce with any apples, but some varieties work better than others.

Sweet apples like Gala, Golden Delicious, and Pink Ladies are best for applesauce, but you can also use tart apples like Granny Smith if you like a little more sour taste.

canning food preservation

How to preserve

You can make applesauce with fresh apples or apples that you have stored from previous harvests. Fresh applesauce will last about a week in the fridge. You can also can applesauce to preserve it, giving you a shelf-stable supply that will last about a year.

Canning apple sauce is easy and the most common way of preserving apples. You can make apple sauce without heat processing, but, as mentioned, it will only last about a month.

You can also make applesauce in a pressure canner, which will give you apple preserves that last for up to a year.

The key to any successful applesauce is to select apples that are in top-eating-quality condition, have a high sugar content, and are firm.

If they’re under-ripe, they won’t cook down properly and will have a very tart flavor that many people don’t enjoy. If they’re over-ripe, they’ll be very mushy and won’t have much flavor.

You’ll also need about 10 pounds of apples for every 1 gallon of applesauce that you want to make.

The steps for canning applesauce are as follows:

  • Wash and peel the apples, and cut them into large pieces.
  • Place them in a clean pot and fill it with water.
  • Boil the apples for about 10 minutes, then let them sit in the pot until they’re completely cool.
  • Drain the applesauce into a colander, then mash it with a potato masher or blend it in a food processor until smooth.
  • Fill jars with applesauce, leaving about 1 inch gap at the top, then place lids on top of the jars and seal them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Heat the jars in a boiling water canner for about 25 minutes, then let them cool completely before taking them out.

Note: When slicing, you’ll want to ensure that you’re slicing your apples evenly. You don’t want them too thin or too thick, as it will impact the cooking time. If you want best results, you can use a food processor. It will make quick work of this task.

When it comes to the sugar you’ll be adding to your apples, you’ll want to ensure that it’s a non-refined variety.

As you see, you can make your own apple sauce at home by simply following these easy steps.

Canning Beef Jerky

The process of canning beef jerky is very similar to any other canned meat product.

You will also want to ensure that the meat you are canning has been seasoned adequately at least for a day before you start canning it.

Seasoning the meat will allow for better absorption of the salt, which will help to destroy some of the bacteria on the surface of the meat. When you are picking your meat for canning, you will want to make sure that you choose meat with the right fat content.

You must remember to ensure that you have the right amount of fat in the meat you are using. Most lean cuts will not work for this purpose. You will need to purchase meat with a fat content of at least 15%. The best cuts to use are those with a fat content of 20% or more.

You will also want to ensure that you cut your meat into cubes about one inch in size. This will allow the meat to heat up faster and make it easier for your pressure canner to process the meat.

At this point, you’ll want to add a bit of salt to your meat. This will act as a preservative and give your meat a bit of flavor as well. After adding the salt, you’ll want to pour the hot water over the meat.

You’ll also want to ensure that the water completely covers the meat, but you don’t want it to be too tight, as you’ll need some room to shake the jars and distribute the liquid as the meat sits.

Once you’ve poured water over the meat, you can seal your jars. Make sure you leave about an inch of space at the top of each jar. Firmly secure the lids but do not over-tighten them. 

When canning meat, you will want to make sure you use a pressure canner and not a water bath canner. This is because meat has a much higher bacteria content than vegetables, so it must be heated to a higher temperature.

You’ll want to make sure that your meat has been thoroughly cooked, typically to an internal temperature of 190°F for at least 90 – 100 minutes.

Pressure Canning Garlic

To preserve your garlic for a more extended period of time, you will want to make sure that you are canning it properly.

The first thing that you will want to do is to make sure that you have the freshest garlic possible. You do not want to try to can garlic that is starting to turn brown, as it will have a very unpleasant taste to it.

Once you have your garlic, you’ll want to wash your garlic bulbs and peel away the outer layer of the skin. If the cloves are large, you can cut them in half.

You don’t need to slice them very thinly. You can slice the cloves with a knife or use a food processor to make quick work of it.

When pressure canning garlic, you’ll want to choose firm, plump bulbs free of spots and blemishes. You can also can garlic in jars using the water bath method.

The steps for both methods are the same:

  • Place the garlic in a pot and cover it with water.
  • Bring the water to a boil. Let it boil for about 20 minutes.
  • Let it cool before you place it in your jars.
  • Pour the garlic and the water that it was simmering in into your jars.

It is best to use wide-mouth jars, as they are easier to fill. Fill the jars with the garlic as much as possible without pressing on the garlic too much. You will then want to fill the jar with water up to 1 inch from the top.

Using a pressure cooker, you will want to leave about 2 inches from the top of the jar. If you are processing with a water bath canner, leaving about 1 inch from the lid is enough.

Pressure-canning garlic takes an hour.

Wrapping Up

Fresh harvest is a beautiful thing. It’s healthy and affordable, and there is nothing like enjoying a crisp, juicy apple or juicy ripe tomato right off the field.

But how can you enjoy these crops all year long? Canning your fresh produce is one great way to extend its shelf life. Even if you can’t grow your own fresh produce, you can still stock up during peak season and preserve those nutritious fruits for months to come.

No matter what product you are storing, proper handling and storage are essential to keeping your food fresh, tasty, and healthy. 

You can preserve your produce in many different ways: canning, pickling, freezing, drying, and root cellaring are just a few of your preservation options.

In this article, we explored canning as one of the best methods for your fresh products by looking into different canning food preservation techniques. 

Each technique has its own benefits and risks, so you must understand which option is suitable for the products you are about to can before proceeding.

And, before putting products into canning jars, don’t forget the old saying: “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.”

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