Nutrition Articles

Simple Ways to Preserve Fruits and Vegetables

Canning, Freezing, Drying and Pickling Your Harvest

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Supplies you will need:
  • A large pot
  • Sterilized jars, lids, and rings
  • Thermometer
  • Jar rack and/or jar lifter (jar grabbing tongs)
  • The foods you are canning
How to do it:
  1. Begin by following the directions on your preferred recipe for jam, jelly, sauce, canned vegetables, etc. Prepare your fruits and/or vegetables according to the recipe and fill your sterilized jars with the final product, as indicated by the recipe. Add the sterilized lid and ring and tighten.
  2. Fill your large pot halfway with water and preheat it to 140-180 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Add your canned goods (complete with lids) to the pot. Some canning-specific pots come with a rack that you can load the jars into, which makes for easy removal of the hot jars. If you don’t have such a rack, simply place the jars one by one into the water (and later remove with a jar-lifting set of tongs).
  4. Add boiling water to the pot to bring the water level to 1 inch above the submerged jars; bring the whole pot to a vigorous boil.
  5. As soon as the water begins to boil, start the timer. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a low boil and process for the recommended time (according to your recipe).
  6. When the time is up, carefully remove the jars to cool on a towel or cooling rack. Use extreme caution, as the contents will be very hot! If you have done it correctly, the lids should be sealed and concave. Check the seals after 12-24 hours.
The pressure canning method is necessary for any foods that are low acid (pH greater than 4.6) because these foods are not acidic enough to prohibit the growth of bacteria (such as Clostridium botulinum, which grows into botulism and causes extreme and potentially fatal food poisoning). Low-acidic foods include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except most tomatoes. In addition, all foods that can be canned with the hot water bath method (above) can also be processed using this method.

The heat, up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressure generated by using the pressure canning method should be effective in killing all harmful bacteria. It isn't necessary to sterilize the jars, lids, and rings when using this method as the canning process itself will kill all harmful bacteria.
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Member Comments

  • I do all these food preservation activities except the pressure canner. Simple? Not hardly. There's a lot of work in all the prep! - 6/20/2014 2:28:54 PM
  • I have a glut of food from my garden this year. so now I have pickles, salsa, tomato sauce, soup, peaches canned and enough frozen zucchini to last until spring. - 9/20/2013 1:14:53 PM
  • BRENDAKAYTOEWS
    If you're new to canning, you might be confused by the sentence stating that if you've done it correctly, the lids will be sealed and concave. They probably won't be that way when you take them out of the canner. They seal as they cool. That's why it's important to leave them undisturbed for a few hours. Each lid makes a "plink" as it seals, a most rewarding sound! - 7/19/2013 9:42:03 PM
  • I'm curious about this "fuse" that pressure canners supposedly have. There's no electrical parts within the canner. My canner has a pressure relief valve and an overpressure plug, but no "fuse." - 5/20/2013 4:17:04 PM
  • I have a smoothie every morning for breakfast. It contains milk, sugar substitute, chocolate protein powder. and frozen fruits and vegetables from my garden. I freeze my fruits and vegetables on a cookie sheet in ice cube size chunks. They are so easy to use that way and most mild flavored vegetables can be use that way as the chocolate powder hides the vegetable flavor. I am running out of the produce from last year's garden now. Just in time for this year's crop! I find this an easy way to use up my garden excess and also the bananas that get too ripe for my taste. - 5/20/2013 1:29:14 PM
  • you still incur costs for the canning, freezing, and drying. If you buy your fruits and veggies, then I find it hard to believe you would save money. It's still a great idea if you can get produce at peak times locally. - 5/20/2013 9:57:14 AM
  • I love canning. Can't wait for my garden get ready now. I can every year. - 5/20/2013 9:39:22 AM
  • Just a thought... I remembered that there is a publication called "Mother Earth News" that was first available back in the 60's or early 70's, if I recall correctly... They are still in business today, I've seen copies at the library a time or two. I know the older issues had a lot of this sort of information--dire
    ctly from people who used these methods regularly. So, if you're looking for more information on DIY preservation of foods, or anything related to sustainable living, you might want to check it out... - 5/20/2013 8:40:39 AM
  • I've never tried canning. I freeze everything. My inlaws canned everything, but my parents only did it once in a while. Maybe I'll try it some day, bu up to now far I like the ease of freezing. - 5/20/2013 6:32:40 AM
  • I am a old lady who learned to can from my mother I passed it on to my kids - 4/13/2013 12:05:30 PM
  • PLEASE use USDA publications, recipes, etc. for all your food processing. This URL has info and links to most everything you'll need. http://nchfp.uga.
    edu/publicati
    ons/publicati
    ons_usda.html

    Also, altitude makes a difference in processing times, and my quick read-through didn't bring up anything about altitude and processing times. - 9/13/2012 3:57:10 PM
  • what a terrific idea, great for diabetics, people watching sodium and anyone trying to lose weight. Have you guys gone nuts? I read the article in hopes you had suggestions for those of us who always canned and preserved the harvest bounty and now are restricted from eating preserved foods because of salt or sugar. Without any mention of this problem you have done your readers a great dis service. - 9/13/2012 12:52:06 PM
  • Would like to see lacto-fermentatio
    n included in this article, or future ones. - 9/13/2012 10:15:22 AM
  • MAGGIEMAE03815
    Does anyone know where I can purchase fancy covers and lids for gift giving? A few years ago Ball came out with some nice plaid lids/covers.
    thanx - 9/13/2012 7:22:27 AM
  • SUESCHAFFER
    This is only cheaper if you can grow your own fruits and vegetables and if you plan on doing this every year to make your investments work out. We live in a climate where it is almost impossible to grow the fruits and vegetables we would use and if you buy those items you will pay much more than if you just buy it at the store. the biggest benefit to doing it yourself in this situation is that you can adjust your sodium and sugar levels (especially jam) - once you get the hang of it. So, I'd plan to freeze the majority of items in our situation, which is what I do with any extras of any sort as it is. - 8/7/2012 12:15:36 AM

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