Canning and Preserving

Locally grown food, especially if you’re buying heirloom produce, may not have the shelf life of grocery store varieties. Canning and preserving can extend the life and nutritional value of these delicious foods, and, if you do it right, is perfectly safe.


Canning goes bad when oxygen is introduced. Good canning practices all focus on removing oxygen and bad bacteria from the food. Always use the best locally grown foods in your canning, wash them well and peel them. Use good canning practices such as hot packing, adding enough acid, using proper jars and lids, and using the right type and length of processing. And don’t forget to store it correctly. Home canned foods should be stored below 95 degrees and ideally from 50 to 70 degrees.


Boiling water processing is safe only for high-acid foods and recipes. Think fruit jams and jellies. To process food in a boiling water canner, follow these steps:

• Fill the canner halfway with clean water. This is about the amount you need for pint jars. Make sure the water is 1-2 inches over the top of a full jar.

• Preheat the water to 140 degrees for raw-packed foods and 180 degrees for hot packed foods.

• Load filled and lidded jars into a canner rack or plate and add more boiling water if needed.

• Turn the heat all the way up, cover the canner with the lid and heat until the water boils vigorously.

• Set a timer for the total minutes called for in your recipe. Keep the lid on and boil throughout the time called for. If the water stops boiling, bring it back to a boil and start the process over.

• When the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Wait five minutes, then remove the jars to a towel. Let the jars sit undisturbed to cool at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.


Low-acid recipes need to be pressure canned for safety. It’s a little more complicated and a longer process than boiling water canning, but it uses much less water. You can pressure can with just 2-3 inches of water in the bottom of your canner. Follow your recipe. To process food in a pressure canner, follow these steps:

• Place the appropriate amount of water in your canner and put filled jars in your rack inside the pot.

• Turn the heat to high and put the lid on the canner, leaving the vent port or petcock open. Heat until steam flows freely from the opening.

• Pressurize the canner by putting the weight on the vent port. Start the recipe timer when the weight starts to rock or jiggle. If you’re using a gauge, start it when it reads the correct pressure.

• Regulate heat to keep pressure steady until the timer goes off. Turn off the heat, wait 10 minutes or until the pressure decreases appropriately, then open the cooker. Keep the lid opening away from you.

• Place the jars on a rack and allow to cool for several hours.