Canning 101: 7 Recipes to Can Your Fruits and Vegetables
Canning may seem like an overwhelming endeavor, particularly if you’re new to it. However, don’t be intimidated by the canning process. It’s a great way to ensure your fruits and veggies never go to waste again, and it gives you the chance to enjoy seasonal produce year-round. To help you master canning, we’ve compiled 7 recipes along with a brief tutorial so you can easily create delicious salsa, relish, jellies, and jams.
The Canning Process
There are two different canning methods, and it’s dependent on the foods you’re using. If you’re using ingredients with high acidity, such as fruits and tomatoes, Fresh Preserving writes that you can process them in a boiling water bath canner, because the naturally acidic foods are able to kill bacteria at boiling point. Typically, if you’re looking to can fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies, and other fruit spreads, salsas, or tomatoes, this is the method you’ll use. You’ll need a boiling water bath canner or a large, deep saucepot with a lid and a rack.
If you’re using foods with a low acidity, such as vegetables and soups, you’ll need a pressure canner, which can reach high enough temperatures (around 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill any bacteria. You should use this method when you’re preserving any vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood to eliminate the risk of any foodborne bacteria, according to Fresh Preserving.
Before getting started, also make sure you’ve got mason jars with new lids and bands, in addition to everyday kitchen utensils such as a spatula, funnel, and tongs. Now that you’ve got the basics down, here is a step-by-step guide to follow, per Taste of Home. Aside from the different kinds of canners, the overall canning process for both low- and high-acidity foods is basically the same.
- Gather your ingredients. Read through the recipe and instructions. Wash and dry jars, lids, and bands. To prevent cracking when hot food is added, heat jars and lids in hot (not boiling) water. Bands should be kept at room temperature so they’re easier to handle.
- Simmer 2-3 inches of water in pressure canner or fill boiling water canner half-full of water and simmer while food is being prepared and placed in jars. If using a pressure canner, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Prepare food.
- Remove jars from canner using tongs or similar kitchen utensil and fill with food, leaving appropriate headspace, which is the space between the food and the lid, as called for in recipe. If the recipe calls for it, remove air bubbles in food by running a spatula between the food and the inside of the jar. Clean rim of jar and place lid on top, making sure it’s centered so the seal makes contact with the rim. Tightly screw on band.
- Return filled jars to canner. If using a pressure canner, follow manufacturer’s directions. If using a boiling water canner, place lid on top and bring to a boil. Depending on the recipe and your altitude, processing times will differ. Remove jars from canner and let sit 12-24 hours. Don’t retighten or adjust the bands. To be sure the lid is sealed to the jar rim, remove the band and try to lift the lid off. If the lid stays put, the jar was sealed successfully. Label your jars and store in a dry, cool place. You’re now ready to get started!
1. Peach, Plum, and Ginger Jam
The Kitchn‘s peach, plum, and ginger jam recipe is a great starter, particularly if you’ve never canned before. You’ll need plums, peaches, ginger, sugar, and lemon to create this fresh, fruity jam. While this recipe doesn’t actually involve canning, The Kitchn recommends it as a starter recipe because it gives you a feel for turning your produce into preserved food. Begin with this jam if you’re hoping to ease into the canning process.
- 2 dozen small, yellow plums
- 4 medium peaches
- 1 teaspoon grated, fresh ginger
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 lemon, juiced
Directions: Cut the plums away from their pits and into chunks. Pit and peel the peaches and cut into chunks. You should have about four cups of fruit. Add fruit and the rest of the ingredients to a large sauce pan. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, mashing the fruit into small pieces as it softens and cooks. Cook until a candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
2. Garden Tomato Relish Recipe
This Taste of Home recipe allows you to use up your garden leftovers and calls for tomatoes, onions, and peppers as the salsa’s main ingredients. It’s a great way to spice up a hamburger or hot dog the next time you grill out. You’ll use the water bath canner method for this recipe, which yields 10 pints.
10 pounds tomatoes
- 3 large sweet onions, finely chopped
- 2 medium sweet red peppers, finely chopped
- 2 medium green peppers, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 4 ½ cups white vinegar
- 2 ½ cups packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons canning salt
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Directions: In a large saucepan, bring 8 cups water to a boil. Add tomatoes, a few at a time; boil for 30 seconds. Drain and immediately place tomatoes in ice water. Drain and pat dry; peel and finely chop. Place in a stockpot. Add onions and peppers. Place mustard and celery seed on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with string to form a bag.
Add spice bag and the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 60-75 minutes or until slightly thickened. Discard spice bag. Carefully ladle relish into hot 1-pint jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process in boiling water canner for 20 minutes.
3. Raspberry Jam
You’ll use the boiling water bath canner method for Food.com‘s recipe. This 2-ingredient recipe, which yields 6 cups, is sweet and savory, and the raspberries have enough natural pectin in their seeds to thicken this jam to perfection.
- 4 cups mashed raspberries
- 4 cups sugar
Directions: Use a very large pot. When the jam reaches a full rolling boil, it will double in volume. Heat mashed berries until they reach a full rolling boil. Boil 2 minutes. Add sugar. Stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Beat with rotary beater for 4 minutes. Pour in sterilized jars and seal.
4. Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
Prepare to be amazed at how delicious this Better Homes and Garden recipe is. The flavorful sauce uses fresh herbs, peppers, and brown sugar to create a mouthwatering garlic-tomato pasta sauce. You’ll use a boiling water canner for this recipe, which yields 24 servings.
- 6 bulbs garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium red, yellow, and/or green sweet peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 12 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt or 4 teaspoons regular salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, snipped
- 1 cup lightly packed assorted fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme, parsley, and/or basil, snipped
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut off the top ½ inch of each garlic bulb to expose ends of individual cloves. Leaving garlic bulbs whole, remove any loose, papery outer layers. Place bulbs, cut ends up, in a 1- to 1 ½-quart casserole. Drizzle bulbs with 1 tablespoon of the oil; cover casserole. Arrange sweet pepper halves, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet; brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
Roast garlic and peppers about 40 minutes or until garlic feels soft and peppers are charred. Cool garlic in casserole on a wire rack. Bring foil up around peppers and fold edges together to enclose. Let peppers stand about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard skins. Chop peppers; set aside. Remove garlic cloves from paper skins by squeezing the bottoms of the bulbs. Place garlic cloves in a food processor. Cut peeled tomatoes into chunks; add some of the chunks to the garlic in food processor. Cover and process until chopped.
Transfer chopped garlic and tomatoes to a 7- to 8-quart stainless-steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot. Working in batches, repeat chopping the remaining tomatoes in the food processor. Add all of the tomatoes to pot. Add brown sugar, salt, vinegar, and black pepper to tomato mixture. Bring to boiling. Boil steadily, uncovered, for 50 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in chopped peppers. Boil for 10 to 20 minutes more or until mixture reaches desired consistency (you should have about 11 cups), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in basil and assorted herbs.
Spoon 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice into each of six hot sterilized pint canning jars. Ladle hot pasta sauce into jars with lemon juice, leaving a ½-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands. Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes; start timing when water returns to boiling. Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.
5. Green Beans
Simply Canning‘s green bean recipe is the perfect way to ease into using a pressure canner. You’ll need about 14 pounds of beans for a canner load of 7 quarts, or 9 pounds for 9 pints.
- Green beans
- Canning salt, optional
Directions: Wash beans in cold water and snap them to the desired size. Green beans can be either hot packed or cold packed, which is also referred to as raw pack. Hot packing allows you to get more in a jar. For both styles, you can add canning salt to your jars, either ½ teaspoon for pints or 1 teaspoon for quarts. Salt is completely optional and for taste only.
To hot pack your beans, boil the beans 5 minutes before packing jars. Drain and pack into jars loosely and cover with boiling water leaving 1-inch head space. To cold pack, fill jars tightly with raw beans. Cover with boiling water leaving 1-inch head space. After your jars have been filled, remove air bubbles by running a plastic utensil down inside the jar between the jar and the beans. Press lightly to release trapped air. Wipe the rims of your jars clean and place canning lids. Place filled jars in a pressure canner, and process according to pressure canning instructions. For a pint, process for 20 minutes, and for a quart, process for 25 minutes.
6. Creamed Corn
You’ll never need to buy your creamed corn from a store again. Food Preserving‘s recipe is easy to follow and makes a delicious, creamy side dish you can look forward to enjoying all year. You’ll use a pressure canner for this recipe.
- Fresh ears of corn (approx 2 ears per pint)
- Boiling water
- Kosher salt
Directions: Begin by pre-heating the pint jars in boiling water and the rings/seals in simmering water; they will sterilize while you prepare the corn. Put the pressure canner on high heat with 2 inches of water inside. Husk corn, removing silk and any blemishes. Wash cobs then drain and cut away kernels. Scrape the sides of the cob to remove any pulp and any milk remaining; these get put aside in a big bowl.
Measure the corn, milk, and pulp mixture into a pot, adding ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 and ¼ cups boiling water for every pint of kernels. Stir to combine and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove corn from the pot, scooping into pre-heated pint jars. Ladle hot cooking liquid to 1-inch headspace. Remove bubbles, adding extra liquid. Wipe rims, apply seals, and twist bands on to fingertip-tight.
Place hot jars into pressure canner, which has 2 inches of hot water already inside. Attach pressure canner lid and heat on high until visible white steam has vented for 10 minutes. Add weight and bring up to 10 pounds pressure then process for 85 minutes. Once finished, turn off heat, allow pressure to return to zero before venting then remove lid. Remove jars after 5 minutes to a tea towel-covered bench to rest overnight. The next day remove bands, label and store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months.
7. Watermelon Preserves
You’ll use the water bath canner method for AllRecipes.com‘s watermelon preserves. This is a great way to add fruity flavor to toast or English muffins, and will allow you to enjoy watermelon’s fresh flavors year-round.
- 3 pounds watermelon
- 3 cups white sugar
- 3 lemons, rinsed, sliced, and seeded
Directions: Remove the green rind of the melon, and dice the white part into small cubes, leaving the red flesh mostly intact. Remove seeds. In a heavy stockpot, combine 4 cups of the prepared watermelon, sugar, and lemons. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let the mixture boil slowly for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The temperature of the mixture should be at 220 degrees Fahrenheit so the jam will set.
Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within ¼ inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.