June 12, 2012 by Sara Kreidler
Prior to June 2012, I included canning prep and processing instructions in every canning recipe that I posted. Frankly, that’s kind of a pain to do, plus if you are an experienced canner you probably don’t need or want to read through that part every time you look at the recipe. So I’m doing what most good canning books and blogs do and putting the basic canning prep and processing instructions all in one spot, for your easy reference. All canning recipes posted after June 2012 include hyperlinks to this post for the prepping and processing instructions.
Basic Canning Preparation and Processing Instructions
- Start with a clean work area (counters, stove, sink) and clean kitchen tools (knives, cutting boards, bowls, pots, spoons, measuring cups, etc.) and clean hands.
- Wash the jars and rinse thoroughly.
- Prep your canning station. I like to lay out the following items before I start preparing my recipe:
- Using your wide mouth funnel and a ladle, fill the hot jars with your product as directed in the recipe, being sure to remove air bubbles (if needed) and leaving the amount of headspace specified by the recipe.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with the damp paper towel. Use the lid wand to remove 1 lid from the pot and place it on top of the jar. Screw the ring onto the jar until it is finger-tip tight (you don’t want it to be too tight or the air won’t be able to escape during processing). Repeat with each jar until all of the jars are full.
- Using your jar lifter, return the filled jars to the boiling water bath canning pot. The water should cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Place the lid on the canning pot and process at a full boil for the length of time specified in your recipe (adjusting for altitude, if applicable).
- When the processing time is up, use your jar lifter to remove the jars from the canning pot and place on a towel on the counter. Do not disturb the jars while they cool. As the jars cool, you may hear a pinging or popping sound – this is the sound of the lids sealing.
- Approximately 12 hours after processing, remove the rings from the jars and test the seals by (1) pushing down on the center — it should not flex, and (2) gently lifting the jar by the sealed lid – it should not come unsealed. If any of the jars failed to seal, simply place them in the refrigerator and use within a week or two. Wash and dry the rings and store until you need to use them again. Storing jars with the rings off is recommended because the lid is designed to alert you to spoilage in the jar by the center popping up and the seal becoming loose, and removing the rings prior to storage ensures that the lid will be able to pop up/dislodge if there is spoilage.
- Use a clean, wet wash rag to wipe down the sealed jars. Sometimes there will be residual food on the outside of the jar (especially where the rings were), and this can cause scum or mold to form on the outside of the jar if it is not wiped off.
- Use a permanent marker to label the lids of your sealed jars with the contents of the jar and the date. Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.