I’m not sure when we decided that canning was something we’d like to get into – but it’s something we’ve talked about for awhile now. Gardening certainly got us thinking about it – every year in August we end up with waaay more tomatoes than we can eat, so it makes sense to try to preserve it so we can enjoy the garden goodness all year long.
My sisters-in-law were kind enough to get me a book for my birthday all about home preserving – and while we won’t have fresh garden veggies for awhile yet, we did pick up a pound of rhubarb at the farmer’s market over the weekend and decided no was the time to try canning! We picked up everything we needed at Canadian Tire on Tuesday – 500ml mason jars, a wire rack for our big pot, and a kit of canning essentials (including a magnetic wand to pick up the metal lids out of hot water, a bubble remover that doubles as a measure to check head space, a funnel sized for mason jars, and tongs designed to get the jars in and out of the hot water).
We actually made jam last summer as well – using our bread maker (Yes – our bread maker has a jam setting! So cool!) – but this time we decided to try it all on the stovetop. Making jam is really pretty simple – you mix the mashed up fruit or berries with a bit of lemon juice and get it nice and hot then mix in a load of sugar, get it to a hard boil, and then transfer into the jars. I’m not sure how I’ll do it next time.. the bread maker is certainly easier (very little hands on time), but it takes about an hour longer.
Back to the canning itself. It’s not a hard process in the slightest – though I already feel like the next round will be even easier now that I know what I’m doing and won’t be reading the instructions constantly. The process is basically this:
- Wash all of the mason jars and lids thoroughly with soapy water. Don’t worry about drying them.
- Put the jars into a large pot with wire rack, fill with water to cover the jars and heat. Don’t get it quite boiling – just nice and hot. (around 180°F).
- Put the metal lids (just the flat part – not the screw top part) into a smaller pan of hot, but not boiling, water.
- Prepare the jam/whatever you’re canning.
- Carefully remove a mason jar from the hot water, pouring the water back into the pot as you pull it out. Place it on a heat proof surface – a kitchen dish towel folded over works just fine.
- Ladle jam into the jar using the funnel. Be careful – it’s very hot and sticky (… That’s what she said?)
- Leave 1/4″ headspace and remove the bubbles (a chopstick would work for this if you don’t have a fancy bubble remover). Adjust the headspace if needed.
- Wipe the rim and place the metal lid onto the jar – the magnet wand thing was awesome for pulling it out of the hot water. Highly recommended.
- Screw the screwband part over the lid and tighten. Instructions say it should be “fingertip tight” – essentially tight, but not crazy tight.
- Put it back into the water and repeat with all of the jars.
- Boil the jars in the water for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat and let cool (in the water) for about 5 minutes, and then carefully pull out of the water. Let them cool for 24 hours in a draft-free area where they won’t be disturbed and then check to make sure it formed a seal. The lids should be concave – so there should be no give when you tap the top. If it didn’t seal – no worries, just eat it right away or try to boil again. If it sealed properly it should keep for about a year with no refrigeration!
We’re hoping to do some sort of canning once or twice a month through the summer… next project: Pickles!