Canning 101 for Beginners [Canning Food Preservation]

In this article, I will go through canning 101 for beginners and how to can to preserve food.

Canning is a fantastic skill to know, and it’s perhaps the most adaptable of all the preservation techniques. Canning allows you to transform that surplus of green beans and cucumbers into a variety of pickles and relishes that your family will enjoy.

Make wonderful jams, jellies, and butter from fruit that you’ve foraged, gathered from your own garden, or purchased at the store.

Yes, you may stock your pantry with shelf-stable jars of basic meat, but you can also stock it with nutritious soups and dinners in jars. The possibilities of canning are almost limitless!

Here’s how to get started.

Take inventory of your present kitchen items before you begin canning. You should acquire the following equipment. I have listed the best-reviewed Amazon equipment on the right:

  • Jars
  • Tongs 
  • A funnel with a large opening
  • Several different measuring cups
  • A jar opener
  • (for fruits/sauce) A non-reactive, big pot
  • A kitchen rag
  • (for meats/vegetables) Pressure cooker

Methods for Canning

Water bath canning and pressure canning are the two popular ways of canning. Here’s how to utilize each one and when to use it.

1. Water Bath Canning

Water Bath Canning Methods

When full jars are placed in a big pot of water with at least one inch of water covering them, this is known as water bath canning. After that, the water is brought to a boil, and the jars are cooked for a specified amount of time.

The jars will have an interior temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the boiling point of water. Because C. botulinum spores cannot live in high acid environments, high acid foods are processed in a water bath.

Foods with a pH of 4.6 or below are classified as high acid foods. This contains the following…

  • The majority of fruits (apples, pears, peaches, berries, citrus, etc.)
  • Veggies that have been pickled
  • Almost all barbecue sauces and salsas

2. Pressure Canning

Pressure Canning

Pressure canning is done in a big, pressured pot. The pressure canner has a couple of inches of water in it, unlike a water bath canner, which has a complete water bath. The pot’s cover secures itself in place and provides a seal.

The steam builds up pressure as the water heats up, and the internal temperature climbs over the boiling point of water. This is necessary because these spores can only be eliminated at around 240 degrees F, which is what a pressure canner is supposed to achieve.

You’ll be able to confidently can low-acid meals at home after you’ve done so. Foods with low acidity include…

  • Most meat (beef, lamb, and pork)
  • Seafood (fish, oysters, and shrimp)
  • Vegetables (corn, carrots, green beans, etc.)
  • Legumes (dried beans, peanuts)

How to Can

1. Search for Approved Recipes

Always start with a tested recipe and instructions for whatever product you’re canning. There are rules for changing authorized recipes that you may use to experiment with tastes, but it’s always a good idea to start with the preserved food guidelines.

A great guide is the official canning recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Here, you can find how to can almost everything, and they go in-depth into every fruit, every meat, every vegetable, and more in their 7 guides.

2. Get Out Your Supplies

Gather your canning supplies as well as the ingredients for the recipe. In hot, soapy water, wash the canner and rack. Fill the canner halfway with water and place it on the burner over medium heat. Fill a water bath canner 2/3 full with water, then a pressure canner with 3 quarts of water.

Check the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your pressure canner to see if it requires more or less water than 3 quarts. It is not necessary for the water to boil; just below boiling is sufficient.

3. Clean Your Supplies

In a sink full of hot, soapy water, wash the jars and lids. To minimize thermal shock, the jars must be kept heated after washing.

The canner that is being heated on the stove is a nice location to put them in while you work on the recipe. Set aside the lids until they’re needed because they don’t need to be kept hot.

4. Fill the Jars with Food

Carefully spoon the contents into the jars, leaving enough room to allow for expansion. Remove any bubbles with a bubble removal tool and test the headspace.

If the headspace is too big, fill the jars with additional. If you don’t have enough of the recipe to fill all of the jars, use one jar to fill all of the others. The jar that isn’t completely full should be placed in the refrigerator to be used later. Jars with too much headspace should not be canned.

5. Clean Again

Using a clean, moist towel, wipe the jar rims. Fill the jars with the lids and bands. The bands should be finger tightened as if they were a lid on a mayonnaise jar.

6. Choose Your Method

Depending on what food you pick, you have to either choose pressure canning or water bath canning. Here is how to do pressure canning and water bath canning.

How to do Pressure Canning

These are generic pressure canning instructions; for details on your canner, see the manufacturer’s instructions that came with it.

Lower each jar into the pressure canner using canning tongs. Close the cover and increase the heat to high. As the pressure rises, steam will begin to escape — this is known as venting. Allow 10 minutes for the canner to vent.

Place the necessary weight according to the recipe and adjust for altitude on the canner after 10 minutes.

Close the petcock if your canner has one. When the weight in a weighted gauge canner reaches the right pressure, it will begin to jiggle. Set a timer for the processing periods according to the recipe once the right pressure has been obtained.

Turn off the heat and allow the canner to depressurize naturally after the processing period is through. This might take an hour or more, depending on the canner. The canner is entirely depressurized when the dial gauge is at zero or the weight is gently moved, and no steam escapes.

Remove the weight from the vent and let it sit out for 3 minutes once the canner is entirely depressurized. Then, to keep the steam away from your face, open the lid and carefully remove it by moving it away from you.

Take the jars out of the canner. Remove the jars from the canner with tongs and place them on a towel on the counter so they won’t be disturbed. For the following 12-24 hours, do not cover them with a cloth, clean them, tighten the bands, flip them upside down, or touch them in any way. After that, you should be done.

How to do Water Bath Canning

Lower each jar into the water bath canner using canning tongs. When all of the jars are in the canner, the water level should be at least 1 inch above the jars.

If it doesn’t, fill the canner with extra water. Bring the water to a boil by increasing the heat to high. Set a timer for the right processing time after the water is boiling. Turn off the heat beneath the canner when the timer goes off, and let the contents rest for 5 minutes.

Where to Store Canned Food

The above video shows how to store your canned food. This article on How Long Does Canned Food Last covers how to store canned food and how long you should expect canned food to last.

Last Words

I hope you enjoyed this beginner’s guide on canning 101.

All in all, canning is a great method to preserve the crop, prepare for crises and power outages, lessen your reliance on the grocery store, and have a variety of shelf-stable meals on hand for those busy days when the drive-thru is screaming your name.

There are many opportunities to safely experiment with flavors within the prescribed boundaries; just remember to start with the basics and grasp the standards for each item. Then have a good time!

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5 thoughts on “Canning 101 for Beginners [Canning Food Preservation]”

  1. I have been looking for an article like this for quite a while so thank you for this
    I can’t wait to get started on this journey

  2. I really like this article. The novice canner will find a wealth of information in this one. Food preservation is a major concern of mine, and this blog has some excellent advice in the preservation process. Thank you so much for putting together such a fun and useful guide. 🙂


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