Long-term food storage method: Canning

Canning your own food is relatively a simple process but there are important steps to follow to ensure it is done properly. If it is not, then there is a risk of getting botulism or other illnesses. There are a few different ways that you can, can foods but for this article we will focus on the two most commonly used types water bath canning and pressure canning.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning is very simple! It is method that can only be used for foods high in acidity. A water bath canner is basically a large stock pot that has a rack inside that your jars sit on that allows you to process at a temperature of 212*F. You can either purchase a dedicated water bath canner or if you have a large enough stock pot that will work well also.
Below is a sample list of which high acidity foods can be canned using this method and some require adding lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid :
Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, figs, gooseberries, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, pickles, pineapples, plums, relish, rhubarb, sauerkraut, and sour cherries.
All of these can used to make jams, jellies, sauces, marmalades, marinades, and more.
The items you need to do this include canning jars, funnel, headspace tool, jar & lid lifter, and a timer. Also before you begin you must clean and sterilize your jars, and always make sure you fill them with HOT food items only. If not, they’ll break and the canning process will not work properly.
One tip I suggest is to make sure your work area is clean and well organized, this helps the process to flow more smoothly.

If you have never canned I do recommend purchasing the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for more detailed instructions.
canned apple butter


Pressure Canning

Pressure canning is basically the same idea as water bathing, but at 240*F. A pressure canner is used when you are processing foods that have low acidity levels. The clostridium botulinum bacteria, commonly called botulism thrives in low acid foods. By using a pressure canner, you can ensure that any bacteria is killed and is vital for keeping you and your family safe.
Two main types of pressure canners are used:
  Weighted Gage Canner     and      Dial Gauge Canner
pressure-canner-16qtpressure canner
A weighted gauge canner exhausts small amounts of steam throughout the canning process. They usually come with an adjustable weight that is 5, 10, or 15 lbs. of pressure. Some pressure cookers come with a more standard weight only being 15lbs, and recipes can still be processed the same.
Many of the newer models have the weighted gauges, and are affordable to purchase.

It is important that if you use a dial gauge canner you have the dial tested once a year. This can be done at most local Coop Extension Office’s, just search for one in your county. It is very important, because if the pressure is not building up as it should the bacteria’s in the foods will not be killed in the canning process. The dial also requires supervision throughout the entire process to ensure the adequate amount of pressure not only has been reached but is also being maintained.

Some of the types of foods that must be pressure canned include:

Asparagus, beans, beets, carrots, corn, okra, peas, spinach, turnips, meats, seafood's, soups, and stocks.

Note: A pressure canner is not the same as a pressure cooker* (yes, I have been asked)
**Elevation Matters, in All Canning Methods**

So, How Long Does Canned Food Stay Good?

Well surprisingly they may in fact out last YOU, if done properly!
Basically as long as the food appears to look and smell good, and there is no indication of spoilage then it is safe to eat years and years after it was canned. There have been many studies conducted on home canned foods that were up to 100 years old and the food was still safe to eat!
Yes, I said 100 years old!!!!
You can check out these studies at the link provided: Shelf Life Studies

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