The fruits and vegetables we grow in our garden are too delicious to enjoy for only a few months a year. There are many ways to preserve these foods for the colder months and one of the easiest and longest-lasting is water bath canning.
Water bath canning can be used for a variety of high acid foods like whole fruit, fruit-based jams and jellies, tomatoes, and an assortment of pickled vegetables. Low acid foods need to be pressure canned.
Clean jars and rings
New canning lids
Large, high sided pot
Headspace measuring tool
Basic Water Bath Canning Steps
- Have your recipe prepared. Many canning recipes require warm ingredients to be added to warm jars.
- Fill the canning pot with rack at least half full of water and heat to simmering.
- Remove lids and rings from jars. Place jars in water using jar lifer and bring water up to boiling. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sanitize.
- Place lids in small pot with warm water to soften the seals.
- Remove jars with jar lifter and carefully dump water back into pot.
- Use funnel to fill jars with your recipe. Leave ¼”- ½” of space at the top of your jar, this is called headspace and your jar won’t seal without it. The recipe will specify the exact amount of headspace needed.
- Wipe the rim of the jars with a damp paper towel and apply the lids. Put the rings on the jars but avoid over tightening the rings, they should only be finger tight.
- Place the filled jars back in the pot of boiling water and cover pot. Cook for time indicated in the recipe.
- Remove the jars from the pot and place on a towel. The jars with need to cool for 12-24 hours and you may hear a ping sound as they cool. The top of the lid should be indented when fully cooled. Remove rings and check the seal of the lid, unsealed jars can be refrigerated.
- Store in a cool, dark place. Most canned recipes will last for 1 year.
Bread and Butter Pickles (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Makes: Four 1-pint jars
2 pounds small (pickling) Cucumbers
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Tablespoons canning and pickling salt
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon Ball Pickle Crisp
- Trim ends from cucumbers and cut into ¼” slices. Quart and thinly slice onion. Stem, seeds, and slice pepper into matchsticks.
- In a large bowl, toss cucumbers, onion, and peppers with salt. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Drain vegetables in a colander and pat dry with paper towels.
- Fill canning pot with rack half full of water and bring to a simmer. Place empty jars in pot and make sure the water will cover jars by at least 1”. Bring water to a boil and sanitize jars for 10 minutes.
- Place vinegar, sugar, water, and spices in a large pot and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves.
- Place a towel on the counter and remove jars from the pot using jar lifter, dumping water back into the pot, and place on the towel.
- Add 1/8 teaspoon of Pickle Crips to each jar and pack tightly with vegetables.
- Using a funnel, add the vinegar brine to the jars leaving ½” of headspace at the top of each jar. Use a skewer of butter knife to remove any air bubbles, sliding it along the inside edges of the jars.
- Wipe the jar rims with a damp paper towel and place lids on jars. Put rings on the jars fingertip tight, avoid over tightening.
- Place jars in the canning pot and boil for 30 minutes. Remove jars from the pot and let cool for 24 hours. Check lids for a good seal and store them in a cool, dark place.