2617251019948 What You Need to Know before You Start Canning? - Believe in the Basics

What You Need to Know before You Start Canning?

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So, you want to do some canning but you’re not sure where to begin. Well, I have some good news for you! Everything you need to know about canning is right here, keep reading.

There are two types of Canning?

  • Boiling-Water Canning

  • Steam-Pressure Canning

Why are there two methods?

There are two methods because there are two types of food you can preserve, high acid and low acid. Therefore, the method you use will depend  on the type of foods you want to preserve. In addition, having a good understanding of how to prevent food spoilage and deterioration is essential to canning safety and success. You see, all around us are microorganisms (yeast, mold, and bacteria) that are invisible and can be harmful under the right conditions. By using the correct processing method and adequate times you can destroy these microorganisms and store food throughout the year.

Temperatures for Food Preservation

Temperature(s) Effect
240 to 250°F Canning temperatures for low acid vegetables, meat, and poultry in a pressure canner.
212°F Temperature water boils at sea level. Canning temperature for acid fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and jellied products in a boiling-water canner.
180 to 250°F Canning temperatures are used to destroy most bacteria, yeasts, and molds in acid foods. Time required to kill these decreases as temperatures increase.
140 to 165°F Warming temperatures prevent growth, but may allow survival of some microorganisms.
40 to 140°F DANGER ZONE. Temperatures between 40°F – 140°F allow rapid growth of bacteria, yeast, and molds.
95°F Maximum storage temperature for canned foods.
50 to 70°F Best storage temperatures for canned and dried foods.
32°F Temperature water freezes.
32 to 40°F Cold temperatures permit slow growth of some bacteria, yeasts, and molds.
-10 to 32°F Freezing temperatures stop growth of microorganisms, but may allow some to survive.
0 to -10°F Best storage temperatures for frozen foods.


Adapted from the “Complete Guide to Home Canning,” Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, NIFA-USDA (Revised 2015). Page reviewed February 2, 2017.

Choosing the proper Method:

Boiling-Water Canning:

You can use this method for high acid foods. The heat is transferred by boiling water which completely surrounds the jar and lid. In fact, you will need to cover the jar and lid with 1 to 2 inches of water. The temperature reaches 212 degrees and must be maintained for the time specified by the recipe you are using. Additionally, this method will destroy molds, yeasts and some bacteria and will inactivate enzymes that can change the flavor, texture and color of your food.

Types of food for Boiling-Water Canning:

  • Fruits and fruit juices
  • Jams and jellies
  • Salsas
  • Tomatoes with added acid
  • Pickles and relishes
  • Chutneys
  • Vinegars
  • Condiments

Steam-Pressure Canning:

Low acid foods are processed in a steam-pressure canner. You have to destroy all bacteria, their spores and the toxins they produce. Low-acid foods are heated to a temperature of 240 degrees and must be held to the time specified by the recipe. Because the steam inside the canner is pressurized, the temperature exceeds the boiling point of water. For instance, 10 pounds of pressure (at or below 1,000 feet above sea level) is enough for the temperature to reach 240 degrees and is hot enough to destroy the bacterial spores that emit toxins into the food.

Types of food for Steam-Pressure Canning:

  • Vegetables
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Stocks
  • Meats
  • poultry
  • seafood
*Note: Recipes that combine high-acid foods, such as tomatoes, with low-acid foods, such as vegetables or meats, are considered low-acid foods.

Jars, Lids and Bands:


Glass home canning jars, also known as Mason Jars, are the only glass jars recommended for home canning. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles. The jars are made specifically for the home canning lid and ensure that the jar is sealed when the manufacturer’s instructions are followed. Always make sure you use the jar specified for the recipe you are following.

Lids and Bands

Lids and Bands are two-piece vacuum caps that come in regular and wide mouth sizes. These consist of a flat metal lid that has a sealing compound and a threaded metal screw that fits over the rim to hold the lid in place during processing. The lids are not reusable; however, the bands are reusable if they are in good condition.

*Note: Older jars are not recommended to be used with the new bands and seals. The bands will not fit tight enough to ensure a proper seal.

Canning Utensils and other equipment:

  • Jar lifter or rack
  • Jar Funnel
  • Plastic Spatula
  • Lid Wand
  • [eafl id=”357″ name=”Ball label” text=”Labels”] (I like the dissolvable labels made by Ball, they wash off in the sink or dishwasher, click the link to buy!)

Now that you have all the basic information you need, you can decide which method will be best for you. I highly recommend purchasing the [eafl id=”356″ name=”Ball Canning Book” text=”BALL® COMPLETE GUIDE TO HOME PRESERVING”] (can’t find it click here!) RECIPE BOOK, this guide is a complete and comprehensive guide on canning and preserving. As a matter of fact, since 1884 Ball has been a trusted brand with over 100 years of experience in the canning and preserving industry.

Canning Supplies




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