There’s nothing more satisfying than raking in a good harvest and it almost makes you feel like you can finally take a break from all that farming. But not so fast! You still have to make sure that your harvest stays fresh and preserved for the upcoming months. There are numerous ways of storing your harvest and keeping it fresh, such as freezing, drying, and canning it.
Canning is an age-old practice that was used by farmers to preserve their tomatoes and vegetables at a time when refrigeration wasn’t a service that was easily available. It involves adding produce to a jar and then heating it to a point when the air is driven out from it.
So there are two main methods that are completed through pressure canning and a boiling water bath. You can use a boiling water bath to drive out the air from cans that contain tomatoes, or other processes jams or jellies. This even works for pickles, as long as preservatives are added. The jars containing produce are heated by being completely submerged in boiling water.
Pressure canning, on the other hand, is practiced as a way to store vegetables and other products like poultry. In this method, the jars of food have to be placed in a few inches of water while inside of a pressure cooker. The entire setup is then heated to 240 o F at least.
Which Method to Use
High Acidic Foods
The boiling water bath method works well for high acidic foods like tomatoes and other fruits. These contain a pH that is lower than 4.6.
Low Acidic Foods
Pressure canning is implemented for low acidic foods (vegetables), which have a pH above 4.6. The reason why they can only be preserved this way is due to the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a microorganism that can leave behind deadly spores which thrive in low acidic conditions.
The main difference between both methods is that pressure canning is achieved through a high temperature of the boiling water bath. So you’ll need a special pressure cooker to prepare vegetables using this method.
In both methods, you’ll need clean jars and brand new caps. You need to thoroughly sterilize each jar and keep them in boiling water until you’re ready to store your produce. Whether you’ve added the jars to a pressure cooker, or a boiling water bath, you need to give time until the right temperature is achieved. This is 212 o F for the boiling water bath method.
After removing your jars to cool, listen for a popping sound which indicates that the jars have sealed. You can check this by looking for a depression in the lid. If it hasn’t sealed, you should keep them in the fridge to eat soon.
Should You Try Canning?
While the boiling water bath method is great for preserving pickles, jams and salsas, the same can’t be said for a variety of foods that can be stored by the pressure canning process. If you’re looking to store beans, broccoli or other such veggies, you’ll find that other ways to preserve them, such as freezing, are much more suitable. On the other hand, if you want to store produce using the boiling water bath method only, you can add acidic mediums like vinegar or lemon juice that can keep botulinum from growing. Happy Farming!
More about canning here: Can Do