Canning vegetables is a great way to build home food storage and do it cheaply and safely – and you can use your home grown vegetables all year round! Canning vegetables can be a slightly time consuming process – depending on how many cans you want – and is also a risky undertaking if you aren’t sure what you are doing. However, once you know how to safely can, you will be hooked forever!
Canning vegetables needs to be done very carefully. If not done properly, germs and bacteria will grow – germs that can make you sick or even be deadly.Botulism is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to at home canning. The bacteria that cause botulism is found in soil, and can grow and produce toxins within sealed jars. The only protection against this bacteria is through the heat that is applied when canning. One key part of canning is this – it was once considered acceptable to use boiling water as a safe way to can vegetables. This is not true. The only way to ensure safe canning processes is by using a pressure cooker. Low acid vegetables (which includes all vegetables except for tomatoes) are the most likely to contain the botulism bacteria. This bacteria can only be killed at a temperature of 240 degrees, where boiling water only reaches a temperature of 212 degrees.
When beginning the canning process only select fresh, young vegetables. Wash the vegetables in cool, running water and avoid soaking. You can trim off any blemishes to the plants, and peel the vegetables if you desire.
The two different types of packing are Hot and Cold Packing. Hot packing means that you are cooking the vegetables prior to placing them in the storage jars, and Cold Packing means that you are not cooking the vegetables. Regardless of the type of packing you prefer, the process is basically the same. Cook the vegetables (or just wash and prepare raw vegetables), and fill each jar within 1 inch of the top of the jar. Add the hot liquid that you just cooked the vegetables in (or boiling water if cold packing) also to about 1 inch from the top of the jar. Make sure to remove all air bubbles from the jar prior to sealing. Once that is done, place in a pressure cooker and process at 10-11 pounds of pressure – which reaches 240 degrees. The amount of time in the pressure cooker will vary based on the vegetable.
When storing canned foods that you know are sealed tightly, make sure to label and date your cans prior to putting onto your storage shelves. Jars and cans should not be stored anywhere that reaches higher than 95 degrees, or near anything that may reach that temperature – ie pipes, heating vents, etc. All jars and cans should be stored in a cool dry place as dampness or humidity may corrode the metal lids.
Make sure to follow appropriate directions when it comes to preparing and using your pressure cooker. When this is done correctly, canning can be a very cost effective and safe way to store all your fresh, home-grown vegetables throughout the entire year!