Welcome to the Canning & Preserving section of Growing a Greener World, where canning expert Theresa Loe shows you how to capture that fresh-picked flavor in a jar. Theresa shares weekly canning recipes, techniques, videos and more. Learn how easy it is to preserve the season in fun, delicious ways!
What You’ll Find Here
Why Preserve Your Food?
There are so many great reasons to can and preserve the harvest! It allows you to:
- Capture seasonal flavor like a time capsule – to be enjoyed later when the season is over.
- Eat local even when that food is out of season.
- Know exactly what is in your food.
- Share your garden easily with friends and family.
- Be closer to your food and how it is made.
- Experiment with different spices and herbs.
- Enjoy a fun hobby that is steeped in tradition.
New to Canning? Start Here:
To a newbie, canning might seem intimidating or overwhelming. There are worries about technique, equipment requirements or worse…worries about poisoning someone! Fear not. There are some very simple and SAFE ways to start that do not require any specialized equipment. Here are two recommended articles from Theresa: Waterbath Canning 101 and Canning Safety.
Theresa’s Top 5 Tips for Beginning Canners:
Understand that you can safely can high acid foods such as jams, jellies and pickles without the fear of botulism. That scary toxin that everyone talks about cannot grow in these foods because of the pH level. So you can safely process these types of foods without that worry. Thats why high acid foods are great place to start with canning.
- Jams, jellies and pickles are water-bath canned and require no specialized equipment other than a large stockpot to use as your “canner.” You can buy a very inexpensive canner just about anywhere that canning supplies are sold, but you can also use a large pot of your own. Just place something on the bottom of the pot to raise up the jars: a cake rack, large trivet or even a layer of canning jar lids set on the bottom. (Click to learn more about water bath canning.)
- Other than a canner or stockpot, I do recommend you buy a jar-lifter. It makes life so much easier when you have to add or remove the jars from the hot water. They are not expensive and can be found where ever canning supplies are sold.
- Use standard 2-piece canning jars that have ring and a lid. They are easy, readily available and called out in all USDA recommendations for canning. You can try some of the other jars after you get your bearings and fully understand the canning process.
- Use a modern recipe from a source that uses USDA recommendations for techniques. Canning practices have changed since our grandmother’s canned and you need to use a modern recipe to have the best success and be safe.
Frequently Asked Canning Questions:
Can I reuse old sauce or mayonnaise jars for canning?
No. It is not safe to do this. The jars were not made for multiple canning uses. It is best to use standard canning jars which are made with tempered glass.
Is it safe to steep fruit in alcohol?
Yes, you can safely make flavored liqueurs this way. Here is an article on Making Flavored Liqueurs.
Can I water bath can green beans?
No, you can NOT safely water bath can green beans or other vegetables unless they are pickled. Most vegetables are low acid foods. If low acid foods are sealed in a a vacuum (like a canning jar), the botulism spore can grow there and cause serious illness. To learn what is safe to can in a water bath, see my post on Canning Safety.
Is there BPA in canning jar lids?
Yes, Bisphenol-A is in some lids. I have the latest information on this subject over at: BPA in canning lids.
Can you get botulism from fermented foods?
You cannot get botulism from fermented foods because of the salt and the fact that fermentation creates lactic acid. Even if a food starts out as a low acid food (like veggies), the fermentation process changes it to a high acid food. That keeps botulism at bay. Botulism is only an issue when you seal up a low acid food in a vacuum (anaerobic environment). Low acid + anaerobic = botulism. You have neither of those factors with fermented food.
About Theresa Loe
A life-long canner, city homesteader and graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program, Theresa Loe is passionate about taking the garden full circle (from seed, to table, to pantry) and capturing that seasonal, fresh-picked flavor with style. She is an award-winning garden writer for television and print media and one of the founding producers of Growing A Greener World. Specializing in city homesteading, edible landscapes, school educational gardens and preserving the harvest, Theresa is all about gardening sustainably.