Out of the 3 ways to can food at home, my favorite would have to be boiling water canners. It’s the perfect way to create the types of food that I enjoy preserving the most; the fruits, jellies and preserves I love creating.
There are quite a few hot water bath canners on the market, most perfect for the job. Any saucepan is suitable to use as a boiling water canner, just as long as you use one of these racks.
If you’ve never tried home canning before, there are 3 ways available to choose from, although meat and low-acidic vegetables should only be canned in a pressure cooker. The other 2 ways are atmospheric steam canning and this method, the boiling water canners I’m discussing here.
There are certain precautions you need to take, to make sure the food is properly heat treated before storing it. If it isn’t, there’s a real chance of food poisoning, due to the types of bacteria that thrive in untreated food.
Always make sure there is sufficient water covering every side of the jars you use. A wire rack must lift the jars up from the bottom of the water bath so the heat sufficiently treats the underside. The same is for the top. Water must cover the jars by at least a couple of inches to make sure the top of the jar is heated enough.
Follow the next few steps so you create the best possible canned food for storage. If you don’t have a dedicated water bath canner available, use an appropriately-sized saucepan as a boiling water canner substitute. Whatever boiling water canner you choose, just make sure you follow the following steps to avoid bad results.
15 Simple Steps Using Boiling Water Canners
Step #1: Lifting Rack in the Bottom of you Canner
Start by placing the lifting rack in the bottom of your canner. Continue by half-filling your water bath canner with fresh warm water. The amount of water will depend on the size of your jars and how many you place into your canner. Whatever you do, always make sure there’s enough water to cover your jars with at least an inch or 2 of water.
Step #2: Place Water Bath Over the Stove
Place your water bath canner over your stove burner and preheat the water inside. Make sure the burner is directly underneath the canner to ensure maximum heat exposure. Heat the water to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) for foods that are raw and up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius) for foods already cooked. It’s a great time to prepare your food while the water is heating.
Step #3: Load the Jars
Load the food into your jars with ring bands and lids. Use a canning jar lifter to place each jar into your boiling water canners. An important point is not to tilt your jars. If food catches in the sealing ring, the jar won’t seal properly.
For those using a rack that has handles, keep the rack above the water until you have placed all the jars, then lower the rack into the water, using the handles. Careful not to burn yourself with the boiling water.
Step #4: Water Rechecking
Once all the jars are in place and you’re happy with the load, recheck the water level and make sure it’s sitting at least an inch above the top of the jars. 2 inches of water above the jars is needed if the processing time for the jars is greater than 30 minutes.
Step #5: Heat up
Boiling water canners require vast amounts of heat, so turn the canner or your stove to its highest setting until the water inside is boiling vigorously, keeping the lid on throughout to trap the heat inside.
Step #6: Time Setup
Because the water takes some time to reach its boiling point, only set your timer once the water is boiling for the required time to treat the food in your jars.
Step #7: Lid, Heat and Boil
Do not remove the lid during the treatment process. You might reduce the heat setting slightly, but only so long as the water continues to boil.
Step #8: Refill Water Regularly
Because boiling water evaporates quite quickly, you might need to refill the water inside your boiling water canner during the bath. If you do, only use water already at boiling temperature, such as from a freshly boiled kettle. This will ensure the temperature won’t drop when you add the freshwater to the canner.
Step #9: Check for continuous boiling
If you find that the water stops boiling during the treatment process, you’ll need to start over from the very beginning with your heating process and timer. Treat the food in the jars at a specific temperature for the required duration in order to kill the bacteria. Any less and the process will fail. Simply restart the boiling process with sufficient water and restart your timer from the very beginning.
Step #10: Timer checking and confident boiling process
When your timer finally reaches zero and you are confident sufficient time has past with the boiling process completely uninterrupted, turn the heat off. Remove the lid, careful of any steam which spurts from the sides and wait 5 minutes. This will give the jars and its contents sufficient time to settle.
Step #11: Waiting for 5 minutes
After waiting for 5 minutes, remove the jars from the canner with a can lifter and place them onto either a cake cooling rack or a towel. Do not place them on a cool surface and certainly not where a cold draft is blowing. Keep the jars separate enough with at least an inch between them.
Step #12: Cool through
The jars will need sufficient time to cool thoroughly, normally between 12 and 24 hours. It’s very important not to tighten the ring bands during this time, or even push down on the middle of the flat metal lids, until the jars have thoroughly cooled.
Step #13: Removing ring bands
Once cooled, remove the ring bands from your finished jars. If you find unsealed jars, simply place them in the fridge and use them before the other ones.
Step #14: Wash jars
Wash all the jars and lids before storing.
Step #15: Labeling
Use labels to identify each jar and then store away from light, in a cool and dry area.