Canning and Freezing Guide  

Basic Tips on Food Preservation

Our brief canning and freezing guide will give you the basics and some helpful reminders to help your food preserving day go easier and faster. We’ve included a list of basic supplies and equipment you will need.

After years of canning, freezing and dehydrating our garden harvest, one thing I have learned is that the whole day goes better when you get all your tools out and handy to access.

One time I missed the jar lifter until it was time to lift the jars out. Even when you can fruit the timing is crucial so the food comes out at its peak.  This time, recovering from major surgery which made raising my arms difficult and painful, but being anxious to preserve some Okanagan peaches that grow in plenty around here, I decided to can peaches. I have water bath canners but I prefer to use my tall pressure canner as a water bath.  

It’s easy to put the jars into the canner but when it came time to get them out I couldn’t find my jar lifter. I finally ended up going through storage boxes in the garage before I found it. In the meantime, the jars were sitting in hot water. Then I had so much trouble to lift them out because of my arms…well, the peaches were a little overcooked. So, when I say, get ALL your equipment and supplies out first, I speak from great experience!

Don’t argue, just do it. :-)

Freezing and canning are wonderful ways to preserve the bounty of your garden, the local farmers market, and/or even sales at your grocery store. If you've never preserved food before, it may seem a bit overwhelming. Maybe you've dabbled a bit in canning or freezing (most of us freeze foods at one time or another!), but you've never made a habit of it or attempted to feed your family on preserved foods through the winter. Regardless of where you are in the food preservation experience, a basic canning and freezing guide can be very helpful.

Here is a brief overview of canning and freezing.

Canning and Freezing Guide  

What Foods to Preserve and When:

Pretty much any produce can be preserved by canning and/or freezing. While the fresher the better, you don't have to have a garden. You can preserve foods from your local farmers' market and grocery store too. It's a great way to take advantage of sales, but beware - sometimes great deals on produce mean the produce is on the verge of decay. That kind of sale produce is best eaten that same day. But if there's a sale on fresh produce, go for it.

Toward the end of the growing season, you may find some great sales at your local farmers' market or open air market. Bell peppers and tomatoes may still be picked fresh and ripe at the end of September, but the vendors are wrapping things up for the summer and will often have good deals.

Learning what foods are in season is a good way to find not only the freshest foods that will be available, but also to anticipate sales. If you know that peaches are in season from June to August, for instance, then you can keep an eye out for sales in mid-August.

You can also can or freeze meats and fish, which you may find on sale periodically at your local market or purchase from a local farmer or fisherman. Maybe it's time to go fishing!

Canning and Freezing Guide  

Equipment

For canning, you'll need some basic items:

  1. Wide-mouth funnel
  2. Canning jars in whatever size(s) you like
  3. Lids, rings, etc to fit jars
  4. Secure grip jar lifter
  5. Large tongs with rubber coating
  6. Canner - Pressure canner for low acid foods like vegetables, and/or, a water bath canner (comes with rack and lid) or large, deep pot with lid for high acid foods
  7. Measuring spoons and cups
  8. Large pots, bowls, etc for preparing food
  9. Knife, paring and knife with long thin blade
  10. Kitchen timer
  11. Oven mitts, rubber gloves

For jelly making: a jelly bag

For freezing, you need some simpler items:

  1. Zip top freezer bags
  2. Wax paper
  3. Cookie sheets or trays
  4. Ice cube trays (for chopped herbs or purees)

A good book is another optional but handy piece of equipment for both freezing and canning. You can read it and get an idea of what you want to do, and a book will also have canning recipes.

Or look for complete information online.

Canning and Freezing  Guide  

Tips

  1. Sterilization is essential. Everything - jars, tongs, lids, etc. - should be boiled for 10 minutes before use.
  2. Low-acid foods need to be pressure-canned to make sure all bacteria are gone.
  3.  When freezing in plastic bags, place them on a tray so that the bag does not sag between the rungs of the freezer shelf.
  4. Freeze foods as quickly as possible in quick freeze section. 
  5. Freezer bags of puree or juice can be placed inside a 1 liter tetra pack box with the top cut off (or liter or 2 liter clean milk carton before freezing.  Remove the bag after it’s frozen to have square packages that store compactly.
  6. Always wear gloves when handling large quantities of frozen food.
  7. Leave head space in freezer container  to allow for expansion during freezing.
  8. Label Everything!

Canning and Freezing Guide; Return To Homepage


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