Is Your Canning Equipment Ready?

— Written By and last updated by

canning equipment and producePlanning ahead can save you time, money and frustration with home canning. Using reliable, safe and proper equipment will produce high quality home canned items. Now is the time to check your food preservation equipment and supplies for happy, successful canning.

There are two types of equipment for heat-processing home-canned foods. The boiling water canners and pressure canners.

Boiling water canners are recommended for processing acid foods, such as fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. The boiling water canners are usually made of aluminum and have removable perforated racks and fitted lids. The canner must be deep enough so that at least 1 inch of briskly boiling water will be over the tops of the jars during processing.

Low-acid vegetables, meats, fish and poultry must be processed in a pressure canner to eliminate botulism risks. There are two types of pressure canners a weighted gauge model and a dial gauge pressure canner.

A weighted gauge model exhausts tiny amounts of air and steam each time the gauge rocks or jiggles. They control pressure precisely and the sound of the weight rocking or jiggling indicates the canner is maintaining the correct pressure.

The dial gauge pressure canner indicates the pressure readings on a dial. The dial gauge should be tested each year for accuracy before use. Gauges that read high cause under-processing and can result in unsafe food. These canners have a counterweight or pressure regulator for sealing off the vent pipe to pressurize the canner. This weight should not be confused with weighted gauge and will not jiggle or rock.

If your pressure canner has a rubber gasket around the rim, make sure that it is pliable, flexible and soft. If the rubber gasket is brittle, sticky or cracked it will need to be replaced.

Check to make sure any small pipes or ventports with openings are clean and open all the way through. All types of canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars off the bottom of the canner.

canning jarsMake a close examination of your jars by inspecting them for nicks, cracks, or chips especially around the top sealing edge. Nicks can prevent your jars from sealing and old jars can weaken with age and repeated use and can break under pressure and heat. Be sure to purchase new flat lids. Used lids should always be thrown away. The screw bands are re-usable if they are not bent, dented or rusted.

There are several serious errors that can occur during home canning. Don’t forget to adjust for altitude. To correct this error, canners must be operated at the increased specified pressures. Make sure the jars are processed using the correct time and pressure for your altitude.

Canning green beans and other vegetables in boiling water instead of under pressure following a properly researched procedure and a tested recipe can be a deadly mistake. Botulism poisoning can result from improperly processed vegetables.

For more information contact Dee Decker at the Swain County Cooperative Extension Office at 488-3848.