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Too Many Veggies? Here’s How to Can and Preserve the Abundance

Lucy Mercer
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Too Many Veggies? How to Can and Preserve the Garden Bounty

Learn how you can save the abundance from your summer vegetable garden when you can, freeze and pickle vegetables. When the harvest starts rolling in, be prepared with techniques to save the abundance from your garden.

There’s no great mystery to canning. It’s simply the process of applying heat to food in a closed space such as a jar. Air is removed from the jar, creating a seal and stopping the natural spoilage process. Follow the proper procedures, and your jars of food will be shelf-stable for up to a year. 

Learn about Canning and More Techniques for Preserving

Canned Tomatoes

Begin with the freshest produce from your garden, the local farm stand or grocery store. Always choose unblemished fruit for canning. Not sure how much you’ll need for a recipe? Check Ball Canning’s Produce Purchase Guide for guidelines.

In canning, there are two types of processing. The first, water bath canning, is for high-acid foods like jams, jellies, fruits and fruit juices, salsas, tomatoes (with added acid), pickles and relishes, chutneys and vinegars. See our water bath canning method, below.

Pressure canning is used for low-acid recipes for vegetables, meats and poultry. This process keeps foods fresh and safe to eat by heating the contents under pressure to 240 degrees Fahrenheit and eliminating the risk of food-borne bacteria. Pressure canning is necessary when you mix high-acid foods with low-acid foods.

 

Preserve the Harvest

2. Pickling. The main difference between pickling and canning is that you add salt and acid. Pickling requires a soak in brine with salt, vinegar and herbs of your choosing. After the desired time (anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months) pickles can be eaten, or the canning method can be used to produce a vacuum seal. The most famous pickle, the cucumber, is easy make at home. Try adding onions, peppers, garlic and your favorite herbs for homegrown flavor.

3. Freezing. Freezing is a quick way to prevent food from spoiling before it is ready to eat. Many foods freeze well, such as berries and corn, but a few — such as lettuce and cucumbers — don’t. Dry food completely before freezing and store in freezer-proof containers. To save space and for smaller portions, fill ice cube trays with herbs, sauces and purees.

4. Drying. Drying is the easiest way to preserve food. Since mold and bacteria grow in a moist environment, and drying removes the moisture, food can be safely stored for a long time. Use a food dehydrator or a low-temperature oven, although the latter can take many hours. Removing the water also concentrates flavors in a tasty way, and it’s a trick for getting kids to eat all kinds of fruits and veggies. Make your own raisins, fruit leathers and veggie chips.

WATER BATH CANNING Basic Steps

MATERIALS:

Ball 21-quart water bath canner with a canning rack, or for small batches, a Ball Canning Discovery Kit (used when preserving tomatoes, salsas, pickles, jellies, jams, fruits and other high-acid foods)
Ball glass preserving jars and bands
Kitchen utensils like a sauce pan, measuring cups and spoons, kitchen knives, large spoons, dish cloths, cutting board, ladle, non-metallic spatula
• Fresh produce and the ingredients for your recipe

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. PREP YOUR GEAR:
• Wash jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
• Keep jars warm until ready to use.
• Fill canner half full with enough water to cover jars with at least one inch of water and heat to a simmer.

2. SELECT YOUR RECIPE:
• Prepare recipe. For inspiration, see FreshPreserving.com.
• Fill each jar with prepared food. Leave headspace for food expansion.
• Remove air bubbles.
• Wipe any food from the rims of the jars.

3. PRESERVE YOUR FOOD:
• Place filled jars into a canning rack, then lower into simmering water, ensuring jars are covered by one inch of water.
• Turn off heat and let jars stand in water for five minutes. Remove jars from water and cool upright on wire rack or towel on countertop for 12 hours.
• Press on center of cooled lid. If jar is sealed, the lid will not flex up or down.
• Store sealed jars in pantry for up to one year. 
• Enjoy your homemade food or give as a gift.

Get more details for canning: Intro to Canning.

Learn more about Canning and Preserving:

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