Home Canning Fruit

Home canning is a good technique for preserving fruit all year and can also be food for use in unexpected emergencies.

Canning was the most popular method of preserving fruits and other foods since 1809 when the technique was first developed by a Frenchman Nicholas Appert. Today, home canning is not the necessity that it was at that time. Well stocked grocery stores, refrigerators, and other modern appliances have reduced the need for most home food preservation. Canning is more often seen as a way of preparing for unexpected emergencies that could cut off trucking supplies to grocery stores or electricity to run our appliances. It is also a way of life to can large supplies of seasonal fruit if you have your own orchard.

HOW CANNING WORKS

The scientific principle behind canning is simple. Food decay and spoilage is caused either by enzymes in the food itself or by bacteria and other micro-organisms. By canning foods the food is heated to a high temperature to stop the action of the enzymes and till kill all decay organisms. The food is then sealed in airtight containers to prevent contamination and is preserved for long periods of time.

HOME CANNING TECHNIQUES

Once you have the basic home canning utensils and products, canning is relatively inexpensive. Most of the equipment can be continuously reused with the exception of the self-sealing lids. You will need the following tools for canning:

Large Water Bath Canner

Round Canning Rack (for cooking and cooling)

Tongs

Timer

Wire Canning Basket

Screw bands

Self-Sealing Lid

Quart or Pint Bottles

Hot Pad Holders

Prepared Fruit

If you are purchasing new canning jars they generally come with a set of self-sealing canning lids. You can also purchase these items separately. After many years of canning I suggest that you purchase "wide-mouthed" pint or quart canning jars. They are easier to fit your hand into when adding your fruit and are well worth the extra cost. I'm sure there are many canning fruit recipes you can follow but an easy way to can fruit is to simply mix 1 cup of warm water with 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar per quart jar. The amount of sugar to use depends on how sweet your fruit is and how thick and sweet you prefer your fruit juice syrup to be. Dissolve the mixture completely in the jar before adding your fruit.

After washing, skinning and preparing your fruit you will want to fill your clean bottles up with water the rest of the way until it is almost to the top. Do not overfill with either fruit or water. The contents of your bottle should not touch the top of the lid or it might not seal properly.

For best sealing results use a small saucepan to heat the jar lids - they do not need to boil. Use a damp clean cloth to wipe off the rim of your canning bottle to remove any sugar water solution or fruit fibers and add the hot self-sealing lid to the bottle. Tighten the lid firmly with the band and do not loosen it again.



Most home canners will come with a round wire canning basket that fits inside the canner to keep up to 7 bottles separated evenly in the water. Six bottles will be on the outside and one bottle in the middle. Fill your pressure canner halfway full of water to boil. If you do not have an actual canner any large pot will work as long as there is approximately 4 inches of water above the top of the bottles once the are submerged. Put the lid on and bring the water to a rolling boil before starting the timer.

The amount of time to cook your fruit depends on the type of fruit you are using and if you are using pints or quart jars. Most cookbooks will have a cooking guide you can follow but the general cooking time will be 10 - 20 minutes. Tomatoes will be slightly longer.

Reduce heat, but maintain a rapid boiling during the timed cooking period. If the water evaporates too quickly you can add more boiling water if needed. When the processing time is up, remove the jars immediately using the bottle tongs. Rubber gripped tongs are the best to use and care should be taken when removing the jars from the hot water. Once in a while a bottle can explode as you are removing it.

Place the bottles on a cooling rack or towels separating them from each other to cool. Use a hot pad to tighten the lids if needed.

When the bottles are cool you can test the lid to see if they sealed properly by pushing on the top. If the lids pop up or make any noise, refrigerate the fruit and use it in the next few days. If the fruit sealed, wash and dry the bottles before storage. You can take the screw bands off at this time if you wish. Over time they can be difficult to remove and are not a necessary part of the seal at this time. Be sure and save the rings, they can be used again. The last step prior to storage is to use a permanent marker to write the date on the lid.

Bottles should be stored in a dark, cool place since light can cause discoloration and loss of nutrients. Your fruit should be preserved for several years but you will want to check the seals periodically as a precautionary measure. If the lids are leaking, or contents look foamy, discolored or smell odd you should discard the fruit.

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