Follow Canning and Preserving Rules
When you can and preserve foods, it’s important to follow all the steps for each method. You compromise the quality and safety of your food if you make your own rules. An example is when you shorten your processing period to try to cut corners and substitute important parts of recipes. It’s always best to start following directions to the letter, until you become fluent in the process.
Here are some general rules for handling, preparing, and processing your food:
Start with the freshest, best products available. Preserving doesn’t improve food quality.
Know the rules and techniques for your canning or preserving method before you start your work. Don’t try to learn a technique after you’ve started your processing.
Work in short sessions to prevent fatigue and potential mistakes. Process no more than two items in one day and work with only one canning method at a time.
Stay up-to-date on new or revised guidelines for your preserving method. You can go to websites like www.freshpreserving.com, created by the makers of Ball canning supplies, to find tips and directions for canning just about anything.
When canning, use the correct processing method and processing time to destroy microorganisms. The recipe will tell you what method to use, but it helps if you understand the difference between high- and low-acid foods and how the canning methods for each differ.
Know the elevation you’re working at. Adjust your processing time or pressure when you’re at an altitude over 1,000 feet above sea level.
Put together a plan before you start your preserving session. Read your recipe (more than once). Have the proper equipment and correct ingredients on hand to prevent last-minute shortages and inconvenient breaks.
Test your equipment. If you’re using an electric dehydrator or pressure canner, test out the equipment to ensure that everything’s working properly. And always check the seals on your jars.
Use recipes from reliable sources or ones that you’ve already made successfully. Follow your recipe to the letter. Don’t substitute ingredients, adjust quantities, or make up your own food combinations. Improvisation and safe food preservation aren’t compatible. This approach also means you can’t double your recipe. If you require more than what the recipe yields, make another batch.