Perhaps I am getting a little ahead of myself. You may need to know the basics of canning in case the thought of homemade apple butter is just TOO tempting and you must dive right in.
There are two types of canning, each suited for a different type of food.
Boiling Water Bath Canning (BWB)
High acid foods, such as fruits, pickles, salsa, relish (so….fruits and things canned with vinegar) can be water bath canned. This is the cheaper type of canner. You can get a huge one for thirty bucks or less. All canners will have a rack on the bottom. Jars cannot touch the bottom of the pot or they will break.
Always make sure you put hot food into hot jars into hot water. A quick change of temperature will cause glass to break.
So, put your hot clean jars into the canner and begin to warm up the water. Put the lids into a small saucepan to simmer, but not boil. Prepare your food. Use a jar lifter to lift the jars from the hot water. Ladle in the prepared, hot food. Add the lid, and the ring, and then put the jars back into the canner. Turn up the heat and put on the lid so the water comes to a FULL BOIL. Once the boil starts, start timing. When the processing time is over, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars sit for five minutes (longer won’t hurt anything). Using the tongs, put the jars on a TOWEL (the cold counter could cause the jars to break). Leave them alone for twenty-four hours. Sometimes it takes that long for them to seal, but usually they ping (seal) pretty quickly.
Now you’re done!
For more help, check out these links to how to BWB:
Pressure Canning (PC)
Pressure canners are a little more expensive (75 dollars), but they are so worth it. You can use your PC to can most things, and you don’t have to worry about the acidity so much.
The BIG SCARY in home canning is botulism. Botulism cannot live in high acid environments, but thrives in low-acid, moist environments. However, high temperatures, above boiling water, will kill the spores, making the food safe to eat. A PC will reach 240 degrees, and the food will boil for quite a while after you take it out of the canner. It kills the spores and makes the food safe to eat.
SO, if a food is low acid, it MUST be pressure canned.
For the pressure canner, many people are afraid because of so many stories of people blowing themselves up. If you follow the directions, that’s pretty impossible.
Put three quarts of water into the pressure canner. It doesn’t need to be any more water than that and it doesn’t need to be overly hot. Put the food into clean jars, put on the lids, and the rings, and place in the canner. Screw on the lid, and turn on the heat. Once the steam starts, start the timer. Let the steam vent for ten minutes.
After the ten minutes is over, place the weight onto the lid. When the weight starts to rock, start the timer. When the little knob pops up, that means pressure is on the unit. DO NOT OPEN THE PRESSURE CANNER WHEN THE KNOB IS UP.
Process for the amount of time on the recipe (for example 75 minutes for pints of pulled pork), then turn off the heat and walk away. About forty-five minutes later, the canner should be depressurized. The knob will be down, and you can remove the weight. Open it slowly, and open it AWAY from you just in case. Sometimes there is still some steam that escapes.
I leave the jars alone for another thirty minutes or so. They are HOT. Remove from the canner with the tongs and place on the towel. You’re done.
Here are some websites in case you would like to read the directions again, and of course you should ALWAYS read the directions on your actual canner:
I love my pressure canner. So much, so I bought a second one so they can both be rocking all summer long!
Meet Big Poppa and Hot Momma: my pressure canners!
Nothing to be afraid of!