After about 6 months of preparing, I realized I needed to learn about canning. Being a newbie, I fast realized there were so many things I didn't know to ask. Like, what is finger tight, what is a jiggle...
With that in mind, I want to share some of those "secrets" with you.
I am able, I try to get as much clean and ready ahead of time.
TIP: I often put my rings in a mesh zippered
bag so they don't fly all over the place in the dish washer. I don't put my new lids in the dishwasher.
find the mesh bags: (associates link)
always hand wash my lids with warm water and soap, then rinse well.
TIP: ALWAYS use new lids for pressure
canning. You may use those "used" lids for everyday purposes like vacuum sealing, storing in fridge & opened jars.
gathering the equipment for canning.
Vinegar, my paper towels are
close by, clean rings.
My timer, the weight for my canner, which
is kept in this red bag in the following picture.
I have this little bag, that I keep all my canning utensils, manual,
etc., during canning. Things that I use for canning. I have a little
"S" hook to hang it on my metal shelf in my kitchen. I also
have extra sets of the utensils in here. Remember "two is one, one is none".
When it is not in use, I
store it inside my pressure canner.
Also Mr. Perky came up with the idea of putting clean rings on an old paper towel holder. It is very convenient.
grab several clean dishtowels & a new dish cloth. I have my
washed & sterilized utensils out and my canning manual.
I also have
started using these simple dark colored placements to sit my hot jars
on when processing. There were about a dollar (I think I got them at
Walmart). New dishcloths
are not cheap, so this was a good alternative.
For people who are
preparing, I have three sets of canning utensils.
1) In case they
break or wear out. (two is one and one is none)
2) I also have
found it handy if I drop a utensil or it gets contaminated, I don't
have to stop everything and wash and sterilize them again.
get the utensil sets on Amazon.
everything & get set up. You should have your pressure canner, utensils, vinegar, paper towels (or clean cloth), clean dish
towels, wash cloth, timer, jars, lids and rings. Oh & your
I talk often about Zaycon chicken, I honestly believe it is the best deal going. you may find better price, BUT, their quality is beyond belief. I mean, look at the size of this chicken breast.
Get your pots ready.
Interesting the National Center for HomeFood Preservation states: “Empty
jars used for vegetables, meats, and fruits to be processed in a
pressure canner need not be presterilized. It is also unnecessary to
presterilize jars for fruits, tomatoes, and pickled or fermented
foods that will be processed 10 minutes or longer in a boiling-water
canner." I started implementing this recently.
Pressure Canner: Please
NOTE you MUST use a pressure canner when canning meat.
the vent hole on the lid of your canner. Make sure you can actually
see light through it. If not, you can clean it with a pipe cleaner,
or simply blow air through it.
Run your finger gently around the rim of the jar checking for nicks.
It it is nicked, throw that jar away.
sink...I wash my sink, then clean it with vinegar.
your hands, well & often! This is raw chicken we are dealing with.
actually are able to write on the lids with sharpie, before or after you wash them and the writing will stay on.
The Ball canning Jar Company has recently been talking about changes in processing their lids by NOT simmering you lids.
EDITED: With all new Ball canning lids, you no longer have to boil them & sterilize them. Just wash them well with soap and water. I personally still keep a small pan going with simmering water in case I accidentally drop a lid or it touches the meat when I am putting the lid on. It does happen. This way I don't have to stop and rewash what has been contaminated.
your chicken and start cutting.
First you trip off the excess fat,
then cut into 6" chunks.
TIP: Note the lines on the edge of the
cutting board. I have marked it with a sharpie at 6” increments. I
use that as a guide to cut my meat into chucks that will easily fit
in the pint sized jars.
start adding the meat to the canning jars. Add a big chunk first.
Then smaller pieces.
I also have smaller pieces (on the left) that
I am able to slice up into slices to fill in extra spaces at the
You can either add salt to the bottom of the jar, or not. I
prefer not to, since it turns out to salty for my taste.
it is not needed; when processing chicken I
prefer to add boiling water at this point, It helps create a little
broth, which I like. I never have enough broth it seems.
a spatula or the green magnet/bubble popper, to release trapped air bubbles & allow the water to get
inside the jar completely. Add more water if needed.
not fill over this line on the jar. (Last thread on the screw top)
This is called "headspace".
What is headspace?
unfilled space in a canning jar between the top of the food or liquid
and the underside of the lid. The corrrect amount of headspace is
essential to allow for food expansion as the jars are heated and for
the formation of a strong vacuum seal as the jars cool.
you fill it too full, use a spoon to scoop out the excess.
the rims of the jars with a towel and white vinegar. The rims of the jars must be VERY
lid and then
a ring on each jar. If your lid touches the meat, wash that one again, or use a spare.
the ring to "finger tight". It just barely tight.
is finger(tip) tight?
Use your fingers to screw band (ring) down
until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
use utensil or the full force of your hand to over-tighten bands
Tightening a lid beyond this point could cause the lid or
band to buckle during processing, and is therefore undesirable.
Back to those fat scraps. I save them up and fill a another jar about half way full with scraps and then add water. This gives me a few jars of nice broth (did I mention I never have enough both) to open up when I want to make chicken and dumplings. This last weekend I made 3 quart jars of broth.
fill your canner with the required amount of water. My Presto,
actually has a fill line, which is helpful.
your jars to the canner.
Yes, 8 wide mouth jars will fit.
Canning the chicken. O.k. Here is the part some people find scary. It
will be o.k. Just follow the instructions.
Now, put your pressure canner lid on &
turn up the heat to high. Stay with me here...
set my timer to 10 minutes...
there is a steady stream of steam coming out of the vent hole on top
(see the steam?)...
you start the timer. You want that steady stream of steam venting for
If it sounds like it is going crazy inside the canner,
you may reduce the heat. But DO NOT let that steady stream stop. This
isn't dangerous, just if the stream of steam stops, you will need to
start the timer over. Steady stream of steam for 10 minutes. Got
Make sure you are monitoring these stages,
the 10 minutes are up, then you add the weighted gauge. Bring the
temperature back up, until the weight starts to jiggle, spew or spit.
that happens, set your timer for 75 minutes for pints (90 minutes for quarts) & start the timer.
Then you reduce your heat, until the weight only spits, spews or
jiggles 3-5 times a minute. This takes practice. But just sit there
and lower your heat until this happens.
If you are using just a
pressure gauge, you want to continuously maintain 10 or 11 lbs. of
pressure through out the 75 minutes.
you have done this awhile and you get to know our canner and stove;
you will know just where to drop the temperature on your stove to
maintain the proper pressure.
What to do while you are waiting
for 75 minutes. Read a book, do a little dance, wash dishes, unload the dishwasher (mine
is always full it seems)
your counter really well. Remember you have just had chicken juice
all over it.
the timer goes off: turn off the heat and gently move the canner from
DO NOT REMOVE WEIGHT, GAUGE OR LID.
rest until the pressure gauge drops down or when the little button
drops down. That tells you that all the pressure has been release and
it is safe to remove the lid. Only then can you remove the weight.
pay attention, because as soon as the button drops
I want to
remove the jars to keep them from cooking even more.
the weight & then remove the lid carefully, turning it away from
you when removing the lid to avoid the steam burning you. It will
still be very hot. TIP: I use a dish towel to better protect me from the steam escaping.
gently remove your jars with your jar lifter...
set them on a dish towel or place mat to cool.
Then SMILE! when
you hear those lovely "pings" as your jars start to
Most canners will tell you that this is their favorite part.
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pour out the water from my canner and allow it too cool down. Then wash it to have it ready for the next time.
some reason, this is my second favorite part of canning. You place a
clean dish towel(s) around the jars to protect them from drafts. Some may not need to do this step, but it was what I learned and I feel sometimes my house is a little drafty.
feel like I am tucking babies in for the night.
Check them every
now and then to insure all the jars have sealed, by seeing the the
button has popped in. If a jar hasn't sealed, then let it cool down
and put it in your fridge and use it sometime this week.
it for today. Unless you have several loads to can. Now you let them cool down and rest for the night.
this isn't the last step. You put a lot of work, time and money into pressure canning food. When you are done canning, you just put the jars on the shelf, right? WRONG! I often say "there are questions that newbies don't even know to ask". I don't believe I have seen a list of the simple, yet very important steps to take AFTER you finish a batch to optimize and protect your hard work. This post tells you what to do next: Testing 1, 2, 3...
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