Always start with clean hands, equipment, and food. You can thoroughly scrub sturdy produce with a soft vegetable brush using warm water. Delicate fruit, however, fares better when soaked in several sinkfuls of water, lifting the fruit out each time with a strainger or colander so the grit sinks to the bottom. Be certain all the food you are going to preserve is properly washed or peeled and is free of grit. You don't want gritty tomato sauce!
Pit or peel the produce, if necessary )potatoes must be peeled) and cut into pieces of uniform size. Keep prepared raw fruits and vegetables from
acquiring unsightly dark spots by submerging them in a gallon of water with either 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice added. This acidified water will also prevent cut fruits and vegetables, especially potatoes and apples, from darkening.
Start with clean jars. If the recipe calls for a processing time of less than 10 minutes, you must use a boiling-water-bath canner to sterilize the prewashed jars. If the processing time is longer than 10 minutes, washing the jars in the dishwasher or in hot soapy water will be sufficient to process your produce using either the pressure canner or boiling-water-bath method. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the jars and be careful to remove all traces of soap before filling. Keep the lids hot in a large saucepan of gently boiling water. However, you should always read the manufacturer's directions and follow them to the letter.
Sterilize clean, prewashed jars for processing times less than 10 minutes by submerging them in a boiling-water-bath. Fill the clean jars with hot water and lower them, right-side-up, onto the rack in the water-filled pot, making sure that there is at least 2 inches of water about the rims of the jars. At sea level, boil the jars for 10 munutes. At higher elevations, boil them 1 additional minute for each 1,000 feet of altitude. Remove the sterilized jars one by one as you need them, using the jar lifter, and fill them immediately with foodstuffs. Quickly top each jar as it is filled with the lid and metal screw ring. (Save the boiling water for the canning process.)
Make sure the boiling-water-bath canner or the pressure canner gauge and petcock are clean and unclogged. Make sure you are organized and have everything you need to ready to complete the process before you actually get started.
Many foods can be packed in their canning container raw, or cold. This method, call the raw-pack method, is also referred to as cold pack. Cleaned, trimmed, peeled raw produce is packed into a warm jar and hot liquid is added. Then the jar is sealed and is ready for processing in a warm, not-yet-boiling water bath.
In the hot-pack method, hot vegetables are added to a clean, warm jar and hot liquids are added. The lids are sealed and the jars are ready for processing.
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