Fresh vegetables are a wonderful reward for summer-long gardening. Adding tomatoes, peppers and snap beans to your meals every day is great for the few days after they are harvested, but canning these vegetables is key for keeping summer’s harvest for the cold winter months.
There are two ways to preserve food: using a boiling water canner or using a pressure canner. USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation offers factsheets for which type of canner should be used for vegetables, fruits, salsas and more.
A boiling water canner is an aluminum or porcelain-covered steel pot with a lid and removable racks.
Boiling water canners are best for canning fruit, tomatoes (if high acidity), salsas, jams and jellies.
It is recommended that the boiling water canner is deep enough that one inch of space is allowed over top of the jars for boiling water.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation provides step-by-step instructions for using a boiling water canner.
A pressure canner is a metal pot with a gauge and a vent pipe on its lid for releasing steam as food is cooked at high temperatures.
Pressure canning is the safest method for preserving vegetables. Pressure canning is also best for tomatoes (if low acidity).
It is recommended that a pressure canner be large enough to hold one layer of quart-size jars, or two layers of pint-size jars.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation also offers tips for successfully canning with a pressure canner.
Canning jars, ring bands and self-sealing lids are used for both types of canning. The canning jars should be threaded. Canning jars may be reused, but lids can only be used once to ensure proper sealing.
A canning funnel can come in handy for filling jars. A jar lifter is useful for removing jars from either type of canner. Also, having a how-to book containing detailed directions for the type of food being preserved is advised.
Need more information about canning vegetables? The Ohio State University Extension offers a factsheet that details preparing vegetables, methods for filling jars and preparation times for vegetables ranging from asparagus to sweet potatoes.