Perfect summer preserves: Tips for canning success

The Canadian Living Test Kitchen's best tips for making perfect summer preserves -- from timing techniques to filling hot jars to storage solutions.

By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Preserving 101
Photo: Strawbery Balsamic Black Pepper Jam
Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Whether you're a seasoned preserve-maker or a first-timer, summer is the time to take advantage of the wonderful fruit available at farmer's markets, roadside stands or pick-your-own farms.

Prepare fruits first
For all recipes, prepare the fruits or vegetables before measuring. Wash, drain well, remove stems, tops, tails or pits or hull, depending on the fruit or vegetable.

If your summer schedule doesn't give you time to boil up the harvest, freeze the fruit for these creations to make another time. Just measure and label them before freezing so you're set to preserve when convenient. To cook up frozen fruits, just measure the frozen fruit and thaw before proceeding, including all juices unless otherwise directed.
 

Canning basics
• Fill boiling water canner two-thirds full of hot water. About 30 minutes before filling jars, start to heat.

• Use only new lids and canning jars that are free of nicks and cracks. Just before filling jars, heat lids in small saucepan of hot but not boiling (180°F/82°C) water until sealing compound is softened.

• Wash, rinse and air-dry jars. Ten minutes before filling, place jars, metal funnel and 1/2-cup (125 mL) metal measure in canner rack; heat to hot but not boiling (180°F/82°C).

• Fill hot jars using funnel and measure and leaving recommended headspace. If necessary, wipe rims with damp paper towel.

• Centre lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.

• Return jars to canner. Add boiling water to cover by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm). Cover and return to boil; boil for specified time.

• Turn off heat. Let water stop boiling before removing jars. (Removing jars too early may cause leakage due to change in pressure.) Lift up rack with jars. With canning tongs, transfer jars to flat rack to cool and set, about 24 hours.

• Check that lids curve downward. Refrigerate any that do not and use within three weeks.

• Label and store jars in cool, dry, dark place for up to one year.

This article is part of our best-ever online guide to home preserving.

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