Canning Fruit is a great way to enjoy your fruit and especially your strawberries well past the season. It is also a great way to get started if you have never canned food before. Fruit is a high acid food and thus can be safely preserved in a hot water bath. No pressure canner needed!
Basic water bath canning steps
1. Prepare food according to directions in your recipe.
2. Pack hot food into hot jars leaving the appropriate headspace.
3. Process in a boiling water bath.
Doesn’t sound too hard does it?
Here are some tips to remember:
You should always use an USDA approved recipe with directions for processing. These recipes are tested for the most efficient and safe time for the food type you are preparing.
Often older recipes will not include the final waterbath processing time. They advocate using open kettle canning. This is not a good idea. Your jar may seal just fine this way but the food is more likely to spoil. Processing in a water bath is very easy. In addition it makes the whole process much more likely to succeed.
Sugar is a preservative in fruit jams and jellies, but for canning fruit it is optional. If you are on a low sugar diet try preserving in just water.
Here are the recipes for syrups used in canning fruit. Most times you can choose the sweetness you prefer. Be sure and check your recipe.
Be sure and leave the recommended head space. Usually for fruit and jams this is ¼ inch. Headspace is the distance between the top of the food and the canning lid. This to ensure that the oxygen can be expelled during processing but the food itself will not leak out too much.
After processing let your jars cool on the counter. Use a towel underneath them or a wooden cutting board. Do NOT tighten the screw bands. You may dislodge the flat seal.
After the jars are cool, remove the screw cap and wash the jar. The outsides will often be sticky. It is a good idea to store without the screw cap.
Label the jar with the food type and date. Always record a date… at least the year. That way when you find a jar way in the back of your cupboard, you will know how old it is.
Store your jars in a cool, dark, dry environment. Usually a pantry is fine. Don’t store in a utility room where there are hot pipes or high humidity. Direct sunlight is a no-no as well.