Choose a recipe that preferably includes information on requirements for pot size, heat treatment time, yield, etc.
- The more precise the indications, the more reassuring the process will be.
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Prepare the recipe using good quality fresh fruit.
- Potting does not improve the condition of the products, so you have to focus on quality from the start.
Preparation of jars and lids
Place the wire rack (or cloth) in the bottom of a pot or large saucepan.
- To prevent the pots from impacting the bottom of the pot.
Wash the jars (in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher) and put them (without the lid) in the pot. Fill the pots and the pot with water, so that the pots are completely covered. Bring to a boil. If your recipe is not yet ready, reduce the heat and leave the jars in very hot water until stuffing.
- It is important to warm the jars to avoid thermal shock when they are filled with hot food.
Place the new, clean lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water and heat over low heat. Avoid boiling them: this could melt the rubber band. Turn off the heat and let the lids soak in hot water until ready to use.
- Heat the lids to loosen the rubber band that seals the jars. Some manufacturers have determined that this step is unnecessary, since the tape will soften later anyway, during the heat treatment. Use only new lids since the rubber band is only waterproof once.
Take the jars out of the hot water using the jar tongs. Pour the water they contain into the pot. Place them on a clean cloth placed on the counter; avoid touching the neck when handling them.
- The laundry will prevent shocks. Refraining from touching the neck will prevent burns and contamination of the jars.
The necessary equipment
- Glass jars designed for canning (Mason, Ball or Bernardin types). Make sure they are clean. Examine jars and discard any that are cracked or have a chipped rim: A cracked or badly scratched jar may split during boiling water treatment, while a chipped rim will prevent an airtight seal from forming.
- Two-piece lids, washed and rinsed (the flat lid must be new, the ring [anneau de métal] can be reused.)
- Pot or large saucepan with lid
- Grid or support (for lack of support, a cloth)
- Jar clamp.
- Funnel (for filling the jars)
- Small rubber spatula
- Clean laundry
- Markers or labels
To each his own technique
You may have people around you who can can with a different method from the “official” process presented here; people who have thousands of jars behind their ties and who claim “to have always done it like that and that nobody died” (Fiou!). From sterilizing in the oven to sterilizing in the dishwasher to using wax as a sealant, there are a host of tips that, however, are not as safe as the official method we are showing you. There it is.
Filling and closing of jars
Fill the jars using the funnel, leaving a head space, that is, a space between the surface of the food and the top rim of the jar. Here are the spaces to respect (if they are not mentioned in the recipe):
• Jams, jellies: 0.5 cm (1/4 in);
• Fruits in syrup, marinades, ketchups, salsas, relish and chutneys: 1 cm (1/2 in).
- Foods gain volume during heat treatment. If there is too little headspace, liquid may drain. If there is too much space, all the air in the pot will not be able to escape during the heat treatment.
Once the jars are full, remove any air bubbles with a non-metallic tool (for example, sliding a spatula along the sides and between the foods). Recheck headspace and adjust as needed.
- A metal utensil could scratch the inner walls of the jars, making them more fragile and prone to burst during heat treatment.
Clean the edges of the jars with a clean cloth or damp paper towel.
- Clean edges will prevent food particles from compromising the seal.
Place the flat lids on the jars and screw the lid ring on to the point of resistance. Do not tighten it to the maximum.
- If the ring is too tight, air will not be able to escape from the pot during the heat treatment and then the necessary vacuum will not be created. If the ring is not tight enough, the contents may escape from the jar during heat treatment.
If you equip yourself from A to Z to canning and only make six jars a year, the experience will certainly be delicious, but maybe not the most economical. However, it becomes so if you regularly put seasonal products in jars, therefore generally at the best price given their abundance on the stalls. The relatively modest cost of the equipment is quickly absorbed if you make a few dozen jars, and even more so if they save you time and money by becoming greedy gifts. In fact, the only thing you will have to renew from year to year are the flat lids, but they are inexpensive!
Heat treatment filled jars
Return the jars to the pot of hot water; the water level should exceed that of the pots by 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 in.). If the water is not boiling already, heat it again until it boils.
- The pots should be submerged in water to ensure the heat is even throughout.
Carry out the heat treatment for the time indicated in the recipe. Start calculating the treatment time only when the water is boiling.
- If you live in one of the few Quebec municipalities located between 1,001 and 3,000 feet above sea level (305 to 914 m), such as Lac-Etchemin or Saint-Zénon, add 5 minutes to the heat treatment.
When the time is up, turn off the heat and let the jars stand for five minutes in water.
- This waiting time allows the contents of the jars to stop boiling and the pressure inside the jar to stabilize.
Gourmet artisans to the rescue
Author George Sand said of jams: “You can’t outsource this job. You have to do it yourself and not take your eyes off it. It’s as serious as writing a book. The idea of eating close is not to leave this job to certain players in the food industry who produce large volumes of spreads with anonymous ingredients. If you’re short on time or don’t feel like getting into jam making, remember that there are many gourmet artisans who offer them and farmers who process their own products. You will find them, among others, on the farm, at the public market as well as in grocery stores and kiosks that source from farmers.
Cooling and checking pots
Use the tongs to remove the jars from the pot and place them upright (not upside down) on a double layer of clean dish towels, on the counter, or on a cutting board, baking sheet or tray. Let cool. Do not screw the ring on.
- Warning: screwing on the ring could unseal the pot! Placing the jars on a board, baking tray or tray makes it easier to move them as they should not be handled for 24 hours.
Check that the lids are properly pushed in: did they emit the “poc” sound? Are they curved down? When applying finger pressure to the lids, do they stay still? After 24 hours, it is possible to leave the ring in place or to remove it. However, avoid tightening it.
- When pressing the lids with your finger, they should not move. The opposite indicates that the seal is not airtight.
Identification and storage of pots
Identify the jars (content and date).
Store the jars away from light and variations in temperature to prevent the food from oxidizing.
- It is advisable to consume the jars within one year of preparation. Once opened, the jars can be stored in the refrigerator. The duration then varies depending on the product (several weeks for marinades, a few days for fruit in light syrup or sugar-reduced jams).