What Is Canning?

Stock your pantry with home-canned pickles, preserves, jams, and jellies, adding summer freshness and flavor to your table all year long.

Enlarge Image Vacuum-sealed jars protect foods from contamination.

In the days when families depended on the fruits and vegetables from their bountiful gardens for year-round survival, preserving food was a necessity. Today, with easy supermarket access to fresh fruits and vegetables, people are choosing time-honored food preservation to preserve the best flavors of the season and to carry on a tradition.

The concept of canning is simple: When food is processed in jars at extremely high temperatures for a long period of time, the heat kills microorganisms and inactivates enzymes that could cause the food to spoil. The heating process also drives air from the jar, creating a vacuum seal as the food cools. This prevents air, and the microorganisms it contains, from entering the jar and recontaminating the food.

There are two types of canned foods: raw pack -- uncooked food put into jars and processed; and hot pack -- food that is heated before it is put into jars. You'll find recipes for both throughout this site.

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