Water bath canning is probably what you think of first when you want to can produce for later, but it's not meant for every food. Because water bath canning processes food at a lower temperature than a pressure canner, it should only be used for foods with a naturally high acidity, like many fruits. Of course, if you're set on water bath canning your veggies, it's possible—you'll just need to raise their acidity by pickling them in vinegar or adding a splash of lemon juice. But to keep your food safe to eat, only use a water bath canner when your recipe specifically calls for it, and always follow your recipe's instructions for mixing up pickling liquid or adding lemon juice to each can. We'll teach you the basics of water bath canning so you can get started today!
Follow these rules exactly to ensure food safety and success when canning at home:
Water bath canning, also called boiling-water canning or hot-water canning, is used for fruits, tomatoes, salsas, pickles, relishes, jams, and jellies. It's an easy setup that you can mimic if you don't have an actual canner—it's just a large pot with a rack at the bottom to set the jars on. The rack allows water to flow beneath the jars for even heating. It usually also has handles that allow you to lower and lift the jars easily into and out of the hot water. When you're using a water bath canner, pack food into canning jars by the raw-pack (cold-pack) or hot-pack method.
Raw Packing: In raw packing, uncooked food is packed into canning jars and covered with boiling water, juice, or syrup.
Hot Packing: In hot packing, food is partially cooked, packed into jars, and covered with cooking liquid. The following guidelines apply to both methods.