Author Topic: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?  (Read 4543 times)

resy

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Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« on: July 28, 2014, 12:24:54 PM »
So I want to start canning but I hate having one utility appliances. The only thing I've canned before are my own pickeled peppers, onion and carrotrelish mix. I used mason jars (duh) but just thew them in boiling water for 30 minutes, everything came out fine.
However, I hear about "water bathers" and the like... is it really necessary or can i just do what i did and actually throw the cans into boiling water for the specified time?
I met a woman that cans her meat sauce this way so seems fine. Why all the gadgets?

historienne

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2014, 12:47:22 PM »
So I want to start canning but I hate having one utility appliances. The only thing I've canned before are my own pickeled peppers, onion and carrotrelish mix. I used mason jars (duh) but just thew them in boiling water for 30 minutes, everything came out fine.
However, I hear about "water bathers" and the like... is it really necessary or can i just do what i did and actually throw the cans into boiling water for the specified time?
I met a woman that cans her meat sauce this way so seems fine. Why all the gadgets?

Anything that will boil water is fine as long as you have the enough water above/below/around the cans (they shouldn't rest directly on the floor of your pot, and I believe you need an inch in water above them - the USDA canning guides are good and very specific).  That is to make sure that the contents of your jars achieve the correct temperature. Of course, you will need to limit your recipes to those that can be done in a water bath; some low-acid recipes require pressure canning to avoid botulism.  You can often (as with tomatoes) achieve the correct acidity by adding citric acid, but you will want to follow the specific directions of a verified recipe to do that.

deedeezee

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2014, 12:56:06 PM »
Have you been to Food in Jars?  I wasn't sure if you were referring to pressure canning or not.  The "boiling water method" seems to work fine, as long as you have high enough acid levels. 

http://foodinjars.com/2013/07/new-to-canning-start-here-boiling-water-bath-canning/

http://foodinjars.com/2010/08/canning-101-why-you-cant-can-your-familys-tomato-sauce/


mginwa

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2014, 12:59:43 PM »
historienne's advice is spot-on. You need a big, deep pot. No special appliance or pot required. The fancy canning devices are just to sell another product. I'm sure they are great to use, but unnecessary.

If you are really into canning, a canning kit IS super helpful. It should be around $10, and contains a wide-mouth funnel, some grippy tongs and jar lifters, and a stick with a magnet on the end that helps pick up the sealing lids. Those things help you keep a sterile environment going and keep you from burning yourself. I also like to wear thick rubber gloves.

Jars and rings can (and should!) be reused if they are in good shape, but don't reuse the sealing lids. They are about $1 for a dozen, and it's a safety thing. People did die one upon a time from eating improperly preserved food, so that's money worth spending. Also, your precious ingredients should be treated nicely and it's a shame if they go bad for want of an 8-cent lid.

Enjoy canning!

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2014, 01:15:16 PM »
So I want to start canning but I hate having one utility appliances. The only thing I've canned before are my own pickeled peppers, onion and carrotrelish mix. I used mason jars (duh) but just thew them in boiling water for 30 minutes, everything came out fine.
However, I hear about "water bathers" and the like... is it really necessary or can i just do what i did and actually throw the cans into boiling water for the specified time?
I met a woman that cans her meat sauce this way so seems fine. Why all the gadgets?


Water-bath canning is another name for throwing the jars in the boiling water. :)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2014, 01:21:41 PM »
I think you have to be more careful about botulism if you're using water-bath canning. I vividly remember learning in school about a lady who died of botulism from eating home-canned green beans straight from the jar. But I don't can, so I'm hardly an expert--just, you know, you should try not to die :-).

MayDay

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2014, 01:29:42 PM »
I think you have to be more careful about botulism if you're using water-bath canning. I vividly remember learning in school about a lady who died of botulism from eating home-canned green beans straight from the jar. But I don't can, so I'm hardly an expert--just, you know, you should try not to die :-).

Green beans are low acid. You have to either pressure can them or do pickled beans. Otherwise, botulism.

I started out water bath canning by putting a ragged old dish towel in the bottom of a stock pot. Fine for small volumes. If you get into larger quantities you may find the big water bath pots with a wire rack in the bottom are worth it. I can maybe 12-20 dozen jars a year and find it well worth it.

Trudie

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2014, 01:44:28 PM »
A food mill is another helpful canning tool.  But, I agree -- no special pot is necessary as long as the jars can be submerged to the proper depth.

I highly recommend the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation for safe preservation tips for newbies:
http://nchfp.uga.edu/


rebel100

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2014, 01:51:39 PM »
You very definitely need a pressure caner for low acid foods. 

Things like meat shouldn't be processed in a water bath.

http://nchfp.uga.edu/

kite

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2014, 04:03:06 PM »
Every senior citizen who is still in their family home has canning crap in the basement.   The big canner with a rack is not needed,  but there are enough of them around to get free for the asking.   IME, people are delighted for you to take this stuff.  Been canning for decades and never had to buy a thing besides lids.  Put the word out on Craigslist,  etc.   In the meantime,  a big enough pot will do.  Rolled Tea towels or foil work to protect jars from bumping each other.   

in_cowtown

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2014, 05:00:00 PM »
Depends on what you are canning.

As rebel100 posted, you definately need a pressure canner for low-acid foods. 

However, for foods that are suitable to be processed in a water bath (pickles, fruits, relishes, tomates with acid), you don't need anything special ...

from http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/waterbath-canning
"You donít necessarily need to purchase a boiling water bath canner if you donít already have one at home. Most kitchens have pots that can double as boiling water bath canners.A boiling water bath canner is simply a large, deep saucepot equipped with a lid and a rack. The pot must be large enough to fully surround and immerse the jars in water by 1 to 2 inches and allow for the water to boil rapidly with the lid on. If you donít have a rack designed for home preserving, use a cake cooling rack or extra bands tied together to cover the bottom of the pot. "

MicroRN

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2014, 05:03:31 PM »
I just made my first batch of jam recently, and used a small rack in the bottom of a pot.  Turned out just fine :-)  I'm not planning on doing anything right now that I'd need a pressure canner for, so I'm sticking with a pot.

cchrissyy

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2014, 01:21:13 AM »
I don't know but it sounds like exactly the sort of thing you could find a way to borrow for a couple weekends, not have to buy your own.

Goldielocks

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2014, 01:44:32 AM »
Its really nice to process 7 large jars at once...

My canner is also my large stock pot, I can use it to brine a ham or turkey, and was also used as a lobster pot on one night.

I only own about 3-4 pots, plus the canner I was given for free, so it does get used... 

frugalfranny

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Re: Is a special/specialized pot REALLY needed for canning?
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2014, 11:05:58 AM »
While I may be new at how to handle extra money, I am an expert at scraping by on very little, so I hope I can offer something here -

I can all my own beans, fish, meat and stews. For these low-acid foods you need a big pressure canner. The ones from a basement or a garage sale might work, but please check the valves and gasket and replace if needed. You can usually order online. The rubber will crack, etc. and either you will have a frustrating experience because it won't get up to pressure, or worse.

Since my family has to eat very little sodium, canning all our own pinto beans, garbanzos, etc., is much preferable to buying the no salt added for $4 a can. I turn these into refried, use for quick chili night, hummus, and just eat out of the jar. They are soo much better than store bought (and the big bag of pintos from Costco is dirt cheap).

The stews are awesome because they are ready packed lunches/dinners that can be heated in the microwave (when you remove the metal lid). I do stews in quart and pint jars - for either whole family or personal sized.

We also make jams, etc, but as everyone has said, this is different. Either way, I have this link bookmarked:
http://nchfp.uga.edu/

It really helps to can with someone the first time - usually college extension offices offer classes, or ask a DIY friend and have a canning party. There is down time waiting for the canner  - perfect for making a big batch of frozen dinners or having a barbecue or whatever!

Happy canning!