Canning 102: Preserve Pickles, Fruit & Tomatoes

Canning and preserving home grown foods is becoming popular and we are dedicating another post on canning and preserving high acid foods, like pickles, fruit, and tomatoes.

Because pickles, fruit, and tomatoes are relatively easy to preserve, these foods containing high amounts of acid are a popular choice for canning and preserves. These foods provide you with the opportunity to prepare and enjoy a wide array of recipes, including side dishes and desserts. High-acid foods include fruits, fruit juices, jams, jellies, fruit spreads, salsas, tomato sauce, pickles, relishes, chutneys, sauces, vinegars, and condiments.

To can and preserve high-acid foods, you will need the following, all available at Friedman’s Home Improvement:

●      Boiling water canner or a large, deep saucepot with a lid and a rack

●      Glass preserving jars with lids and bands

●      Wooden spoon

●      Ladle

●      Jar funnel

●      Fresh produce and other quality ingredients

●      Preserving/Canning recipe book (because recipe books always help)

●      Jar lifter

●      Magnetic lid lifter

●      Bubble remover and Headspace measuring tool

Step 1– Getting Started:

●      Select your recipe.

●      Gather your ingredients and canning equipment.

●      Follow the recommended instructions for recipe preparation, jar size, preserving method, and processing time.

Step 2– Check the Equipment:

●      Test the jars, lids and bands to make sure they are working properly.

○    Remove all jars with nicks, cracks, uneven rims, or sharp edges, for they will not seal properly or may break.

○    The underside of lids should not have scratches, uneven, or incomplete sealing compound. Remove any faulty lids, as they may prevent sealing.

○    Bands should fit properly on the jars.

●      Wash all jars, lids and bands in hot, soapy water, then rinse.

●      Dry the bands.

Step 3– Prepare the Equipment:

●      Heat jars and lids in hot water, not boiling, until ready for use.

○    Fill half of a large pot with water.

○    Immerse the jars in water (filling the jars with water will prevent flotation).

○    Bring water to a simmer over medium heat.

○    Keep jars hot until you are ready to use them.

○    A dishwasher may also be used to wash and heat jars.

○    Place all the lids in a small saucepan, covered with water.

○    Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

○    Keep lids hot until you are ready to use them.

○    Take care not to boil the lids.

●      Keeping the jars hot will prevent the glass from breaking when hot food is added.

●      Leave the bands at room temperature

Step 4– Prepare the Canner:

●      Most kitchens have pots large enough to serve as boiling water canners. 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.

●      Prepare boiling water canner. Fill it half-way with water and keep the water covered and at a simmer until the jars are filled and placed in canner.

●      Depending on the type of rack you are using, make certain your rack is resting on the rim of the center or on the bottom. If you don’t have a canning rack, use a cake cooling rack at the bottom of the pot.

Step 5– Prep the Food:

●      Use fresh produce and other quality ingredients, making sure to follow the canning recipe.

Step 6– Place the Food in Jars:

●      Using tongs, remove a hot jar from the hot water, and empty it.

●      Using a funnel, fill each jar one at a time with prepared food, leaving headspace recommended in the recipe (1/4 inch for soft spreads such as jams, jellies, and fruit juices; ½ inch for fruits, pickles, salsa, sauces, and tomatoes).

●      Remove air bubbles to ensure proper headspace during processing.

●      Do this for each jar.

Step 7– Close the Jars:

●      Clean the rim and threads of jar to remove any food residue.

●      Using a magnetic lid lifter, remove a lid from the hot water.

●      Center hot lid on jar allowing sealing compound to come in contact with the jar rim.

●      Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.

●      Place the filled jars into the canner until recipe is used or canner is full.

●      Lower rack with jars into water.

●      Make sure water covers jars by 1 to 2 inches.

Step 8– Begin Sealing:

●      Place the lid on the canner and bring water to a full rolling boil.

●      Set your timer per the recipe instructions.

●      When processing time is complete, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid.

●      Allow jars to stand in canner for 5 minutes to get acclimated to the outside temperature.

Step 10– Remove Jars:

●      Remove the jars from the canner and set upright on a towel.

●      Leave jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.

●      Bands should not be re-tightened as this may interfere with the sealing process.

Step 11– Store and Enjoy Your Preserves:

●      After a full day has passed, check lids for seals.

●      Lids should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

●      Try to lift the lids off with your fingertips. If the lid cannot be lifted off, the lid has a good seal.

●      If a lid does not seal within 24 hours, immediately reprocess the jar or place it in the refrigerator.

●      Label and store in a cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year.

Need additional canning equipment to handle your garden’s bounty? Visit us any time either at Friedman online, or at one of our Santa Rosa, Sonoma, or Ukiah stores, where you’ll get the lowest price and local advice.

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