Always follow a recommended recipe when water bath canning to ensure it is safe for shelf storage and label then store safely. Foods sealed via hot water bath canning often keep for 12 months or more in a dark, dry, cool place (like your pantry) and are refrigerated once opened.
1. CHOOSE your preserving recipe - ie. high acid fruits, tomatoes (+ bottled lemon juice), or pickles (vinegar-based) to determine the number of jars you will require. Get jars and new lids out. Jars must be clean and have no cracks or chips. Remember lids are only 1-time use, so always use new lids with each batch as the sealing compound inside the lid can wear away and cause seal failure during storage.
2. PLACE canning rack inside canner (or use a round cake rack/clean dishtowel). Place jars (not lids) inside the rack, right way up (jar base should be on the bottom, empty top facing upwards).
3. FILL canner with water, water should cover jar rims by 1-2 inches (3-5cm). Add 1-2tbsp of white vinegar if you have hard water to prevent streaks on the jars/lids. Place lid onto canner.
4. BOIL jars for 10 minutes to pre-heat while you prepare the preserve. Start the 10 minute timer once the water inside the canner is boiling steadily. Once the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off but keep the jars inside the canner until you're ready to fill the hot jars with the hot preserve.
5. WARM up lids by placing into a pot of pre-boiled water (not over heat) and heat for 5-10 minutes while you fill the jars with the prepared preserve.
6. REMOVE hot jars from the canner using jar tongs and place onto a towel-covered surface, the right way up (base on the towel).
7. LADLE hot preserve into hot jars to the appropriate headspace (usually 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch or 1 inch, refer to the recipe). The headspace is the distance between the jar rim/top and the surface of the preserve. Use a headspace tool or a clean "kitchen-use-only" plastic ruler to measure headspace accurately.
8. REMOVE air bubbles from the jars using a bubble remover tool or a plastic spatula (or wooden chopstick). Do not use a metal utensil. Add extra liquid if the headspace is not correct.
9. WIPE rims using a damp paper towel (with a little vinegar if rims are sticky).
10. TWIST lids onto jars to fingertip tight, i.e. twist on firmly but not as tightly as possible. Use a handtowel to hold jars firmly while you twist on the lids/bands as the jars will be very hot!
11. LOWER sealed jars carefully into the canner rack in a single layer. Add a second rack if you are going to double stack in the canner to stop the jars bouncing off one another. The water in the canner should still be 1-2 inches (3-5cm) above the jar lids.
12. CLOSE canner (add lid) and heat over high until the water returns to a boil.
13. PROCESS for the time stated in the recipe, starting the timer once the water returns to a boil and keeping it boiling for the timed period. i.e. Jams/Jellies are all 10 minutes boil to process.
14. TURN off the heat once the time is up, remove canner lid but leave jars inside canner for a further 5 minutes.
15. REMOVE jars from canner using the jar lifter/tongs, and place immediately onto a clean towel-covered bench overnight to seal. Do not tilt, upturn or shake jars. As they cool you will hear a PING! or POP! sound as the air inside the jars cool and shrink, forcing the lid downwards and creating the vacuum seal.
16. LEAVE jars overnight to seal, then check seals the next day (shouldn't flex up and down when pressed). If jars did not seal, re-process with new lids or refrigerate immediately. If jars have sealed go to the next step, removing rings from mason-style (2pc) lids for storage.
17. LABEL AND DATE jars clearly before storing in a cool, dark and dry place for up to 12 months. Some people write the date of when the preserve was made (this is what I do); others write the "best before" date instead. Just remember to use the same system for all of your preserving!

Fowlers Vacola, an Australian preserving company, has a slow-boil electric unit, which heats the jars and jar contents up slowly over a longer time period than water bath canning. Simply place bottles of fruit into the unit, fill it with cold water and turn it on. The process takes just 60 minutes all you need is the raw fruit and preserving liquid of your choice. 
OPEN KETTLE: It is no longer considered safe to use the open kettle method of preserving (i.e. not HWB sealing your jars, or leaving them to self-seal on the bench or even upturning the jars). Please do not do any of those methods! The boiling water bath processing results in a much stronger seal, as well as heating through the contents to remove contamination before storage, and it is only 10 minutes of your time extra to prevent your hard work being ruined.
o  OVEN CANNING: No longer considered safe, as the temperature can vary greatly (the HWB method of boiling is a constant temperature and has been researched and found to be the best method of pasteurization processing). Also, the heat from the oven can warp the jar rims over time, resulting in seal failure when the lid doesn't fit the rim 100%.
Author: Megan Radaich          Image credit: Megan Radaich          
Publication: www.foodpreserving.org


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