Jarring may seem like a big undertaking, but once you get the hang of it, it can be quick and easy. I’ve really gotten into jarring these days. Instead of freezing, which sometimes can change the texture of certain foods when thawed, like applesauce, I’ve been jarring. If done correctly, it can have a long shelf-life like any other jarred or canned good. The key is sterilization and pasteurization.
Before beginning there are a few things you should know. First of all, when doing a boiling water bath only high acid foods should be used. These are foods that can be canned at a temperature of boiling water, 212 degrees. Most fruits and tomatoes are high acid foods. Other foods, such as vegetables that aren’t pickled, are low acid foods and require higher temperatures. For these foods a temperature of 240 degrees is required to kill bacteria and safely preserve. To safely preserve such foods and reach a temperature of 240 degrees you would need a pressure canner.
Because I don’t want to spend a lot of money on all the equipment, I am only jarring high acid foods using the boiling water bath and using a homemade rig, which has worked great. All you need are the following kitchen supplies to do a proper boiling water bath:
- large stock pot with lid
- steamer basket or cooling rack that will fit at the bottom of the stock pot so jars don’t touch the bottom
- non-metallic spatula or my personal favorite, a chopstick
- good gripping tongs
- something to cool the jars on (cooling rack or towels)
- oven mitts, or something to handle hot jars with
When jarring, sterilization of the jars is important so that the end-product won’t get contaminated. You don’t want all your hard work to be for nothing. Pasteurization, or the boiling water bath, is important so that bacteria in the food are stopped and spoiling doesn’t occur.
Here are the steps to a boiling water bath:
- Set up your stock pot with the steamer basket or cooling rack
- Fill stock pot with water so that it will be at least 2-3 inches above the jars you’re using
- Place jars and lids (not bands, if using mason jars) into water and allow to simmer NOT BOIL until ready to use (this is the sterilization part)
- Once the food is prepared and ready, keep food hot, or on low heat, while taking jars and lids out of the stock pot. Keep stock pot water hot.
- Fill hot jars with hot food leaving about 1/2″ at the top
- Stir food with non-metallic spatula, or chopstick, to get air bubbles out
- Wipe the rim of the lids to make sure they’re clean
- Place lids on jars (and fasten bands on with Mason jars) so it’s tight, but not too tight
- Place jars back into stock pot with water at least 2-3 inches above jars, place lid and bring water to a full rolling boil
• Space jars apart, they should not knock each other or touch while boiling
• Amount of time for boiling depends on what you’re jarring. For applesauce boil 20-25 minutes (count from when boiling begins)
• Fruits in general should boil for roughly 20-30 minutes
- Turn heat off and remove jars carefully, without disrupting them too much, using tongs and oven mitt
- Allow to cool overnight on cooling racks or towels
- Test lids for seal after 24 hrs. Lids should not flex up or down in the center when pressed if sealed correctly
Although it seems like a lot, trust me, if I can do it, you can do it too. Just pick a day when you have a little extra time to do it so you don’t end up stressing yourself out the first time you try this. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, you won’t even think twice about doing it because it will be like second-nature.
Good luck, and happy jarring!