Canning in Calgary Made Easy

When bountiful gardens and farms explode with fresh produce, it’s time to join in a long and delicious tradition of preserving food.  It’s never too late to learn the art of food preservation.  When done properly, home canning is flavourful and safe.   Like many safety practices, these change over time.  Canning with the same techniques learned from your grandmother or mother may not be considered safe practices today so check out the information below on the basic techniques and the reasons why certain steps are essential to success.

Processing your food:

  • Fill canning jars while they are hot.
  • Use a wide mouth funnel to prevent spills. Wipe the mouth of the jar if there are any spills. 
  • Before sealing the jars, use a small spatula (non-metallic) or wooden chopstick to remove any air bubbles.
  • Leave “headspace” according to the recipe instructions. This is the empty space between the food and the lid.  This space helps to create a tight seal and allows room for the food to expand when it is heated.
  • Once your jars have cooled, listen for popping sound. Check to see if the lid dips down in the middle (this will tell you that the jars have sealed). 
  • Check the jars after 24 hours to ensure lids are still sealed and not leaking. Check again in one week.
  • Label and date your jars, store in a cool dry place.

Altitude Adjustments:

  • In most home canning recipes, recommended processing times for boiling water and pressure canners are stated for use at elevations of 0 (sea level) to 1,000 ft (305 m).
  • At higher elevations, air is thinner, and water boils at temperatures lower than 212°F (100°C). These lower temperatures are less effective in destroying microorganisms, so adjustments must be made to assure the safety of home canned foods preserved at higher altitudes.
  • When using a boiling water canner at altitudes higher than 1,000 ft (305 m), processing times must be extended. Calgary has an altitude of 3500 feet. At altitudes above 3000 feet, process foods for an additional 10 minutes. 

Proper canning can:

  • Remove oxygen from food tissues and jars.
  • Quickly blunt growth of bacteria, food enzymes, molds and yeasts.
  • Obtain high jar vacuums and airtight jar seals to keep air and microorganisms out, keep moisture and freshness locked in.

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