Making jelly is a process. It takes a little time, but it isn’t hard if you follow the directions. This is a beginners guide, so if you are familiar with the whole process and only want to print or copy the recipe, you can skip this part.
Beginners guide to canning simple steps below. Further down will be more detailed instructions.
Prepare your food for canning as indicated by the chosen recipe.
Sterilize jars in a large pot by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Sterilize lids and rings in a smaller pot separate from the jars. Boil in water for 10 minutes. Remove the jars, lids and rings one at a time for filling.
Fill the jars with hot food and seal them with a lid and a ring.
Fill a pot half full of water and heat to 180 degrees. Load the jars into the rack and lower them into the pot. Add more water if necessary to bring the level to one inch above the top of the jars.
Bring the water to a vigorous boil, then reduce heat to let the water gently boil. At this point, start timing. Individual recipes should let you know how long each food needs to processed.
More detailed instructions: The details of canning are fairly easy to understand. You fill a clean jar with prepared food, clean the rim with a damp towel, apply the flat lid and the threaded ring to the jar. Don’t over tighten the lid or the seal could be damaged. Submerge the filled jar down into a pot of hot water. Bring water to a slow boil for the specified amount of time per recipe. When you remove the hot jar from the water, place it onto a clean towel to set and cool. The heat begins to escape, taking any air left in the jar with it. The escaping oxygen pulls the lid down, creating an airtight seal. A food-safe sealing compound embedded into the lid helps ensure a seal.
To start, remove lids and rings from jars. Place the number of jars you’ll need in a large pot on a canning rack. If you don’t have a canning rack, you can do what my mama always did, lay a hand towel folded in half into the bottom of the pot. This protects the glass from direct heat. Fill pot, and jars with water to cover, place a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. Put your lids in a smaller pot and bring them to a low simmer on the back of the stove. Boil both jars and lids for ten minutes to sterilize.
While the canning pot comes to a boil, prepare your product. When your recipe is complete, remove the jars from the canning pot (pouring the water back into the pot as you remove the jars) and lay them out on a clean towel on your counter. Carefully fill your jars with your product. The jars must be warm and not cold or they will break. I remove my jars two at a time for filling. You’ll need to leave between ¼ and ½ an inch space at the top of each jar, this depends on what the recipe calls for. Wipe the rims of the jar with a clean, damp paper towel or the edge of a kitchen towel. Apply lids and screw the bands on the jars to hold the lids down during processing.
Carefully lower the filled jars into the canning pot. Once the pot has returned to a boil, start your timer. The length of the processing time will vary from recipe to recipe. When your timer goes off, remove the jars from the water bath promptly. Place them back on the towel-lined counter top and let them cool.
The jar lids should begin to ping soon after they’ve been removed from the pot. The pinging is the sound of the seals being formed and the center of the lids will become sunk in as the vacuum seal takes hold.
After the jars have cooled to room temperature, you can remove the bands and check the seals. You do this by grasping the jar by the edge of the lid and gently lifting it an inch or two off the counter top. The lid should hold fast.
Store your jars in a cool, dark place. (with the rings on or off) for up to a year. Jars that don’t seal can be refrigerated and used first.
Why didn’t my jars seal? This happens for a few different reasons.
- There may have been a bit of product on the rim of the jar, this will prevent a good seal.
- The sealing compound on the lid wasn’t fully softened before you applied it or too cool.
- Was your product piping hot when it went into the jars? If not, there may not have been enough heat in the jar to create the necessary vacuum effect.
Help! I seem to have lost some product during processing! This is a normal experience, known as siphoning. It happens sometimes when a hot jar experience rapid temperature change. The fast cooling can sometimes force product out of the jar. It’s not something to worry about unless it interferes with the seal. Just wash your jars well and store as usual.
To prevent it in the future, take care to remove all trapped air bubbles inside the jar before canning. You can also let jars sit in the pot for a few minutes when the time is up, off the heat and with the lid removed, so that the temperature change isn’t as shocking to the jars.