.Home food preservation not only saves you money, but allows you to have 100% control over the ingredients in your food. You can take advantage of local produce deals by buying and canning fruit for use in pies, cobblers and even ice cream.
Commercial apple and peach orchards are common in our area and most also sell to the public. It’s far cheaper to buy by a bushel of fruit than a small bag of apples or peaches. If you’re lucky enough to have your own orchard, plan your canning with your harvest times. The best way to preserve these delicious choices is to can.
You may want to can for future pie fillings or maybe peach preserves are a favorite. Decide on how you’ll be using your canned treasures and then start canning.
My favorite fruit is apples, perhaps because we have so many apple orchards nearby. If apple pie, turnovers, fritters and cobblers are a must in your household, then you’ll especially appreciate the joy of canning your own apples. So, let’s get started.
Home Food Preservation Tips
- Start with the highest quality and freshest produce you can find.
- Check jars for cracks and chips. Use only jars that are viable.
- Sterilize jars and allow to dry.
- Work in small batches, especially when you are first learning.
- Remove the seeds from strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
- De-seed with a juice extractor or strainer.
- Be sure to date your canned goods, so you know if they are past their shelf life.
- Get bubbles out by using a magnet.
- When in doubt, throw it out! Don’t risk food poisoning. That said, canning can be fun and super easy.
Apples and Home Food Preservation
Gala and Granny Smith are popular varieties for pies, cobblers, apple butter, applesauce, etc. Since most fruits are high acid foods, they are canned using a water bath.
There are a few specific items you’ll need that include:
- Granite Ware Canner: This is the typical choice for a water bath canner. It’s made of porcelain enamel and often includes a kit. The kit usually has a jar rack, jar lifter, tongs, canning funnel, magnetic lifter, air release tool and funnel.
- Canning jars: Quart and/or pint sizes (I use wide mouth jars for both sizes, since they are easier to fill than a small mouth jar.)
- Canning lids and rings (Wide mouth)
- Large stock pot for fruit
- Wooden spoons
- Dish towels
- Paper towels
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- 19 to 20 lbs of apples = 7 quarts or 14 pints.
- Homemade light syrup.
- Ascorbic acid powder (prevent fruit browning)
Before you begin, sterilize the jars either by boiling in water for 10 minutes or running through a dishwasher cycle (leave in heated dishwasher until time to can).
- Bring a pan of water to boil, turn to low heat and add washed and rinsed lids and rings to the water and maintain on low heat until needed.
- Fill the canner about one-third with water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low until ready to process apples.
Prepare Apples for Canning
Next, you’ll need to peel, core and slice the apples. Once an apple is cut open and exposed to oxygen, it will turn brown. To prevent this, soak the slices in a solution of water and ascorbic acid powder (sold in grocery and other stores). Ascorbic acid is nothing more than Vitamin C. Some people prefer to substitute with a water and lemon solution; however, ascorbic acid does a better long-term job.
Make a Syrup
You’ll need a liquid to fill the jars. The most common choice is a light syrup, although you can use hot water if you prefer. The syrup is easy to make:
- 4 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar or 1.5 cups of honey or another sweetener.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves.
- Keep the syrup warm until time to can. Be careful not to overcook.
- 2 cups of water should be added for every 16 cups of apple slices.
- Place in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
- Cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove from burner and drain slices.
- Immediately put into hot jars.
Pack Jars with Apples
- Remove the jars from the dishwater or hot water bath.
- Using the funnel, you will fill each jar with apple slices, leaving a one-inch head space. Don’t pack the apples too densely.
- Add liquid, leaving a 1/2-inch head space.
- Take the air release tool included in the canner kit or a non-metallic spatula and go around the sides of the jar inserting it to release any trapped air bubbles. Insert a couple of times in the middle of the packed apples.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean wet paper towel. Make sure none of the syrup is sticking to the rim, otherwise the lid will not set properly.
- Using the magnetic lifter to remove a lid from the hot water where the lids and rings have been soaking. Place the lid on jar and add a ring. Tighten the ring but not overly tight, about two twists to secure the ring snuggly.
- Set the rack that came with the canner into the water bath.
Home Food Preservation with Hot Water Bath
As you filled each jar and place a lid and ring on it, use the jar lifter to place in the canner rack. Don’t let the jars touch each other. Some people prefer to load the rack and then carefully lower it into the water bath. You may need to add more hot water to the bath if the water displacement doesn’t cover the jars. The goal is for the waterline to be two inches above the jar lids. Turn the burner heat up and bring the water bath to a boil.
Apples and most fruits are timed at 20 minutes once the water begins to boil. Check canning times for the altitude of your geographic location. Most manufacturers include this information in accompanying guidebooks. You can also check online. If you live 1,000 feet or more above sea level, you’ll need to adjust the time factor.
Test Seals and Store
Once the timer goes off, turn off the burner and remove the jars with the jar lifter. Set the jars onto a counter covered with a towel. Choose an area that won’t be disturbed while the jars cool. Place the jars two inches apart and let rest.
You will probably hear the typical pinging sound as the lids seal. Once the jars have cool, remove the rings and lightly press the center of the lid. If the lid gives and bounces back, the jar isn’t sealed. You can either reprocess in the water bath or place in the refrigerator for immediately use.
Before storing in a cool dark place, make sure there is no sticky residue. Wash the outer jar surface clean before storing. Now, you have canned apples that can be seasoned for whatever use you choose.
Canning Fruits Saves Money
You can use other fruits, such as peaches, pears, etc for canning to save money and add to your food security. Canning your own fruits means you know exactly what’s in them. The convenience of grabbing a jar off the pantry shelf to make your family a healthy delicious treat is both rewarding, time-saving and a budget saver.