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Hot Canning Tips

9/14/2011, 6:09 p.m.

Use canning jars that are free of cracks, nicks and chips to prevent air from seeping into the jar and spoiling the canned produce.

There are many canning pots on the market, but any large pot fitted with a metal rack or steaming rack that holds the jars at least 1/2-inch above the bottom of the vessel so they don't crack is fine. I use a round stainless steel cake cooling rack for this.

Have available a large wooden spoon, a stainless steel paring knife, a slotted spoon, a butter knife, a pair of tongs and a heavy 4- or 5-quart stainless steel pot to cook the fruit.

Also have on hand heavy mittens and towels to transport the processed fruit from the canning pot to the cooling rack.

Before getting underway, scrub the cooking pot with hot soapy water, then with baking soda, rinse well and scald with boiling water. Rinse a large mixing bowl and the canning funnel with boiling water.

Now wash the jars, lids and screw bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place the jars upright on the rack in the pot, along with the wooden spoon, paring knife, slotted spoon, butter knife, and tongs.

Fill the jars and the pan with water and cover the pot. Set the pot on high heat, bring to a boil and sterilize the utensils on medium high heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and leave the jars and other equipment in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.

Place the lids inside the screw bands and set in a large skillet, rings facing up. Cover with water, insert an instant read thermometer and bring the water to 180 to 190 degrees.

Remove the skillet from the heat, with the screw bands and lids inside the pan. (If you boil the lids, you run the risk of destroying the gum-like sealant.)

Avoid touching the mouth of the jars-or any of the equipment-when removing from the hot water, and do not invert the jars to drain. Use the tongs to transport the lids and screw bands.