Waterbath Canning, First Attempt

Waterbath Canning, First Attempt

Dad, are you conducting some kind of science experiment in the kitchen?

Sparky (Daughter #3)

I should have realized that I was over my head when when my daughter said this after walking into the kitchen when I was less than halfway through my first attempt at waterbath canning…first attempt at any canning really.  First off you should know that I come from a family of avid canners.  My grandparents, God rest their souls, survived the depression and always had a large garden and a deep larder in a root cellar under the house even after they moved to town.  My uncle, whom I’m quite close with lives the same way and my father (who married the city girl) doesnt’ practice canning every year but will show up with a jar of the most incredible jam every now and then.

With all this experience in the family…how did I learn to can?  I chose to learn from a hand scribbled recipe, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and a YouTube video.  I won’t cover canning in this post because I certainly don’t know what I’m doing after my first attempt and there are lot’s of great references (like family), but I will tell you a few of the things I learned from my first attempt.

  1. Start with a clean kitchen.  At least I did this one right
  2. You’ll get about 1 quart jar of pickled beets per pound
  3. A 33 Quart Waterbath Canner is huge and may not sit level on your stove burners
  4. If your 33 Quart Waterbath Canner doesn’t sit level on your stove than you will have a lot of water condensing off the lid and running all over your stove
  5. Did I mention not overfilling the Waterbath Canner?
  6. Lots of water on a 220v electric stove is not a good thing
  7. Ladling water out of the Canner won’t help because it’s condensed water coming off the lid
  8. Taking the lid off might mean that you can’t keep the water boiling…did I mention it takes a lot of heat to keep a 33 Quart Waterbath Canner boiling.
  9. An upside down Canner lid can solve wet stove problems caused by dripping condensation (the water drops back into the center of the pot from the handle)
  10. Plan to eat cold meals while canning to keep your stove area clean
  11. Don’t trust recipes to leave you with enough liquid to get the right headspace…make extra…still not sure how I screwed this one up but I’ll hedge my bet next time
  12. That microwave that’s so conveniently placed over the stove…isn’t… for canning with a 33 Quart Waterbath Canner

Storing food takes a lot of work…and heat…and space…and gear.  I think I understand the concept of a summer kitchen for the first time.  I’ll let you know how the beets turn out…I’m not hoping for perfection with this first batch…just hoping not to get food poisoning.


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