The Proper Way to Preserve

Jams, jellies, chutneys, and other preserves have to be processed properly to avoid food poisoning. All you need are two large pots, the right jars, a funnel, and some patience. The best canning jars are made of heavy glass and have replaceable two-part metal vacuum lids. (All other decorative jars that can’t be processed need to be refrigerated.) Wash all parts of the jar in hot, soapy water. Place jars and lids on a metal rack in a large pot and sterilize for ten minutes in enough boiling water to cover the jars by one inch. Keep the jars immersed in the hot water until ready to use. Then follow the steps below.

Step 1:

COOK IT CAREFULLY.

When preparing jelly or any other canned food, follow the recipe exactly. Important: Skim off any foam.

Step 2:

POUR IT IN.

Use a canning funnel (available at housewares stores) to fill the sterilized jars, leaving the amount of space at the top specified in the recipe. Wipe the rims to remove drips and cap according to the jar manufacturer’s directions.

Step 3:

PUT IT BACK IN THE BATH.

Using a jar lifter or sturdy tongs, place the filled jars upright on the rack in the pot. Add enough water to cover jars by one inch and return to a boil. Boil for the time specified in the recipe, adjusting for altitude (add one minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level). Remove jars and cool at least 12 hours. After cooling, press the center of each lid. If the depression holds, the seal is good. If not, reprocess the jar or refrigerate it and serve the contents within 3 weeks. Properly canned foods should last one year if stored in a cool, dark place. Even so, discard any canned food with a questionable odor or appearance.

PHOTOS: © Martin Jacobs

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