Taking the Plunge into Water Bath Canning


| 10/3/2013 9:47:00 AM


Sheila JulsonCanning in all forms scared me, mostly due to the thought that if done incorrectly, I could accidentally poison myself or loved ones with botulism. I purchased books about canning and preserving, but had yet to crack one open. They eventually found their way to my donation pile for Goodwill. I stuck to the safe route of a freezer to preserve summer produce from gardens and farmers’ markets. The method is rather foolproof, and the only gear needed are some good freezer bags and containers.

Then four quart-sized glass jars of my homemade vegetable stock expanded and cracked apart in my freezer. I endured a few tiny, painful cuts while cleaning up the mess. Maybe the freezer method was not always foolproof.

“Canning’s no big deal,” people told me. They explained how they just poured hot food into a hot jar that had been sterilized in an oven or dishwasher and then made sure the seal had popped. That seemed too easy. I was still skeptical.

“You don’t boil anything in a water bath kettle or pressure canner?” I asked.

“Nah!” This answer was often accompanied by a dismissive wave of the hand. “I’ve been doing it this way for years, and I’m still alive.”



People also once thought it was no big deal to ride in cars without seat belts, or let kids play with mercury. I felt more research was necessary, so I dug out the canning books from my donation pile. The more I read, the less intimidated I felt.