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How-To

How to Can Pickles, Jam, and Preserves

Whether you’re using our recipes or one of your own favorites, follow this basic hot-water canning method

Fine Cooking Issue 87
Photo: Scott Phillips
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1. Prepare the jars, lids, and bands following the manufacturer’s instructions. The jars must be hot when you pack them; otherwise, the hot brine may cause them to shatter.

2.Pack the jars tightly, and then (for pickles) pour in the hot brine to cover the vegetables, allowing the appropriate amount of headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents) specified in the recipe.

3.Remove air bubbles by slowly raising and lowering a chopstick or a plastic blade around the inside of the jars. This is crucial: A trapped air bubble may shatter a jar as it heats. Add more brine to cover the vegetables, if necessary.

4.Wipe the jars’ rims with a damp cloth before putting on the lids. Secure the lids with screw bands tightened by hand into place.

5. Set the jars on a rack in a canner or pot that’s half-filled with very hot water (but not boiling, which may cause the jars to break). Add more hot water, if necessary, to cover the jars with 2 inches of water. Cover the pot, turn the heat on high, and bring the water to a boil. When it starts to boil (you’ll have to peek), begin timing—see your recipe for processing time.

6. Remove the jars immediately when the time is up. Let them cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours. Never tighten the bands after the jars have been processed, as this could break the seal.

7. Test the seals. After the jars have cooled, gently remove the screw bands and test the seals by lifting the jar by its lid. (Do this over a towel to catch the jar if it hasn’t sealed properly.)

8. Store sealed jars in a cool, dry place. Unsealed jars should be stored in the refrigerator and used quickly.

—Adapted from “Pickles by the Pint” by Andrea Chesman, originally published in Fine Cooking #16

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