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Home Canning for Beginners

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Quick Links:
Intro to Canning Webinar | Quick Tips for Beginners | Steps to Waterbath Canning | Steps to Pressure Canning | Canning Recipes

canning class

Waterbath canning class with Kristin Davis, FCS Extension Agent and participants.

Welcome to Home Canning for beginners! At N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Mecklenburg Center, we frequently receive questions about home food preservation. From canning to dehydrating, we want to help you find research-based answers and solutions to your questions. Below you will find quick tips, resources, and recipes to help you can food safely. Canning is only one method of home food preservation. Other forms include dehydrating, freezing, fermenting, and curing. While this page focuses on canning, we will share additional resources to guide you through other forms of preservation.

If you have specific questions, beyond the information listed below, please contact Kristin Davis, Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, at

An Introduction to Home Canning

Introduction to Home Canning

*Updated June 9, 2021

From preserving your garden harvest to putting up locally purchased produce, canning is a great way to preserve the season’s bounty. With rising levels of food insecurity, canning is not only important but can serve as a solution to food challenges. Unlike baking, home canning requires knowledge of the science behind food preservation.
In this introductory class, participants will learn about the risk of botulism, an overview of proper techniques, and a review of the proper tools for canning. While this is not a hands-on or follow-along class, it covers the information that is needed to implement any safe canning practice.

Recording updated June 9, 2021 | Watch recording replay

Quick Facts for Beginners
What you NEED to know about canning:

Why can?

  1. The process of canning and cooking is not the same process. Canning preserves food by stoping spoilage and controlling the following:
    1. growth of undesirable microorganisms-bacteria, molds, and yeasts,
    2. the activity of food enzymes, reactions with oxygen, moisture loss.
  2. Reputable Recipes: When canning, it is important to use reputable and tested recipes. Recommended sources included:

Pressure canner, jars and vegetablesForms of canning

  1. Pressure Canning: The pressure canning process must be used to can all
    low acid food (pH greater than 4.6) which includes vegetables, meats, poultry, seafood, soups, and other mixtures of both acid and low acid ingredients. An example of such a mixture would be spaghetti sauce with tomatoes, meat, and vegetables.
  2. Waterbath Canning: Waterbath cannerThe water bath process is used to can all high acidfoods (pH less than or equal to 4.6) which includes most all fruits. However, tomatoes,safety   of the recommended process. This process is used to can pickles, relishes, fruit spreads and salsa with acid added.
  3.  Clostridium Botulinum/ Botulism Poisoning: The bacterium Clostridium Botulinum is destroyed in low-acid foods when they are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners. Using boiling water canners for these foods poses a real risk of botulism poisoning. If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can pro­duce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal.
  4. Equipment: Proper equipment is essential to preserving a safe product. When canning the following are brief recommendations:
    • Always use canning jars and lids when preserving canned products.
    • Reusing glass commercial product jars such as used spaghetti sauce, jelly, or pickle jars is not recommended. Such jars can burst under pressure, as they are not designed for home canning.

Steps to Waterbath Canning

Step by Step Instructions for Waterbath Canning

Steps to Pressure Canning

Step-by-Step Instructions for Pressure Canning

Making Sauerkraut:

Canning Recipes

Click the links below for access to reputable canning recipes

Fruit Products  |  Jams, Jellies and Fruit Spreads  |  Pickles  |  Vegetables
Poultry, Meats and Seafood  | Tomatoes and Salsas