A water bath canner uses boiling water to seal canning jars closed. The preservation process creates a sterile environment that prevents bacteria growth inside the jelly, allowing you to store it for a year or more without refrigeration. Foods with a high acid content employ the water bath method, since lower-acid foods require processing at a higher temperature than is possible with a water bath canner. Fruits used in jelly or jam typically seal and store well using water bath canning methods.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Pint jars
- Canning lids and rings
- Jar tongs
- Clean cloth
Sterilise the jars and canning rings prior to use. Wash in soapy water or run them through the hot water cycle of the dishwasher. Keep the jars and rings in hot, clean water until you are ready to fill and process them.
Place the canning lids in a saucepan of water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the lids for two minutes. Keep the lids in the hot water until you are ready to use them. Boiling sterilises the lids and softens the rubber ring so they seal properly.
Fill the jars with the prepared jelly. Leave a half-inch of space, called headspace, between the top of the jelly and the rim of the jar. The headspace measurement may differ depending on the fruit you are canning, so refer to the recipe to confirm the space.
Slide a plastic knife or spatula around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles trapped in the jelly. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth to remove any jelly residue that may inhibit proper sealing.
Place a lid on top of the jar, rubber ring down. Secure the lid with a canning jar ring.
Place a rack inside the water bath canner. Fill the canner with hot water to within 4 inches of the rim. Bring the water to a rapid boil.
Place the jars inside the canner, using a pair of jar-lifter tongs. Arrange the jars so they are not touching each other or the sides of the canner. The lids of the jars must sit 1 to 2 inches beneath the water surface.
Bring the water back to a rapid boil. Boil the jars for about 10 minutes. The processing time depends on altitude and the jelly recipe used; refer to your canner instructions or the specific recipe for exact processing times.
Lift the jars from the boiling water with the tongs. Place them on a towel-covered rack to cool overnight. The jars are properly sealed when the raised "button" in the centre of the canning lid depresses and remains depressed.
Tips and warnings
- Store your processed jellies in a cool room away from direct sunlight. Label the jars with the variety and year canned.
- Jars that don't seal properly can be reprocessed in the canner immediately or placed in the refrigerator for immediate use.
- Dispose of any jelly that changes colour, leaks or develops mould during storage.
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