Home Blog Urban Homestead How To Can Vegetables (12 Steps) | Your ULTIMATE Guide for 2023!

How To Can Vegetables (12 Steps) | Your ULTIMATE Guide for 2023!

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Hey there, friend! Today on PunkMed, I’m so excited to share how to can vegetables. I’m an experienced vegetable canner myself, and I wrote this ULTIMATE guide on how to can vegetables to help my friends, family members, and readers get ready to can vegetables as a beginner!

Are you ready to jump into the world of canning?! I got you!

This blog post is all about how to can vegetables.

My Expertise – Canning Vegetables

I started canning a little while after I started gardening (about 7 years ago!) when it became evident around harvest time that I had more produce than I could use immediately! I needed to figure out a way to preserve the surplus for the year. I especially was drowning in tomatoes, so I started by canning my own tomato sauce and the rest was history!

Since then I have canned green beans, radishes, and peppers!

I would love to preserve my own dill pickles! However, I have such a taste for the super vinegary ones from the grocery store–I’m afraid I won’t be able to recreate that crunch and sourness with my own dill pickles!

But wait, there’s more! In this post, I’ve also included the expert and hobbyist advice of 20 other homesteaders, gardeners and canning experts! I’ve included their tips and tricks (as well as gorgeous inspo images), to help you get started canning your very own vegetables!

How to Can Vegetables - Pantry shelves full of canned vegetables and sauces
Isn’t this pantry of canned vegetables gorgeous? This photo is from @backyard.brambles. “I’m very happy to put my canner away and gaze at a shelf full of good food that we will be picking at over the winter. I consider myself a novice canner, I have never used a pressure canner, but there is still a huge variety of food I can safely put up using a water bath canner.”

How to Can Vegetables (12 Steps)

Before I jump into the exact steps of how to can vegetables, I want to give you a few of my BEST (and hard won, lol) tips on how to can vegetables. My goal in sharing my mistakes and issues is to help YOU avoid them!

I also share how to make the best of my guide on how to can vegetables!

My Tips for How to Can Vegetables:

  • Tip #1: Give yourself permission to be a beginner! Some batches of canned vegetables will just not turn out, and that’s just how math works! Even the most expert and experienced vegetable canners have batches that don’t work out!
  • Tip #2: Get everyone else out of the house (if you can)! Vegetable canning can take over the WHOLE kitchen (it feels like it takes over my whole HOUSE in Boston, lol), so the less people inside, the better! This will make organizing and sanitizing much easier.
  • Tip #3: Start with ONE type of vegetable, then branch out! I would start with something easy–like tomatoes. Plus, there are so many fun things you can do with tomatoes! Canned them whole or make a ready-to-eat pasta sauce. I wouldn’t recommend starting off with something more technically challenging like meat or fish.
  • Tip #4: Safety first! I always follow the expert advice laid out in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning!
  • Tip #5: Feel free to print out my guide! There is a lot (a LOT) of info in this post (I was serious about making it the ULTIMATE guide to vegetable canning!). This post could very well be an ebook! Feel free to print it out so you can make notes and add reminders!

Finally, it’s a good idea to snag a vegetable canning notebook like this one, so you can easily track what you do over the years! You think you’ll remember, but you probably won’t! 😉

Alright, you ready to get canning?! Let’s dive into it!

From @.sunshinefarmlife: “I want you to know something…

This picture was taken my second year gardening and my very first year ever preserving anything.

I knew nothing when I started. I didn’t know what a perennial was, how jam was made, or how potatoes grew.

Here is the honest truth about getting started…

You do not have to have a “green thumb.”

You don’t have to grow up on a farm.

You do not need to be an expert in any of this to get started.

You are more than capable!”

Step 1: Get Your Equipment Ready! | How to Can Vegetables

Ok, the first thing you’ll need to do is assemble your canning equipment. Now, it can be tempting to buy ALL the equipment–but as a canning beginner, I recommend keeping it simple! You can add all the gizmos in the coming years!

Note: this guide covers canning vegetables without a pressure cooker, AKA water bath canning vegetables.

Vegetable Canning Supplies

Ball Mason 32 oz Wide Mouth Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12 Jars The size of the jars you purchase will depend on the vegetable you intend to can. These jars are great for larger portions or longer vegetables like beans, carrots, and cukes.

Ball Mason 8 oz Quilted Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12 Jars These smallers jars are great for smaller portions and harvests.

Cook N Home 16 Quart Stockpot with Lid, Stainless Steel A large pot like this 16 quart stockpot is essential to the canning process. You need a pot large enough to hold all your jars, and tall enough to cover them with water.

Ball Secure-Grip Jar Lifter The canning process involves boiling jars in water to create the pressure required make the product shelf-stable. The jar lifter allows you to retrieve jars from the hot water.

Round Cooking Rack, 3 Pcs (7½” & 9” & 10½”) Place this cooking rack at the bottom of your canning pot to keep the jars from rattling around on the bottom of the pot and allow for an even distribution of heat.

Step 2: Pick a Recipe | How to Can Vegetables

The post covers the general principles of canning, which are luckily applicable across most vegetable canning recipes!

This post does not provide any specific canning recipe for a certain vegetable, as the ingredients will differ by vegetable. Instead, this post will help you become build a confident home canning practice and become familiar with the overall steps.

I recommend you first choose a recipe for the vegetable you want to can from a reputable source like the Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving.

Step 3: Sterilize Jar and Lids | How to Can Vegetables

From @.homegrownonpurpose: “Three guesses as to what I’m up to today. 🙂Harvested eight pounds of raspberries in one day, many more to ripen on the vine!”

Before you start the canning process, it’s important to sterilize your jars and lids.

Place the jars you will need in your canning pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil.

Place the corresponding lids in a separate, smaller saucepan. Cover with water and bring just to simmer. Do not boil the lids.

Hot tip: the screw bands for the lids DO NOT need to be sterilized.

Now is a good time to prepare your vegetables as you wait for the jar and lids to sterilize.

Step 4: Prepare Your Vegetables | How to Can Vegetables

Prepare your vegetables according to your chosen recipe as the jar and lids sterilize in the boiling water.

It’s important to rinse your vegetables, especially if they’re straight from the garden! You definitely want to remove any bugs or dirt!

Step 5: Fill the Sterilized Jars | How to Can Vegetables

When your vegetables are ready, remove the sterilized jars from the hot water using your jar lifter and place on a paper towel on the countertop.

Fill your jars with the prepared vegetables according to your recipe. Leave about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar depending on the recipe.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel to remove all traces of food. Food or moisture on the rim prevents a perfect seal.

Step 6: Apply the Lids and Screw Bands | How to Can Vegetables

From @.3ravensfarm: “Probably would never eat them together but started some kraut and made a bit of blackberry jam yesterday…yum”

Apply lids to the filled jars. Screw bands on the lids to secure so that bands are “fingertip tight.”

“Fingertip tight” means using the strength only of your fingertips to screw on the bands. Screwing on the bands too tight may prevent a perfect seal.

Step 7: Lower Jars into Canning Pot | How to Can Vegetables

Lower jars back into canning pot using your jar lifters. (Reuse the same hot water from the earlier sterilization process, just make sure the water still covers the jars.) The jars should not touch.

Step 8: Bring to a Boil and Set Timer | How to Can Vegetables

From @.kathryn_grows_stuff: “Today’s plotting along post is ‘preservation station’ which is basically my kitchen! This is my trusty Kilner water bath canning station.”

Cover the canning pot and bring to a boil.

Boil jars for the duration specified in your chose recipe. Make sure to start your timer when the water boils, not when the jars first enter the hot water.

Step 9: Remove from Canning Pot | How to Can Vegetables

From @.gapey: “Yesterday I made my first pepper jam.”

When your timer goes off, remove the jars from the boiling water and place on the countertop to cool using your jar lifters.

Step 10: Allow to Cool on Countertop | How to Can Vegetables

As you allow your jars to cool on the countertop, you should hear a distinctive “pop” of each lid. The “pop” means you have achieved an effective seal.

From @_the_red_shed: “And it begins!”

Step 11: Check Seal | How to Can Vegetables

After the jars have cooled, it’s important to check the seal on your jars before storing. Remove the bands and use your fingertips to pull on the lid. The lid should hold tight to the jar if you have created an effective vacuum seal.

Step 12: Store in a Cool, Dry Place | How to Can Vegetables

Store the jars in a cool, dry place. Check your recipe for optimal storage duration.

Hot tip: I like to label my jars with the canning date with these labels.

Where to Store Canned Vegetables?

When it comes to storing canned vegetables, you’ll want to put them in a cool and dry place, away from temperature fluctuations.

We live in an old home in Boston that was built in 1911, so our kitchen comes with a huge old-timey pantry. (To give you a sense of how old–this pantry has a drain on the floor because half of it served as an icebox pre-refrigeration.) 

We are definitely not the first tenants to store home-canned goods in this pantry! 🙂

How to Get Started Canning: Use Water!

Here, Jordyn and Kay of @.portageviewfarm show us where they store their canned vegetables and fruits!

Next, I wanted to share this pretty rad tip from Jordyn and Kay of @.PortageviewFarm! The dynamic duo “help homesteaders learn how to grow garden & raise meat birds without being overwhelmed!”

Their advice for people trying to learn how to can vegetables?

Try canning water!

“If you’re scared to use your pressure canner, try pressure canning water!
This will teach you how to use and understand your canner without the prep work and the chance of ruining your food.
Here is how to do it:
1. Prepare jars, lids, rings.
2. Place 3 inches of water in the canner.
3. Add water into jars, leaving 1/2″ head space.
4. Remove bubbles, wipe rims.
5. Adjust lids and rings, but not too tight.
6. Load the jars into the canner
7. Fasten the lid securely on canner.
8. Turn the heat on high.
9. Exhaust steam and let it flow for 10 minutes, making note of the end time.
10. Place weight or close petcock.
11. Let pressure build. You will know when it happens, the weight will start rocking.
12. Start timing once your canner is at the desired pressure, make note of the end time
13. Adjust the heat to keep the pressure stable. If you go below your recommended pounds of pressure, you must begin the processing time again!
14. When the timing is complete, remove the canner from the heat (but only if you can safely lift the canner, otherwise turn off the heat and leave it), now wait until the canner is fully depressurized. How will you know? Nudge the weight to see if steam spurts out; if no steam, remove the weight. This is going to take a while; at least 15-30 minutes.
15. When fully depressurized, remove the weight
16. Wait 10 minutes after you’ve removed the weight, THEN
open the lid away from you
17. Lift the jars, keeping them upright, place on heavy towel
18. Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 24 hours
19. Check seals and label the jars
20. Don’t forget to wash & dry the canner, gasket & lid so they will be ready for use next time”

From @.jharmondesign, who started a new account all about vegan canning and homesteading!

How long to can vegetables?

If you’re like me and SUPER into planning, here’s a rough breakdown on time to can 4-6 quarts of vegetables:

  • Gathering Canning Ingredients and Supplies (plus a last minute store run): 2-3 hours
  • Preparing Vegetables: 30 min – 1 hour
  • Sanitizing Equipment and Jars: 1 hour
  • Actual Canning: ~1 hour (depends on recipe)
  • Processing Time: 2 hours
  • Cool Down Time: 2 hours

All in all, the total time to can vegetables takes 6 hours, plus about 2-3 hours of prep!

Benefits of Canning Vegetables

Are you asking yourself, “Why even can vegetables?! This is a LOT of work! Is it worth it to can vegetables?”

The answer is YES, it absolutely is! Canning is so rewarding because it gives you a sense of self-sufficiency knowing you can extend your harvest and feed your family year round from your garden. It’s also fun to share and trade jars of your creations with friends and family!

How Hard Is It To Learn to Can Vegetables?

Canning vegetables is a lot like baking! It’s an exact science, but once you get the hang of it, you’re good to go! People have been canning and preserving food for centuries–you’ve got this!

More Canning Inspiration & Tips

Below, I’ve shared more tips and inspiration on vegetable canning from those in the community!

From @forjarusa: “Do you have a favorite vegetable that you love to can?
For our family, it’s definitely tomatoes! There’s nothing quite like open a jar of homemade canned tomatoes in the dead of winter and getting a taste of summer. Plus, they’re so versatile – you can use them in soups, stews, sauces, and more.
But maybe you prefer pickled cucumbers, or spicy jalapenos, or sweet corn? Let me know in the comments what your go-to vegetable for canning is!
And if you’re new to canning, don’t be intimidated! It’s a great way to preserve the harvest and enjoy your favorite veggies year-round. Just make sure to follow proper safety guidelines and sterilize your jars before filling them with deliciousness.
Happy canning”
From @trudi_brugesvegan: “Haricots from my #veggarden. Already the 3rd batch this Summer!”
From @.creativecanning: “Canning carrots at home is an easy way to preserve carrots and prepare them for quick weeknight meals at the same time.”

Creative Canning also has a bunch of rad canning recipes!
From@.trinsculinarycorner: “Pickled carrots and radishes!”
From @.blackoakhollow: “Hot and mild banana pepper rings complete!”
Photo of canned vegetables from @.songbirdjh77!
From @.thehighlanderhomestead: “24 quarts of black beans canned this past weekend. This was my fourth time pressure canning and the first time I’ve had every single jar seal!!! I’m so happy😁

Pressure canning felt very intimidating to me, so for years, I just stuck to only canning foods that could be water bath canned. I’ve learned a lot and I’m very grateful for those of you that helped me learn. Appreciate y’all!”
From @.ambear2723: “Garden harvest and canning!”

This blog post was all about how to can vegetables.

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