Make the most of summer's bounty by learning how to preserve it for winter.
Step 1: Wash your canning jars, along with their lids and screw bands, in very hot, soapy water. Rinse well and let them air dry. Check for cracks and chips before using.
TIP: Only use jars made specifically for canning.
Step 2: Sterilize the jars and lids according to your boiling-water canner instructions. Leave them submerged in the hot water until they're ready to be filled.
Step 3: Prepare the fruit. Different fruits require different kinds of preparation for canning, so consult The National Center for Home Food Preservation web site for specifics.
Step 4: Fill the jars with fruit, leaving a quarter-inch at the top. Eliminate air bubbles by poking through the contents with a chopstick or wooden skewer. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth.
Step 5: Place the lids onto the jars' rim and twist on the screw bands until tight.
Step 6: Put the jars into the canner, taking care to keep them upright. Add enough water to cover them by an inch or two, and bring to a boil. Boiling times will depend on what you're canning. When they're done, turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Wait five minutes.
TIP: If the water level hits the top of the jars during boiling, add more boiling water.
Step 7: Remove jars carefully with a jar lifter or stainless-steel tongs, so the contents don't shift, and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours. Don't attempt to retighten the jars. When cool, make sure they're correctly sealed by looking for a slight indentation in the lid. Refrigerate any that are not sealed properly and eat within two weeks.
: Look for signs of spoilage, which include a bulging lid, leakage, a hissing sound when the lid is opened, mold, bubbles, a bad smell, or fruit that looks discolored, slimy, or mushy. If you see any of these signs, toss it.
Step 8: Enjoy the fruits of your labor all winter ¬– literally! When properly sealed, canned fruit will last in a cool, dark place up to a year.
FACT: In the summer of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson urged women to can more fruits and vegetables to help the war effort.