Introduction To Home Canning

jars of homemade jam

Preserving food with home canning is a great way to enjoy the fresh flavours of local, seasonal food all year long. Are you interested in canning and want to find out more? This is a great place to start.

What is home canning?

Home canning is a way to preserve fresh foods in glass jars. It’s a homemade version of store bought jarred or canned goods like jams, chutney, pickled beets, soups, tomato sauce or sauerkraut. Home canning is a fun way to share family recipes, save money, teach your kids food skills, and preserve garden produce and seasonal foods! 

What foods can be canned? 

Many foods can be canned. For example, vegetables and fruit can be made into:

  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Sauces
  • Chutneys 
  • Relishes
  • Pickles

Meat, fish, eggs, poultry, milk and prepared foods like soups and stews can also be canned.

How does canning preserve food?

When food is canned properly, canning preserves food by:

  • Removing air
  • Preventing growth of bacteria, molds and yeast
  • Destroying enzymes
  • Creating a tight seal (keeps liquids in and air and bacteria out)

How are foods canned at home?

There are two main ways to can food depending on if the food is high or low acid. High and low acid foods need to be canned differently to prevent harmful bacteria from growing.

  • High acid food like fruit is canned with a boiling water canner. If you want to make jams, sauerkraut, pickles, relishes, chutneys, condiments or fruit butters use a boiling water canner.
  • Low acid food like meat, seafood or vegetables (except tomatoes*) need to be processed at higher temperatures to kill bacteria. They are canned with a pressure canner. 

*Note: When tomatoes are being prepared for canning, an acid (such as vinegar) must be added to them to make them safer for preserving.

Is home canning safe? 

When done properly, home canning is safe. However, if not done properly, home canning can cause botulism. Botulism is a serious type of food poisoning that can be fatal. Botulism doesn't change the colour, odour or taste of food. That’s why it’s important to use proper home canning methods. Tip: Only use tested recipes when canning and do not change the ingredients or the methods. Even small changes can affect the quality and safety.

How do I get started on home canning? 

If you are new to canning or have not canned in a long time, try taking a canning course or canning with someone who does it frequently.

You can also check out the resources below

Read Home canning: Getting started to get even more tips on home canning! 

You may also be interested in 

Home canning safety, Government of Canada
Home Canning: How to Avoid Botulism, BC Health Guide Program

Last Update – June 13, 2018

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