Handout from Food Preservation Class

Class taught by and handout written for food preservation by Trish Percy of Feed Texas First (www.feedtexasfirst.org) in June, 2011.

Feed Texas First is a grass-roots organization that supports ensuring our food security in North Texas.


Canning – Hot Water Bath Canning (High Acid)

–          Used for high acid foods such as jams, jellies, preserves, salsa, pickles and basic tomatoes

–          Heats jar and contents to 212°F



Hot water bath canner with Rack – any large pot will do, but it must be at least 3-4 inches deeper than the height of the

jars in order to allow for the jars to be covered by at least 1-2 inches of water at a rapid boil.

Jar  lifter – used to lift jars from hot water bath

Lid lifter

Non-metallic spatula

Canning Funnel (nice to have)


Step 1:  Check and Prep your jars

Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water.  Rinse, but do not dry.  Check jars for seal by running your fingertip around the mouth of the jar.  Any jar with a chip must be discarded.  Place on rack in canner, fill with cool water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Do not boil.  Jars should be kept hot until you are ready to use them.

Set screw bands aside.  Lids should be placed in a small pan and brought to a simmer (180°F) over medium heat.  Do not boil.  Lids should be kept hot until you are ready to use them.


Step 2:  Prep food

Ex 1:  Tomatoes

Ex 2:  Preserves


Step 3:  Fill the Jars

Using the jar lifter, remove one jar at a time and set it on a towel on the counter.  If you are using a funnel, place it in the jar.  Ladle the food into the jar, leaving the headspace (space between the food and the top of the jar) specified by the recipe you are using.  Using a non-metallic spatula, slide down between the food and the inside of the jar a few times to remove trapped air bubbles.  You may need to add more food to adjust the headspace.


With a clean, damp cloth, wipe the jar rim and threads to ensure a tight seal.  Using magnetic lid lifter, remove lid from hot water and place on jar.  Attach screw band – do not over tighten; the jar will vent during the canning process.

Return filled jar to the hot water canner.  Place in at an angle.


Step 4: Heat Process the Jars

When all the jars in the canner are filled, adjust the water so that it covers the jars by at least 2 inches.  Put the lid on the canner and bring the water to a rolling boil using high heat.  The listed processing time for the recipe starts once the water is at a full boil.


Step 5:  Cool the Jars

Once the food has been processed, remove the lid and turn off the heat, allowing the canner to cool for 5 minutes before removing the jars.  This allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize.  Lift the jars without tilting.  Set jars on a heat proof surface and let cool – do not disturb lids while the seal is being formed.  You’ll hear them “ting” as the vacuum forms.  Properly sealed lids are concave and don’t move when you press on them.  You should be able to remove the screw top and lift the jar using only the lid.  If the jar has not sealed properly, you must either reprocess it or refrigerate it and use it within a few days.


Pressure Canning – Low Acid Foods

Use the same steps as above for Hot Water Bath Canning, but use a pressure canner and follow the directions in the recipe for the amount of pressure (which regulates the temperature).  Pressure canning uses temperatures of 240°F to sterilize the food.  Includes all vegetables (except high acid tomatoes), fish, meats, and soups or sauces.  Pickling is popular because it raises the acidity of food through the addition of vinegar, allowing hot water bath canning.



–          Does NOT stop the clock

–          Stops the growth of organisms & preserves more nutrients than any other preservation method

–          If not packaged properly, freezer burn may result and the fat on frozen meat will turn rancid

–          FREEZER BAGS!


Step 1:  Appropriate Containers

Containers must be airtight, or freezer burn will result from ice crystals evaporating from the food’s surface.  Containers for freezing need more headspace due to the expansion of liquid when frozen.  Freezer bags must be completely cooled before being placed in the freezer, or they will freeze to the shelf.  Freeze them on a tray, then move to shelf .


Step 2:  Pre-treat Vegetables

Blanching – a must for veggies, optional for fruits.  Blanching allows vegetables to retain their color, taste and texture.

–          Steam blanching:  Best taste after freezing

–          Boil blanching:  Can diminish flavor

–          Microwave blanching:  NO PLASTIC!

–          Always stop the cooking by dropping vegetables into ice water.  (Make sure this is set up ahead of time)


Step 3:  Pack in Freezer Containers

–          Seal in Containers and LABEL!

–          Place in freezer (on tray if in freezer bag)


Notes:  Tomatoes

–          May be frozen whole, peeled or unpeeled; stewed or roasted.

–          Freeze whole tomatoes on a tray and freeze, then transfer to freezer bags.  Skins will slide off as they thaw for use.

–          If you prefer to remove the skins before freezing, you can blanche them for 30-60 seconds, then remove the skins and place on trays to freeze.

–          Sauces:  Wash, core and cut into quarters.  Simmer covered until soft, then uncover and cook 4-6 hours.

–          Slow cooker or oven may be better to prevent burning.


Notes:  Fruit

–          No blanching needed.

–          Dry pack:  I’ve used this for berries – place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.  Once frozen, move to freezer bags or containers.

–          Wet pack:  adding liquid before freezing (syrup, juice or water)


Notes:  Herbs

–          Harvest in cool morning air

–          Blanche for a few seconds per stalk in boiling water, then ice-water bath.

–          Dry, then place on wax paper and roll.

–          Store in freezer bag; remove air from bag

–          May be chopped and frozen in ice cubes as well


“…method of preserving food products in which so much of the product’s natural moisture is removed that spoilage micro-organisms…are unable to grow or multiply” – FromDehydrating Food: A Beginner’s Guide


Dehydrated food weighs ¼ to 1/10 of the fresh product, and is easier to store.  It also maintains most of its fresh nutritional value.  Be prepared to use food that you have RE-hydrated quickly as it may spoil rapidly once reconstituted.



1.  Sun Drying.  Solar heat and air circulation are used to evaporate moisture from the product.  .


2.  Oven drying.  A low heat (140-145°F) is used for several hours.  For an electric oven, leave the door open a few inches.  For a gas oven, leave it open 8”.  This helps to control temperature, and also to all moisture to escape.  Open mesh pans speed up the drying process.


3.  Dehydrators.  These appliances maintain temperature and airflow over time for an evenly dried product


Step One:  Preparing the food

  • Only products in prime condition should be dried
  • Vegetables should be blanched first
  • Cut fruit may be treated with lemon juice or ascorbic acid to maintain color


Step Two:  Filling the trays

  • Trays should be filled evenly with fruit touching but not overlapping
  • Don’t let trays sit after filling – start drying process quickly


Step Three:  Dehydrate

  • After drying, cool completely and store in airtight containers
  • If left out food will re-absorb moisture from the air
  • Store somewhere cool, dark and dry


Step Four:  Reconstitute

  • In most cases, you will rehydrate the food before using
  • 1 cup fruit or vegetable to 2 cups warm water – do not add sugar or salt until reconstitution is complete



Ball Blue Book:  Guide to Preserving, 2010 Hearthmark LLC d/b/a Jarden Home Brands

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, 2006 Jarden Corporation, edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest, 2002 by Carol w. Costenbader

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living, 2011 by Rachel Kaplan & K. Ruby Blume

Dehydrating Food:  A Beginner’s Guide, 2010 by Jay & Shirley Bills



Culinary Arts Colleges

How to Dry Fruits and Vegetagles


The Dry Store


Blogs:  grow it cook it can it 


Copyright 2011 Feed Texas First

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