9 tips for successful home canning (and saving money)

Canning is the guarantee of eating healthy products with preserved flavors, especially if you use the fruits and vegetables you produce. How not to miss them?

Realize your canned foodmeans being able to save money. “This is especially true if you have a vegetable garden”, nuance Sandrine Duport*, author of Make a success of my homemade preserves – 101 recipes to move towards food autonomy, published by Jouvence (May 2022). However, nothing prevents you from buying fruit and vegetables at knockdown prices at market ends, for example, and using them for canning.

On the same subject

It’s also a way to use the fruit offered by your neighbors who no longer know what to do with their cherries or peaches when it’s high season. In terms of nutrition and health, the preserves you prepare also have an advantage: they do not contain preservatives or additives, unlike industrial cans.

Preserves are not complicated to make and do not require investing in a lot of equipment, at least at first, especially since heat (sterilization) is not the only way to make preserves. You can preserve food by fermentation, in oil, in vinegar, in salt and even make semi-preserves in the refrigerator. In any case, it is important to observe hygiene rules to prevent the risk of bacterial contamination, in particular botulism. “Vegetables should be washed well and cooked before canning, or blanched (boiled for a few minutes) and worked in a clean space, using washed and well-dried jars”, recommends Sandrine Duport. We invite you to discover 9 tips for successful canning.

*Sandrine Duport’s Youtube channel.

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Keep your preserves
“Your homemade preserves will keep for a year (after that, they remain edible but they lose vitamins and taste qualities)” informs Sandrine Duport. His advice: make your preserves for the coming year, no more. Your homemade preserves must be stored in a place protected from light: closed cupboard, cellar… “If your preserves have a small film on the top, called biofilm, it is undoubtedly that your lids have not been closed properly and that air got inside. “You just have to remove this small layer and the rest underneath is consumable” reassures Sandrine Duport.

© Shutterstock / Elena Shashkina

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Cans in oil
The oil is also an excellent preservative. Cans in oil are ideal for preserving vegetables (peppers, zucchini, purple artichokes, etc.). “Depending on the recipe, you can use olive, sunflower, or grapeseed oils. “To avoid any risk of botulism, it is important to prepare vegetables before putting them in oil, by scalding them, drying them, cooking them, grilling them or fermenting them” warns Sandrine Duport.

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Lactofermented preserves
“Preserves by lactofermentation (a process that takes place by depriving food of air, putting it in the presence of bacteria and carbohydrates) have many advantages: they do not require the use of energy (gas, electricity), they preserve vitamins and create excellent probiotics for health and the digestive system. In addition, with this way of canning there is no risk of botulism because no pathogenic microbe can survive in this environment,” explains Sandrine Duport. You can use this technique to preserve vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, onions, turnips, etc.) among other preparations.

© Shutterstock / Ahanov Michael

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Not too much material
“If you want to start home canning, don’t immediately start buying professional equipment,” recommends Sandrine Duport. If you don’t enjoy canning, you will have invested for nothing. “You can start canning by heating with a pressure cooker or an old washing machine to sterilize your jars,” says our specialist. This specifies that you can make preserves without a sterilizer, with vinegar or oil for example.

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Semi-preserves in the refrigerator
Did you know that you can make semi-preserves to keep in the fridge? “These preserves have the advantage of retaining the flavors and textures of food as well as preserving their nutritional and taste properties,” informs Sandrine Duport. You can thus preserve confits, pâtés, mashed garlic or mashed tomato… These semi-preserves can be kept from a few weeks to a few months in the refrigerator.

© Shutterstock / Liga Cerina

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Know the sterilization technique
To make preserves by heat (sterilization), the best known preservation process, the jars should be sterilized at 100°C. “In reality, for homemade preserves, it’s more a matter of canning because the temperature can fluctuate between 98°C and 102°C” emphasizes Sandrine Duport. The technique for making these preserves? Put the jars with the food, place them in a sterilizer or washing machine, cover them with cold water up to the height and heat the water to reach 100°C then leave the jars at this temperature throughout the cooking time . “The jars must then be left to cool in the sterilizer or washing machine,” adds our specialist.

© Shutterstock / zebratomato

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Salt preservation
Salt preserves are easy to make and inexpensive. They allow you to preserve meat, fish and vegetables. ““They have a drawback: you have to like the salty taste” emphasizes Sandrine Duport. One of his recipes consists of mixing slightly damaged vegetables and kneading them with coarse salt, then storing this “vegetable greenery” in the refrigerator. “You can then use a teaspoon to flavor your pasta, for example,” says Sandrine Duport.

© Shutterstock / monticello

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Sugar syrup for canning fruit
“Sugar is an excellent preservative” teaches us Sandrine Duport. If you want to preserve fruit, making a sugar syrup is necessary. “For this, a pastry thermometer will be very useful. When sugar is mixed with water, it begins to melt, and under the action of heat, the water gradually evaporates, then the syrup goes through different stages. For sterilized fruit preserves, the tablecloth stage (28°C) is the appropriate one” describes Sandrine Duport. Then simply put your fruit in jars, fill them with hot syrup up to 1 cm before the lid, close and sterilize.

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