The weather is starting to warm up, it’s time to start planning what you are planting in your garden and time to get your canners ready to preserve your garden bounty! Making sure that your canning equipment is in proper working order is required for safe, high quality home canning.
If you have a pressure canner with a dial gauge it needs to be tested every year. Check with us at AnswerLine to find the closest Extension office or hardware store for testing. A weighted gauge canner does not need to be tested. If you have a Presto canner they will also test the gauge. Simply send it to them, they test it and send it back to you. Just be sure and do it far enough in advance to have it back and ready for canning season.
The canner’s vent and safety value should also be cleaned. Use a very small bottle brush or small cloth to run through the holes to make sure they are clean and operating freely. Next check the gasket if your canner has one. It should be soft and flexible, not brittle, sticky or cracked. If it needs to be replaced you can usually find them at hardware stores that selling canning supplies or they can be ordered from the manufacturer.
Then do an inventory of your jars, flats and bands. Check the jars to make sure there are no small chips or hairline cracks. Nicks, especially on the top sealing edge of the jar can keep the lids from sealing properly. Hairline cracks in jars caused by old age and frequent use could cause them to break under pressure and heat during canning. If your jars need to be replaced start watching for specials on them in stores. Sometimes stores have sales before the canning season officially starts! The bands can be reused year after year as long as they are not dented or rusty. The flat lids are only used once so make sure that you toss the old ones and have new lids to use for this year’s canning.
The last thing is to make sure that you have your tested canning recipes ready. Publications and information is available through us at AnswerLine or at your local county Extension Office. If you do not have a copy of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service canning book called So Easy to Preserve I would recommend purchasing one. It is a comprehensive book with information on all types of home food preservation methods. Remember to look over your tested recipes in advance to make sure that you have all of the ingredients that you will need!
With your equipment and supplies ready to go you will have a head start when your garden starts producing!