I want to quickly cover 2 issues that come up with canning. The first is hot packing.photo:dutchblitz
Many vegetables are able to be raw packed (since they are usually processed in a pressure canner) but most fruits require a hot pack. Why is this?
"Many fresh foods contain from 10-30 percent air. How long canned foods retain high quality depends on how much air is removed from food before the jars are sealed."
When you fail to hot pack your fruits you can end up with quite a bit of space in the bottom of your sealed jar as your fruit floats up at the top. Sometimes even as much as half the jar ends up being space instead of fruit!
To hot pack fruit, simmer it in boiling water for 2-5 minutes. With fruits such as peaches you can use that same water to create the syrup you add to the jars before processing. Pack your peaches well. You don't have the squish them all down into a peachy pulp but make sure you're utilizing as much jar space as possible. An added bonus, hot packed foods also retain better color and flavor over time.
Secondly, head space. "Head space" refers to the space above the food in a jar and below the lid. A general rule for head space is:
1/4" for jams and jellies
1/2" for fruits and tomatoes, processed in a HWB
1" for low acid foods, processed in a pressure canner
Head space is essential in jars to allow for the expansion of foods during processing and for forming the vacuum in cooled jars.
Foods canned in a pressure canner need more head space because as the temperature gets higher the air expands more.
I hope that some of this is helpful to those just starting to can or those that always wondered why their peaches always floated to the top. ;)
Don't forget to enter my canning book giveaway here!