Mother Earth News Blogs > Real Food

Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Canning Summer's Bounty: Easy And Low Tox

By Melodie Metje

Tags: canning, summer garden, food preservation, Ohio, Melodie Metje,

Tomato sauce in Weck's jars

Canning is a great way to preserve your own harvest. You can also buy organic produce that is on sale from your local grocer or from your local farmers market. When the produce is in peak season, it is the most healthful and the least expensive of the year.When you can, you have to follow the recipe exactly to make sure it is safe to eat. When canning acidic foods like fruit or tomatoes, or anything using vinegar or sugar, you can likely use only a water bath. All other canning requires a pressure canner to get to high enough temperatures to kill off the bacteria that cause botulism.

Home Canning Resources

Here are some web pages and resources to use:
Mother Earth News How to Can app 
National Center for Home Food Preservation
USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning
Home Canning website
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

I bought a 1946 canning booklet from Steamliner Pressure Cooker-Instructions for Cooking and Canning so I could learn how to use the old fashioned canning jars. It was fun to read, complete with recipes! Okay, I thought, could I do some canning? My Granny canned during the summers I spent with her when I was little. We were growing tomatoes in our little flower/veggie garden. My handy Ball canning book revealed that tomatoes and fruits are high acid so they do not require a Pressure Canner; only a water bath was needed. Makes it an inexpensive experiment. I read that many canning lids also contain BPA. So, what other options were there? I found these glass lids in an antique store. I also bought the jars with the wire closure. All I needed now were the rubber seals and some directions!

I searched the web to see if I could find any instructions on how to use old-fashioned canning jars. No luck. Then I went to Amazon to see if there were any books on it. I found a 1946 pamphlet “Steamliner Pressure Cooker-Instructions for Cooking and Canning.” Success! It was great fun browsing the pamphlet. It was also very thorough in its instructions on how to use the old fashioned canning jars.

I went on line and ordered a variety of seals, sticking with ones that were not made in China and were natural rubber. I wasn’t able to find any that fit well with my cool, old fashioned jars. I also learned that the glass lids needed very tall rings. The modern ones were too short to close properly. Back to square one!

Choosing the Best Canning Jars

Different Types Of Canning Jars 

Then, I ran across an advertisement for these beautiful glass jar with glass lid made in Germany-Weck’s (it is the second from the right in the pic). Finally, a non-toxic jar! Later I discovered a plastic lid that is also BPA-free that can be used with modern jars made by Tattler, made in the USA since 1976. They are a seamless replacement for the metal lids. I was able to can a few using the old fashioned jars. The Weck’s work great. Easy to use, easy to know that the seal is good, and beautiful to look at. I highly recommend them.

All you really need when canning high-acid foods is a tall stock pot with lid, a jar lifter, a stainless steel spoon, a towel to put the hot jars on, and your canning jars.

For more tips on organic small space and container gardening, see Melodie's blog at