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Do you can your own foods? Canning seems to be an art-form that died off for a while, but recently, it appears to be going through a resurgence. Learning how to can your own foods can be intimidating and frankly, down right scary when you first begin. There’s a lot of reasons for that fear, but mainly it all boils down to one word; botulism. Luckily, when you learn how to can properly and you follow the canning safety tips you should be learning, you really have nothing to fear from processing jars yourself. When you first start canning, it is usually helpful to start off with something easy. Learning how to can carrots fits that bill. They’re easy to process and honestly; pretty hard to mess up.
There are quite a few reasons to learn to home can food, but in my mind, only two matter. Canning helps you save money on food and canning helps you to be prepared for an emergency. Both are equally important for a family. For emergency preparation, having home canned foods gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you family can eat if the power, natural gas or water goes out. Since the foods you have canned are cooked as they process (or even before), you can literally pop a jar and eat directly from it.
How to Can Carrots for Long Term Storage
I also pointed out that canning saves you money on groceries, but the “how” part of that may not be clear right off the bat. Yes, you will most likely have to spend money on canning supplies that you need to start canning, but those are one-time purchases for the most part. After you’ve built your canning supplies up, you are able to stock up on fresh vegetables and fruits, meats, seafood and more as they come on sale since you have a way to preserve them without them spoiling. As a matter of fact, having the ability to can is one of the reasons that we are able to fish for food in the way that we do. My freezer filled pretty quickly, but being able to can the fish we catch has taken that particular grocery savings tip to a new level.
Lastly, if you have taken the time to grow your own food in a garden, you’ll know just how many fruits and vegetables can grow even in a small garden. Carrots especially can being in a crop far larger than you expected. Learning how to can carrots is a great way to ensure you don’t waste any of your hard earned rewards each harvest season. I can carrots for the most part when I find a great deal or my garden over produces, but I also save some aside and dehydrate them. This allows me to have a variety for using in my favorite cheap family recipes.
Recommended Supplies to can carrots:
- Pressure canner
- Paring knife
- Pint or Quart mason jars
- Canning Lids and rings
- Jar lifter
- Lid lifter
To prep for learning how to can carrots, start a large stock pot full of water on the stove to boil. Drop your canning lids into the water and bring it to a boil. Putting the lids in the water will soften the seals and (hopefully) give you a better seal on your finished jars.
A quick word about sterilizing jars and rings – Because you will be processing the jars and rings at a very high temperature in your pressure canner, there really isn’t a need to sterilize them. Research has shown that any bacteria that could live on the surface of the glass or metal, dies at the temperatures your pressure canner will reach. If, however, you don’t feel comfortable skipping the sterilization step, it isn’t going to hurt anything to sterilize them. Feel free if you would prefer.
Back to your regularly scheduled lesson on how to can carrots – To start, wash the carrots very well and scrub them with a vegetable scrub brush. Carrots are usually an extremely dirty vegetable when they come out of the ground and that dirt can cause issues with your jars sealing or your finished product. The don’t need to be perfect, but try to get as much dirt off as possible.
Once you have the carrots cleaned, use a paring knife or a vegetable peeler to peel them. As you peel, make certain to cut any bad spots out along the way.
Once you’ve got the carrots washed, scrubbed and peeled, slice each one into slices around 1/2″ thick. It doesn’t have to be exact, but keep in mind that the larger your slices, the tighter your pack will be in the jar meaning less air in your jar when you can carrots. If you are processing a lot of carrots at once, it can be helpful to use something such as a mandoline slicer to work through them quickly.
After you have them sliced, pack them into your jar tightly sure that you leave around 1″ head space in your jar. If you’re unfamiliar with what head space is, it is the amount of space between the top of your food (or the liquid involved) and the top of the jar. It is incredibly important to leave the amount required since it helps ensure that your jar won’t boil over which can cause a seal failure and helps ensure that your jar won’t easily break while it’s being processed. When you can carrots or other things that have a lot of water in them, there is the potential for your water to seep from the lid. The head space helps keep that from happening.
After your jars are filled, use a canning ladle to spoon the water you are boiling your lids in into each jar. If you don’t want to reuse the lid water, its fine and you can boil new, but there isn’t anything wrong with the water your lids are boiling in so why waste it? If the water in your pot is good enough for your lids, it should be good enough for your jars. Try not to spill it everywhere but if you find yourself spilling, you can use a canning funnel to help contain the mess.
When all your jars are full, run a bubble popper or wooden spoon down into each jar to remove any air bubbles. Do not use a metal utensil to do this since metal can weaken your jars making them more likely to explode while they’re under pressure. As you pop air bubbles in each jar, wipe the rim and threads of each one with a microfiber cloth to remove any water or food residue then add a lid and a ring. Tighten your rings “finger tight” meaning not too tight and not too loose.
Your lids are in the boiling water so be sure you use a lid lifter to avoid burning yourself. It is a really simple tool with a magnet on the end that allows you simply pick up your lids one at a time.
Once all your jars are filled and have lids and rings, add them to your canning rack and canner. Do not attempt to process jars in any canner – water bath or pressure – without a canning rack. Having the jars directly on the heat source is only asking for the trouble of exploded jars.
To process your jars and can carrots, you’ll process pints for 70 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes. Processing PSI ratings vary on your altitude – otherwise known as high high above sea level your home is – and the type of canner you’re using. Use the chart below to determine how long you should process for. If you aren’t sure of your altitude, a quick Google search can tell you.
ALTITUDE DIAL GAUGE WEIGHTED GAUGE
Once your jars have processed for the required amount of time, allow your canner to come back to normal pressure naturally. After that happens, carefully remove your canner lid and use jar tongs to remove your jars. Set them on a towel on the kitchen counter and don’t touch them for 24 hours. Make sure to listen for the “ping” of each jar sealing. If you have any that don’t seal, either reprocess immediately or refrigerate and use immediately.
I know that learning how to can carrots seems complicated, but I promise that once you get into the process itself and you’ve done it once or twice, you’ll be a pro! Don’t let your fear stop you from doing something that ultimately, is a good thing for your family.