Basic Principles & Introduction
Home preserving saves money because you can buy produce seasonally & preserve when cheap, fresh, and flavourful while helping to avoid preservatives, artificial colourings, flavour enhancers, and stuff you just don't like.
Enjoy the bounty of the harvest
"All Year Round"
There is nothing more satisfying than standing back and seeing the results of your own labour, and when it comes to preserving food, it can also be deliciously rewarding.
There are many reasons for making your own preserves. If you are growing your own fruits and vegetables, the best way of using up that abundant harvest is by making your own delicious preserves. If you do not grow your own produce, it is still an advantage to be able to purchase produce in season, in larger quantities, at a cheaper price, and then preserve it for future use. Last but not least is the taste of your own preserves.
There is no doubt that home preserves simply taste better.
Processing Your Preserves, Safely
After cooking the sauce, pickles, jam, or other foods for preserving, your filled, and closed jars of food, need processing.
This is done to kill the pathogens such as yeasts, bacteria, and mould, which are abundant in nature, and are around us all the time, and can contaminate your preserves.
For most home preserving, processing is simply submerging the closed jars under hot water, bringing to the boil for a specified period of time, and then allowing to cool.
High and Low Acid Preserving
There are two types of processing for safe home preserving, or canning, that are considered "world's best practice": the boiling water bath method and the pressure canning method.
The method of processing you use will be determined by the type of produce you are going to preserve.
High acid foods should be processed using the Boiling Water Bath Method,
Low acid foods must be processed with the Pressure Canning Method.
Examples of High and Low acid foods.
Preparation of the food can also change the acid content, such as in pickles. Cucumbers, for example, are low acid, but once you pickle them in vinegar, they become a high acid preserve. This is true with all chutneys and acid-based relishes that can be made with a variety of low acid and high acid foods.
If you are not sure about the acidity of your recipe, test the PH of your preserves to make sure that it is below 4.6. High acid foods are ok to process in a boiling water bath but all other foods must be processed by pressure preserving.
If your new to "home preserving" it would probably be best to start with high acid, boiling water bath preserving that requires only basic home cooking equipment and basic cooking skills.