Last night I went to sleep to the sound of lids clicking as they suctioned closed on the jars filled with tomato relish and tomato chutney.
You don’t need fancy equipment to preserve food. The fundamental part is that you make sure everything you are using is clean and sterilised.
I use a large pot, a long wooden spoon, a ladle, a wide mouthed funnel, tongs and oven gloves. All of these items are stainless steel, except for the wooden spoon. For the jars, I re-use jars that have held jams or tomato sauces. They need to be cleaned thoroughly and their lids need to be in perfect condition (no dints or rust).
To sterilise the metal lids I place them in a small pot of water and bring to boil for 10 or 15 minutes. The glass jars I place in the oven, upside down or on their side, for the same amount of time or longer depending on when I’m ready to pour the preserve into them.
The trick, when filling the jars, is to make sure the liquid and the glass jar are around the same temperature. If you pour the liquid in and it is hotter than the jar it may crack the glass (I found this out the hard way many years ago).
I love my wide mouthed funnels! They are the best investment when you are pouring the produce into the jars. No slopping the ingredients over the edges. The jars stay clean on the outside and around the closure. I remember years back when I had to wipe all the tops of the jars so that no food was in the grooves where the lids twisted onto the jar. There’s no fussing over this with the funnels.
When I close the lids on the filled hot jars I use oven mitts to twist them on tight. Then I leave them until I here that lovely clicking sound that lids tells me the jars have sealed properly. If they don’t click down naturally the jar and the contents may not have been hot enough to create the vacuum seal. If this happens to one or two jars you can just keep them in the fridge and use them first.
I love hearing your thoughts! Let me know if you have done any preserving and if you have any tips.