Canning terms are mostly simple, but often, someone will use a different term for the same thing.
For instance: Raw pack vs. cold pack. They mean the same thing…but it is very important to know just what that means.
Terminology can really mess us up if you think a word means one thing, and I think the same word means something else.
Be safe and understand canning terms.
Below you’ll find a glossary of words/canning terms. Some are obvious, while others may be misunderstood. I’ll be adding to this page as I come across terms that need to be explained.
Bacteria – Microorganisms that may produce harmful toxins in our food.
Blanch – or scald – A process to loosen skins on fruits and vegetables and kill enzymes prior to preserving. Submerge food in boiling water for amount of time indicated, then remove and plunge in cold ice water to stop cooking.
Boiling Water Bath Canner – Specialized pot used for water bath canning. Comes with a rack to hold jars off the bottom of the canner.
Botulism – Type of food poisoning that may be fatal. Pressure canners are the only canning method that will reach the high heat needed to prevent it.
Cold packed – (Sometimes called raw pack) means the food is raw when it’s packed in the jars. Hot liquid is added over the raw food. “Raw packed” is actually a better term. You never want to put cold jars in your hot canner. The jars may break.
Enzyme – Enzymes start the process of decomposition; enzyme action slows in the freezer. Increases between 85 and 120 degrees and stops above 140 degrees. That is why we blanch foods before freezing…it stops the enzymes.
High-Acid Food – Food which contains enough acid to have a pH of 4.6. These may be safely processed in a water bath canner.
Hot Pack – Food is first cooked or partially cooked in a syrup or other liquid. Foods that have been pre-cooked are already hot when they go into the canner,
Head Space – The space between the top of the food product and the lid.
Jar – Canning jar, sometimes called a Mason jar, specially designed to withstand home canning procedures.
Lid – Canning lids come in a 2-part piece. Often when a lid is referred to, it is specifically referring to the flat metal disc.
Low-Acid Food – Food which contains little natural acid and has a pH above 4.6. All vegetables and meats fall into the low acid category. They must be pressure canned. With the exception of the tomatoes, which can be acidified with lemon juice.
Open Kettle – An old method of canning that is no longer recommended. In open kettle canning, the foods are boiled and packed into hot, sterilized jars. They are then left to cool with no processing, sometimes turned upside down on their lids.
Process – Sterilizing jars and the foods packed in them through either a water bath canner or a pressure canner. This destroys molds, bacteria, enzymes, and yeasts.
Pressure Canner – Specialized pot used for pressure canning. Comes with a rack to hold jars off the bottom of the canner Tthere are two types of pressure canners: dial gauge and weighted gauge.
Pectin – A natural substance found in most fruits. This is what causes the jelling of fruits when making jellies or jams. Pectin can also be purchased in both powdered and liquid form.
Pickling – Preserving food in a solution of brine or vinegar.
Raw Pack – See Cold Pack.
Screw Band – Part of a canning lid. This is a metal ring that is screwed down to hold the flat lid against the jar.
Scald – See Blanch.
Simmer – To gently cook just below the boiling point.
Syrup – A sugar/water combination used for canning fruits. Sweetness levels range from very light to heavy. More sugar = heavier syrup.
Venting – Forcing air to escape from a pressure canner.
Yeast – Microscopic fungi that cause fermentation.
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Page last updated: 10/21/2021