1. Before beginning, review the following information and assemble all equipment and ingredients.
2. Visually inspect canning jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause jars to break. Screw bands may be reused. Check to ensure screw bands show no rust, are in good condition and fit properly on jars. Discard any jars and screw bands that are not in good condition. Use new metal flat lids each time to ensure a vacuum seal. Wash jars, screw bands and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse well.
3. Sterilize jars just before use following PREPARING THE JARS AND LIDS, above.
4. Prepare ingredients according to recipe directions.
5. Drain one jar at a time into the sink and fill immediately with prepared ingredients.
6. Remove air bubbles by sliding a non-metallic utensil, such as a narrow rubber spatula or plastic knife, between the jar and ingredients. After removing air bubbles, add additional liquid, if required, to maintain directed headspace. Wipe jar rim thoroughly with a clean damp cloth.
7. Center flat lid on jar. Apply screw band just until “fingertip tight”. Do not overtighten. “Fingertip tight” allows some give between the lid and jar and allows air to escape during processing. This creates a vacuum seal as the product cools.
8. Place the filled jar into the raised canner rack. Repeat process with remaining jars. When all jars are filled or the canner is full, lower rack into hot water. Be sure jars are covered by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water; add boiling water, if required. Place lid on the canner and turn heat to high.
9. When water returns to a full rolling boil, begin counting processing time. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle and steady boil for the required time. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Allow boil to subside, then lift jars without tilting and place them upright on a rack, dry towel or a cutting board to cool in a draft-free place. Do not retighten screw bands or turn jars upside down as seals may be broken. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
10. After cooling, check jars for vacuum seal by pressing on the center of each lid. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move. Refrigerate any unsealed jars and use them within one week or freeze or reprocess within 24 hours. Reprocessing is not recommended as it may give a significantly overcooked product. If a sealed jar becomes unsealed after some time in storage, this indicates spoilage from microbial growth. Discard the contents of the jar.
11. To store sealed jars, wipe with a clean damp cloth. Remove, wash and dry screw bands. Store separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label jars and store in a cool dark place. As a guideline, use home canned foods within one year.