So in my last post, I described how to make some delicious, slow cooker apple butter. Once you make your own batch you’ll have to decide how to store it. You can just freeze it and it will keep in an airtight container for six months. For longer shelf life, you’ll have to look at canning your preserves. Now, I am an armature canner myself but (spoiler alert) all of my jars sealed perfectly so I feel confident sharing my method with you.
I should reveal here that I do not own a traditional canning pot. I use a big pasta pot and it works just fine. More on that in a bit.
To make my life a little easier I purchased this kit from Wal-Mart. It contains a funnel, an air bubble remover, a magnetic lid lifter, and a jar lifter. None of these items is mandatory but they sure cut down on time and mess. Time to start canning!
First, I sterilized my jars. The jars can be washed by hand or in the dishwasher but if you wash them in the empty dishwasher and keep the door closed afterwards, they will stay hot until you’re ready to use them. Then you can remove the jars a couple at a time as needed.
While my jars were in the dishwasher, I took the seals (lids) for the jars and put them in a small pan of water. I heated them until hot, but not boiling. I left the seals in the water until each jar was ready.
Next, I filled my canning pot about half full of water. I heated the water until boiling and put in a clean tea towel. This stops the jars from touching the bottom of the pot and replaces the traditional canning rack in most canning pots.
I filled each jar leaving the recommended head space, (in the case of apple butter, 1/4 inch space left between the preserves and the top of the jar.) I used my funnel to make this process a lot less messy.
I placed the seals on the jars using the magnetic lid lifter.
Next, using my trusty Ov-Gloves (oven mitts with rubber grips on them,) I put the rings on the jars. I only tighten them finger tight. You really don’t have to crank down hard, snug is fine.
Then it was time to place my jars in the pot of boiling water. I used the jar lifter to transport them in and out of the water. When placing them into the pot, I made sure there were no folds in my tea towel so the jars didn’t tip over. I also placed them so they weren’t touching. Don’t crowd the pot or your jars might not seal.
I kept an eye on the pot to be sure that the canner is maintaining a full boil. You may also need to add boiling water to keep the water level up. I boiled my jars for the required time in the recipe, (10 minutes in this case.) After 10 minutes I turned off the heat and gave the water a minute to stop boiling. Then I moved each jar to a dry tea towel on my wood counter top. Wherever you rest your jars, make sure it is heat proof and that the jars are spaced a few inches apart.
Now for the nail-biter, will the jars seal? Resist temptation to tough the jars or press the lids at this point. Just wait for that satisfying pop. Two of my jars sealed right away. Three more sealed two minutes later. The last jar didn’t seal for almost five minutes. My house has never seemed so quiet. The good news is that if one of your jars doesn’t seal, you can still eat the apple butter, you just have to store it in the fridge and use it first.
Store your jars in a cool, dark, dry environment. I use my basement pantry. Happy canning!