People ask me all the time, “What is a water bath canner?” Well, they are easy to find. You can buy a water bath canner at many places like Orchard Nursery, Ace Hardware or Target. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money and store a water bath canner (they can quite large) you can use a big pot with a lid and a cake cooler at the bottom. A water bath canner is a way of processing high-acid foods like fruits and pickled vegetables for long term storage. High-acid food is packed into clean sterile glass jars with metal bands and new lids, and the jars are boiled in water for a prescribed amount of time (hence the name water bath). Successful water bath canning is composed of two simple stages: killing elements that cause spoilage of foods ( enzymes, mold, yeasts, and bacteria) and establishing a sealed container where new elements cannot be introduced. These conditions, along with high acidity of the food within the jar, ensure that harmful microorganisms do not develop and foods are safe to store on the shelf for an extended period of time. Because spoilers, including Clostridium and botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, cannot develop in a high-acid environment, foods that have pH of 4.5 or lower are safe for water bath canning.
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