This summer I went a bit crazy with making Jam’s, Preserves and Pickles. I purchased a Ball Mason Water bath preserving kit from Ozfarmer.com and a variety of Ball Mason jars to go with it. They are a bit expensive but they’re imported from America and they will last a lifetime, except for the silver lids which you can’t reuse but I have now found some BPA free reusable preserving lids from Redback Trading. I’ve purchased them but I’m yet to use them though so I can’t vouch for them just now.
I personally follow the American version of preserving or “canning” as they call it and I process all my jams and pickles in a water bath to kill any botulism bacteria and keep them shelf stable. Before you start water bath canning I suggest you have a read through this guide from the USDA and you’ll learn everything you need to know.
I have only made Jam’s, pickles and tomato sauces which are the only things that can be preserved in the water bath method. If you want to preserve anything like vegetables, meat and low acid foods you will need to use a pressure Canner but I haven’t ventured into that part of preserving yet.
You don’t need to buy an expensive preserving kit to water bath your own products though, a big stock pot and a tea towel at the bottom of the pot to rest the glass jars on will work fine.
I sterilise my jars in the dishwasher and the lids and bands I have boiling on the stove top in a pan covered with water. The I pour the liquid into the hot jars and add the lids and bands then process in the hot water bath for the recommended time. You then take the jars out of the water bath canner using jar tongs and let it rest on a tea towel for 12 hours and the jars are sealed when you can’t push the middle of the lid down.
Australians also have the fowlers vacola kits which you can find cheap used units on ebay or buy them new from Ozfarmer.com but I’ve never used it so I suggest you do some googling if you want to know how to use it.
Another Australia/English way of preserving your own jam is the oven method. The keep the jar and lids in a hot oven and then pour the hot jam/liquids into the jar and placing the lids on the jar. I personally don’t use this because according to the USDA to kill the botulism virus you need to process your preserves at boiling point.
Rather then wasting bandwidth with another online tutorial, these people have all assisted me in learning how to water bath my own preserves. Chickens in the road, youtube and check out this post from Green Living Australia on why you should water bath can your preserves.