Canning & Preserving Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Acetic Acid

A pungent, colorless liquid acid that is the primary acid in vinegar (vinegar is 5% acetic acid). Acetic acid is what makes vinegar sour.

Acid

A substance in a class of sour compounds.

Acid Foods

Foods which contain enough acid to result in a pH of 4.6 or lower. Includes all fruits except figs; most tomatoes; fermented and pickled vegetables; relishes; and jams, jellies and marmalades. Acid foods may be processed in boiling water.

Alum

An ingredient used in older pickling recipes to add crispness and firmness to pickles. Alum, if consumed in large doses, may cause nausea and/or gastrointestinal problems and is no longer recommended for use in pickling recipes. If used, it must be thoroughly rinsed away. The chemical name is potassium aluminum sulfate.

Altitude

The vertical elevation (distance in feet or meters) of a location above sea level.

Antioxidant

An agent, such as lemon juice, ascorbic acid or a blend of ascorbic and citric acids, that inhibits oxidation and controls discoloration of light color fruits and vegetables.

Artificial Sweetener

Any one of many synthetically produced non-nutritive sweet substance. Artificial sweeteners vary in sweetness but are usually many time sweeter than granulated sugar.

Ascorbic Acid

The chemical name for vitamin C, a natural, water-soluble vitamin that is commercially available in a concentrated form as white, odorless crystal or powder. White crystalline Vitaminic C found in some fruits and vegetables. It is used as an antioxidant to inhibit oxidation and control browning of light-colored fruits and vegetables. Lemon juice contains large quantities of ascorbic acid and is commonly used to prevent browning of peeled, light-colored fruits and vegetables.

Return to Top

Bacteria

A large group of one-celled microorganisms widely distributed in nature, some of which are harmful, found in the soil, water and air around us. Some bacteria thrive in conditions common in low acid canned food and produce toxins that must be destroyed by heating to 240°F (116°C) for a specific time. For this reason, low acid foods must be processed in a steam pressure canner. See microorganisms.

Band

A threaded screw band used with a flat metal vacuum sealing lid to form a two-piece metal cap. Same as screw band.

Blanch

To loosen the skin or peel of fruits and vegetables or to inactivate enzymes by dipping in boiling water for a short period of time. Blanching is immediately followed by rapidly cooling the food in ice water.

Blancher

A 6- to 8-quart lidded pot designed with a fitted perforated basket to hold food in boiling water, or with a fitted rack to steam foods. Useful for loosening skins on fruits to be peeled, or for heating foods to be hot packed.

Boil

To heat a liquid until bubbles break the surface. At sea level, this happens at 212°F (100°C) at sea level. At elevations above 1.000 feet (305m), the boiling point is reached at a lower temperature. A boil is achieved only when the liquid is continuously rolling or actively bubbling. Boil water, when referring to the boiling water canner, mean a rolling boil for the entire processing time. See also, boil gently, simmer, or full rolling boil.

Boil Gently

To cook food gently just below the boiling point (180°F to 200°F (82°C to 93°C). Bubbles rise from the pot bottom, only slightly disturbing the surface of the food. Same as simmer.

Boiling Point

The temperature at which liquid reaches a boil (212°F/100°C) at sea level).

Boiling Water Canner

A large standard-sized lidded kettle with a jar rack, designed for heat-processing 7 quarts or 8 to 9 pints in boiling water. It is large enough to completely immerse and fully surround canning jars and the two-piece caps with water. The boiling water canner is used for processing high acid foods.

A large, deep saucepan with a lid and a rack to lift jars off direct heat. The pot must be large enough to immerse jars in water. It must be deep enough to allow canning jars to be covered by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water and leave sufficient extra pot height (1 to 2 inches/2.5 to 5 cm) to allow water to boil rapidly.

Boiling Water Method

The home canning method used to process high-acid foods. Heat is transferred to the food product by the boiling water, which completely surrounds the jar and two-piece closure. A temperature of 212°F (100°C) is reached and must be maintained for the time specified by the recipe. This method is adequate to destroy molds, yeasts and some bacteria, as well as to inactivate enzymes. The boiling-water method must not be used to process low-acid foods.

Botulism

A poisoning caused by a toxin produced by the spores of Clostridium botulinum. The spores are usually present in dust, wind and soil clinging to raw food. The spores can grow in any tightly sealed jar of low acid food that has not been processed correctly. The spores belong to a species of bacteria which cannot grow in the presence of air, and they do not normally thrive in high acid foods. Using the correct processing temperature and time to preserve low acid foods will destroy toxin-producing spores. Freezer temperatures inhibit its growth in frozen food. Low moisture controls its growth in dried food. High oxygen controls its growth in fresh foods.

Bouquet Garni

A spice bag, or a square of cheesecloth tied into a bag, that is filled with whole herbs and spices and is used to flavor broth, soup, pickling liquid and other foods. This method allows for easy removal of the herbs and spices after cooking.

Brine

A salt-water solution used in pickling or when preserving foods. Although salt and water are the main ingredients, sugar and spices are sometimes added.

Brined Pickles

Vegetables, usually cucumbers, that are submerged in a salt-water brine to ferment or cure for up to 6 weeks. Dill, garlic and other herbs and spices are often added to the brine for flavoring. Brined pickles are also called fermented pickles.

Browning

The unfavorable color change caused when the cut surface of some fruits and vegetables is exposed to the oxygen in the air. The reaction is called oxidation.

Bubble Remover

A nonmetallic utensil used in home canning to remove or free air bubbles trapped inside the jar. To ensure appropriate headspace, air bubbles should be removed before the two-piece lid is applied.

Butter

A soft spread made by slowly cooking fruit pulp and sugar to a thick consistency that will mound on a spoon and spread easily. Spices may be added. Same as Fruit Butter.

Return to Top

Calcium Chloride

A naturally occurring salt found in some mineral deposits, and used as a crisping agent. The food-safe ingredient is added to the jar before processing or used in a solution with water as a presoak. Calcium chloride is used commercially to produce crisp, firm pickles. See also Pickle CrispTM.

Candy or Jelly Thermometer

A kitchen thermometer that usually comes with adjustable hooks or clips to allow it to be attached to the pan. During the preparation of soft spreads without added pectin, it is used to determine when the gel stage is reached (this occurs at 220°F/104°C, or 8°F/4°C above the boiling point of water). Always insert the thermometer vertically into the jelly and ensure that it does not contact the pot surface.

Canner

Either one of two pieces of equipment used in home canning to process jars filled with a food product and covered with a two-piece closure. The two types of canners recommended for use in home canning are a water bath (boiling-water) canner for high-acid foods and a pressure (steam pressure) canner for low-acid foods.

Canning Salt

A fine-grained salt used in pickling and home canning. It is free of anti-caking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy, and iodine, which can darken the pickles.

Canning

Preserving fresh or prepared foods in glass home canning jars that vacuum seal using two-piece caps and a heat process to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage. This process enables storing the food at normal home temperatures. Same as Home Canning.

Canning Salt

Also called pickling salt. It is regular table salt without the anti-caking or iodine additives.

Canning Syrup

A mixture of water (or juice) and sugar used to add liquid to canned or frozen food, usually fruit.

Cap

A two-piece vacuum closure for sealing home canning jars. The set consists of a metal band and a flat metal lid. The lid has a flanged edge and sealing compound. Same as Two Piece Cap.

Case Harden

When dehydrating food, the formation of a hard shell on the outside of produce that traps moisture inside and causes deterioration.

Citric Acid

An acid derived from citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, used with ascorbic acid as an antioxidant to control discoloration of fruits. Citric acid is added to canned foods to increase the acidity of low-acid foods which may improve the flavor.

Cheesecloth

A lightweight, woven cloth that has many uses in the kitchen. For home canning, it can be used in place of a jelly bag to strain juice from fruit pulp when making jelly or homemade juice, or it can be formed into a bag to hold whole herbs and spices during the cooking process, aiding in easy removal.

Chutney

A combination of vegetables and/or fruits, spices and vinegar cooked for a long period of time to develop favorable flavor and texture. Chutneys are highly spiced and have a sweet-sour blending of flavors.

Citric Acid

A natural acid derived from citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes. It is available as white crystals or granules and is used as an ingredient in commercial produce protectors to prevent oxidation and in pectin products to aid in gel formation by increasing the acidity of the jam or jelly.

ClearJel®

A commercially available modified food starch that is approved for use in home canning. Unlike regular cornstarch, products thickened with ClearJel® do not break down when heated to high temperatures and//or cooled and reheated. ClearJel® can be ordered from online sources or by mail order.

Clostridium Botulinum

It is a rod-shaped microorganism that can cause botulism poisoning. Vegetables, some tomatoes, figs, all meats, fish, seafoods and some dairy foods are low acid. To control all risks of botulism; jars of these foods must be heat processed in a pressure canner, or acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower before processing in boiling water.

Closure

A two-piece vacuum closure for sealing home canning jars. The set consists of a metal band and a flat metal lid. The lid has a flanged edge and sealing compound. Same as Two Piece Cap.

Cold Pack

A canning procedure in which jars are filled with raw food before heat processing in a water bath canner or pressure canner. "Raw pack" is the preferred term for describing this practice. "Cold pack" is often used incorrectly to refer to foods that are open-kettle canned or jars that are heat-processed in boiling water.

Condiment

A sweet or savory sauce used to enhance or garnish entrées.

Conserve

A soft spread jam-like product made with a combination of two or more fruits, nuts and raisins. Conserves are cooked until they round up on a spoon. If nuts are used, they can be added during the last five minutes of cooking.

Cool Place

Term used when referring to a storage place for home canned foods. The ideal temperature is 50° to 70°F (10 to 21°C).

Crisping Agent

Any one of many substances that make pickles crisp and firm. Some older pickling recipes call for pickling lime, alum or grape leaves to crisp pickles, but these are no longer recommended. Using fresh, high-quality produce, the correct ingredient quantities and current, tested home canning recipe will produce firm pickles without the addition of crisping agents. The texture of some quick-process or fresh-pack pickles, however, can be enhanced with the use of a product called Pickle CrispTM.

Cucumber (Pickling)

A small variety of cucumber used to make pickles. Pickling cucumbers are usually no more than 6 inches (15 cm) in length. Cucumbers deteriorate rapidly at room temperature and should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours of harvest.

Return to Top

Dehydration (or drying)

The process of removing water from food.

Dextose

A naturally occurring form of glucose. Dextrose is available as a white crystal or powder and is less sweet than granulated sugar. It is also called corn sugar or grape sugar. Dextrose is widely used as an ingredient in commercial food products. It is found in commercial pectin and produce protectors and functions as a bulking agent or filler.

Dial-Gauge Pressure Canner

A pressure canner fitted with a one-piece pressure regulator and a gauge to visually indicate the correct pressure level.

Dill

A pungent, aromatic herb that can be used fresh or dried. Fresh dill has feathery green leaves. The most useful dried form is dill seeds. In home canning, dill is primarily used for pickling. One head of fresh dill is equivalent to 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 mL) dill seeds or 2 teaspoons (10 mL) dried dillweed.

Dry Pack

When freezing food, to pack without added liquid or sugar.

Return to Top

E.coli

A species of bacteria that is normally present in the human intestines. A common strain, Escherichia coli 0157:H7, produces high levels of toxins and, when consumed, can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, chills, headaches, and high fever. In some cases, it can be deadly.

Enzyme

A protein that functions as a catalyst in organisms. These proteins accelerate many flavor, color, texture and nutritional changes, especially when food is cut, sliced, crushed, bruised and exposed to air. In food, enzymes start the process of decomposition. Enzyme action slows down in frozen food. Increases quickly at temperatures between 85° and 120°F and stops at temperatures above 140°F. Proper blanching and preservation methods for canning and freezing neutralize the action of enzymes.

Exhausting

Forcing air to escape from a jar by applying heat. As a food or liquid is heated, it expands upward and forces air from the jar through pressure buildup in the headspace. Or, permitting air to escape from a steam pressure canner. Blanching exhausts air from live food tissues. Exhausting or venting of pressure canners is necessary to prevent a risk of botulism in low-acid canned foods. Also, called exhausting.

Ethylene Gas

An odorless, colorless gas that occurs naturally in nature. It is produced by and released from fruits during the ripening process. In turn, the ethylene gas acts as a ripening agent and, when exposed, speeds up the ripening of under-ripe fruit.

Return to Top

Fermentation

A reaction caused by yeasts that have not been destroyed during the processing of canned foods. Bubble formation and scum are signs that fermentation is taking place. With the exception of some pickles that use intentional fermentation in preparation, do not consume fermented home-canned foods. Also, changes in food caused by intentional growth of bacteria, yeast or mold. Native bacteria ferments natural sugars to lactic acid, a major flavoring and preservative in sauerkraut and in naturally fermented dills. Alcohol, vinegar, and some dairy products are also fermented foods.

Fermented Pickles

Vegetables, usually cucumbers, that are submerged in a salt-water brine to ferment or cure for up to 6 weeks. Dill, garlic and other herbs and spices are often added to the brine for flavoring. Fermented pickles are also called brined pickles.

Firming Agent

Any one of many substances that make pickles crisp and firm. Some older pickling recipes call for pickling lime, alum or grape leaves to crisp pickles, but these are no longer recommended. Using fresh, high-quality produce, the correct ingredient quantities and current, tested home canning recipe will produce firm pickles without the addition of crisping agents. The texture of some quick-process or fresh-pack pickles, however, can be enhanced with the use of a product called Pickle CrispTM. Same as Crisping Agent.

Fingertip-Tight

The degree to which screw bands (rings) are properly applied to home canning jars. Use your fingers to screw band (ring) until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. Do not use a utensil or the full force of your hand to over-tighten bands (rings).

Flash Freezing

Accelerated method of freezing foods often done at home by placing individual items on a baking sheet for quicker freezing before storing food in freezer bags, plastic freezer boxes, can-or-freezer jars or vacuum packages.

Food Mill

A mechanical sieve used to purée soft or cooked foods. Seeds and skins are retained in the upper portion, and purée is collected in a bowl below.

Food Poisoning

Any illness caused by the consumption of harmful bacteria and their toxins. The symptoms are usually gastrointestinal.

Freezer Burn

Dehydration of improperly packed foods for freezing which leads to loss of flavor, texture and color.

Fresh-Pack Pickles

Cucumbers that are canned in a spicy vinegar solution without fermenting, although they are frequently brined for several hours or overnight. All fresh-pack pickles should stand for 4 to 6 weeks after processing to cure and develop optimal flavor.

Fruit Butter

A soft spread made by slowly cooking fruit pulp and sugar to a thick consistency that will mound on a spoon and spread easily. Spices may be added.

Fruit Pickle

Fruit, usually whole, that is simmered in a spicy, sweet-sour syrup until it becomes tender or transparent.

Full Rolling Boil

A rapid boil, usually foaming or spurting, that cannot be stirred down, achieved at a temperature of 220°F (104°C). This stage is essential for attaining a gel when making cooked jams or jellies.

Funnel

A plastic utensil that is placed in the mouth of a home canning jar to allow for easy pouring of a food product into the jar. Funnels help prevent spillage and waste.

Return to Top

Gasket

A rubber ring that sits along the inside circumference of a pressure canner lid and comes in contact with the base when locked into place. The gasket provides a seal between the lid and the base so steam cannot escape.

Gelling Agent

Any substance that acts to form a gel-like structure by binding liquid.

Gel Point

Stage at which a liquid begins to exhibit elastic properties and increased viscosity. The gelling point is 200°F (104°C), or 8°F (4°C) above the boiling point of water.

Gel Stage

The point at which a soft spread become a full gel. The gelling point is 200°F (104°C), or 8°F (4°C) above the boiling point of water.

Return to Top

Headspace

An area left unfilled between the top of the food in a home canning jar or freezer container and the rim of the jar or freezer container. The correct amount of headspace is essential to allow for food expansion as the jars are heated and for the formation of a strong vacuum seal as jars cool.

Heat Penetration

Heating filled jars of food to a specified temperature for a specified time to inactivate enzymes and destroy harmful molds, yeasts, and bacteria to enable storing food at normal home temperatures.

Heat Processing

The sterilizing of jars and the food they contain in a water bath (boiling-water) or pressure (steam-pressure) canner with sufficient heat to destroy harmful molds, yeasts, bacteria and enzymes heat to enable storing food at normal home temperatures. Heating filled jars of food to a specified temperature for a specified time inactivates enzymes and destroy harmful molds, yeasts, and bacteria. Heat processing is essential for the food safety of all home-canned foods. Processing destroys microorganisms that are naturally present in food and/or enter the jar upon filling. It also allows gases or air to be vented from the jar to create an airtight vacuum seal as the product cools, thus preventing recontamination of the food.

Hermetic Seal

An airtight seal that secures a food product against the entry of air or microorganisms and maintains commercial sterility.

High Acid Food

Foods which normally contain enough natural acid to result in a pH of 4.6 or less and foods which may contain very little natural acid but have a sufficient amount of vinegar or lemon juice added to them to be treated as high acid foods. high acid foods may be safely processed in a boiling water canner at 212°F.

Home Canning

Preserving fresh or prepared foods in glass home canning jars that vacuum seal using two-piece caps and a heat process to destroy microorganisms that cause spoilage. This process enables storing the food at normal home temperatures.

Hot Pack Method

Filling jars with precooked, hot food prior to heat processing. Preheating food expels air, permits a tighter pack in the jar, reduces floating, and requires fewer jars. This method is preferred over the raw-pack method, especially for firm foods.

Return to Top

Inversion

An home canning method in which hot foods are ladled into jars, two-piece closures are applied and the jars are turned upside down (inverted) for a period of time. Since no heat processing takes place, this method is not recommended.

Return to Top

Jam

A soft spread made by cooking crushed or chopped fruits with sugar to form a gel (the mixture will round up on a spoon). Commercial pectin may or may not be added. Jams can be made of one fruit or a combination of fruits. They should be firm but spreadable. Jams do not hold the shape of the jar.

Jar

A glass container used in home canning to preserve food and/or liquids. They are sometimes called a Mason jar, designed to withstand repeated use and heat processing in the water bath (boiling-water) and pressure (steam-pressure) canners. For safe home canning, jars must be designed to seal with two-piece metal closures and withstand the temperatures and reuse associated with home canning. See also mason jar.

Jelly

A soft spread made by combing fruit juice or acidified vegetable juice with sugar and cooking to form a gel. Juice is strained from fruit to make this soft spread. It is usually prepared in a way that keeps the juice crystal clear and shimmering. Jelly is gelatinized enough to hold its shape when removed from the jar, yet soft enough to spread easily. Commercial pectin may or may not be added.

Jelly Bag

A mesh or cloth bag used to strain juice from fruit pulp when making jellies. A strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth may be substitute. Both the jelly bag and cheesecloth need to be dampened before use.

Jelly Strainer

A stainless steel tripod stand fitted with a large ring. A jelly bag is placed over the ring. The stand has feet that hold it above a bowl to allow juice to drain or drip from the bag into the bowl.

Return to Top

Kosher Salt

A coarse-grained, textured salt that is free of additives. Kosher salt may be used when making pickles. Because of the variance in density and form, contact kosher salt packers for information regarding equivalencies.

kPa (Kilopascal)

A metric unit of atmospheric pressure (force).

Return to Top

L (Liter)

A metric unit of volume. One liter is similar in volume to 1 U.S. quart.

Lactic Acid

The acid produced during fermentation. The fermentation process converts the natural sugars in food to lactic acid, which, in turn, controls the growth of undesirable microorganisms by lowering the pH (increasing the acidity) of the food product and its environment. Lactic acid also adds a distinctive tart flavor and transforms low-acid foods into high-acid foods that can be safely processed in water bath (boiling-water) canner.

Large Saucepan

An 8- to 10-quart (8 to 10 L) heavy pot essential for cooking soft spreads. The pot must have a broad, flat bottom for good heat distribution and deep sides to prevent food from boiling over.

Lemon Juice

Juice extracted from lemons that is added to food products to increase the acidity. Lemon juice can also be purchased commercially. In home canning, lemon juice is added to certain foods to increase acidity and ensure proper processing. In some soft spread recipes, especially those prepared with added pectin, the acid in the lemon juice also aids with gelling. The acidity of freshly squeezed lemon juice is variable, depending on the lemon variety and harvest conditions, whereas bottled lemon juice is produced to consistent acidity standards. In recipes that specify bottled lemon juice, it is crucial for the success of the final product not to use freshly squeezed lemon juice. Where bottled is not specified, either freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice may be used.

Lid

The flat metal disc with a flanged edge lined with sealing compound used in combination with a metal band (ring) for vacuum sealing home canning jars.

Lime (Pickling)

A white, almost insoluble powder, also known as slaked lime, used in some older pickling recipes to add crispness to pickles. Due to its caustic nature, pickling lime is no longer recommended for making homemade pickles. Failure to remove lime adequately may increase the risk of botulism. Lime can also cause gastrointestinal problems if too much is ingested.

Long-Boil Soft Spread

A sugar and fruit mixture boiled to concentrate fruit's natural pectin and evaporate moisture until a thick or gelled texture is achieved. Long boiling works best with fruits containing naturally high pectin levels. It yields smaller quantities per amount of fruit used and creates a caramelized fruit flavor. It may require a smaller measure of sugar as an ingredient, but the final cooked-down product isn't necessarily lower in sugar than other products.

Low Acid Foods

Foods which contain little natural acid and have a pH greater than 4.6. The acidity in these foods is insufficient to prevent the growth of the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. Bacteria thrive in low acid foods. To control all risks of botulism, the bacteria must be destroyed by heating to 240°F (116°C) (at or below 1,000 feet above sea level) for a specified time in a pressure (steam-pressure canner. Vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood are all low-acid foods.

Return to Top

Marmalade

A soft spread that contains pieces of citrus fruit and peel evenly suspended in transparent jelly. Marmalade is cooked in small batches and brought rapidly to, or almost to, the gelling point. Marmalades are similar in structure to jam.

Mason Jar

A glass jar that is suitable for heat processing food and/or liquids using a water bath (boiling-water) canner or pressure (steam-pressure) canner. Mason jars are designed to seal with two-piece metal lids and to withstand the temperatures and reuse associated with home canning. True mason jars also conform to specific shapes and capacities compatible with established safe heat processing methods and times. The jars are available in regular (77 mm) and wide-mouth (86 mm) styles and in capacities ranging from 4 ounces (125 mL) to 1 quart (1 L). (In Canada a 1.5 L jar is also available.) Most mason jars have rounded shoulders, but some have straight walls. Straight-walled mason jars can be used for freezing as well as home canning.

Measures

Standard kitchen utensils used to accurately measure liquid or dry ingredients. Liquid measures are commonly glass or plastic and have a handle and pour spout. Dry measures can be either stainless steel or plastic. Both types are available in imperial (cups) and metric (mL) sizes.

Measuring Cups

Standard kitchen utensils used to accurately measure liquid or dry ingredients. Liquid measures are commonly glass or plastic and have a handle and pour spout. Dry measures can be either stainless steel or plastic. Both types are available in imperial (cups) and metric (mL) sizes. Same as measures.

Metal Band

A threaded screw band used with a flat metal vacuum sealing lid to form a two-piece metal cap. Same as screw band.

Microorganism

Independent organisms of microscopic size, including bacteria, yeast and mold. When alive in a suitable environment, they grow rapidly and may divide or reproduce every 10 to 30 minutes. Therefore, they reach high populations very quickly. Undesirable microorganisms cause disease and food spoilage in fresh, canned and frozen foods. Microorganisms are sometimes intentionally added to ferment foods, make antibiotics and for other reasons.

mL (Milliliter)

A metric unit of volume, 1/1000th of a liter. Measurers for dry ingredients are available in 1, 2, 5 and 25 mL spoons and 50, 125, and 250 mL dry measurers. Metric liquid measurers, usually glass or plastic, show levels for quantities divisible by 10.

Mold

Microscopic fungi that grow as silken threads and appear as fuzz on food. Molds thrive on acids and can produce mycotoxins. They are easily destroyed at processing temperatures between 140° and 190°F (60°C and 88°C).

Mycotoxins

Toxins (poisons) produced by some species of mold that grow on high-acid foods.

Return to Top

Open-Kettle Canning

A home canning method in which hot foods are ladled into jars and two-piece closures are applied. Foods canned this way have low vacuums or too much air which permits rapid loss of quality in foods. Moreover, these foods often spoil because they become recontaminated while the jars are being filled. Since no heat processing takes place, this method is not recommended.

Oven Canning

A home canning method in which jars are placed in the oven and heated. This method is not recommended.

Overnight

A time period of 8 to 12 hours.

Oxidation

The reaction that takes place when cut fruits and vegetables are exposed to the oxygen in the air. Oxidation causes the cut surface of the produce to brown and can also lead to texture changes.

Return to Top

Pasteurization

Heating of a specific food enough to destroy the most heat-resistant pathogenic or disease-causing microorganism known to be associated with that food.

Paraffin Wax

A pure, refined wax used in an older home canning method. The wax was melted and poured over soft spreads in the jar. It is not a reliable method of preventing contamination by microorganisms, and in many instances mold growth will occur. Since no heat processing takes place, paraffin wax has not been recommended as a safe closure for soft spread for many years.

Pectin

A naturally occuring carbohydrate found varying amounts in fruits and vegetables that is responsible for cell structure. The natural pectin content decreases as fruits and vegetables ripen. Thus, they become soft and lose their structure. Pectin, in the correct balance with fruit, sugar, and acid, assists in forming the gel structure in jellies and other soft spreads. Pectin is available commercially in powdered and liquid forms. Commercial pectin is used to make jams, jellies, and other soft spreads.

pH (Potential of Hydrogen)

A measuring system in chemistry for determining the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A food is neutral when its pH is 7.0: lower values are increasingly more acid; higher values are increasingly more alkaline. In canning, foods are separated into high acid and low acid. Different heat processing methods must be used for each. A water bath (boiling-water) canner used for processing high-acid foods; a pressure (steam-pressure) canner must be used for processing low-acid foods.

Pickle CrispTM

A crisping agent that uses calcium chloride, a naturally occurring salt found in some mineral deposits, to enhance the texture of pickles. Pickle CrispTM may be added to jars of quick-process or fresh-pack pickles before processing. Pickle Crisp does not burn like lime and there is no messy clean-up. Look for it where canning supplies are sold.

Pickling

Preserving food, especially cucumbers, in a solution of brine or vinegar, often with spices added, to lower its pH to 4.6 or lower. Pickled foods must be process in a water bath (boiling-water) canner.

Pickling Cucumber

A small variety of cucumber used to make pickles. Pickling cucumbers are usually no more than 6 inches (15 cm) in length. Cucumbers deteriorate rapidly at room temperature and should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours of harvest.

Pickling Lime (Calcium Hydroxide)

A white, almost insoluble powder, also known as slaked lime, used in some older pickling recipes to add crispness to pickles. Due to its caustic nature, pickling lime is no longer recommended for making homemade pickles. Failure to remove lime adequately may increase the risk of botulism. Lime can also cause gastrointestinal problems if too much is ingested. It is very caustic and may burn eyes, nose and skin.

Pickling Salt

Also called canning salt. It is regular table salt without the anti-caking or iodine additives.

Preserve

To prepare foods to prevent spoilage or deterioration for long periods of time. Some methods of preservation are home canning, freezing, dehydration, pickling, salting, smoking and refrigeration. The method used determines the length of time the food will be preserved.

Preserves

A soft spread in which the fruit is preserved with sugar so it retains its shape, is transparent, shiny, tender and plump. The syrup varies from the thickness of honey to that of soft jelly. A true preserve doesn't hold its shape when spoon from the jar.

Pressure Canner

A specifically designed tall, usually heavy pot with a lid that is locked in place and a pressure-regulating device. These canners have jar racks, one or more safety devices, systems for exhausting air, and a way to measure or control pressure. The lid is fitted with a safety valve, a vent and a pressure gauge. Pressure canners are used to process low-acid foods, because steam at 10 pounds (68kPa) of pressure (at sea level) will reach 240°F (116°C), the temperature needed to destroy harmful bacteria that thrive in low-acid foods. Canners with 20 to 21 quart capacity are common. The typical volume of canner that can be used for home canning is 16 quart capacity, which will hold 7 quart jars. Use of pressure saucepans with less than 16 quart capacities is not recommended. Pressure cookers should never be used, only use a pressure canner.

Pressure Canning Method

The home canning method used to heat-process low-acid foods. Low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to destroy potentially harmful bacteria, their spores and the toxins they produce. In practical terms, this can only be done at 240°F (116°C). Because the steam inside the canner is pressurized, its temperature can exceed the boiling point of water (212°F/100°C). In a weighted-gauge canner at sea level, the temperature will reach 240°F (116°C) at 10 pounds (68 kPa) of pressure.

Pretreatment

Blanching or treating produce with an antioxidant to set color, slow enzyme action, or destroy bacteria.

Processing

The sterilizing of jars and the food they contain in a water bath (boiling-water) or pressure (steam-pressure) canner with sufficient heat to destroy harmful molds, yeasts, bacteria and enzymes heat to enable storing food at normal home temperatures. Heating filled jars of food to a specified temperature for a specified time inactivates enzymes and destroy harmful molds, yeasts, and bacteria. Heat processing is essential for the food safety of all home-canned foods. Processing destroys microorganisms that are naturally present in food and/or enter the jar upon filling. It also allows gases or air to be vented from the jar to create an airtight vacuum seal as the product cools, thus preventing recontamination of the food.

Processing Time

The time in which filled jars are heated in a water bath (boiling-water) canner or a pressure (steam pressure) canner. The processing time must be sufficient to heat the coldest spot in the jar. The processing time is specified for every current, tested home canning recipe and depends on several factors, such as acidity, type of food product, and size of jar.

Produce Protector

A commercially available antioxidant that prevents cut fresh produce from browning when exposed to the oxygen in the air, a reaction known as oxidation. An ascorbic acid and dextrose blend is used to inhibit oxidation and control discoloration of light color fruits and vegetables.

Return to Top

Raw Pack Method

Filling jars with raw, unheated food prior to processing. Acceptable for canning low-acid foods, but allows more rapid quality losses in acid foods heat processed in boiling water.

Refrigeration

The process of decreasing the temperature for cold storage of produce. Refrigeration slows the growth of microorganisms and prolongs deterioration for a short period of time.

Rehydration (or reconstitution)

Restoring water (liquid) to dried food.

Relish

A pickled product repaired using chopped fruits and/or vegetables cooked in a seasoned vinegar solution. If a sweet relish is desired, sugar is added. Hot peppers or other spices may also be added for flavor.

Reprocessing

Repeating the heat processing of filled, capped jars when a lid does not seal within 24 hours. The original lid must be removed and the food and/or liquid reheated as recommended by the recipe. The food and/or liquid must be packed into clean hot jars and covered with a new clean lid with the screw band adjusted. The filled jars must then be reprocessed using the canning method and full length of processing time recommended by the recipe.

Rolling Boil

When water in an open saucepan reaches boiling point and all of the liquid is moving with bubbles continually rising and breaking on the surface.

Round Up Onto a Spoon

This is a term used to describe when a fruit butter has achieved the desired thickness. The mixture will separate as a spoon is stirred through it, leaving a path where the spoon just passed. Fruit butter will form a mound on the spoon.

Rubber Gasket

A rubber ring that sits along the inside circumference of a pressure canner lid and comes in contact with the base when locked into place. The gasket provides a seal between the lid and the base so steam cannot escape.

Return to Top

Salt (Kosher)

A coarse-grained, textured salt that is free of additives. Kosher salt may be used when making pickles. Because of the variance in density and form, contact kosher salt packers for information regarding equivalencies.

Salt (Pickling or Canning)

A fine-grained salt used in pickling and home canning. It is free of anti-caking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy, and iodine, which can darken the pickles.

Salt (Table)

A free-flowing, fine-grained salt, used in pickling and home canning. It is free of anti-caking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy, and iodine, which can darken the pickles.

Salt (Sea)

A type of salt produced by the evaporation of seawater. It comes in fine- and course-grained textures and is usually more costly than other types of salt. Sea salt should not be used for pickling because it may contain minerals that could darken the pickles.

Saucepan (Large)

An 8- to 10-quart (8 to 10 L) heavy pot essential for cooking soft spreads. The pot must have a broad, flat bottom for good heat distribution and deep sides to prevent food from boiling over.

Screw Band

A threaded metal band used in combination with a flat metal lid to create vacuum seals for home-preserved food. The band holds the lid in place during processing.

Sea Salt

A type of salt produced by the evaporation of seawater. It comes in fine- and course-grained textures and is usually more costly than other types of salt. Sea salt should not be used for pickling because it may contain minerals that could darken the pickles.

Sealing Compound

The red, shiny material found in the exterior channel on the underside of the flat metal lid. The sealing compound comes in contact with the lip of the jar and forms a seal when the jar cools after processing.

Simmer

To cook food gently just below the boiling point (between 180° and 200°F). Bubbles will rise gently from the bottom of the pot and slightly disturb the surface of the food. Same as boil gently.

Skimmer

A metal kitchen utensil that has a long handle attached to a wide, flat surface with perforated holes. Skimmers are used to skim foam from soft spreads after cooking or to drain hot liquid from hot vegetables.

Smoke Curing

A preservation method achieved by smoking food, usually meat or fish, at a certain temperature to partially or fully cook it and to impart a smoky flavor. Even if meat or fish is smoke-cured prior to canning, it must go through heat processing in a pressure canner to become shelf-stable.

Spice Bag

A small muslin bag used to hold bag allows the flavor of the herbs and spices to seep into the food or liquid, and makes removing the spices easy when cooking is complete. Spice bags come in various sizes. If a spice is not available, tie herbs and spices in a square of cheesecloth.

Spoilage

The evidence that a food product has not been completely rid of microorganisms. If microorganisms are present, the nutrients in the food product will allow them to grow and multiply. Spoilage occurs when food products have not been processed correctly. Signs of spoilage include broken seals, mold, gassiness, cloudiness, spurting liquid, seepage, yeast growth, fermentation, slime and disagreeable odors.

Steam Pressure Canner

A tall, usually heavy pot with a lid that is locked in place and a pressure-regulating device. The lid is fitted with a safety valve, a vent and a pressure gauge. Pressure canners are used to process low-acid foods, because steam at 10 pounds (68kPa) of pressure (at sea level) will reach 240°F (116°C), the temperature needed to destroy harmful bacteria that thrive in low-acid foods.

Steam Pressure Canning Method

The home canning method used to heat-process low-acid foods. Low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to destroy potentially harmful bacteria, their spores and the toxins they produce. In practical terms, this can only be done at 240°F (116°C). Because the steam inside the canner is pressurized, its temperature can exceed the boiling point of water (212°F/100°C). In a weighted-gauge canner at sea level, the temperature will reach 240°F (116°C) at 10 pounds (68 kPa) of pressure.

Steep

To soak or be soaked in a liquid in order to soften, cleanse, or extract an flavor.

Sterilization

The process of killing all living microorganisms. In home canning, this is achieved by heating food in capped jars to a high enough temperature for a length of time sufficient to destroy the most heat-resistant microorganism known to be associated with that food.

Storage

A cool, dry, dark place where home-canned goods can be kept until ready to be consumed.

Syneresis

The separation of liquid from a gel. In home canning, this can happen to soft spreads, usually during storage. It is not a safety concern.

Syrup (Canning Syrup)

A mixture of water (or juice) and sugar used to add liquid to canned or frozen food, usually fruit.

Return to Top

Table Salt

A free-flowing, fine-grained salt, used in pickling and home canning. It is free of anti-caking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy, and iodine, which can darken the pickles.

Thermal Shock Breakage

Stress exerted on canning jars when glass is exposed to sudden temperature differentials. This stress weakens the glass and can lead to glass breakage, commonly by the bottom breaking out.

Two-Piece Cap (Closure)

Two piece vacuum closure for sealing home canning jars. The set consists of a threaded metal band and a flat metal lid with a flanged edge and sealing compound.

Return to Top

Vacuum Packaging

A method to remove air from a container and seal the container to prevent air from reentering without heat processing. Perishable foods must be refrigerated or frozen. This is not a substitute for home canning.

Vacuum

The state of negative pressure. Reflects how thoroughly air is removed from within a jar of processed food -- the higher the vacuum, the less air left in the jar.

Vacuum Seal

The absence of normal atmospheric (air) pressure in jars which are airtight. When a jar is closed at room temperature, the atmospheric pressure is the same inside and outside the jar. When the jar is heated, the air and food inside expand, forcing air out and decreasing the inside pressure. As the jar cools and the contents shrink, a partial vacuum forms. The sealing compound found on the underside of home canning lids prevents the air from re-entering.

Venting

Forcing air to escape from a jar by applying heat. As a food or liquid is heated, it expands upward and forces air from the jar through pressure buildup in the headspace. Or, permitting air to escape from a steam pressure canner. Also, called exhausting.

Victorio Strainer

A hand-turned or electrical device that separates seeds and skins while grinding pulp to create a purée. Used with fully ripe soft fruit or soft cooked foods.

Vinegar (Distilled White)

The standard form of vinegar. It is clear, colorless acidic liquid derived from grain alcohol that has a sharp, pungent flavor. Unlike apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar, distilled white vinegar does not compete with the distinctive flavors of herbs and spices in a brine. Because it is clear, it does not change the color of white or light-colored fruits and vegetables. In home canning, use 5% acidity (50 grain).

Vinegar (Cider)

A type of vinegar derived from apples that is light golden in color and has a tart fruit flavor. Cider vinegar has a milder flavor than distilled white vinegar. Because it has color, it may darken white or light-colored fruits and vegetables. In home canning, use 5% acidity (50 grain).

Vinegar (Red or White Wine)

A type of vinegar derived from wine. The flavor reflects the source of the wine.

Return to Top

Water Bath Canner

A large standard-sized lidded kettle with a jar rack, designed for heat-processing 7 quarts or 8 to 9 pints in boiling water. It is large enough to completely immerse and fully surround canning jars and the two-piece caps with water. The boiling water canner is used for processing high acid foods. Same as Boiling Water Canner.

Weighted-Gauge Pressure Canner

A pressure canner that is fitted with either a three- or a one-piece weight unit with 5-, 10- and 15-pound (35, 69 and 103kPa) pressure adjustments. (Only 10- and 15-pound/69 and 103 kPa pressure weights are used in home canning. The 5-pound/33 kPa weight is used for cooking, but not preserving.) Steam, exhausted throughout the processing period, causes the weight(s) to rock, indicating that the pressure level has been achieved or is being maintained.

Return to Top

Yeast

Microscopic fungi grown from spores that cause fermentation in foods. Yeasts are inactive in foods that are frozen and are easily destroyed by processing at a temperature of 212°F. These microorganisms reproduce by budding. They are used in fermenting some foods and in leavening breads.

Return to Top

Follow From Karen's Kitchen on

Cake Decorating Ideas | Glossary of Terms | Recipes | Tips & Advice | facebook

Home | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Site Map