Canning or pickling food is a two-step process that involves (1) sterilization of the bottle and (2) vacuum sealing the bottle. In the second step, it is important to have a vacuum sealer that effectively does this. Not all vacuum sealers have attachments for use on jars so you have to buy the right one. You also have to know what attachments are necessary to work the vacuum sealer. We will give you tips on how to choose the best vacuum sealer for jars.
Mason jars are used for both canning and pickling. These terms simply refer to preservation methods where the container, in this case, the pickle jar or Mason jar is sterilized using high heat to kill micro-organisms. When the food being pickled is placed inside, it has to be vacuum sealed so that air will be removed from the container. The absence of air will keep off the bacteria from thriving thereby effectively preserving foods. Pickled foods live up to 5 years.
Canning vs. Pickling
Both are methods of preservation. Both use mason jars as containers, and vacuum sealers to seal off the containers.
In canning, you cook the food in high temperature to kill the bacteria then place it inside a bottle that has been sterilized in high temperature. Then you vacuum seal it with a vacuum sealer;
In pickling, you mix the food with a substance – either vinegar or brine (a salt and water mixture). This is the substance which preserves the food while it is inside the Mason jar, which has been sterilized prior to use. To keep off bacteria, the Mason jar is vacuum sealed.
What Pickles Best
For most people, they pickle fruits and vegetables that are abundant in the summer so these can still be enjoyed even in winter or when it is off season.
You can pickle beans, carrots, cucumber (the original pickle), okra, cauliflower, pumpkin, beets, red tomatoes and green pepper. You can use fruits like green mango, pineapple, cornand peaches. Some even pickle the rinds of the watermelon. You can pickle quail eggs, and even meat like pig’s feet.
Tips on Finding the Best Vacuum Sealer for Mason Jars
Previously, only plastic bags can be vacuum sealed. These days, however, you can already vacuum seal food in mason jars, food containers, and marinade boxes and even in wine bottles. However, not all vacuum sealers have the capacity to be used on these containers. It is important to take note of these tips when choosing the right vacuum sealing brand and model to purchase:
- Your vacuum sealer should have an outlet port. This is the port where the hose will be attached;
- Get the needed attachments as some may not come with the vacuum sealer you buy. These include:
- Air extraction tube that connects to the port.
- Attachment that looks like a top-hat, which will fit into the mouth of your mason jar. These comes in sizes wide-mouth and regular.
- Get a size of Mason jar that fits to your attachment. Be on the safe side and buy just one size -either wide-mouth or regular so there would be no confusion at all.
Tips in Choosing the Right Mason Jars
- Size of the jar. The available sizes are the smallest at 4 oz. to the biggest at 64 oz. Try to store in one-serving portions so once you open the jar of pickled food, you can consume all of it.
- Style of jar. Some jars have flat sides, while there is the kind that has a shoulder for shelf storage.
- Size of the mouth. This feature is the most crucial as it has to match the attachment of your vacuum sealer. It comes in two sizes – wide-mouth or regular. It is recommended that you stick to one size so you will use only one size of attachment:
- Wide-mouth is best for fruits and vegetables that you pickled without cutting.
- Regular mouth is suited for food you pour in, like jams and sauces.
- When filling the Mason jar, leave a half-inch space from the mouth of the jar. Food expands when frozen.
- Jars have two-piece closures: the flat disk lid that has a gasket-rimmed around it, and the screw band that holds down the lid. The screw band can be reused but not the lid.
What you need to Pickle
- Mason jars;
- Large and deep pot with tight lid or canner that can hold the jars with at least 4 inches space from the mouth of the pot;
- Rack to hold the jars and should fit the pot or canner;
- Tongs to lift jars;
- Hot pads or towels;
How to Pickle and Vacuum Seal
- Put the food inside the mason jar;
- Put the mason jars on the rack and lower it inside the canner that has hot water inside;
- The water should be one inch over the mason jars;
- Cover the canner and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and put timer on;
- Set the timer to the time in your recipe (it depends on what you are cooking);
- When timer goes off, remove the lid of the canner and turn off the heat;
- Remove jars using the tongs;
- set on counter on top of hot pads;
- Allow jar to cool for 24 hours;
- Check the seals by pressing on the lid. It won’t move if it has a tight seal.
Get the best vacuum sealer for you and start doing pickle magic with your fruits and vegetables!