Talking Texas Canning vs. Pickling

To can or to pickle?

            Have you ever grown a garden and once it started to produce you thought, what am I going to do with all this food? Canning or pickling produce will keep your food for up to five years.

            There are several ways to can or pickle your food, however, some foods must be canned or pickled to keep from producing bacteria. First, lets go over some terms:


Canning: a method of preserving food by processing and sealing fresh foods in an airtight container   

Pickling: a method that preserves food using a brine to anaerobically ferment the preserved food then storing it in vinegar

Water Bath: boiling jars for a set amount of time after they have been filled to kill off any bacteria

Hot Packing:  filling canning jars with precooked food

Cold Packing: filling canning jars with raw, uncooked food


            The two primary ways to can foods involve boiling preserved foods or boiling it under pressure. For highly acidic foods such as tomatoes, jellies, jams, and fruits a water bath will do. After you fill canning jars and placing a lid on, the jar is placed in a hot water bath for a certain amount of time depending on the food. Foods with low acidity, like meats and vegetables, you must make sure all the bacteria are dead unless you want botulism.  Pressure-cooking the canned foods will ensure the food is properly sterilized.

            Pickling food involves cold packing and covering foods with boiling hot brine. You can pickle almost anything: quail eggs, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, okra, and of course cucumbers.

            Many fruits and vegetables contain air, which can complicate the process. The air trapped in the sealed jars can cause discoloration, weaken the seal, and take up much needed space.  For pickles the cold pack method works but with fruit and any acidic food not being stored in vinegar, the hot-pack method must be used. To hot-pack just boil and simmer for about 2-5 minutes before canning. This releases the gases trapped in the food, extends the shelf life, and preserves the fresh taste.

            For more information on canning and recipes click here


©2014 Frontier Texas/ Rebecca Kinnison