When the crops lay heavy and ready to harvest, it can only mean one thing: it’s time for the Hindman Settlement School’s annual canning class! Local master canner Bonita Adams and her daughter Liberty Campbell taught a class of Grow Appalachia participants water-bath, pressure, and cold canning techniques.

Grow Appalachia participants at the Hindman Settlement School canning class August 2018.

Water-Bath Canning

Water-bath canning, or boiling-water canning, can be used for high-acid foods like fruits and tomatoes (pH 4.6 or lower), but should not be used for low-acid foods like green beans. Participants water-bath canned salsa made from fresh tomatoes and a packaged mix (recipe below).

Canned Salsa

Makes 4 pints.


  • 6 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 pouch salsa mix


  1. Wash tomatoes.
  2. Scald for three minutes in boiling water.
  3. Dip into cold water.
  4. Remove skins, cut out cores, and chop coarsely.
  5. Combine tomatoes, vinegar, and salsa mix in large non-reactive (not aluminum) saucepan. Bring mixture to boil. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Pour salsa into pint jars, leaving ½” headspace. Wipe rim, cap. Process for 40 minutes in water-bath canner.

Pressure Canning

Pressure canning must be used for low-acid foods (pH above 4.6) like green beans, corn, and meat. Low-acid foods can also be canned with this technique. Participants pressure canned green beans (recipe below).

Canned Green Beans

Makes 6 pints


  • 5 to 7.5 lbs beans
  • water
  • 3 tsp salt (optional)


  1. Rinse beans. Remove strings and break into 2” pieces.
  2. Heat jars in boiling water. Bring water in canner to boil, reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Pack beans tightly into hot jars, leaving 1” headspace. Add ½ tsp salt to jar, if desired. Ladle hot water over beans, leaving 1” headspace.
  4. Place cans in canner, then place lid on canner and lock it. Adjust heat to medium-high. Vent steam for 10 minutes.
  5. Put gauge on vent. Bring pressure to 10 psi. Process at 10 psi for 20 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat, cool to zero pressure. Remove lid after 5 minutes. Cool jars 10 minutes before handling. Cool 12 hours before checking seals and storing.

Cold Canning

Cold canning, also known as fresh-pack canning, preserves a fruit or vegetable without an airtight seal for several weeks. Participants learned how to cold can cucumbers to make dill pickles (recipe below).

Cold-canned Pickles

Makes 5 pints


  • 15 small- to medium-sized cucumbers
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • big bunch of dill
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, cloves smashed
  • 10 peppercorn kernels
  • 5 pint jars


  1. Slice cucumbers into ¼” spears.
  2. Make brine. Combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, swirl to dissolve salt and sugar. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Add cucumbers to jars.  Then add dill, garlic, and peppercorn. Add enough brine to cover cucumbers.
  4. Seal with airtight lid and place in refrigerator for one week. Good for 4-6 weeks.

Participants walked away with three jars of food, a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, and the knowledge of how to put up their harvest.

Tip of the month: When canning at an altitude above 1,000 feet, adjust processing time for water-bath canning or pressure for pressure canning using the chart below.