Before you start canning, read your recipe at least twice and get your ingredients together. Organize the supplies and equipment you will need to complete your project. Learning you are out of a certain ingredient in the middle of a canning session is not fun!
Also remember: Canning projects require your uninterrupted attention from start to finish.
Next, prepare your workspace. Arrange the kitchen counters so you have ample space to work. You need counter space for preparing your foods as well as space for filling your jars once the food is prepared.
Determine how many jars your recipe calls for. Examine these carefully, making certain there are no cracks or chips. You may put them through a sterilizing cycle in a dishwasher if you have one. Otherwise, use a bottle brush to scrub them inside and out, rinse them in hot water, and sterilize them in a stockpot or water-bath canner. Meanwhile, your lids should be placed in a bowl of hot water to soften the rubber sealing compound.
When filling jars, place an old terrycloth bath towel folded in half or two terrycloth kitchen towels on your counter. Never put jars on an uncovered countertop. Putting a jar on it uncovered and then filling with hot food and/or liquid may cause the jar or countertop to crack or shatter.
Remember to leave the proper amount of headspace— ¼ inch for jams, jellies, preserves, and most other water-bath processed foods and 1 inch for pressure-processed foods. Each recipe will specify the amount of head-space. Too little headspace may cause liquid to seep out. Too much head-space and food at the top of the jar may dry out.
Finally, remove air bubbles from the jar. This can be accomplished by gently stirring the contents of the jar with a plastic stirrer (a wide, plastic soda straw works great). Use a damp kitchen towel to wipe the outer rims, then put on a lid and screw the band firmly. Do not overtighten screwbands. Doing so may cause lids to buckle in the canner.