Canning is really easy, for most fruits and veggies. The Ball Canning guide is the 'standard' for canning but it does go overly cautious on several things that you want to experiment with for yourself.
Some basic testing before you eat canned food
Check the seal, not sealed, don't eat
SMELL, if it smells even a bit off don't eat it. (as a female have someone else smell it if you are pregnant. Just a bit of advice)
Boil, or heat your canned goods when prepping food, if it foams after you open the jar into the pan, dont eat it.
We have gotten away from some basic, trust your body and senses to know what is good for you.
Having said all of that a few comments about Ball and the thing I think they are overly cautious on.
you can can any kind of sour pickle, veggie etc with boiling water, vinegar and sun. As long as the jar seals. Sometimes they must be in the sun a week ans sometimes 2 weeks just until the jar seals
DO NOT use home made vinegar unless you use ph testing strips and get the correct ph in your vinegar. (high acid is 4.6 or below) IF you want to know more about this, this site has great info Acid Bath Canning
Basic Sun Pickle Recipe
6½ cups water
3¼ cups white vinegar
⅔ cup canning salt (available on Amazon)
4-6 cloves of garlic (you can add more if you really like garlic - I do about 3 cloves per jar)
about 10 medium pickling cucumbers
fresh dill, about 8-10 heads
optional - jalapeno or onion slices
Wash and sterilize 3 or 4 quart sized mason jars and the same amount of two-part canning lids.
Either slice or spear each cucumber. I like my slices to be about ¼ inch thick.
Slice the garlic into small pieces.
Prepare your brine and mix the water, vinegar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl or one gallon jar. Stir to dissolve salt.
Place a head of dill into a one quart jar along with some chopped garlic. Add cucumbers, and onion or jalapeno slices if using, until about half full.
Repeat layering by adding more dill, garlic, and more vegetables and pour water/vinegar mixture over cucumbers and place two part lid on jar.
make sure to jot the date you made them on the lid so you can eat them in the order you made them.
Set out in the sun for 3-4 days, (or upt to 2 weeks depending on how much sun they get
Ball Canning says you need to use water bath on all acid foods, not true as long as
1) jars and lids are sterile when you start
2) the jars seal (I have a friend who does her pickles then turns jar upside down, its a family tradition that says the jars seal better) personally I don't think that is necessary but it works for her.
water bath canning
heats up the food and the jar, this expands everything and drives the air out. When the food and the jar cool they contract and this is what seals the lid in an air tight environment. The sun works the same for this kind of canning
Now having said all that about acid foods
CANNING MEAT MILK BUTTER
Meats, milk etc are a more advanced canning technique. Don't go there unless you are 1) willing to experiment and lose some food. 2) have the equipment to do pressure canning. When doing this type of canning it is best to follow the BALL Canning book exactly. Personally I think there are better ways to preserve meat than canning but I do can food for the dogs when I find chicken on sale.
the pressure canner is running a batch of big dog jars now. The mix is as follows:
Per quart jar
2 drumsticks or 1 thigh/back, raw pack
Jars with thigh/back get 2 whole eggs, shells washed but still on
Pack all available space with pumpkin or carrot or sweet potato, OR, add 2 TBSP rice and 1/4 cup water
If I have organs available, I add the equivalent of a couple tablespoons to the quart
15#@ 1.5+ hours (1.5 hours is the minimum time listed for bone in chicken. I often let it run another 15-20 minutes, just to be on the safe side, since I raw pack cold)
This is the batch that's in the canner now... that's a green pumpkin. I got smart after this batch and shoved the whole thing through the food processor to shred it rather than sit there and dice all day long.
2 dogs totaling 175 pounds split 1 quart jar per meal, 2x daily. They get a multi vitamin a few times a week. They eat bones, skin, cartilage, eggshells and all. The pressure canner leaves the chicken bones and eggshells so soft they crumble under my thumb. The eggs basically hard-boil during the process. The dogs have never looked better. They've stopped farting and the arthritic one actually runs now. The amount of gelatin in the jars is crazy, and I toss a half a spoonful of it into Toothless's bowl to mix in with her food.
I get 10# bags of chicken quarters for $5... on sale the other day for .47 a pound. .47 a pound is basically all I'm paying because everything else came out of our garden or the chicken house, and if we can score a few deer this year, I'll use that and drop that $$ cost to nothing. Even adding the multi-vitamins only adds about $5 a month since I got them in bulk and on sale, and now the only real time involved is the time I spend working on something else while the canner runs. At last I can afford to put up a good supply of dog food for the big boys.
Don't be afraid to can, just trust your sense when you open a jar to eat it. Have fun because canning can be alot of work if you do it solo.