(CNN) -- It's in the can - October 23 is National Canning Day!
Ever wish you could seal up those vine-ripe tomatoes so you can use them in a pasta sauce over the winter? Or did you grow too many cucumbers this year but aren't sure how to pickle them? Canning is the perfect solution to these types of culinary conundrums.
Canning preserves food by removing the oxygen and enzymes that would otherwise cause a food to spoil. A well-sealed jar or can means that bad bacteria, yeasts and molds have a more difficult time growing.
While it's not exactly the most complicated process, canning does require that you follow specific steps and use specific equipment to ensure that your food is safely preserved. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends using either a boiling water canner or a pressure canner, depending on how acidic the food you're canning is.
The NCHFP has a slew of handy tips on the science of canning, including how to work out your altitude so that it can be factored into the canning process. Yes, this is really science.
For a first time canner, try making a jam or a marinara sauce since both have relatively simple cooking processes. Start with a small batch so you don't ruin all your ingredients