Put water in boiling-water canner. It should be 2/3 full if using pint-size jars, ½ full for quart jars. Set rack on pan rim, cover pan, and bring water to a boil over high heat (for pickles, bring water to 180°–185°F).
Step 2: Wash
Meanwhile, for all recipes except jams, wash canning jars, bands, and lids in hot, soapy water, or run jars and bands through the dishwasher and hand-wash lids and drain thoroughly. If making jam (which has a short processing time), sterilize jars. When water in canner is boiling, place jars on rack, lower into water, and boil for 10 minutes (at elevations of 1,000 feet or higher, add 1 minute for each 1,000-foot increase above sea level).
Step 3: Heat
Reduce heat to a simmer and keep jars in water until needed. Nest lids in bands, place in a 2- to 3-quart pan, and cover with water. Set over high heat and bring water to 180°F (do not boil). Remove from heat and cover pan.
When canning foods that are pourable, such as jam or chutney, quickly ladle hot mixture through a wide funnel into jars, leaving headspace (the distance between top of jar rim and food inside) as recommended. For chunky mixtures, arrange pieces in jars with a spoon, then pour hot liquid through funnel over foods, again leaving headspace as recommended in recipe. (If the last jar isn’t completely full, let cool, then serve or chill; do not process.) To release any air bubbles in chunky mixtures, run a clean rubber spatula around the inside of the jars. Wipe jar rims and outer threads with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel to remove any food particles.
With tongs, lift bands and lids from hot water. Center on jars so the red or gray sealing compound is touching jar rims. Using a hot pad, screw bands on firmly, but don’t force.
Step 4: Can
Place jars on rack in canner and lower into water. The water should cover jars by at least 1 inch. If necessary, add more hot water.
Step 5: Process
Cover canner, return water to a boil, and process for time specified in recipe. If boiling water starts spilling from canner, reduce heat slightly.
Step 6: Remove
Using tongs and a hot pad, lift rack with jars onto edge of canner. With jar lifter, remove jars and set upright on towels on a counter. Do not tighten bands. Let jars cool completely at room temperature. It is best to place jars on towel with at least 1" distance between jars to allow for optimum cooling.
Step 7: Check
Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed ― if lid stays down when pressed, jar is sealed; if it pops up, chill the jar and serve within 2 to 3 weeks (or re-process see above). Remove bands. Wipe jars and lids with a clean, damp cloth. If desired, replace bands, but DO NOT retighten too tightly or you may break the seal.
Step 8: Label
Label jars; store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 years. Once opened, chill. Consume BBQ sauce, jams, chutneys, and relishes within 3 weeks, pickles within 2 months.