1. PREP: 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°).
2. WASH: Meanwhile, for all recipes except jams, wash canning jars, bands, and lids in hot, soapy water, or run jars and bands through a 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).
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° (do not boil). Remove from heat and cover pan.
4. PREPARE: Rinse all fruit and vegetables well.
5. For pourable foods, 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 plastic knife around the inside of the jars (metal knives can damage jars). Wipe jar rims and outer threads with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Cover canner, return water to a boil (or to 180°–185° for pickles), and process for time specified in recipe; if boiling water starts spilling from canner, reduce heat slightly.
9. 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.
10. CHECK: Press on the center of each lid ― if it stays down, jar is sealed; if it pops up, chill the jar and serve within 2 to 3 weeks (see below). Remove bands. Wipe jars and lids with a clean, damp cloth. If desired, replace bands
11. LABEL jars; store in a cool, dark place for up to 2 years. Once opened, chill; consume jams, chutneys, and relishes within 3 weeks, pickles within 2 months.