You have so much good food available to you this season, now is the time to learn (or improve) canning skills.
First, get your equipment
Canning doesn’t need to cost a lot. Just start with a water bath canner and a box of jars. Here’s my list of the important canning tools that I use. Yes, there are other tools you can get that will make the job even easier. But a canner and jars is really all you need to get started. And you can find those at thrift stores or on Craigslist for less than $10.
Next, learn to can
- Watch a video or find a friend who will teach you.
- Start with something easy: jam or pickles.
- Don’t take on huge batches. Work with just the food you can process in an afternoon.
- After you’ve mastered pickles and jam, try salsa or fruit or fruit juice.
- Congratulations! You’re now a Master Water Bath Canning. Now it’s time to try apple sauce, pie filling and tomatoes.
- Now that you’ve mastered water-bath canning, it’s time to try pressure canning. With pressure canning the sky’s the limit on what you can preserve: vegetables, meat and sea food, soups, broths and chili beans.
Be adventurous. There are lots of new recipes out there using new ingredients or interesting combinations of ingredients. Try this fun recipes that challenge your taste buds and please the eye. I have the book Canning for a New Generation and I love it! Her recipes put a new twist on your favorite foods and introduces you to new flavor combinations.
But don’t can like Grandma
Now, just because canning is in your DNA and your great-grandmother was a master canner, does NOT mean you should use her recipes or can like she did. Always, always follow the most recent recipes and guidelines from the USDA.
Canning equipment and the acid content of food have changed over the decades and the USDA is always testing to determine the safest process for canning.
Please, please do not say “We’ve always done it this way and no one got hurt..” Because I’m going to be blunt: that is a reckless and irresponsible excuse for using outdated and potentially dangerous canning methods.
Ensure your family has the safest, most nutritious and tasty food you can give them by canning your garden surplus using the latest and most reliable information from the USDA.
I encourage you to practice a little canning every summer and every year add just one or two new things to your canning repertoire. Even if all you do is a few jars of salsa or pickles, it’s important to know how to preserve food.