Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Canning 101

I have alway wanted to do some canning but I have always felt overwhelmed by it so I went to my good friend Amy the guru of all things homemade and she calls me Martha

You CAN can :)

I cannot tell you the times I have talked to a friend about something I have recently canned, only to be met by a confused look and a long story about how their (grandmother, aunt, mother, mother in law) used to "do that, but that seems like too much work when I can go to the store and buy the same thing". I just shake my head, and feel sorry for them, knowing that home canned food is 1,000 times better than ANYTHING you can get in the store! Not only that, but it's also cheaper, fresher, and you have the satisfaction and pride of knowing you did it yourself! Here is a simple introduction to canning, just to show all you naysayers that it really is worth all the hard work (yeah, so hard) that you put into it!!

To start, you are going to need supplies. Now, this may seem pricey at first, but I can just about guarantee that if you ask around, you can find someone who has a ton of jars and bands that they are not using that you could have for free or cheap. YOU CANNOT reuse the lids over again, so those will always be a price factor, but you can find those cheaply enough at stores like Dollar General and Family Dollar. I have never been one to spend a ton of money on things, so I also make do with what I have at home. You will need a big kettle to water bath process your stuff with, but I just use a huge soup kettle, and have for years. It works great! There are three things I suggest you invest in, and you will use every single time you can: A large canning funnel, a magnetic wand (to remove the lids from simmering water) and a jar lifter (to add/remove the jars from the boiling water bath) you can buy all these together in a Canning Kit that is sold by the Ball company, and you can usually find these cheaply at Wal Mart. Again, ask before you buy, as you may luck up on these items free, too

Once you have your supplies ready, then you need to read up on the process of canning. I personally do not pressure can, I only water bath can....and there is a HUGE difference between the two. Water bath processing is safe for high acid foods such as jams, jellies, relishes, preserves, and some tomatoes. Pressure canning is for low acid foods like green beans, corn, meat, and is way more complicated and requires an expensive canner and other equipment. I suggest you start with something easy like water bath canning first before moving on to pressure canning. Make yourself familiar with what you are going to want to do, and what you need in order to do it.

And finally, you need to have the actual food that you are going to want to can. The first thing I ever made was strawberry preserves, as they are the simplest and most forgiving things to can. A simple recipe for strawberry preserves only has three ingredients: strawberries, sugar, and powdered pectin. If you follow the directions carefully, within 30 minutes, you can have 8+ jars of jelly cooling on the counter, which in a small family is going to last you a LONG time. In the future, when you become a canning diva, you will be covered up with fruits and vegetables that folks will want to give you, just because they know you will use it and appreciate it. This year alone I have been the happy recipient of (all organic) grapes, figs, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries....just because of my canning reputation.

Canning is one of the most rewarding "home arts" you can do, and also one of the most forgotten. With a little work on your part, you will soon have food in your pantry that is the best you can serve your family, and so worth your effort!

Thank you so much Amy she will be back for some more guest post if you have any questions please leave them in the comments!

Now go can something lol


CaL said...

I've ALWAYS wanted to can! I have a book, & now I have this too! =)

Jules said...

I used to can EVERYTHING when our kids were growing up. Now that they are grown and gone I don't do it at all anymore. I do miss the end result but I don't miss the work.

Darlene said...

She certainly makes it sound easy!!

Kelli said...

Oooh, this is something I've tackled twice this summer and would like to do it more often. I started with strawberry jam too and I loved it. Thanks for sharing.

Amber said...

I was recently given my grandmothers canning supplies and want to give it a go. Thanks for posting this!
Yesterday my mother brought home several pamphlets that are from the 30's-40's about canning. They were my great grandmothers. I am going to try to scan some of them. I think you will get a kick out of it.
I will let you know how my canning goes:)