Have you ever tried to can before? I know, its something your mother did, or grandmother or even her mother. But it’s starting to make a come back with our generation.
Why can? You are controlling the food you eat – if you’re growing it fresh or buying it, you can make sure you and your family get healthy food options. It cuts down on the preservatives in the food – and it can make your garden’s harvest last for a whole year! Waste not – want not.
It’s also super cheap, once you get the kit and supplies you can can all the time! Your cans can be reused, all you have to get is new lids. So it will just cost you the food and lids as you go along! And guess what – there are coupons for canning products every year, throughout the summer you’ll find money off pectin, lids, jars and more.
At first, the thought of canning is intimidating, there are some misconceptions as well. But I can tell you from experience, it’s really hard to mess up. When I first tried to can 8 years ago I followed some bad advice and I think everything that could go wrong did. I had broken jars, I had jams not set.. used spicy jalapenos in a kitchen that wasn’t vented well. Fast forward to last summer, I tried again.. followed better instructions and had fantastic success – and now I love canning.
People think canning is just for jams or jellies – which yes, of course you can always do that. I do that often, and have fantastic results. But you can almost can anything! Fresh fruit and veggies, compotes, soups, dried beans – or even use your jars to make meals.
So are you ready to can yet? Or at least give it a go? Here are some tips for beginners.
- Get all the tools you need ahead of time. This depends on what you’re canning, some tools are the same for both processes, but different things need to be treated differently.
- Know the type of canning you need to do. Your food will either need a water bath or to be pressure canned depending on the acidity of the food. (Check the Ph charts here!)
- Cans can be reused – if you have a tight budget, check estate sales. That’s what I did! I snagged around 80 vintage jars for $7. Now you have to be careful with this, make sure your jars are solid.
- Inspect all of your jars for cracks, nicks and things that wont give you a good seal, or even shatter during processing. Yes, even do this with new jars!
- Wash all of your jars before use. Yes, even though you will be sterilizing them later. Wash the lids and bands too. If you get used cans, you may need to wash them 2-3 times. The ones I purchased have years of dust and crud caked on so one wash just wasn’t enough. For used cans, be sure to scrub around the neck well – remember you want a good seal and extra crud might not make this happen later!
- Prep your ingredients before hand. Some parts of canning take a long time, others go really fast. So before you even start, have all of your ingredients chopped, squashed and ready to go.
- Be sure you have the right size lids for your project – I KNOW this sounds silly, but there are regular mouthed jars and large mouth jars. It would be horrible to have everything poured and be stuck without the right sized lid.
- Make sure you label your jars – and put the date! Properly canned food is suppose to be good on the shelf for at least a year. If stored properly it can last even longer!
- And last but definitely not least, store your processed cans in a cool place out of the sun light. This will make sure they last a good long time. Organizing them by date helps so you know which to use first! Treat it as a stockpile of your fresh healthy food, and enjoy your bounty all year long!
So are you ready to can yet? Is that 80 year old woman inside you springing forth and saying “get in that kitchen and get canning”? If she is, I have to say I absolutely agree with her! It’s time to get going and find the recipes you want to try. It’s better to try it now before it gets too hot outside.
Need a recipe? Check out our Canning Challenge – we’ve just started but will have 90 canning recipes by the end of April! You’ll find everything from meals, soups, jams, sauces, dips and more!