Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Canning 101

I've grown to love canning and I love the fresh veggies that summer brings.  I grew up with a mom who canned everything.  I have many fond memories (and some not so fond) of peeling and slicing peaches, snipping the ends of beans, shucking corn and picking tomatoes (I hate picking tomatoes the most because they had those nasty green caterpillars in them!).  There was always a fight to get us kids weed my mom's huge garden as well - it wasn't our favourite job.  Even though a garden is a ton of work, nothing compares to the fresh taste of the fruits of your labours.

Now that I have a home and family of my own, I have a strong desire in me to save the seasons through canning.  Although I've never canned completely by myself, I feel like it comes easy to me.  Canning is pretty straightforward - if you want to take it up you'll need a few essential tools and the ability to follow directions.

 One of the most essential items for canning are Canning Jars.  I use Ball Mason Jars - but I normally just stock up on whatever brand is in the store that I shop in.  You can get the jars with the lids and rings or you can get the lids and rings separately.  There is also the option of getting wide and regular mouth jars - I've always stuck with the regular mouth jars as that is what I have on hand.

You will also need a large stock pot like the one below.  Depending where you are in the country and how high you are above sea level, you can usually just use the Water Bath Canner.  Some people may use a pressure canner to get their jars to seal properly.  And you'll also need a canner rack which will be placed inside the canner. 

I also recommend picking up a canning set such as this one - it has the funnel which makes it easy to get things into your jars, the canning jar wrench which aids in fastening the rings to the jars as tight as possible, the jar cleaner brush and also the canning jar lifter which makes it easy to get the jars in and out of the canner.

Once you have all the tools, you are ready to start canning your fresh produce!  I recently picked up the book Saving the Seasons from Powell Books in Portland, OR.  I've heard about this book from Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog and wanted to see what the fuss was about.  This book is great!  It has tried and tested recipes that are simple yet delicious.  It explains canning and the processes very well and it has a lot of pictures which are great for visual learners like me!

In another post I'll show you how I did my first ever canning of pickles!  I think they turned out great - they look good but I haven't been able to try them yet as I'm letting them sit to gather the most flavour.  Happy canning everyone!


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