Beginners Canning 101 - 5 Tips to turn you into a pro
You are approaching the end of summer and are blessed with a bountiful harvest - be it fresh herbs, tomatoes, or a full garden. Or you are at the local’s farmer’s market and see all these locally grown delicious vegetables waiting to be utilized. You may be wondering what to do with all this produce. You can’t eat it all right away, but don’t want it to go to waste either. A great way to preserve it, is to can it! At this point you have read the “how to,” now you want to take it to the next level. Here are my tips to make your canning experience the best it can be!
Let’s Get Started
Invest in the right tools:
Canning doesn’t require expensive or fancy tools. You can utilize common kitchen items effectively.
Saving you from the endless spillage as you fit your creation into your chosen sized container.
Measuring cups and spoons
Accurate measurements can make all the difference when you are striving to make that perfect jam or jelly. Too much or too little of certain ingredients, can turn it all watery.
A jar lifter
This is not a standard kitchen item, but it is extremely helpful. When removing the jars from the hot boiling water, tongs require skill and a focused touch. A jar lifter makes it simple, straight-forward and have you a lot less likely to drop a jar if you are startled.
A stock pot
When you are still learning, water-bathing canning is the way to go. A stock pot can be filled and brought to a raging boil, without the need for a pressure canner. Also lets you try it without investing in a new tool.
Mason Jars & Lids
Make sure they are new when you are starting out. Fresh lids are important in creating a lasting seal.
2. Stick to the Recipe
When I say stick to the recipe, I am referring to the ratios specifically for the recipes containing any vinegar, salt, sugar, gelatin and/or pectin. These ratios are important for either the preserving, pickling or the solidifying of the given recipes. Bad ratios can result in sour pickles, spoiled preserves or watery jams. When trying out spices and flavours, feel free to get creative!
3. The Fresher the Better
Properly home canned foods hold most the nutritional value of the ingredients you use. Rather than trying to buy vegetables in the off season, canning with in season produce gives you the highest nutritional value any time of their year, while still being able to buy locally.
4. Join a Facebook Group
Social media groups are the clubs of the 21st century. Facebook has a variety of great canning groups that connect you with people around the world who will share recipes, tips and secrets, and often will have give-aways or generous people sharing goodies. The best part is when you stuck with a simple question and do not have someone available to call, you can throw that question into the group and often get an answer within minutes.
5. Have Fun!
This is the most important part of canning! Experiment with flavours, find a canning buddy, look forward to shopping for ingredients. Canning is a time consuming hobby that results in delicious food, but your time in valuable. If you don’t enjoy the process don’t invest time. If you like what you are doing, everything is better and that much more rewarding!
I hope you found these tips useful. Below is one of my favourite zucchini recipes. Let me know what you think!
2 pounds zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 pound onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1/4 cup salt
2 cups white sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
3 1-quart canning jars with lids and rings
Place zucchini and onions into a large bowl, cover with water, and stir in salt until dissolved. Let the vegetables soak in the salted water for at least 2 hours; drain and transfer to a large heatproof bowl.
Bring sugar, vinegar, celery seed, turmeric, mustard, and mustard seeds to a boil in a saucepan; pour the mixture over the zucchini and onions. Let the mixture stand for at least 2 more hours. Return zucchini, onions, and pickling liquid with spices to a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes.
Once recipe is prepared, proceed to canning & sealing the jars. Store in a cool, dark area, and wait at least 24 hours before opening.
For more detailed directions or additional recipies check out AllRecipies here.