Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Canning Tips

In the past 2 years I have taught a few friends how to can and I always offer a few tips along the way.  If you have some tips you would like to share, please post them in the comment section below!

1. Preparation:  If you plan to can the following day, clean the kitchen the night before.  Have your jars and lids washed and ready to go, or have them in the dishwasher ready to wash.  I find it motivating to wake up and see countertops free of clutter, no dirty dishes, and the canning pot already on the stove.

2. Keep a log: Good record keeping is a must.  I put together a 3-ring binder with labels this past winter.  I can easily find how many pints of tomato soup I can make with 8 pounds of tomatoes without scanning electronic documents, flipping through my recipe box, or looking at scribbles in the margins of my canning book.  This preservation log is a time saver and ensures accuracy.

3. Wear Comfortable Shoes:  This sounds silly, but it is actually really important.  Don't try to mimic the 1950's housewife pictures where women wear dresses and high heels in the kitchen.  I wear my walking shoes and old clothes because spills and splatters do happen.  Boiling water does drip onto my shoes when I'm moving the canning pot lid from one place to another.  I spend hours on my feet everyday and need to give my back proper support with a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

4. Sterilize Extra Jars:  I was just recently thanked by a friend for offering her this advice.  Even though a recipe states 9 pints, always wash a few extra jars.  Recipes waver and you don't want to delay process by 30 minutes because you have to dig out more jars (or go to the store and get more) and wait for the lids to sit in warm water.

5. Give Yourself More Time:  If you have a 5pm BBQ, don't begin peach canning at 2pm.  Canning is supposed to be enjoyable and not under the tight limits of time.

6. Have Plenty of Clean Towels and Washcloths:  There are always spills to wipe up, whether it be water from the canning lid pooling on the stovetop or tomato soup running down the jars.  I always have a pile of clean towels on-hand because I don't want to be washing jar rims with the same washcloth I washed my son's face with.  Before the day is done, there will be towels hanging over the laundry room sink drying from all the spills.

7.  Water Conservation: Let's face it, canning uses a lot of water: washing vegetables, washing jars, soaking lids, blanching, canning pot, washing hands, etc.  I try and redirect as much water as I can to my garden rather than down the sink.  Of course, always wait for the water to return to room temperature before applying to the garden so we don't kill any beneficial bugs or root systems from the boiling water. Through the years I have found two other uses for the boiling water from the canner and blanching pot.  I will pour the boiling water on the jam covered pot and utensils (the easiest way to clean the sticky mess, believe me!).  The second trick is pouring the scalding water down a drain in the house that may be a little slow to help clean out the pipes and get things moving (be sure it's safe if you have PVC pipes and make sure nothing is touching the pipes under the sink).

Since I mentioned tomato soup in two of the above tips, I decided to include my recipe:

1 peck tomatoes (12 pounds)
3 large onions or 6 small
3 peppers
1 small bunch celery (or 4 large stems)

Mix together all of the vegetables in a large soup pot.  Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are soft, making sure to stir to prevent burning.  When vegetables are soft, puree them using a stick blender or transfer them to a blender for a smooth consistency. Add dry mixture and blend to ensure no lumps.

Dry mixture:
            1 cup sugar
            1 cup flour
            about 1/3 cup table salt

Can and seal: pints, 10 minutes at 5 pounds

Makes about 15 pints. 

***I don't bother removing the skins on my tomatoes because everything gets blended into a puree and I personally don't notice a texture difference.  I also think there's a higher nutritional benefit to leaving the skins on.  If you don't want skins, blanch them...a lot more time though...***


About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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