Start Canning – In The Fall!
Last year was the first year I had ever canned. Canning is preserving food in glass jars (so why is it called canning and not jarring?). I had received a copy of Tart and Sweet: 101 Canning and Pickling Recipes for the Modern Kitchen from my good friend Sara for the holidays and my life has never been the same. Tart and Sweet is different from most canning cookbooks. Instead of separating chapters by food type: pickles, jams, jellies, relishes; Tart and Sweet is organized by season. So it’s easy to start canning items available now and save the fruit preserves for the spring and summer once you have more experience. It’s also small batch canning. My favorite recipe makes a whopping 2 pints of pickled garlic.
Fall is the perfect time to start canning. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but stick with me here. Canning can seem daunting with buying supplies, hot and steamy kitchens, worrying if you’re going to kill your family and friends with botulism, and setting jams. Fall negates most of these perceived problems for you.
Canning supplies are on sale in autumn months. Right now I’m finding canning starter kits on sale, deals on jars and lids, and clearance prices on food mills, labels and more. You can give canning a try with minimum investment. A big canning pot is not necessary. I started canning using my stockpot with the Ball Canning Discovery Kit which comes with 3 jars and Ball Canning Utensil Set. Reading through Ball’s Getting Started site and canning blogs are a huge resource. There’s also the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. In addition to recipes, it has every question answered and a great FAQ section on what to do in situations where things to awry. Once I was convinced I wouldn’t be poisoning my family I was ready to go. If the jar didn’t seal? Refrigerate it and eat the contents within a few weeks. I started my canning journey with an investment of $38.00!
I have major aversions to canning in the summer. My kitchen gets hot and steamy while canning. I don’t like standing over a stove stirring jam when the rest of my family is out running through the sprinkler. Fall is the perfect time to can in the evenings with a mug of hot cider while making apple butter. You stay nice and warm without cranking up your thermostat.
The very first recipe I tried out of Tart and Sweet was Lemon Herb Pickled Garlic. I adore garlic and this makes such a beautiful gift. All of the herbs, lemon slices and garlic cloves. Yum! The recipe only makes 2 pints which fit perfectly with the Ball Canning Discovery Kit since it came with 3 jars.
Pickling foods is much easier than making jam. After your jars are sterilized, you fill them with the food, then fill the jar with a vinegar solution. No pectin, no sugar content, no setting. Processing the jars consists of lowering them into boiling water and setting a timer. Pull them out, let them cool and listen for the POP of the lids creating a seal. That POP is extremely satisfying.
This might seem like a huge advertisement for Ball, but they truly know their stuff. They’ve been around for 125 years. The equipment is high quality and the resources they provide to home canners is unbeatable. Investing in the right equipment the first time is much better than replacing cheap stuff as it breaks. After a year of canning, I now teach my friends how to can. I host canning workshops with Sara. I give gifts for birthdays and the holidays or just because. If canning is something you’ve been interested in but haven’t started, now is a great time to try it out.