Home canning and preserving have been around forever, but I’ve only known a couple of people in my lifetime so far who know how to can. Learning how to can fruits and vegetables grown in our organic garden is a relatively new interest of mine, and it only makes sense to learn as much as possible about the basics of canning in order to can correctly the first time around, hopefully.
Being an avid reader with a thirst for knowledge on many different topics, acquiring books on home canning that explain exactly how home canning is done, the needed canning jars and supplies, and of course a variety of tasty recipes for the canned goods is a must-do for canning beginners like me. Fortunately, technology advances have improved the options available for people wanting to begin canning for the first time, where the “old fashioned” way of canning isn’t the only way anymore.
I only have a vague recollection of seeing someone in the process of canning in their kitchen when I was a very young girl, and if memory serves correctly, she was canning by boiling the dickens out of stuff the old fashioned way. Mason jars and lids were everywhere, as were a variety of prepared and seasoned vegetables and fruits, waiting to be put into the canning jars and added to the huge pot of boiling water on the stove.
Growing our own vegetables and some fruits in our garden is a lot of work and very time consuming, but the benefits of organic gardening far outweigh the so-called negatives of needing to spend so much time and getting dirty in the hot summer heat. The fruits of our labor are well worth the time and effort, and being able to preserve foods by canning some of what we grow to greatly increase the shelf-life is a great advantage.
Although we haven’t yet actually begun home canning quite yet, we are in the process of gathering the various supplies and cooking utensils recommended for people wanting to begin home canning. We’re looking into home canning kits and comparing prices and reading reviews on a variety of pressure cookers and boiling canners, in order to make an informed decision of the best way to start canning.
Stocking up on mason jars and lids for successful canning is of course necessary, and we’ve been on a hunt to find where to buy canning jars at the best prices, whether online or in a brick and mortar store. I’ve heard that home canning equipment and supplies can sometimes be found rather cheaply online, on eBay and other sites, so we’ll be checking those listings out soon for best prices and shipping costs.
We’ve been putting our power juicer to good use with some of the organic fruits and vegetables from our garden and others bought at local farmers markets that we aren’t growing ourselves, and starting home canning for the sometimes overabundance of foods grown just seems to be the next natural step. Home canned jams and jellies are absolutely delicious, without all of the added “junk” found in store-bought varieties, and having tasted a few samples of veggies preserved by home canning makes canning our own that much more enticing.
Having talked to a couple of people who do home canning regularly about what kinds of canning jars to buy and why, it seems most prefer the Ball brand, but one person mentioned liking the Kerr brand better. The wide mouth Ball mason jars get high recommendation, so we’ll be getting quite a few of those, along with the bands and lids that are necessary.
It’s only natural that there should be some sort of checklist of things to have on hand when beginning home canning, whether canning is done the old fashioned way or by using products like pressure canners/cookers etc. Checking off our list of things to buy is only a matter of time, once we’ve carefully considered and reviewed consumer reviews of home canning supplies and equipment, and of course compared prices.
Besides the items mentioned already, we already have some of the commonly used kitchen gadgets and utensils that are recommended for canning at home. Dutch oven or large kettle, colander, cooking spoons, heat proof rubber spatulas, measuring cups and mixing bowls, cutting board and knives and so on. We’ll need to get lid rims, a wide mouth funnel, food mill, sieve, waterproof labels and label maker, and maybe even a bakers cooling rack.
Having an extra refrigerator/freezer allows us to take home canning and freezing to whole new level, and I can hardly wait to get started. A friend told me to be sure to buy a good quality waterbath canner with rack included, which (to me) looks like a large stew pot my mom used to have, so that’s one more item to add to my home canning checklist.
I’m excited to try out some of the delicious sounding recipes I’ve seen online from canning “experts”, and once we’re confident that our efforts of learning how to can at home have been a success, we plan to share some of what we’ve made by giving some away as thoughtful gifts to others.