Introduction to Home Canning and Preserving

Tis the season!  We’re starting to get emails rolling in about canning and preserving, so I thought I’d share this post again with a little intro information.  What I’ve been happy to learn is that canning doens’t have to be a huge, messy, day-long event.  You can start small!  Now is a great time to take advantage of either home-grown goodies, or seasonal produce that’s available for great prices.  Preserve the summer and enjoy it all year long!

When I was a little girl, my family would often load up in our old Suburban and make the 12-14 hour trek from Seattle to Utah to visit relatives.  My parents bought a Suburban for the sole purpose of placing us four children in positions where no one had to sit directly next to anyone else.  They were smart.  We always rolled into my grandparent’s home late at night and I remember so vividly the feel of the warm summer air that was so different from the cool Northwest nights I was used to.  My Grandpa Jack was an avid gardener so smells of blossoms and fresh cut grass and fruit from the surrounding trees always filled the air.  In fact, I partially credit my him for my love of horticulture- something I went on to study in college and earn a degree in.  He taught me a lot about the earth; about seeds and flowers and fruits.  He knew how to grow them, take care of them, and preserve them.

My Grandfather & I at my graduation from BYU

It was always well past our bed time when we would arrive there, but the first thing we would do is run down to the basement and open the storage room where there were shelves stock full of glass jars.  They were filled with everything from apricots to chilli sauce, to shredded beef to choke cherry syrup from the tree in the back yard.  But our very favorite were the raspberries.  We’d open up a jar and stick spoons in to eat the sweet little berries in the bright pink syrup, or if we were lucky, we’d pour it over vanilla ice cream.  At just about every meal in their home, there was a jar of something on the table.  My sweet grandpa passed away just a few months ago and as I pulled out my own collection of canning jars this week, I couldn’t help but smile and think of him.

My parents never canned anything when I was growing up, so it’s not something I learned how to do until recently.  In fact, I had the impression that being over the age of 65 was a requirement for owning canning supplies since grandparents were the only people I ever saw canning.  It wasn’t until I moved here to Idaho several years ago that I realized you didn’t actually have to be a grandmother to can!  Suddenly I was getting emails from friends seeing if I wanted have a canning day, or split a bushel of something or other with them and I would think, seriously- did she just use the word bushel? Where am I??  A whole new world was opened up to me and I realized how fun preserving your own food can be.  It’s actually becoming quite trendy (again) all across the country and with people of all ages.  It’s an amazing (and actually quite easy!) way to preserve the bounty of the summer and fall months and enjoy them all year long.  It does require an initial investment of supplies, but it’s not overly expensive and they should last you a long, long time.

Last summer when I went out of town for a few days I came home to a kitchen full of grape jelly! My cute husband had picked loads of grapes from the vines in our back yard and turned it into these beautiful little jars of jelly for us.

So really, I’m writing this little intro today for people who were where I was just a few years ago.  You’ve heard of canning, maybe you even know basically how it works, but you’ve just never jumped in to try it.  It can be totally overwhelming and you might not know where to start or what to buy.  Or maybe you know absolutely nothing and you’re wondering why we’re even having this conversation.  This is for all of you!  Here’s a quick run-down on some basics and then I’ll be sharing some of my favorite canning recipes later in the week.  Keep in mind I’m no expert on this topic!  So please feel free to discuss questions or make comments in the comment section of this post.

Methods of Home Canning
There are two main methods used for home canning.  The method you use depends on the food you are canning.  Some foods require a pressure canner, while others can be done in a simple waterbath.

1.  Waterbath Canning: this is the simplest canning method and it’s great for beginners!  The waterbath method involves placing jars of prepared food into simmering water for a specified amount of time.  That’s basically it!  The heating process seals the jars so they are shelf stable.  This method is for high-acid foods like tomatoes, salsa, jellies, jams, fruits, fruit fillings sauces, etc.

2.  Pressure Canning:  Pressure canning requires a presser canner (bet you never would have guessed that, right?)  I won’t be doing anything this week that requires a pressure canner because, well, I don’t own one and I’ve never used one!  Pressure canning is for low-acid foods such as beef, fish, poultry, vegetables, etc.  I know it’s not all that different than waterbath canning, but it’s a world I have yet to enter.

Supplies needed for Waterbath Canning
As I said before, I’m going to be focusing on waterbath canning because it’s just so dang easy! So here’s a run-down of the basics you’ll need.  I’ve linked to all of these products on Amazon, and you can usually find them at local big-box stores as well.  My local Walmart carries a great supply of Ball/Kerr products (the industry standard in canning)and you can usually find things at hardware stores, grocery stores, and other local places as well.  If you plan on canning later in the season, you might want to pick up supplies now.  I’ve learned the hard way that if you wait too long they’re often hard to find in stores.

1.  Mason Jars
Possibly the most important part.  Possibly.  Mason jars come in all different sizes and you can choose what size depending on what you are making.  A new box of mason jars comes with lids and bands for each jar.  You can re-use the jars and the bands over and over, but you need to use new lids each time.  You can purchase lids separately if you need to.

2.  Waterbath Canner or Large Pot (about 21 quarts) with Canning Rack
(orthis mini canning kit is great if you’re just starting out.  It can fit into a standard stock pot that you probably already own and process 3 pint jars at a time)  I bought this pot at Walmart a few years ago and it’s worked great.  The rack makes it easy to load and unload jars and helps them to stay put while the water is simmering.

3. Utensils
These things are very helpful.  You can certainly buy them all separately, or do as I did and just buy  this little kit that’s inexpensive and comes with everything.  You’ll find 4 little tools in it (okay well my picture shows 3, but there’s 4 I promise):

Funnel–  this is used to transfer your prepared food (since with water bath canning you are usually working with liquids/easily pourable things) into the jar.
Jar Tongs– These tongs are specially shaped to lift the hot mason jars out of the water.
Magnet Stick– The little stick with the magnet on it is used to lift your lids out of the boiling water (a step used to prepare the lids for sealing onto the jars).
Head Space Measuring Stick– this little stick is used to remove air bubbles and measure head space (the amount of open space left in a jar after it’s filled with the food).

Things to Know about Canning
When preparing recipes to preserve, it’s generally not a time to improvise.  Recipes are formulated specifically for canning and straying from the instructions could result in food that’s unsafe to consume.  If  you’re an experienced canner, you will know the areas that are okay to play around with, but if you’re a beginner, it’s best to follow the recipe and the canning instructions very carefully.  Likewise, you should not just take any ol’ recipe you enjoy and assume you can can it.  We get many questions asking if the sauces and condiments on our blog can be canned, and our answer is always that you should use recipes that have been specifically tested for safe preservation.

There are lots of resources out there that can help you get started.

The National Center for Home Preservation– Great text-book information.  If I’m ever unsure about something, I check here.

State Extension Service– One of the absolute best resources, especially for in-person assistance, is your local extension service.  Look up the service in your area and they can help answer specific questions.  I’ve made many calls to my local office and they’re always so kind and so helpful.  They also have tons of free materials and classes available.

Pick Your Own– I have really come to love the website.  I don’t think it’s the best looking website, which almost turned me off at first, however I’ve come to find it as a reliable resource with a wealth of information and how-to’s.  In addition to recipes, you can find farms near you where you can pick your own produce to use in your home canning.– this is the Ball/Kerr website.  Tons of information, products, and recipes.  It’s a great place to start if you’re new to canning.

The Blue Book
– When I first started asking around about learning how to can, everyone kept saying, “Well do you have the Blue Book??” “Get the Blue Book!”  Okay, okay.  I got the darn blue book!  The “Blue Book” is sort of the bible of home canning and it’s a great resource.   It includes tutorials, how-to’s, charts for processing times, tons of recipes, and much much more.  It’s an inexpensive paperback and worth having in your library if you’d like to can at home.  Click here to check it out on Amazon.



Ready to try your hand at canning?  Check out these related posts!
Canned Apple Pie Filling
Spicy Peach BBQ Sauce
Refrigerator Pickles (this one doesn’t even require “real” canning- just a fridge!)
Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups (no canning here either, just drying!)


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  1. This is wonderful! Thanks for the info. I keep telling my husband, “If only I knew how to can!” But it all seems so overwhelming to me, I wouldn’t know where to start. You make everything look easy, but this I think I could actually do! Thanks!

  2. I got into canning 3 years ago when I moved to the Seattle area. I couldn’t believe all the fresh produce available at reasonable prices! I actually prefer to use a Steamer instead of the water bath. I started with the easy stuff, peaches and pears. Since then I have purchased a pressure canner and have done fish, chicken, and hamburger.

      1. Not true. There are plenty of studies that have proven this is false, and I am purely a steam canner girl! As long as the pop on the lid seals, that is all that is necessary. If you are canning a food that needs to reach a certain temperature, you generally would be using a pressure canner.

  3. Great post! I have a passion for canning, I am still just learning but am eager for the day my cupboards and food storage will be full of those amazing and colorful jars of goodness! I love your blog it is a great source of recipes and inspiration for me. Cheers!

  4. I have been a canner for decades, since I was a teenager and asked my parents to let me can a box of peaches. Actually, pressure canning is not that much harder than boiling water bath canning. Some of the easiest canning I do is boneless, skinless chicken breasts; very easy, just time consuming. I have always been a stay-at-home mother, and my financial contribution to the home included growing a large garden and canning the surplus for the winter–it is how I fed my family. And homecanned often tastes so much better than anything you can buy.

  5. My husband did raspberry freezer jam last night! We also got the chokecherries off the trees before the birds ate them all! We just juiced them to make syrup or jam later.
    I LOVE this time of the year!

  6. My job cas a little girl was to rub the skins off the peaches after my mom put them in boiling water to loosen the skins. I was totally grossed out when I was a kid squishing the skins between my fingers! Now my children get the same opportunity! The reward of eating delicious home canned peaches with toast in the morning is worth all the “pain”!

  7. We were raised on canned veggies and jams. My grandma’s canned all summer as it became available in their gardens. Growing up it wasn’t always our favorite thing to do, as kids shucking bushel after bushel of corn did not make for great summer fun. Little did I know then that memories were being created that as adults my siblings,cousins and I would cherish. I smile to myself when I realize that very few of my friends have ever seen a bushel or a peck of anything, let
    alone used the words in a conversation. Thanks for the post, hopefully it will help take some of the fear out of water bath canning at least. If you are still a little intimidated check online for canning classes in or near you, I found 2, both inexpensive considering they were all inclusive.

  8. I started canning in college. I couldn’t figure out why my parents never canned because both of their parents like your grandparents canned everything. Found out that my dad didn’t want my mom canning because it was a sign of being poor. One of my favorite things to can is pomegranate jelly (thanks to a patient neighbor when I moved to St. George, UT). Also I think it is really cool to can different jams and jellies that are native to where you live. Here in Southern Alabama they can Mayhaw jelly. There is a great story behind the berries/bushes. I have yet to make it… maybe next May when they are ready again.

    1. OH I LOVE MAYHAW! An old family friend lives in Joaquin, Texas and he makes it. Thanks for the memory of a great jelly!

  9. I was always my mom’s canning helper as a little girl. Even now, at 25 when I hear about the family canning at home I get jealous of whoever gets to help mom at home. This week I’m helping the kids I nanny can blackberry jam for the first time! We’ll see how it goes!

  10. I just tried my hand at home canning for the first time last week. I canned apple pie filling and was so surprised at how easy it was. I can’t wait to can even more!

  11. I was raised on canning but I never actually tried it myself until recently. I wasn’t motivated by the trendiness of it. My motivation came from the realization that soon tomatillos will be out of season and I won’t have anymore homemade salsa verde until next year. I am frantically trying to put up enough to get me through until next summer!

  12. I just finished purchasing all of my canning supplies and can’t wait to get started! I’ve got a bag full of mason jars used by my grandma and mom before me. 😉

  13. I am SO excited to see this post! I, unlike you, am an unexperienced waterbath canner, yet I do meats and beans in my pressure canner. (I am going to attempt canning peaches this week though- wish me luck!) Did you know you can use a pressure canner as a waterbath canner by simply removing the sealining ring? I didn’t until just recently! Who knew- a 2-in-1 canner. Fantastic! Does anyone out there have any awesome peach canning recipes the’d love to share? Please send them my way! Oh, and is another great website for information, recipes, and tips.

    1. I found a great peach jalapeno jam recipe on tasty kitchen! I actually ahve to make more because all the jars I made two weeks ago are gone!

    2. I was reading blogs from last August saw yours that said you were going to try canning peaches. I’ve canned a lot of jam in the past years but never the whole fruits. Did you do it and what was the outcome. I’ve got a lot of fresh whole peaches and would love to can them whole in water bath. I hope you will write back and let me know a few tricks for this years canning. thanks Linda

  14. When my husband’s grandma passed away we inherited her steam bath canner. It’s even easier than using a water bath. It uses less water so it takes less time to boil and you don’t have to lift the rack in and out of the water. We love it. Our favorite things to can are blueberry jam and applesauce. We used to love doing tomatoes or salsa, but we moved to a new house 5 years ago and have never been able to have a successful garden here. We have an enormous groundhog that eats whatever the deer don’t get to first. We keep trying new ways to keep them out of our garden, but we haven’t figured out a magic solution yet. We’ve only had about 4 tomatoes this year and I’m sure the pesky groundhog has had at least 40. Grr!

    By the way, if you are new at canning, it’s worth checking your library for the Blue Book before you buy it. You might find that one look-through is enough to help you make sense of the info you find online. Also, if you are doing jams/jellies you can get good recipes inside the packet of pectin you will need for making the jam.

    1. I have/had the same problem with groundhogs. At first it was groundhogs, deer, and rabbits, but liquid fence kept the deer and rabbits away. I heard about placing cat litter around the garden. I was hesitant at first, but when I had to empty the litter box that my five cats share, I thought “why not?” It was really gross throwing cat poop around the garden. But it’s been 4 weeks and not one groundhog has been back!

      1. Hi Jennifer,
        You don’t want cat or dog feces in your garden soil. They like humans can have parasites in the stool. Just a heads up so you don’t have additional issues with your garden.
        Good Luck, I have ground squirrels that think I grow tomatoes for their use.

    2. I just stared squarefoot gardening this year. I would think that a raised garden beds with chicken wire under it would keep the groundhogs out.

      1. We have all our garden space in boxes with chicken wire fences around them at least 24 inches high. The groundhog just pulls the fence down a little with his front paws and hops over. It is seriously depressing to watch! I think next year we will try one of those cages in the sq. ft. garden book that covers the whole garden. My grandpa used to use a BB gun. I’m considering that one, too. 😉

        1. Last year I had a young groundhog actually CLIMB the netting I was using for the pole beans, just so it could strip the leaves from the plants!
          BB guns work well too, as long as your neighbors don’t live too close! 😉

  15. I love canning. My favorites lately have been peaches, jams and jellies, and salsa.

    After the allotted boiling time is up, I turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let it sit for 5 minutes. ( I set the timer again so I don’t forget) That ensures a good seal and has saved me a lot of my foods I am trying to preserve.

  16. My mom used to can when we were little, but it died out over the years. My younger sister and I started it again a few years ago when we were debating what to do with all the apples off mom and dad’s apple trees. We pretty much taught ourselves how to do the water bath canning that year when we canned TONS of apple juice, homemade apples sauce and apple butter. Yum!

  17. I love canning! I’ve canned strawberry jam, strawberry lemon marmalade, strawberry lemonade concentrate, raspberry jam, raspberry lemonade concentrate, blueberries, blueberry syrup, peaches, applesauce, chocolate raspberry sundae topping, asparagus spears, carrot slices, carrot dices, brown sugar glazed carrots, and taco meat! My ultimate goal is to have a huge pantry full of canned goodies that serves as our primary food source… and then I can just get food in bulk ever year and can more! Later this month, I’m going to can 48 pounds of peaches and 40 pounds of beef. I’m going to turn the beef into taco meat! You know what? I bet you have a few recipes on Our Best Bites that can be canned already! 😀

  18. My mom just started canning using her pressure cooker! So far, she’s done roma tomatoes from her garden, chicken, beef, and a soup. I would LOVE to do some jellies/jams!

  19. I’ve always wanted to can, but it’s always seemed to tricky, and kind of like something you have to be old to know how to do—like you said. 🙂 Thanks for making it seem so do-able!

  20. Another method I that I love to use is the steam canner instead of the waterbath. It is way faster, uses much less water, and does the same job. I have canned since I was a small child and I love the look of everything on my shelf!

  21. I love to can. We have learned with water bath to use a camp stove outside. It doesn’t heat up the house and leaves the water mess that can occur outside. We collect jars and jars of things. Canning is a very rewarding experience, and I know what is in my jars. We are just getting in to pressure steam canning.

    1. Where did you find a camp stove big enough for the water bath canner? We’ve tried to do that but can’t ever find anything bigger than a medium saucepan.

  22. WEIRD!! I JUST got done canning Carrot Cake Jam this morning. It is so yummy!! I’ve been canning for about 4 years. Started with apple butter. Now, I make salsa with all the ingredients grown in my own garden every year. I also make Jalapeno pepper jelly for gifts at Christmas. And since my grandmother died, I’ve been using her recipe to make dill pickles.

    1. I should also add, after reading about your grandparents, that whenever I can it makes my house smell like my Grandma’s. It brings back such great memories of time spent with her in her kitchen and her garden.

  23. Seriously, I think it’s scary how we think alike. . . I have wanted to venture into canning for a while and recently decided to seriously consider it. I have wanted to do a garden for a few years but knew I wanted to be able to can what we couldn’t eat and since I didn’t know how to can, I couldn’t garden either. Weird logic I know. Since babe #3 is coming in a month or so, I think i am going to soak up all your wisdom, pin all your recipes and just get excited for next year’s garden bounty! Thanks guys! Your the best!

  24. Funny that you should talk about canning today–I just started canning myself this summer! {I love your blog} I didn’t do it growing up either, so it’s new to me too. I also started pressure cooking this year and don’t be intimidated, it isn’t hard. My husband brought back a small pressure pot from Curitiba so he could cook like the Brazilians after the mission (he came home 9 years ago and to my knowledge he has never used it-LOL!). I pulled it out of the back corner of the cupboard when I was in a pinch for dinner one night and googled some instructions in English for myself–it was so easy I kept using it. Then I got the big canning pressure cooker last month and let me tell you, nothing better for a quick meal than jars of cooked chicken breasts sitting on your shelf! So excited to see what you’ve been canning!!

  25. I borrowed a bunch of mason jars from my mom (yes, she’s over 65 so she, of course, owned a lot of them) and was just going to give them back to her this week. Looks like now she’s not getting them back! Can’t wait to see what you’re going to show us on Wednesday and Friday. Kate definitely needs the week off, so I’m glad you’ve got things covered here!

  26. I am learning to can too. I helped my mother in law with spaghetti/pizza sauce a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun. I will eventually be able to do my own, but for now I help her and then get to use the stuff!

  27. Last summer I learned to can, but it was really trial by fire for me. I bought 50 lbs of peaches at 33 cents/lb, which is awesome, and proceeded to teach myself how to waterbath can (with lots of phone calls to my mom). Turns out the canning wasn’t the problem- my peaches were bad! I threw out three or more peaches for each one that was ok looking inside! There were strange brown spots and lines inside most of the peaches. Eventually I grew so frustrated that I took pictures of the inside of my fruit and took it back to the store to complain. They agreed it was a really odd batch of peaches and offered to replace ALL 50 POUNDS for free. So I took home two more boxes of peaches and canned some more. By the end I was a pro, and (thankfully) had awesome fruit to work with. It would have been a totally different experience if I had such nice fruit to begin with!

    Oh, and we do choke-cherry jelly with my mother-in-law as well! I was surprised to see you mention it, since it’s so rare, but if we’re in Wyoming at the right time of year, we pick the entire choke cherry bush at the family cabin and bottle the juice to take home, and then make small batches of jelly out of each quart of juice whenever we need it.

  28. Does canning method work for pickling, too? Do I need a pressure thingy for that? I want to can pickled sweet and sour red cabbage because I just can’t find our family’s Danish version here. I can make it from scratch, but it doesn’t freeze well. Thought I’d give canning a try, eventually. This post has motivated me.

    Plus, one of my favorite treats at the Farmer’s Market is Strawberry Rhubarb jam… home-made. I want those skills!

    1. You can make pickels with out the pressure canner or a water bath…..I know lots of people say to process piclkes but I find they go soggy. My mother in law told me to use very hot jars and a boiling brine. Keep the jars covered with a towel intill they are cool and have popped. I have used this for cucumbers, beans, sour cabbage, zuccinni, and carrots. Works great! Good Luck!

    2. I use awater bathe. Pickles are easy because you can put the cucumbers in raw, put in spces and top with the hot brine, can them and you are done. they pickle themselves in the jars over a month or longer…there is also a product called pickel crisp that you can add to the jar and it keep the pickles from going soggy. and If you like sliced jalepenos on nachos or whatever, you can pickle those too!

    3. Carrie, I’d check out the Ball book or visit with your extension agent about canning cabbage to be sure, but I agree with the other users here that you could probably use just a boiling brine. Super easy!

  29. My husband and I started canning last year. This year we moved into a place that has an apple tree out front so here we come canned apple pie filling. Hope it turns out! You sure can cut down on Christmas gift spending with just decorating a jar with some material and giving that as a gift to friends.

  30. I too grew up with a mom who kept a garden and canned or froze most of our veggies and fruits. Now I have her equipment and jars. We don’t have space for a garden, and around here nobody sells produce by the bushel (as in, cheaper) but I love applesauce made with winesap apples, and there is an orchard nearby that grows them. We do some jams and preserves every year, mostly for the fun of it, and because it tastes so good!

  31. This is a great post with loads of helpful tips. It brought back so many memories of my childhood too! Over here in Scotland we can go to local farms and pick our own berries. I loved the sugary sweet smell in our house on a warm summers night as my mum made jam! Thanks so much for bringing back the memories!

  32. I want to can a BUNCH of your tomatillo sauce to last me through the winter (I have some stockpiled in the freezer but I don’t think it will be enough). Do you think it is acid enough to work? What if I add a little lime to up the acid? Any thoughts would be great 🙂

    1. Call your local state university Extension Service. A live person on the phone can answer your questions faster than Googling for the answer. And you’ll be sure to get an accurate answer.

    2. Kira – you want to be careful canning things that have not specifically been formulated for canning. If you live in the states, every state has an “extension office.” Here in Boise, they let you take your recipes in to be tested and then they can let you know if it can be canned. What you’re trying to avoid is botulism. Hope this helps!

  33. I have yet to experience something as exciting as checking the lids of my jam or jellies and finding out that they don’t “pop” back anymore. The first time I ever canned and checked the lid, I literally did a jig. I was so proud of myself.

    I’ve mostly done jams & jellies from what ever fruit I can get for free (apples-which end up becoming applesauce & apple jelly, chokecherries-pretty close to my favorite, strawberry-rhubarb jam-my absolute favorite). I’m hoping to get a pressure cooker this year so that I am able to can the plethora of pie (sugar) pumpkins that are growing in my garden this year. Nothing like pumpkin pancakes with apple cider syrup in the winter!!!

      1. You must do pumpkin in chunks. According to the extension office, you can’t put puree pumpkin in jars and can.
        Last year we carved the outside skin off and cut the raw sugar pumpkins into chunks. Filled the jars, then added hot water and pressured canned according to my canning book ( 1 hour 45 min for quarts yes it really takes that long to do pumpkin). When I use it now, I pour into a strainer to drain liquid off, then it very easily mashes with a fork into a nice puree ready to use.

        We also froze a lot of small 1 cup servings of pumpkin puree in food saver bags.

        1. thanks! i’ve done the freezer type, but not the pressure canning. my goal is to try pressure canning this fall!

  34. Maybe this is a stupid question, but why would you can meats as opposed to freezing them? Is it fear of losing electricity, freezer space or something else? I would just never think to can chicken breasts or taco meat like some are mentioning, I would just freeze it. Although I guess I would think the same about veggies and fruits too…

    1. It’s not a stupid question and you guessed right. It’s more economical to can meat as well as the loosing electricity issue and storage space. If you move, it would be hard to deal with all of that frozen food as well.
      In a natural disaster, when you loose electricity, which EVERYONE should PLAN on (it will happen to 97% of all Americans at least once in their lives), you will probably loose all of the food in your freezer as it will defrost and spoil in 24-48 hours. Who can eat all of what you have in your freezer in such a short time?
      If you can correctly, that meat on your shelf can set there for many years.

    2. My hubby is a butcher and once he brought me home two cases of corned beef. Unfortunately I had no freezer room left 🙂 I had to can it or give it away so I learned to can it. I just can’t stand to lose out on a good deal just because my freezer is full of all my garden goodies.

      1. also, it allows for really quick dinner prep! open the cans, dump it all in, stir, bake, whatever and you are done.

  35. For years all I’d ever done was peaches and some raspberry-peach jam. Then I finally made juice out of my grandma’s concord grapes. Then I tried tomatoes. Then last year I finally tried my favorite, which I’d always heard were hard so I’d never tried before – PEARS!!! They’re not hard, just take longer. My kids go through those like they’re candy!! To me, it’s pretty much an all-day process and help is always nice, whether my mom, my kids, or even sometimes my hubby. Canning days with friends sound like a great idea!!!

    1. The raspberry-peach jam I make is awesome. My husband’s absolute favorite and it doesn’t use any pectin. Instead, you use raspberry Jell-O!!! It’s awesome!!

    2. i love pears too. My favorite tip with pears is to use a melon baller to scoop out the innards. it os easy and it looks great!

  36. Thanks for the info! I just might have to try canning one day, my mom did it all the time so I thought it was an old person thing too. I guess it’s not though! You really should try using a pressure cooker, not for canning but for cooking meats. The meats turn out SOOO tender! The best part is you can take chicken (or any other type of meat) that is completely frozen and have it cooked, seasoned and tender in less than an hour. It’s really easy!

  37. My mother in law is an avid canner, and I’ve been learning from her. So far I’ve done chicken, lots of different jams, applesauce, cherries, salsa, spaghetti sauce … I’m sure there is more. The pomegranate jelly sounds good! We’ve got a pomegranate tree that should be ripe pretty soon … maybe I’ll suggest a new flavor of jelly! 🙂

  38. I’ve been wanting to can now for years, but have always been afraid of messing up or getting people sick. :-/ I love apple butter and making apple pie fillings and lemon curd etc. I have the big ole pot now I need to get everything else. Thanks for the nudge into canning!

  39. Saturday evening, as we were driving home, my 17 year old daughter saw someone standing on the corner selling strawberries. She thought the guy was pretty cute and insisted we pull over and purchase some. I told her that that was a lot of strawberries to purchase all at once for just the two of us so I told her we must use them to can some strawberry jam. She quickly agreed and we bought them.
    We brought them home and I started pulling out of the the tools and equipment we would need….the waterbath pot, special funnel and jar tongs as well as a large box of rings and lids. She gasped as she realized what these things that had made their way to the bottom of the drawer were. “This is so fun!” she exclaimed as we were underway. “I’m going to give this cute little jar to a friend…she will LOVE it”!
    I can kick myself in the pants for not teaching her sooner. I guess it really boiled down to WHO was SELLING the strawberries to get the interest started with her. Maybe we can find a cute guy standing on the corner selling hangers to get her to keep her clothes in the closet??? 😉

  40. My grandpa was the canning king he even built an at home machine that did 30 quarts at a time. Anyways I only can with my mother in law now but she has it down pat. IN the summer she using a big hot plate over the camp stove to cook outside so it doesn’t heat up her kitchen. We can salsa, chow (which is a pickle relish), peaches, apricots, apple pie filling, chicken, beef, spaghetti sauce, and so much more. As for the jams we do those in just a few minutes doing freezer jam instead of canning using a product you actually get in Boise 🙂 Ultra Gel…. so much easier and healthier than pectin.

  41. My husband and I had a wonderful time together canning for the first time during our summer vacation. We were able to make it a family affair as we all helped in the picking of the wild raspberries that grow in the north woods of Wisconsin. We plan on canning some salsas this holiday season to go with our tamales that we make as Christmas gifts.

  42. I have been canning for about 10 years or more…well since I had a house and garden of my own! I love canning jelly, pickles of all kinds,salsa,spagetti sauce (which my kids actually like better), green beans, applesauce and tomatoes.I got my love for canning and gardening from my parents, who canned everything from sauerkraut to ketchup.
    Pressure canning is pretty easy…you should try it!

  43. I can lots of stuff. Spaghetti sauce, bbq sauce, green beans, corn, jams, apple butter, salsa, chicken broth, and so on! They make great gifts and it is so nice to open a jar up and know I made it!

  44. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I have ALWAYS wanted to learn how to can, but have been way too intimidated until now. Thanks for making me see that it’s not as complicated as I thought…I can’t wait to try it!

  45. Last month, I bought some wonderful cherries from the farmer’s market. I decided to can them…super easy and delicious. They’re cooked before hand and then put into the jars. No additional cooking needed.

  46. What is a good price for jars? I do not live close to Walmart, and they don’t really carry the selection like they do in Utah and Idaho. However, I have seen them there occasionally.

    My other idea is Amazon, but I just wanted to make sure it was a fair price.

    Thanks for the post!!!

    1. Just a little hint, run by your local goodwill and/or some garage sales. Sometimes you can find jars for 10 cents each! and Just a note! if you are using an old jar, go out and buy new rings (you dont want any rust from the old ones).

  47. I am so excited to begin canning. As a little girl my mom would can every summer. She was never able to teach me how to can but now thanks to you I will be able to!

  48. I just started canning a few years ago as well. I have canned peaches, pears, applesauce, and chicken. But I think one of the things my kids love is pear sauce. Its like applesauce but with pears. Its delicious!

  49. How funny. I just spent the weekend making and canning peach pie filling. I bought way too many peaches at Costco and they were starting to get to ripe for out of hand eating so I just made pie filling and canned it. Now we will have delicious homemade peach pies all winter long! Thank you for showing people that canning can be fun and easy. By the way I am not a grandma either. I have two little ones who love the “fruits” of my labor!

  50. Hi Sara..Can I ask you a silly question..I haven’t looked into it and I thought wow you brought up a topic I was dying to know LOL!! So, can ANY Kerr jars go into the oven? I see so many out there in the food blogging world being used for different things but I don’t want to buy any from Amazon just to give them away but my grocery store has a few of them for sale all the time…Thank you so much!!!!
    I do want to try the fruit canning looks like fun 🙂

    1. glass canning jars are like glass baking dishes. they can all go in the oven. just make sure that that are canning jars, not mayo or jam jars form the store.

  51. Thank you for this post! I’m glad I’m not the only ’20-something’ canning! We just did peaches, strawberry jam, raspberry jam, and soon, I’ll be doing apple pie and pumpkin pie filling. Mmmmm…..

  52. I too have just started to can. After years of asking to help my mom and sisters make things, only to have them make them for me and give them to me later, I went ahead and purchased some of my own things. The last two weeks have been interesting. I made apricot jelly, which is just awesome and have juiced apricots as well in a steam juicer. I am looking forward to using the juicer again for grape juice and can’t wait for apples so I can make applsauce. My sister tells me a victorio food strainer, she uses one by back to basics, is invaluable for making applesauce and salsa. I will soon find out about that and can’t wait to try it! I hadn’t realized that canning was trendy, though, I am just trying to make our food as perservitive free.

    1. We also use our Victorio Strainer to make the best tomato sauce. You can put the tomatoes through with the skins on, it will separate the skins and seeds and you get the goodness to cook down on the stove until tomato sauce. Then can it. Wonderful.

  53. I love canning. I used to do it with my Nana growing up…but she passed away before I learned the real science behind it. I waited a long time but finally 4 years ago bought a book and supplies and havent looked back. I have made just this year… apple jelly, grape jelly, strawberry jam, strawberries and cream jam, pineapple jam, apple pie jam, tomatillo salsa, raspberry jam, black-ras-blue-strawberry jam, plum jam, apple butter, and applesauce. I am a stay at home mom…and canning has became a serious Plus I do a little mental happy dance everytime I hear one of my jars pop and my family say mmm…

  54. I was so happy to see this post today! I just jumped into canning for the first time this weekend. It was both easier and harder than I thought it would be – but after the first batch when I got my bearings it was very simple. I LOVE it! My mom canned when I was in grade school and I have friends who can. That kit you show with the utensils is the same one my hubby ran and picked up for me when my old jar lifter fell apart mid-canning session – it was probably older than I am. Great post and I look forward to seeing some recipes – I did Spicy Dill Pickles, Spicy Dill Pickled Green Beans, Watermelon Rind pickles, Jalapeno rings and spagetti sauce. So pretty!

  55. I absolutely LOVE to can. 🙂 One of my all time favorite things to can is chicken. I know, totally boring. But, I use canned chicken in so many different recipes, and it is stinking expensive at Costco or the grocery store. And, it really couldn’t be easier to can it either. I simply take my clean jars, buy a bunch of chicken tenders (any chicken works, but this is already in a good size that is easy to put in the jars), and then start stuffing them in the jars as tightly as I can get them in. Yes, they go in raw. I sprinkle a little bit of salt in the jar, then boil my lids, wipe the tops of the jars, put the lids and the rings on, and then place them in my pressure canner. And then when they are done I get to hear one of my favorite sounds on earth, the pop of jars sealing. 🙂
    Other things I love to can:
    Beef stew
    Pinto beans
    Cafe Rio Pork
    and more Peaches 🙂

  56. Wow! Perfect timing! I was just about to get rid of this water-bather because someone gave it to me three years ago and I haven’t known what to do with it. This post came just in time! So nice to have instructions on what to do! You girls rock!

  57. Can we go back to the part of this post where it says “I came home and my husband had canned grape jelly”….Whoa, what is your secret…What did you do?! Or maybe the question should be, What did HE do?! haha!!

  58. My husband taught me how to make jam, and can it, shortly after we were married. We almost never buy a jar of jam,and my kids get VERRRRY excited when I get out the gear. I did want to mention however that steam-canners can be used in place of a water bath for many uses, especially for jam. Heck, used to be you just turned the jar over for five minutes, then turned it back…voila!! But now I do all my jam in a steam-canner. It uses less water, hence less electricity (or gas) and TIME to get to a good boil, so makes canning even that much less intimidating. Love to see you do an update on this!!

  59. I like to can many things. But I am always confused as to the shelf life of what I can is. In a lot of the canning recipe books it says to use within a year, but when I grew up, it seems like my mom and grandparents could store there’s and eat it for longer than a year. What is a good rule to go by? Help!

  60. I just bought 40 lbs of pears in bulk at the grocery store. The clerk asked me what I using them for. I tried to explain canning and the poor boy looked so confused. Finally he replied, “Are you using the cans of pears for decoration?” Lol!

    1. Hey, pretty sure I know you, cuz! Haha! I wouldn’t have known it was you if I hadn’t read your FB post the other day. Didn’t know you were an OBB follower! I love this site.

      1. yes. yes I am. actually, I use mine for decoration. the shelves above my kitchen cabinet are full of canning jars. they look so pretty and I can eat them too!

  61. My hubby & I can lots of food each year. Tomatoes, salsa, tomato sauce, bloody mary mix, applesauce, apple butter, pie filling (apple & peach!), strawberry jam, dilly beans, dill pickles… The list gets longer each year.

    Rather than keeping a boiling pot of water on the stovetop in the kitchen on a hot summer day, we put our canner on a propane burner (think turkey fryer) in the garage. It helps keep an already-warm kitchen a little bit cooler!

  62. I LOVE home canning – but, like you, I have yet to venture into pressure canning. Honestly, it scares me 😉

    I’ve canned strawberry jam, peaches, pears, applesauce, apple butter, tomatoes, and grapes. So far this year I’ve done strawberry jam but peaches are just around the corner!!!

  63. For the first time this year I planted a pickling cucumber. My great aunt used to make the most wonderful hot pickles. So far I have canned 6 bottles, but I have to wait at least 6-8 weeks before opening – BUMMER! Anyway, I was wondering if any of you might have an answer to my recent problem. I use quart jars and the pickles have to boil for 15 minutes. The water is supposed to be at least 1-2″ above the jar. Generally that leaves me with 1″ for boiling before the water goes everywhere – and that’s w/out the rack in the bottom. Does anyone know of a deeper water bath canner?

    1. We use steam canner for our pickles. You still just do the 15 min. Less water to use and they seem to stay crisper not being in the water

  64. oh i’m very excited for this next week’s posts! I’ve wanted to can for years and make homemade jam but I just don’t know how/where to begin and I don’t want to do the freezer stuff(it feels like cheating!) I want to make the stuff like my grandma in the glass mason jars! look forward to learning more!!

  65. I’m so glad you did a post on canning. I’ll be referencing it a lot. I just bought a pressure cooker/canner and started a canning club of sorts with some ladies in my ward. We are so excited to do this. There has been a lot of talk, advice, classes, tips, etc. about provident living and preserving. We just thought it was time to stop talking and actually DO IT!! First thing we did was jam. It was simple and it is SO good. We’re very excited to be doing peaches in a couple weeks when they’re ripe on the u-pick farms here.

  66. Love canning! One thing that took me a while to figure out was altitude adjustments. Could you say something about that?

  67. I”m under 50 and my mom taught me to can. I’ve loved having my older girls help me to can and I’m really excited that my married daughter is moving back to Oregon- maybe I’ll get some canned blueberries and blackberries!!! Hint, Hint!

  68. I LOVE CANNING … didn’t start until I was 62!! I only can 3 things … fresh tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and chili sauce … that I cook with and add to meatloaf. YUMMY in the winter.

  69. I just spent this past Saturday canning pickled beets! Ended up with 56 pints & 6 quarts!!! Went into it going for 14 pints & 6 quarts. WOW! Didn’t even pick a whole row. Up next…dilly beans and chicken!

  70. I just started canning did a mixed-berry thyme jam (not gonna lie it’s a bit runny but it tastes amazing), then did some grape tomatoes and going to try peaches next. I have the Blue Book and you are so right…there’s a wealth of info (sometimes a little inundating) in it. Thanks for sharing; looking forward to see what you can!

  71. I have been canning I think for the last 2 weeks straight. Its like you are in my brain or something!!
    Anyhow, we love to can salsa, pomegranate and choke cherry jelly, tomato basil jam, chicken and beef (not nearly as gross as it looks or sounds 🙂
    My newbies that I have tried this year and ABSOLUTELY LOVED are strawberry-jalapeno jam and blueberry nectarine jam. Seriously to die for. In fact I started canning the blueberry nectarine in quarts because we are eating so much of it!
    Happy canning 🙂

  72. I grew up helping my mom can! I remember doing peaches, pears, cherries, raspberries, beans, pickles, pickled carrots,tomatoes and of course jams!!! I probably started doing my own batches of fresh strawberry jam as a teenager! I loved enjoying all of the food from our hard work. The first time I ever did canning on my own was last summer! I did up a couple batches of Apple Butter, and it was sooooo yummy! I called my mom up to find out how to do everything but I also learned a lot off the internet! Any body can do a little canning if they have the right tools! And it is so worth the effort to know exactly what you are eating!!!

  73. I love to can. Its a time that my mom and I just spend together. We can salsa, tomatoes, strawberry jam/jelly, etc. I’ve recently purchased a pressure canner to do meats (chicken stock) and beans. I love the idea of making my own beans and canning them at home. I know whats in them, and whats not. It just feels like I’m doing something great for my family.

  74. My experience was opposite of yours, my home and grandparents home was too much into canning but, my husbands family lived off of what they canned. So I learned from my sweet mom-in-law the love and art of canning. I(also from Idaho) am a mother of 9 and we can A LOT. My storage room is filled to the brim with all sorts of veggies and fruit and sauces. We are down to only 1 at home and I still can and teach others the joy of canning. I love to see all the jars filled and the sense of satisfaction that comes from filling those jars!! Thanks for the post! And I love your blog!

  75. Thanks so much!! I love canning! I make my own jams, pickles, soups & syrups. Last year I make apple pie filling….so good. At frist my friends bugged me about being “old” but now are phoning to ask for some recipes or adveice. Thanks for the great post! I love this site and can’t wait to get your book! Thanks!

  76. So funny – I always thought canning was so dorky until I got married. Now I can peaches, cherries, pears, apple pie filling, relishes, pickles and multiple jams. So far this year I have done strawberry and raspberry jam and I am doing blueberry and peach this weekend plus canning my peaches. I would love to try a few more things!

  77. When I was growing up my grandma always had peach and apple butter out at sunday dinner. I moved away and miissed it so I tried my hand at canning a couple summers ago and made some peach butter. That’s it, the only thing I’ve ever canned, but I’m working on a huge garden with a lady at church and we are going to have vegetables coming out our ears so I’m exited to have her teach me how to can it all.
    Also, I don’t know if it was mention in these comments because there is a lot to read through, but you can add “anything pickled” to the water bath list, because the vinegar is acidic.

  78. I did a little canning this year too! I had only ever done apple butter, but this year I tried pickled beans, peach jam, salsa and tomatillo salsa. So fun! I thought the same thing you did about the Pick Your Own website… I am anxious to see if you have any favorite canning recipes to share?

  79. Yay! I just started canning this summer and I love it!! I have always been intimidated by the whole process – but I started with Emerils Sweet & Spicy Pickles and when they were a success I moved to jam & jelly. So far so good. I’m looking forward to recipes you post since I have never been disappointed with your recipes – thanks for such wonderful & tasty inspiration!

  80. There must be something in the air lately. I just came across a site called Canning Across America that got me all excited about canning. There is something about a shelf full of home-canned food that goes to my very core. I have canned tomatoes, peach preserves, and cinnamon applesauce (can you say Squeeze-O?)–none of these have happened on a regular basis. I am ready to take it seriously.

  81. Raspberry Freezer Jam, a must! I can many things, but this past year tried canning apples sliced and ready to pour out of the mason jar and right into a pan for apple crisp! Super fantastic!!

  82. Your timing is unbelievable! Canning has been something I’ve been wanting to do but had no idea where to start; I’m excited to embark on this endeavor and add to my food storage!

  83. I was told tomatoes/salsa should be pressure canned, so you might want to check on that. It seems like tomatoes would have enough acid, but apparently they don’t, which is why you have to add vinegar or lemon juice to salsa recipes.

    1. Nope, tomatoes and salsas are canned with a waterbath! But yes, vinegar or citrus is added to ensure the pH level.

      1. I heard that tomatoes are not as acidic these days as they used to be so they are starting to recommend pressure canning. I still water bath mine.

  84. Okay, I am not going to look through comments to see if someone already said this, so if they did, I am sorry! I have an awesome pressure canner, it is from & was $84 shipped & is by Presto I believe. Anywho, each year someone has a sale on chicken breasts & they are as easy as peaches. You just put salt in a jar, fill it with chicken, put on lid, pressure cook it, wallah. The canning is time consuming, but it is so easy. I have been so glad to have a pressure cooker! I have never used a water bath canner, just the steam canner (seemingly a bit controversial, but I have used it for years and my mom and grandma before me, and none of us have died:} )& the pressure cooker. Good luck all! Once you eat bottled peaches, you can just never go back to the ones in the store!

  85. I’ve been canning for over 30 years (good heavens, that sounds like a LONG time!) One of my fondest memories is of my three sons sitting on the side of the strawberry fields on a blanket while I picked. They were not allowed into the fields as strawberries were a delicate crop. I would pick a pint first, go wash them off and bring them back to the boys for them to eat while I worked. Strawberry jam is the family favorite. I would go home, make jam and bread and I have a very sweet picture of them sitting on our back steps eating warm bread with fresh made jam smeared all over their little faces.

    Feeding three sons is an expensive proposition and canning saved me a ton of money over the years. It’s only my husband and I at home now, so I don’t can as much. But I still make jellies, jams and tomato sauce.

    Water bath canning is a snap. Most batches of jam can be made in under an hour so it’s easy and quick.

  86. I love canning! Like you, my grandmother used to can stuff, mostly pickles and jellies, and relishes. When I moved to Virginia there were so many people who canned, and who had massive gardens. We were always being given produce, so I started canning. Two weeks ago I put up 2 1/2 bushels of peaches! Most were halved and canned, others were made into peach jam and blackberry peach jam. YUM!! The best book I have found is a really old Ball canning book, from 1937. It has great recipes and most are for water bath canning. It tells you how to do hot pack and cold pack recipes, and explains why you might want to do one over the other, etc. Its very helpful! My favorite thing about canning, you have so much to show for your work. All these jars lined up and beautiful!

  87. I have fond memories of canning. Another thing my mom and I did was bake up a 5x batch of chocolate chip cookies to have in the freezer for after-school shacks. You guessed it – we mixed the dough in our big canner pot because it was the biggest container we had. Our favorite thing was the frozen cookies immersed in a bowl of peach juice after we had eaten the peaches.

  88. My mother has always canned and I love to can. I was thrilled when I found the Ideal Steam Canner on ebay that is just like hers. According to the “experts” steam canning is not recommended because it doesn’t heat evenly. I love mine and you get a jar that won’t seal with any canning method, so either toss the contents or eat them right away.

    By the way, if you are reusing the jars, make sure you check every jar before using it again. Check for cracks, chips in the top – otherwise, you’ll have jars that crack/burst during canning or worse, yet – when you’ve got it on the shelf and it’ll get everywhere.

  89. My grandmothers both canned some, but not much by the time I came along. My parents never canned that I can remember. A few years ago I decided I was going to can pickles. Last year I tried to can homemade spaghetti sauce. That was almost too much work for the 7 quarts it resulted. I planted my garden with lots of cucumbers this year & multiple roma tomato plants hoping to have plenty to can. My cucumber plants didn’t even grow, they sprouted and died. Last weekend I did buy some cucumbers from a friend at the farmers market & made 4 types of pickles over last week. My tomatoes are just starting to take off, so we’ll see how that goes. I should have made some raspberry jam earlier this summer our plants were going crazy & the kids picked tons of raspberries, but no time, so they got eaten or went bad. I’ve tried to plan canning days, but found that if I schedule a day off to can, my produce isn’t ready yet. Oh, the fun. Oh & I did can some cherries earlier, some just fresh packed in alcohol & left in the fridge (waiting for chocolate covered cherries at Christmas time) and some actually canned, first time I’ve done cherries, we’ll see how they turned out. Love it & can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  90. I grew up canning tomatoes and making blackberry jam with my dad. Hadn’t canned in 10 years but when I was able to grow my own garden I picked up right where my dad left off. I can pumpkin puree, tomatoes, salsa’s, and am working on expanding my horizons. I have done the hot water bath and the pressure cooking methods. I like the hot water a bit more….less cook time in this house with no air conditioning.

  91. THANKS for posting this!!! When I was growing up and my mom canned all the time, I wasn’t interested in learning how to can. Now that I am–she lives far away. So thanks for teaching me!!

  92. Thank you so much for this post and those to come. I have wonderful memories of canning tomatoes with my Dad. My Dad is an incredible gardener. I learned most of what I know about cooking from him. Gardening and canning was just a way of life I grew up with. We came from poor stock a generation or two away from the farm. All my grandparents, great aunts etc had a little patch behind the garage and filled their kitchens with steamy canning sessions. It is this humble, slower healthier way of eating and living that I am trying to get back to. You just made my day and maybe my season. 🙂

  93. Both my mother and grandmother canned as I was growing up so it has always been a part of my life. My favorite thing to can is pickled carrots with dill and garlic. I usually do these in pint jars and all my friends (and family) are begging me for them. My grandmother use to do green beans that she snapped then pickled. She would then drain them, toss in flour and fry in a skillet. WOW.

  94. Like you Sara, one thing I looked forward to every summer as a child was eating from my grandparents’ stash of canned goodness on our summer trips to Utah. Luckily my parents were canners as well, canning yummy things every summer from my Dad’s huge garden. I have enjoyed canned peaches and tomatoes every year thanks to my Mom and Dad. I never had the canning bug until 3 years ago when I good friend of mine invited me to can salsa with her. I was surprised how easy it was and it felt so rewarding to see all those beautiful jars sitting on my pantry shelf. After that experience I was hooked. Since then I have done salsa every summer. I even got brave and made my grandma’s chili sauce recipe by myself with great results. (not many people even know what that is!!) In fact I’m in Utah now – I canned a batch of chili sauce on Saturday with fresh veggies from my Dad’s garden and actually canning salsa today. Tomorrow when my kids and I drive home to Vegas, the back of my car will be filled with beautiful pint jars of salsa and chili sauce. This year I ordered 40 pounds of peaches and for the first time will be making strawberry peach jam and canned peaches, all recipes handed down from my sweet Grandma. Unfortunately she’s no longer here to teach me how to do it, but I’m grateful my parents were taught and can now show me.

  95. I had never seen anything home canned until I got married. My sweet Mother-in-law patiently taught me (even though at the time I didn’t think I would ever eat it!) to can peaches. which incidentally I am canning today! Along with peach syrup. I have recently discovered the joys of homemade fruit syrup. I also can garlic dill pickles, sliced jalepeno peppers (so easy and cheap), tomatoes, jelly, tomaties, salsa, peach salsa, apples, pie fillings, pears, baby food (puree friut and can in small jars), jalepeno jelly, apple butter, juice…I think that about covers what I have water bath canned. I am still afraid of the pressure canner though!! Thnaks for the post, you guys are so great at explaining things. I will be recomending this post the the newbies I know!

  96. My grandparents were avid canners but unfortunately I didn’t soak up any of their knowledge and wisdom on the subject. I would love to start trying it myself but I live in Lake Havasu City, AZ where it’s over 110 degrees and I think impossible to have a garden and not really any local produce to speak of. Is it worth it to can store bought produce?

    1. it all depends on the price. if it is a great sale for your area, get it and can it. or plan a summer/fall trip to family and friends up north and can with them!

    2. I know tons of people who don’t necessarily grow the food they can. You can find great deals at local farms, u-pick places, and even the grocery store at times.

  97. You could not have posted this at a better time. I’m at the exact phase you described – just now realizing that canning isn’t just for grandmas & wondering how to get started. Thanks!

  98. I don’t think that canning in and of itself is very hard work. Combine canning with gardening, however, and it becomes pretty time-consuming. I’m currently working on our 6 rows of green beans, trying to pressure-can 104 jars this year (one per week for 2 years), so I don’t have to can any next year. I’m at 45 jars, but I’m exhausted so I don’t know if I’ll make it. One of my favorite things to pressure-can year-round is DRY beans! I recently canned a batch with my neighbor who has switched to a gluten-free diet. She was paying $1.50 or more per can of gluten-free black beans, and we were able to can a quart of black beans for just cents. I think one of the most important things about canning is to make sure the product you’re canning is FRESH and RIPE. If it doesn’t taste good BEFORE you put it in the jar, it won’t taste good AFTER the canning process. Oh, and wear good, supportive shoes while you are canning. They will SAVE your back!

  99. Canning rocks! I did 84 quarts of beans last week. Pressure canners really aren’t any harder than water bath, they just take more patience and time. I can’t wait for the rest of my garden to start getting ripe! Thanks for a great post.

    1. Emily, I start simmering my water while I’m preparing my recipe and I just let the lids sit there until I’m ready to use them. I’m not sure if there’s an “exact” time amount, but I’ll see if I can find out!

      1. Thank you! I heard about this step before and have a slight obsession with following directions when trying something new – like canning. Just want to get it right.

  100. This past year I’ve gotten into canning. I made applesauce with a friend last fall and was hooked. In fact, just this evening my hubby and I made and canned applesauce. The only other item we have canned thus far is salsa. So I am looking forward to your posts for more ideas for me to branch out 🙂

  101. I never canned anything until a few years ago. My neighbor talk me how to can pickles. Easiest thing ever! I’m not scared to try something new. So starting off with something simple is the best advice. Then you won’t get scared off.

  102. Growing up, I hated canning with my mom. I got the “fun” job of blanching and peeling something like 40lbs of peaches at a time, and I got to be the jam stirrer. It’s always fun to stand over a big pot of boiling, steaming berries in the middle of an AZ summer.

    Now that I’m older, I really appreciate it. Just last week I made spaghetti and meatballs, and my sauce was made entirely from fresh ingredients, and the tomtatoes I canned from my garden last year. It is such an awesome, and fulfilling feeling to know that I grew the tomatoes, I processed them, and then I cooked em!

    I also like my peach and strawberry jam more than the storebought stuff 🙂

  103. I’d like to warn those with hard tap water to go buy bottled water for your water bath or the outsides of your jars will forever be etched like frosted glass. I just buy the 5 gallon refill jugs that we store in the garage for emergency situations.

  104. When I was newly married, a friend introduced me to homemade Bread and Butter Pickles. She invited me over for a day of watching and working and I’ve been hooked..that was over 30 yrs ago!
    We did not garden when I was a kid, so marrying into a gardening family, I had to learn. My MIL canned alot and all of it waterbath..even the meats, which I knew wasn’t safe. I gardened and farmed and we raised our six kids on our own additive-free food. You make the time if it is important to you. It is work, but so rewarding all winter long, eating ‘free’ food. I would spend $40 at the grocery a week if that, and mostly for butter, milk and basics for baking. It was so satisfying to sit down to dinner and realise the entire meal except for the milk and butter, was from our own land.
    The kids are grown now and I can less, but they still expect jams, relish, corn and string beans. One daughter has gotten the bug and I’ve given her alot of my excess jars and she borrows the canner when ever she needs it. I love having someone follow in my footsteps.

  105. I just started canning this year and love it. I’ve made 8 different jams, 5 different pickles. My parent’s never canned but I remember my grandmother from Virginia did. When you wrote about going to visit your grandparents, it brought back the same memories because we would do the same drive every summer for 13 hours. They had the basement too with all the canned goodies!

  106. I didn’t start canning until three years ago. It always seemed too intimidating, but once I learned how, it seemed easy-peasy. My specialty is canning jalapeno jelly!!

  107. I’ve been canning for a while but just recently bought a food dehydrator (9-tray Excalibur) and it’s been a blast. It’s a nice alternative or complement to canning. I read two of Mary T Bell’s books recently on dehydrating (“Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook” and “Food Drying with an Attitude”) which opened my eyes to all kinds of things I can dry. It makes great light-weight snacks for hiking. I think if I had a bushel of apples, I’d dry them instead of can them. It takes up much less space, it’s super easy to process, and they taste awesome. I just wanted to point out this other often overlooked food processing technique that’s been around for centuries (millennia?) longer than canning.

  108. OK, you inspired me to go to our local Walmart and purchase a case of jars and the utensil kit! I’m going to try my hand at canning homemade salsa. Wish me luck! (I’m typing as I sip Brazilian lemonade….something I feel guilty about drinking everytime…but it is so good!) Thanks for helping to make something so intimidating seem to manageable!!

  109. I can fruit, jelly, vegies, beans, but my favorite is chicken. Make the jump to pressure canning, you will be so glad you did.

  110. Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for this! Growing up my mom didn’t can so I’ve always been pretty scared of it but this tutorial makes it seem pretty simple and manageable. I’m so looking forward to trying the apple pie filling recipe!

  111. What makes good crisp pickles? I hear alum is not safe, “Pickle Crisp” can not be found. Help! Do you have a good recipe for sweet pickles, dill beans, mustard pickles, and regular dill?

  112. I got a canning book, and it said that instead of a rack, you can tie together some unused canning lids and make your own! I thought that was kind of resourceful.

  113. I’ve ben canning for 20 years now. Got the bug when I decided to make jam for xmas presents. The Blue Book recipe for spiced peach jam is to die for! My mom never canned either until recently but her aunt was a farmers wife and made the best bread and butter pickles. I like to do relishes now, they are much easier and quicker than pickles. Everyone at work always wants my pepper jam and relish. My husband helps out by donning on his ”gas” mask and chops all of the hot peppers that he grew. Can’t wait for apple season to come so I can make sone apple butter and cinnamon red-hot applesuce. yum!!

  114. I’m relatively new to canning. I have trouble finding good recipes. Do you have a canned salsa recipe you love? Or a spaghetti sauce recipe you love from a can? Those are two staples around our house, but I am not very impressed with the Ball Book recipes for canning. I would love more website links for extra recipes – and love any others you post here. Thanks!

  115. I love to can! Last night I made up tomato soup with fresh basil. So delicious on a cold winter night! I would like a recipe for stewed tomatoes made in a waterbath. Is there such a thing? Every recipe I find uses a pressure canner. Love your website! Thanks

  116. I started canning about 6-7 years ago. On referral of some long time canners I went straight to a steam bath process and I love it! It’s so easy. I don’t have to wait for a lot of water to boil. It only requires a couple of inches. The process time is the same as a full water bath but it’s quicker in preperation. Last year I took first place at the county fair for my dilly beans, as well as the Ball & Kerr award. Other than certain foods that have to be done in a pressure cooker, it’s the only canning process I use.

  117. I just started canning with the last 2 years and I absolutely love it. I’ve preserved so many things from my garden and local orchards. It’s much easier than I anticipated.
    I love my stainless Ball water bath canner. I’m totally ready for my tomatoes to ripen this year!

  118. Don’t put it off. My mother canned EVERY food she could get her hands on. I haven’t lived by here in years, though, until she retired at 75, and started spending the winters with me. She has memory loss. I haven’t canned since I had apples literally blow out of the jars while pressuring them when I was first married…..No way I can learn from her now. If you have a canning ‘mentor’ to learn under, I say, go for it. Friends always?? make a task more fun. Also, Valerie, my particular glass top range said not to use it to can, but I see ‘glass top safe’ pressure cookers at Walmart, so I do not have that answer. Friend suggested using a propane camping type burner outside. Heck, this is Phoenix. I’ll just see what you guys all come up with.

  119. I love to can and preserve! Not sure if anyone else mentioned this or not, but you don’t have to process your jars at all (water bah or pressure canner) when making cooked jams and jellies. You just fill the jars to 1/2″ from the top, put the lid and band on, then flip them upside down for 5 min. After that, flip them back over and they seal. Love that little shortcut! 🙂

  120. Thanks for posting this! I love to can but moved out here to the desert 15 years ago. Fresh produce is hard to come by. HOWEVER, I do enjoy making salsa and canning it. I had given away most of my canning stuff to sisters so I had to replenish. DO NOT BUY CHEAP (WAL-MART) JARS. The lids do not EVER seal properly. After several attempts I ended up getting Ball/Kerr jars and lids and rarely have had a problem with them.

  121. Ditto about the Walmart jars. I actually like the shape of the Walmart jars better, but the lids don’t seal. Would buy separate lids.

  122. THANK YOU! This is by far the most thorough and helpful post on canning I’ve seen. I’ve wanted to get started with this, but have been overwhelmed. THANK YOU for all the time you put into this!

  123. Of all the departures I’ve had to endure, my grandfather’s passing has been the most difficult. He died when I was 18 and I’m 48 now. I still tear and choke up when I think of him and the long car rides we’d take to get to Vermont to see him up at the trailor him and Grammy stayed in throughout Summer time. We’d get there late at night and like you, the warm Summer air and freshly mown grass along with the strong sweet scent of hay from the surrounging farms and barns were always a welcome experience. Thank you for your story and for the memories brought back from it.

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