During the month of July, I go through more apron changes than any other time of the year. Every canning project, large or small, begins with me wrapping this necessary splatter shield around my waist before I begin prepping the produce and cooking it down.
Although spring produce such as strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb are still at their peak in my area, the mid-summer contenders are not far off. I’ve began tucking in the occasional home preservation project here and there when time permits.
The ramps and asparagus are pickled, strawberries are jammed and rhubarb has been cooked down to compote and frozen in jars. It feels really, really rewarding, as I’ve shared before.
It’s time to rev our engines for the start of the canning season, then settle into cruise control until September. Whether you are an expert or a novice canner, you can benefit from these resources I’ve gathered on the topic.
New to home canning? Start off here.
We published our Canning 101 tutorial back in the early days of the blog, and I am still referring beginners to the post to read before they get started. It’s a solid breakdown of equipment and the process of canning.
Over at Food in Jars, Marisa has just launched a new six-week series called New to Canning? Start Here, which is sure to be an amazing resource. Her first post, Equipment, is up, and a prime example of Marisa’s clear voice and helpful photographs.
If you’ve got some time to read, check out:
- Water Bath Canning Cheat Sheet :: Canning Across America
- Waterbath Canning? The Two Keys to Safety :: Well Preserved
- Principles of Home Canning :: USDA
My enamel caning pot is never put away over the summer and boxes of jars are stacked up in every kitchen corner. I keep a drawer filled with fresh clean tea towels, as well as plenty of scrubbed metal rings for jars on hand. I purchase my pectin new every year, as well as metal flat lids, as they should only be used once. It’s important to get your gear in order before your purchase or pick any fruit.
Canning doesn’t take an expensive All-Clad pot and trendy colored jars. Here’s a look at basic tools from three different canners:
- Canning: What You’ll Need (It’s not as much as you think) :: Thy hand hath provided
- The Tools of the Trade (a few more than just the basics) :: Food in Jars
- My Fermentation Kitchen :: phickle
Decide what to make
Start the season with a practical assessment of what you will eat. This is the first step in getting your act together for the canning season.
Try and think realistically about what you can accomplish. Take a good look at your list. These should be your ‘Must Have’ items. If you feel like you will be able to fit them in, add one or two new recipes or techniques that you’ve been wanting to try.
Photographed above is a sampling of home preserves I currently have in my pantry. Those preserves were photographed yesterday and feature many of our ‘must haves’, minus tomatoes, which are not in season yet. Remember, everyone’s favorites are going to be different.
Here are my go to recipes for the preserves above:
- Blueberry-Plum Butter (slowcooker)
- Canned Cherries
- Canned Peaches
- Classic Applesauce
- Extra-Garlic Dill Pickles (Traditional)
- Honey Strawberry Jam
- Pickled Green Beans
- Spicy Pickled Asparagus
- Sweet Cherry-Plum Jam
- Sweet Summertime Blueberry Syrup
- Zucchini-Pepper Sweet Relish
Pro Tips: learning from the experts
I read some pretty fantastic blogs and websites on home preservation and they never fail to inspire me, season after season.
- Food in Jars (don’t miss: How to Make a Recipe Yours)
- Punk Domestics
- Canning Across America
- Well Preserved (you have to see this pantry)
Canning with honey
Here at Simple Bites, we’re working toward canning without refined sugar and have featured a handful of solid recipes using honey as a sweetener. Apricot Lavender Butter, Honey Strawberry Jam and Canned Apricots in Honey Syrup are all good examples, and I’m working on a few more for my upcoming cookbook Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.
For now, here are a few recipes you can put to use this summer featuring honey as the main sweetener.
- Apricot Preserves with Honey :: Deliciously Organic
- Strawberry Groundcherry Jam :: Food for My Family
- Berries in Light Honey Syrup :: Seasonal Eating
- Homemade Strawberry Honey Freezer Jam :: Simple Homemade
- Old-fashioned Blueberry-Basil Preserves (lacto-fermented, honey-sweetened) :: katy she cooks
- Honey-Sweetened Rhubarb Rosemary Jam :: Local Kitchen
- Slow-Cooker Cran-Apple Butter :: Eating Rules
- Apple Almond Conserve
- Basic Rhubarb Compote
Books are the best resource
No matter how many recipes I try from blogs and websites, my very favorite way to expand my canning repertoire is still through a cookbook. It may be my tattered family cookbook, with pickle recipes written in my mother’s beautiful script, or the latest hot-off-the-press canning guide. Here are some favorite titles:
- Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
- Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Do you have a home canning question? Let’s discuss!