I‘m no slouch, but lately the squirrels in my back forest have been making me look lazy with all their efforts in storing nuts. Their scurrying and burying is nature’s reminder that cold is coming and the bounty of the warmer months will soon be unavailable to us.
Most of the produce that have taken up residence on grocery store shelves now are expats, trucked in from our neighbors to the south. Two prominent fruits that are still locally sourced, however, are apples and tomatoes. Everywhere you looks, baskets, crates, boxes and barrels burst with them and it’s difficult to walk by without thinking of all the promise they hold for the family table.
This week were bringing back our Canning 101 series with an emphasis on Preserving Autumn. We’ll be featuring apples and tomatoes, two favorites of the season, preserved in simple ways. The series will run all week, so be sure to stop by every day and be inspired!
Curious as to why we’re spotlighting canning so often around here? Quality, taste, and health concerns are just a few reasons why we would choose to can our own food instead of purchase a flat of tinned peaches at the local wholesalers.
In case you missed it, here are 9 Good Reasons to Can Your Own Food, an article I posted earlier this month highlighting the spectrum of motivations home canners have for what they do. It’s a list nearly anyone can relate to – including Time.com, who quoted from the post in a recent article on simple advice for saving money.
Saving money? Why yes, buying produce in season when it is cheap and plentiful for preserving can be an economical way to stock the pantry. Head here to read eight other good reasons to can your own food.
Besides myself, we have three girls contributing to our Preserving Autumn series. You probably are already familiar with them, however I wanted to introduce them officially, and openly thank them for their contributions and support.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer, web producer and canning teacher who lives in Philadelphia, PA. She shares her many canning projects (all cooked up in her 80 square foot kitchen) at Food in Jars. An expert at her craft, Marisa takes the time to answer her reader’s questions and is obviously genuine in her desire to nurture others in their canning experiences.
On her blog, Guilty Kitchen, Elizabeth Nyland writes about the joys of local food, buying sustainably and feeling much too guilty after indulging in too many rich desserts. Perhaps the most reluctant canner of the group, Liz valiantly demonstrates that is IS possible to make time to preserve food, even with an active toddler and an infant to care for.
Jennifer Murch lives with her husband John and their four children on five acres near Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she (kinda-sorta-maybe) homeschools the kids, gardens, bakes, and reads. You can find more of her musings and lots of recipes at her blog, Mama’s Minutia. Jennifer is an undaunted domestic goddess in the canning kitchen, and relentlessly enthusiastic about ‘putting up’ produce.
What You’ll Need
Get ready! Get set! Preparation is key for a canning session, especially with little ones running around and distractions galore. Be sure to assemble everything you need before you start, beginning with the items on this handy list.
- Canning Jars and Seals – use mason-style jars with sealed lids and rings, which can be found at most grocery stores
- Wide-Mouth Funnel – makes filling jars with sauces or jams easier and less messy
- Lid Wand – for easy removal of lids and rings from boiling water
- Ladle – for filling jars
- Large Pot – for boiling canned preserves and jams, fruits, tomatoes and pickled vegetables
- Tongs or Jar Lifters – rubberized lifters make removing cans from their water bath less slippery, but a good pair of tongs can work just as well
- Clean Cloths – used to wipe down jars, lids and rims of jars
If you haven’t already, be sure to read our full primer on Canning 101: The Basics.
A quick word on pumpkin
How could we not honor the mighty pumpkin in our preserving autumn series?! For safety reasons, pumpkin purée cannot be canned at home, however it does freeze very well in jars for up to three months.
Since we’re focusing on home canning for this series, we won’t be including pumpkin, but do not despair! Allow me to highlight a most wonderful photo tutorial on how to make pumpkin purée by the lovely Lynn Craig. Look no further for your inspiration to make your own purées for baking with.