Hi there, this is a guest post from Jenny, a blogger from Northern California I met a few weeks ago. I was super interested in her canning technique (being the country girl I am) and invited her over to share some basics with us!
Hi Everyone, I’m Jenny and I blog about homemade food and craft at The Domestic Wildflower. I met Rachel at a blogging conference and we realized we were birds of the same feather right away; we help busy mamas with the daily life of feeding and raising kids as best we can.
She’s invited me to share one of my BEST tips for cooking homemade food in advance for my little kids & blue collar husband.
It’s an answer that surprises most people, but hear me out…
Canning is cooking in advance.
What's in this post...
4 Facts About Modern Canning
Canning is NOT the way you remember your Granny doing it. Canning can be FAST, easy, and simple. I’ve yet to share a recipe that is complicated, and I’m all about figuring out how to make this old fashioned technique work for my busy life – and yours!
Canning saves SO much time. Investing an hour or two (not 10!) to can something healthy for my family to eat means that months later, I can crack open a jar of applesauce, pickles, tomato sauce, or jam and have food I’m proud to serve my kids and guests alike.
Canning is safe. Canning is a science, like baking. You just have to follow the simple steps and a trusted canning recipe (both of which you’ll find here) and you will be good to go. Any scary story about canning you’ve ever heard involved someone NOT following the directions. And, as we tell our kids all the time, we know what happens when we fail to follow instructions, right?
You probably already have almost everything you need to start canning today. Canning does NOT take a ton of equipment, contrary to popular belief. You need just a few things which I’ll list below.
Here are the basic things you need to begin canning:
- Canning Pot | These are often the black with white speckled enamel pots that are really large and are frequently sold with a wire rack inside. You don’t have to have a huge pot like this, and if you are a single person or a small family (read: not canning to feed a small army) a pasta pot will work just fine. The pot will need to be taller than the tallest jar you plan on processing (that means sticking inside the pot, upright) by at least 3 inches. The beauty of a smaller pot is a shorter time for the water to boil which can be very helpful indeed. Your pot doesn’t need a lid, though the water will come to a boil faster if you do.
- Rack | In the pot you will need either a rack made of wire or a silicone trivet. The silicone trivet + pasta pot is my favorite combo.
- Preserving pan | This is the pot/pan you will cook the fruit or vegetable in before you pour it into the hot jars. It can be similar to the water bath pot, but it would likely be a pan you already own that is heavier bottomed (less chance of scorching your jam or salsa) and can have lower sides.
- Canning jars | You don’t want glass mayonnaise jars that look very similar that are often found in garage sales, nor do you want a reused store-bought pasta sauce jar. You need canning jars that are specifically created to withstand the heat of water bath canning. They don’t need to be new either. Jars can be reused over and over for years. You should check the rims and the jars themselves carefully for cracks or chips.
- Rings | They can be used but they should not be rusted.
- New Lids | The seal that is created from the lid on the rubber flange is only good (read: safe) for one trip through the canning pot.
- Utensil Kit | You need tools to put the hot food into the hot jars. A utensil kit usually contains a funnel and a tong-like jar lifter. A funnel is necessary for pouring your boiling hot food into the very hot jar, and the jar lifter is THE tool that you must have for getting the jars in and out of the boiling water that you probably don’t own already.
Now that you have all the stuff you need, you are ready to make your own homemade goodness. First, you’ll set up your stove top, and THEN you’ll cook your applesauce, or jam, or salsa, or whatever preserve you’d like.
Here’s How To Set Up Your Stovetop
Assemble (5 minutes): A water bath processing pot, a wire canning rack (typically sold with the traditional speckled pots) or a silicone trivet for a stock pot. Also, gather the number of canning jars you’ll need (usually specified in the canning recipe), rings and NEW lids. For this applesauce recipe, you’ll need about 10 half pint jars.
Place a towel down flat on a nearby countertop. This will serve both as a temperature buffer and a soft resting place for your freshly canned jars. On the towel, place your funnel, jar lifter and ladle. Note: Since 1969, simmering lids in a saucepan to soften the flange has not been required. Just have the lids on the countertop with the rings. Also note, you don’t have to sanitize your jars as your jars will be in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Prepare (5 minutes): Put the jars in the bottom of the pot and one by one, fill them from the faucet with water, and then fill the pot of water entirely, covering the jars. Place the pot on a large burner, preferably in the back, and turn it on high. Bring to a boil while you prepare the food you’ll be canning. If the water starts boiling vigorously, turn the pot to medium heat. Add water to the pot should the boiling cause too much water to evaporate and the water level to lower.
Now You Are Ready To Make Applesauce
Canning applesauce is one recipe I’ll share with you today that is super fast, easy, and a great kid pleaser. You can make it with zero sugar, and you can even skip canning it and eat it fresh if you want to. No sugar applesauce makes a great baby food, especially if you can it in the tiny, 4 ounce jelly jars. Hello, convenience size!
- 8 cups apples, washed and chopped, stems, cores, and seeds may remain IF you have a food mill. If you don’t, peel and core apples and chop into large chunks.
water to cover- at least 8 cups
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
**for baby food, omit all but apples and water, and use 4 ounce jelly jars.
- 8-10 wide mouth half pint jars – perfect size for lunches!
- Combine apples and water and simmer together in a preserving pan (a heavy bottomed, wide pan) and stir occasionally for 20-30 minutes or until apples are very soft.
- Puree: Remove from heat, ladle into a food mill, and push through. OR apples could be peeled and cored prior, and mashed with a potato masher.
- Return apples to a boil, add sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Cook for 5 minutes.
- Ladle into jars one at a time, leaving ½ inch between the applesauce and the top of the jar.
- Apply lids and rings and submerge into the boiling water of the boiling water bath with a jar lifter.
- Process for 10 minutes PLUS 5 minutes for every 1000 ft you live above sea level. Remove the jars from heat, rest jars carefully on towel covered countertop. Label cooled, sealed jars and store for up to 1 year.
Yields about 10 cups of applesauce.
I want to share with you my BEST resource for busy, new canners to help you get started on the right foot and, GOOD NEWS, it’s free!!
The Canning Essentials Workbook will help you work smarter, not harder. It has 12 pages of visual guides to help you make sure you have exactly what you need before you start canning AND as you make your first batches.
In it you’ll find:
- A stove top visual guide to show you what pot goes where, when!
- A canning log to help you keep track of which recipes you LOVED making, and which you didn’t
- An acid and canning guide for making safe recipe substitutions (Can you swap out lemon juice for lime? Sure! Lemon for tangerine? Nope!)
- Complete canning equipment checklists for water bath AND a new kind of fast canning- steam canning!
- A pantry item checklist- so you are ready to preserve when you bring home a great flat of peaches or lug of tomatoes!
- A canning season planner- streamlining your canning process and eliminating stress!
- An elevation adjustment guide for increasing your process time for those canning over 1000 feet.
This valuable guide is yours, completely free, by clicking here!
Use the coupon code: MOTHERFARFROMHOME at checkout!