April 18, 2013

Canning season is starting up. If you’re like me, and a passionate (um, other adjectives have been used…) canner, you’re canning all year ’round, sure, but those first local strawberries, the slim young asparagus, ramps, garlic chives, candy onions – they’re just around the corner and that feels like the first day of school for me.

Check Your Gear

Pressure canner gauges should be calibrated once a year. Many hardware stores will do this for you. Give the gasket (the rubber ring around the inside rim) a good going over – has it dried out, is it cracking? If so, order a new one, easily found at the manufacturer’s website or on Amazon.

This is a good time to check carefully and then scour the bottom of all your canning pots and pans to scrub away any hot spots. On a canner, hot spots will get thin, and eventually the aluminum will give way. And in a preserving pan, a hot spot is the first sure place your preserves will burn. This should all be done consistently, but use this time to review and maintain all your equipment.

Change the battery in your scale. What do you mean you don’t have a scale?

Calibrate your candy thermometer by boiling water then measuring the temperature, which should register as 212°F.


Stay Organized and Be Ruthless

Think about your favorite (and least favorite) preserved foods of last year.

If you start with 20 pints of pickled okra, and there are 18 pints left, you shouldn’t do that again. Let’s promise to keep our heads, ok? One batch is usually sufficient, except in the case of tomatoes. It’s impossible to have too many tomatoes. Remember, most canned goods are shelf stable for one year.

Do you keep a record of your projects? Or do you wing it? I used to just wing it, but find that a notebook (my preferred method) or spreadsheet is better, for a couple of reasons. First, if we really like something, we’ve probably consumed it months ago. If I didn’t have it in my notebook, I might have forgotten that particular variation on dried and fresh apricot conserve. Now, it will be the first jam I make when I see apricots.

Next, you’ll get a good sense of what you are using. I try to inventory every quarter and that has informed a lot of my summer production. No one likes to waste.

Make yourself a promise. If you make something and it’s just not good – maybe it’s a rubbery jam, or a too salty pickle, or a thin, watery syrup, don’t bother canning it. If you are unsure, put it in the refrigerator overnight and taste again the next day. It’s not a failure, it’s a learning opportunity.

Don’t give up shelf space to anything unworthy.


Be Prepared (Plan Ahead)

Plan jar purchases, and storage.

Early season, I know I’ll use more half pints and quarter pints. These are the jam and jelly months, with strawberries and rhubarb arriving from the middle of May and blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants until late June. If you are a juice or fruit syrup canner, you might want pints or quarts, but my advice is to stock up on smaller sizes now.

Come mid June to early July, cherries and apricots lead the way for stone fruits like peaches (late July until September) and plums (August to October) so I’ll stock up on more cases of half pints, for jams. Cucumbers are in the market, too, so pick up pints for pickles and don’t forget some quarts for pie fillings.

August … oh, August… I can’t wait. Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes. That means quarts. Lots and lots of quarts.

Don’t forget plenty of lids, you’ll need new flat lids for all jars on hand.

IMG_8130All the Toys

Do you have all the canning toys? There are a few great accessories.

I love the magnetic lid lifter. LOVE.

A bubbler is useful for removing air from thick textured products. Really useful. Never use a metal knife as it might create tiny chips on the inside of the jar, making it susceptible to cracking in the canner. (A terrible waste of hard work and good jam.)

The jar lifter is such a well constructed tool and so reliable. It is possible to make do, by wrapping tongs with rubber bands, but if you plan to get into some canning, the lifter is fantastic and very safe.

(Added later…. You all are so smart! You reminded me about the canning funnel! I couldn’t can without it. I prefer the stainless steel version.)

And then there are basic supplies. Like white and brown sugars, white and apple cider vinegars, lemons, vanilla beans, pickling spices. Watch for sales and stock up.

Finally, if you have a space outside to plant a little herb garden, put in some thyme, mint, lemon verbena, dill, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, and plenty of basil. Herbs and fruit are best friends.


Wonderful Jarden Home Products is ready, too. And they are offering a case of their brand new Vintage Blue glass jars to one of my lovely readers. (US only, so sorry all my pals overseas!)  Leave a comment below with your favorite tool or secret tip for canning up the abundance of the season. I’ll choose a winner next Monday, April 22th at 5pm via a random number generator.

Are you ready? I’m ready. Let’s get canning.

Posts in other years about the start to the canning season:

Secrets to Successful Canning

A Year of Canning Begins Again

Canning, Preserving and a Wintertime Tart

And a repeat of a favorite preserves recipe.

Strawberry Preserves with Mint and Black Pepper
recipe from Mes Confitures, with slight adaptations

Try to find real peppermint, not spearmint. Most better nurseries will sell peppermint plants at this time of year. It’s a far better behaved plant in the garden, grows happily in a pot, and makes really good minty lemonade.

3 lbs.strawberries, rinsed and hulled (if large, halve or quarter the berries)
2.5 c sugar
Juice of one lemon
10 black peppercorns, crushed
Ten peppermint leaves

In a large glass or ceramic bowl, gently toss the berries with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover with parchment and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, put the contents of the bowl, including any sugar that has accumulated at the bottom, in a heavy bottomed preserving pot (I like a 5 qt or larger heavy copper, Le Creuset, Staub or Emile Henry pan.)

Heat the berries and preserves for a few minutes, just until it begins to boil and all the sugar is melted. Return the berries to the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, strain the liquid from the berries and heat in the large pot, again. Bring this syrup to a boil – a hard, rolling boil. In order to achieve a good set, bring the temperature to 220°. This takes a good long time and gets pretty scary looking.

Once it’s at 220°, remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes to allow the foam to gather on the top of the syrup. Add the butter and stir well. The foam will disperse. Skim remaining foam with a large meticulously clean stainless steel spoon.

Get all the foam, slowly, carefully, so your jam will be county-fair worthy.

Add in the strawberries, pepper and mint leaves. Bring the jam back up to a hard, rolling boil, stirring gently all the while so the fruit doesn’t stick, trying not to break the berries.

Allow it to boil for five minutes.

Funnel into  sterilized jars, cover with lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

174 Responses to “canning season starts with a ball jar giveaway”

  1. Lori S

    My best canning tip is to be patient in all things – cooking, filling, and waiting on the ‘pop’ of the lid!

  2. Nywoman

    I have been making Meyer lemon marmalade and have finally achieved that wonderful transparent look.

  3. Christa Z

    I love my jar lifter. To think I had spent 15 years using my old baby bottle lifter for jars. That and my tattler lids. I love not having to buy new lids.

  4. Annie

    I love the sterilization process. As a nurse practitioner, I take pride in my skills. My favorite gadget is my magnetic lid lifter!

  5. Rosemeri

    Just a reminder if you live in high altitudes, water does not boil at 212 degrees. You must add more time to your processing time. I have to add 10 minutes to water bath processing. I haven’t done any pressure canning, I’m kind of afraid to try.

  6. Tess Geer

    My favorite tip is to line a heavy baking sheet with foil and place your prepared jars on it prior to filling. Super helpful in controlling the mess especially with sticky,thick recipes (jams, mustards etc.). Hope I win! Love those beautiful blue jars!

  7. Sharon O'Connor

    I love my little Weck jelly jars that I found at a discount outlet for just $1 each with the lids, rubber rings, clips and all.

  8. Shelley

    Love clean dish towels for setting the hot jars on! Also the sound of the “Pop” – am already drooling each time I walk out to the garden!

  9. Sharon P

    I am new to canning but I know my canning funnel is very helpful around the kitchen for other uses.

  10. Carol Rinehart

    I love the wide canning funnel. I overlooked the “plan ahead” blog last year, even tho I have been canning over 40 years. I plan to “plan” this year!

  11. Lucy

    I don’t have a jar rack, so I made one by tying together some extra jar bands with kitchen twine. I just take it apart after I’m done canning, so I don’t need to store an extra piece of equipment either!

  12. Candace

    One of the handiest things is sterilizing everything in the dishwasher.
    For years I used boiling water baths for my jars.
    Thanks for all your great tips.

  13. Lorraine Clark

    I use white vinegar to wipe the rim of jars after filling them it really improves the sealing success rate, is my favorite tip, and my favorite tool is the magnetic lid lifter the ring stays nice and warm in a pot of water.

  14. Gillian

    I was too busy last year to make strawberry jam so I harvested the fruit from my garden and froze it on sheet pans, storing the fruit pre measured for jam. Come a cold January day there was nothing better than steaming up the kitchen canning the jam. The taste of summer was amazing in the cold of winter.

  15. Laura

    I’m new to canning, but I WILL make raspberry jam this year. Thank you for all the tips.

  16. Susan

    The magnetic lid lifter is something I cannot live without. What? I overdid on the dilly beans and pickled okra last year? Oh dear…I’ll have to give more as gifts. Really, you created the canning monster.

  17. Pamela J. Whitman

    Don’t read about it and wonder…
    Ask, investigate, go to classes, google it, read about it, talk about it
    Then….can it or preserve it.
    I did…and I love it!
    P.S. Don’t be afraid, you will find friends & mentors galore.

    • Erica Huinda

      After several experiments with my pressure canner and hot water baths, I learned that the only way to have wonderfully crispy pickled banana peppers is to use the refrigerator method of pickling. Any attempt to process them will make them mushy.

        • Cynthia Scott

          Pickle Crisp works! I was never satisfied with many of my pickled goods for the same reason – and tried everything.

          • Erica Huinda

            Cynthia, do you think Pickle Crisp could keep those delicate rings of peppers crispy as well? How long would you process the peppers? I’d love to be able to store jars of banana peppers in the pantry instead of the refrigerator.

  18. Margo Ingels

    My favorite canning toys are my vintage canning gear. The pressure canner I use was made in the 1940s. I found it at a country estate sale. I have also been running into vintage jars from time to time. They are displayed in my kitchen, along with other antique kitchen utensils, for inspiration.

  19. Erica Huinda

    I always make double batches of my family’s favorite soups and can the extra for an easy meal later on.

  20. Scott_D

    I love the magnetic lid thing too. I ended up with two jar funnels somehow and the older one now serves at my chicken feeder funnel.

    Blue jars! Everything old is new again!

  21. Liz Ehinger

    I love my copper pot. A wedding gift that I didn’t use for years, but it is great for jams. And what is a bubbler? New tool to me. (I use a plastic chopstick to remove the bubbles, but it isn’t ideal.)

  22. julie

    I would have to say the jar lifter. I don’t know what I would do without it !!

  23. Suzanne

    My favorite canning tool is actually my husband. Without him helping on the sidelines – from taking care of the “emergencies” that come up while I’m busy to loving the end results and helping me get through the disasters – I might not have kept it up. As for a real tool, I can’t live without my journal of notes and recipes.

  24. Cynthia Scott

    My favorite has got to be the plastic bubble remover – and since it’s clear someone once tipped me to wrap a big colored rubber band around the top so you can find it when it’s laying down on the counter.

  25. Stephanie

    My favorite tool is the wide mouth funnel, helps keep everything relatively mess free. I already did a small batch of Rhubarb Jam last weekend. Yum!

  26. Daphne

    I always make sure to have my electric tea kettle filled and boiling before canning, but just in case I need more water.

  27. Carol

    After sterilizing the jars, I keep them in a 250 degree oven so they are ready when I am.

  28. Shannon

    my favorite tool is the magnetic lid lifter, and i think it’s key to read the recipe before you start and get everything out ahead of time! the first few times i was scrambling once things got cooked 🙂

  29. VictoriaInMd

    Lid lifter thing-no more burnt fingertips! Keeping a careful eye on my rhubarb plants as I can’t wait to ramp up the canning fun!

  30. Emilie

    Excited for canning season to begin! My favorite tool is probably the magnetic lid lifter, but I’m eager to try Tattler lids this season!

  31. Jo Ann Buller

    the thing i like about canning is the way my mom and dad canned using the pressure cooker. the best purple hull peas i’ve ever eaten have been preserved that way. just brown down some sausage slices and some onions and add a jar of the purple hull peas and heat through. yummy!!! it was the best eating i ever did.

  32. Elyse Tager

    Cathy, I would love to see a picture of your larder – before the season and when you are done.
    Also, having seen pix of the kind of note and notebooks you keep on your holiday cookies (OMG!). What kind of notes do you keep during the canning season? I think your canning fans would benefit. I’m just an armchair admirer. 🙂

  33. Linda Levin

    With all the snow, canning seems distant. My tip is having good music playing while I work! I also use a fold up tailgating table every year for extra table space.

  34. IthacaNancy

    Jar lifter, canning jars, hot water bath canner, all are indispensable,, but with Tattler lids, I don’t get much use from the magnetic lid lifter. : ) I love knowing the Tattler lids aren’t off-gassing or leaching BPA into my precious food. But at this point, perhaps the most important kitchen tool for me is my kitchen diary. I keep track of kitchen work with a book divided into Canning, Cheese Making, Breads, Baked Goods, Meats, Lacto-fermented Foods and Other – then I don’t have to search for recipes as much, and I can figure out what I like and don’t like, what went wrong and what to repeat (particularly with cheese making). As my memory gets worse, this is becoming indespensible.

  35. Kimmers

    I am so excited for the season! I have a dwindling pantry supply and shelves of empty jars waiting to be filled. I need to heed your advice more about learning from the mistakes and freeing up shelf space.

    As for tools: love them all, but lately it seems that cheesecloth is what I frequently reach for. I try to pick some up every couple of grocery runs just so I won’t run out.

  36. Rachel Tayse

    I always share with newbie canners that saving the jar boxes is a great way to store your preserves. It isn’t as pretty as open shelves, but boxes protect the jars from light which can degrade color.

  37. Zora Margolis

    After many years of laboriously pitted batches of sour cherry preserves that ended up being watery despite the use of pectin, I finally came up with a method that works. Now I get wonderfully chunky, intensely flavored cherry preserves. No more pancake syrup! Here’s how I do it: I pit all of the cherries then chop them in a wooden salad bowl with a mezzaluna (curve-bladed chopping knife). The chopped cherries and their juices are transferred to a strainer set over a cooking pot, and the cherries are pressed to extract more juice. The solids are set aside, and the cherry juice is boiled until reduced by half. The solids are added back, the total volume measured and then the appropriate amount of sugar is added. (I tend to use less sugar than many recipes call for.) After the jam has cooked, I add a tiny amount of almond extract to the pot, which intensifies the cherry flavor.

  38. Linda Hoppa

    Although Spring initiates plans to restock the larder, canning season for me is year round. In February I found a great buy on Meyer’s Lemons — Bought a large supply and canned whole lemons for Greek Lemon Chicken plus several quarts of lemon squash (lemonade base) to use this Summer. I also love to make soup throughout the winter months and make enough to can a few jars to have on hand anytime we just want soup and salad or with a sandwich. So easy to just open a can of homemade soup.

  39. Annbernard

    Love my 2 dozen bar towels stacked on my counter, bought at the restaurant supply store, instead of paper towels! Have used 2 rolls of paper towels in 6 months, a definite step forward.

  40. Annie Fenn

    Favorite tool: my digital scale, which reads in grams and ounces
    Favorite tip: use less sugar than you think you’ll need

    PS Cathy: my mother-in-law gave me dozens of the original blue Ball jars (with the screw top metal lid) back when I was 25, in medical school, and never thought I would ever get into canning. Now they are some of my favorite jars for storing lentils, nuts, granola, and rice. It’s fun to see that Ball is bringing back the old-school jars.

  41. Angelique Carlson

    The jar lifter is still my favorite, no more jars slipping back into the water and splashing water back onto my hands, hooray!

  42. Darren

    Our fave tool is the inherited pressure cooker from my in-laws. Tip? Grow veggies with canning in mind. The salsa garden is just the beginning!

  43. Albanyish Dana

    One of my favorite tools for making nice thick jams is my potato masher – peach jam, strawberry jam, lots of ways to use the masher to break up the fruit just enough if you like big chunks, but not solid pieces, of fruit in your jam.

  44. Stephanie

    Love my canning funnel. It belonged to my great-grandmother, so now that I am starting my canning adventure it is like she is here holding my hand through the process.

  45. Heidi Nielsen

    My favorite is the canning funnel. I remember using it as a kids when my mom would can HUNDREDS of quarts of food for our family of 9. Now I am teaching my 5 and 6 year old the art. The canning funnel makes it so easy for little hands to get the food exactly where it should go without any mess on the jar.

  46. Jan

    The jar lifter has to be my favorite tool. I could fill without funnel if I had to, but I am not sure I could get all those jars out safely with out the jar lifter.

  47. Sasha

    My favorite tool is my stainless steel jar funnel. I keep the funnel handy because I use jars in my refrigerator for leftovers and to store bulk purchases. The stainless steel is easier to clean than the plastic.

  48. Scott JOhnston

    I also went through my supplies and look at any old jars of canning that are past their prime. I had 6 jars of applesause from 2006 that I emptied and are ready to be reused. In addition I also cleaned my dishwasher and sprayed a 10% bleach solution around the seal and srubbed everything to make sure that when i used the santitizer setting there was not alot of junk in there to begin with.

  49. Suzanne Settle

    My favorite tool is my antique jelly strainer. I LOVE raspberry & blackberry jam but not the seeds.

  50. Bonnie Faville

    I love my jar funnel. Too many years trying to pour and wipe them clean. No More!! I really want to try some of the Tattler lids too.

  51. beth

    make sure you’re realistic about how much you can can, and how quickly. i’ve certainly been guilty of over-buying at the farmer’s market, and not calculating how much time it will take to can things up before they spoil.

  52. Sara C

    I love adding seeds of vanilla beans to jams. It just gives all jam a warm flavor! I also make sure that I have several bands and lids on hand because you never know when you’ll say “it’s time to can” and you’ll want to have the supplies on hand! Those blue jars are beautiful 😉

  53. Beth

    My favorite “tool” is the rest of the family. Cheap “slave” labor for peeling, mashing, pitting, chopping. A small bribe – homemade pizza usually works – and I get extra hands for the tedious parts.

  54. barbara n

    I love both my canning funnel and canning rack – makes the job so much easier and neater

  55. A Canadian Foodie

    Though I am in Canada, I would have the prize, should I win, sent to my daughter in the US as she has just married and is beginning the preservation process in all senses of the word! 😉 I love the magnetic lid lifter. I also have a space right outside my kitchen door that I call my kitchen garden where I grow rosemary, thyme, mint, cilantro, flat leaf parsley, and tarragon. There is a huge sour cherry tree beside it that I can pick from my deck. My basil grows outside my front door in the full sun. Love how fruitful my urban garden is… I grow raspberries, Saskatoons, haskaps, red and black currants, wild cherries, so many tomatoes, lettuces, root vegetables, peas, beans and squash that I have enough for our family for the year, and more, in many cases!
    PS Cheesepalooza has been an incredible ride! Have learned to make so many cheeses. The success has been unbelievably motivating!

  56. Dawn

    I like to save things that can be processed one day and then either canned the next or frozen for a lighter schedule time. I think it keeps it more fun to break up the big jobs. For instance, we harvested 4 5-gallon buckets of chokecherries last fall. I froze those over the winter and this week will be juicing them and putting them up in 3 different recipes-jelly, syrup, and a sweet and sour sauce.

  57. bunkie

    My favorite tool is also the magnetic lifting thingy. MMMMM…homemade canned strawberry jam!

  58. Bethesda Kitchen Gardener

    I love kid-oriented name tags from office supply stores to label jars. Bright and colorful, really stay on. They only work for half pint and larger jars though.

  59. kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

    I work in a thrift shop, and scored a bunch of small canning jars just a few weeks ago. I also picked up my canning pot at a thrift store (complete with rack). I’m hoping to find a pressure cooker one of these days . . .
    Because I blog about it, I find taking photos to be a decent substitute for writing down a good canning journal.
    And failures? Turn them into saves! I pressure canned a too-runny spaghetti sauce last fall, didn’t cook it down enough, but it can be saved–it’s great to bake uncooked pasta in the runny sauce.
    Off to change the battery on my scale–great tips–thanks, Cathy!

  60. Lisa Lyon

    I think the magnetic lid lifter is tremendously helpful and I always make sure I have lots of clean dish towels available!

  61. Cheryl Tyiska

    I have been using older (possibly chipped?) quart jars as planters to grow some indoor herbs over the winter. Looks lovely with colored vase stones in the bottom of the jar.

  62. Heidi Pie Aronson

    I’ve learned that if I’ve got just a little bit of perfect fruit, it’s still worth it to make a little bit of perfect jam. It takes a fraction of the time to do, and you can usually get away with using your normal pots and pans instead of the canning stuff. My best jam from 2011 was a cherry lime rickey: About 2 cups of cherries in a skillet turned into three 4 oz. jars that I boiled in a saucepan. They made my friend and me very happy!

  63. Lisa Whitley

    I love my Grandmother’s pot and funnel for canning tomatoes just like she did…but a tip? I’d have to say when storing your empty jars, make sure you put the lids and rings on them…then next year they are much easier to clean!

  64. Jess

    You got it! Don’t give up precious shelf space for something you won’t consume. I still have jars lingering from years ago when I was feeling feisty. Since then, simple has been the name of the game. Sticking with the basics we use over and over and over again. Loved this post!

  65. KK

    I took one of your canning classes two years ago and this is the first year I’ve got a little garden to employ your teachings. I am so excited I can barely stand it! Tomatoes – check! strawberries and tons of herbs- check! cucumbers – check! I’m good to go. I’ll have to experiment this year to get some tips to leave next year. What I lack in skill, I’ll make up for with enthusiasm!

  66. jennifer selvin

    I told myself I wasn’t going to enter this, and then I saw those beautiful blue jars…

    Favorite tool–my copper preserve pan. It was extravagant but the jams look so beautiful as they cook!

  67. Linda

    Planning is critical – especially when your adult children make requests. Last year I had 5 jars of homemade ketchup left. Checked with kids and sisters and no one needed any. Guess what?? They all wanted a jar for Christmas so I’m OUT!! When it’s special, make more than enough!!!

  68. Helen Gillis

    I love scouring my vintage cookbooks for interesting pickle or preserve recipes. My two favorite finds are a curry pickle that is similar to a bread and butter, the second is a fig and rhubarb marmalade. Both are fantastic, my extended family demands them now!

    • Karen

      I’m curious about fig and rhubarb marmalade, since in my area they aren’t ripe at the same time. Do you freeze rhubarb and save it for fig season?

      • Julie E

        Karen-I’ve never made fig & rhubarb marmalade though it sounds so yummy, but I have frozen rhubarb for many years and used it later for mixed jams & other recipes and it has worked just fine.

  69. Melissa

    I LOVE my immersion blender – the ideal way to make healthy, hearty carrot and tomato soups! Nothing beats popping open of homemade tomato soup mid winter and tasting summer all over again! Quarts of delicious soup make great gifts for someone sick too!

  70. pattiv02

    We have a beautiful pomegranate tree given to us from a now 90-year-old family friend. I can pomegranate jelly and give it as Christmas gifts. This year I want to pickle okra, so I have been researching that. My canning supplies were my mother’s, so I think of her when I use them.

  71. Cindy G

    My tip and a reminder for me – start small with a new recipe; what sounds good in the book may not end up that way. Lesson learned – hours spent peeling garlic for a conserve that is just so darned bad I have yet to bring myself to open and toss the remaining jars in the double batch that I did….

  72. Sheli

    I’m still enjoying the double batch of 4-berry preserves I made last summer, and I’m already planning some of the things to do with this year’s finds at the farmer’s market.

  73. Mada Beyrent

    I love canning my husband helps me tremendosly we enjoy all we can and i freeze some also.I can’t wait for the farmers market to open soon

  74. paul

    My favorite tip to canning is to start. Also, encouraging my girlfriend who is the real canner which would include gifting her these beautiful blue jars.

  75. Sue

    I couldn’t do without my magnetic lid lifter. I had improvised a jar lifter and canning funnel, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the lids out of the hot water without burning myself.

  76. Renee

    I love saving canning jars from the recycling bin (provided they are in usable shape) I don’t use the salvaged jars for pressure canning though, only bwb. I also love planning the garden with certain canning recipes in mind.

  77. lissa rice

    I just found out that once filled, turning the jars upside down will better guarantee a seal. Can’t wait for summer tomatoes, just came to the end of last years.

  78. Tom Warnock

    Canning season always brings back wonderful memories of summers spent with my aunt and uncle on a remote ranch in Oregon. it was 4 hours to the nearest town with over 5000 people so huge gardens were a means of survival. Huge gardens meant canning and canning and canning. Fruits, pickled vegetables, even mince meat all canned and then stored in the storm cellar. I cherish those memories!

  79. lissa rice

    …and tomato jam. I wasn’t sure if I liked the recipe when I made it, but boy was it delicious in February.

  80. DM

    My favorite canning tool is also my husband . . . At 6’6”, he has a superior view when placing/removing the jars . . . That, and the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook’s tip to dry’oven sterilize lids and jars placed on a sheet pan in a 250 degree oven for a minimum of 30 minutes . . . No more scalding issues!!

  81. Patty

    I love my stainless steel pot with pour lips on either side. It makes filling the jars a dream. Thank you Wolfgang Puck.

  82. Deb

    Here in Virginia Beach it’s already the beginning of strawberry season and in one week I’ve picked 22 pounds. I always make strawberry jam for my husband because it’s his favorite but last year I found a recipe for strawberry margarita…complete with tequila, gran mariner and lime juice. Absolutely wonderful on cheesecake or a cracker with cream cheese. Here’s to another season of canning.

  83. Susan carroll-McGlumphy

    My favorite canning tool is my five year old grand daughter Olivia. She has helped me since she was three yrs. old,whenever I am handling hot jars and I need something quick. Olivia helps to smash the fruit, core strawberries, anything that is not of any danger. I am excited to start the new season with her by my side. Another gift from me to her that will last a lifetime, canning freshness in a jar.

  84. Thriftyredhead

    My two canning tips are using a large cookie sheet or cafeteria tray to set the hot jars on while filling. It gives me extra space to lay the funnel and spoons and other items needed to fill the jars. Clean up is then easier. Just carry all items to the sink. 2nd one is agreeing with others to only can what you absolutely like and will use. Do not give up precious shelf space for unwanted s.

  85. Christina Peterson

    I am ready for canning fresh strawberries! My fav tool is the jar lifter, essential for not scalding hands!

  86. Diana @ SAHMonomics

    My best canning tip is to buy new canning lid tops each time. I took a canning class, and the teacher told us that, for all the work you’ll put into prepping food and canning it, the last thing you want to do is loose all your hard work to a bad seal on a reused lid. I write about saving time and money, and I am all about reusing items when I can, but I would be pretty upset with myself for the wasted time, money, and effort reusing a lid with a bad seal.
    Thanks so much for the opportunity at the give-away! Good luck to everyone!

  87. Deborah

    Having “instant hot water” dispenser in my new kitchen has been fabulous! Makes having hot water quick and easy. Comes to a boil quickly.

    • Julie E

      Deborah- I agree with you on the “instant” hot water. I’ve had mine for 7 years now, I don’t think I could function in the kitchen without it.

  88. Leslie D

    All the buds are swelling with the rain we’ve had! Hopefully a good omen. Fingers crossed!

  89. Ferol

    My tip? Give yourself plenty of time! To gather your supplies, your basic ingredients, and the best possible fruits and veggies. Also, gather friends & family to help, but only if they want to!

  90. theresea

    I love to can. My favorites are the jars and fabric tops. Different size jars and different styles. I just love them all. As for the fabric tops I love to have fun bees on honey and ants on jams.

  91. Elaine

    I love my ancient Foley Food Mills. I inherited a large one and picked up a smaller size at a yard sale. A tried and true tool.

  92. Karen

    I love the jar lifter! I started canning again last year, after not having canned for many years. I tried lifting jars with tongs and that was a big mess! Lots of blueberry stains on pot holders from rescuing jars as I lifted them unsteadily.

  93. Gayle Erwin

    My favorite too is the my lid lifter. I would never get them out before I got one.

  94. Kat Coffin

    Favorite tools – my gran’s lifter and funnel. Thought I would never be a canner, but here I am!
    A portable stainless steel table gives a surface that is easy to clean and takes abuse of hot pans.

  95. Sarita

    I haven’t ever canned before, but I’m planning to start this month… and what beautiful jars to start with! I think I’ll be doing a mandarin whiskey marmalade first.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win! 🙂

  96. Carolyne

    I love my funnels……a true collection now. From the old dented aluminum to my favorite; the lovely glass one that shows all that deliciousness as it’s poured into the jar.

  97. Margot C

    My grandmother would put a few basil leaves in with SOME of her canned tomatoes and segregate those for just making Italian dishes.

  98. Tess Geer

    For safety reasons,I dont use even the smallest bit of oil when canning. When I can a batch of marinara sauce, I disolve a chicken bullion cube in one cup of hot water which I then use to soften my garlic and onions prior to adding my tomatoes and herbs. It really brings out the favor and its safe! I also freeze fresh basil in ice. It retains all its flavor, and I always have “fresh” basil on hand when I need it!

  99. Stacy Sprouse

    My canning funnel is my best tool to use along with the food mill I inherited from my great aunt. I am looking forward to canning some Thai sauces this year to make sure that we eat “clean” foods.

  100. Erin

    I think the trick is it keep everything really clean. I also love the tattler reusable canning lids!

  101. josie d

    I have started macerating my fruit and boiling down the juice only… VERY GOOD!

  102. Angela Watts

    My favorite tool is definitely my fancy jar lifter from Ball. The one with hinges so it holds nice and tight. Got it on clearance for under $3. I would have bought two if I had seen them.

  103. Mary Hewitt

    I am relatively new to canning but with the addition of a new little guy to our family this summer, I really want to have some homegrown, homemade, jars of goodness around the house. I love our folding card table, as we dont have excess counter space. I set my entire station up right next to the stove so I have optimal space for EVERYTHING. I dont feel like Im looking for specific canning equipment when I need to be focusing on the task at hand. Have found it very helpful :)))

  104. Lonnie Sussman

    My favorite tip about canning is to make the time to slow down and appreciate the colors, smells and tastes of the food. I love the sense of connection to the berries, vegetables and herbs you picked or grew. While it’s great to make the tried and true recipes, it is also fun to try something new. Your fig, lemon and thyme jam is amazing.

  105. Dawnmarie

    I love my funnel and don’t see how I could can without it. My best tip is to set everything out before you start (measure all your ingredients, line them up in order, and any tools you’ll need).

  106. Amy L

    I prep all ingredients and get out all of my canning equipment before getting started. A favorite tool is a pair of long-handled tongs for re-setting jars that tip over while loading the canner. This has kept my hands from getting burned many times.

  107. Jeffrey

    My best tip is to have lots of help and set aside the better part of a day, that way you don’t rush it.

  108. sharron orcutt

    my favorite canning tool is all the wonderful blogs i’ve found with great ideas to twist recipes for different and exciting flavors. my son wants to know what happened to making regular strawberry jam lol. i also love to get dusty at second hand stores looking for vintage, odd shaped jars for storage

  109. Julie E

    My favorite tool is a adhere to this saying: “Plan your work, then work your plan”. This time of year I plan out what I need to plant & how much, what I need to buy & how much and what I need to can & how much. This has helped me stay organized and on top of things from spring to fall.

  110. beejay

    My favorite tool is my grandmother’s old Chinoise. I’d rather use it than a hand blender unless I’m doing a huge volume of stuff – crush and strain all in one tool!

    And what a great idea this is. I don’t can very regularly and am embarrassed to admit that I don’t check my equipment the way I should. Thanks for the checklist.

  111. Lynn

    A favorite recent tool is a heat resistant large spatula. It’s great for feeling the bottom of the canning pot while making jam. Getting to the point where just by feel, I can tell if the jam is done. Love it!

  112. Susan Pickering

    Always looking for recipes with fruits and Jalapeno’s…. trial and error with the correct amount of pectin, one day I will get it just right the first time.

  113. Ericka K

    Read every recipe once through before you begin. Have everything out and ready to go so they are handy when the moment is right. Have FUN!

  114. Michele Doyle

    My favorite canning tool is the immersion blender. We use it for tomato sauce, ketchup, taco sauce and also for pulping down fruit for jams. It allows for a smooth consistency, can be used in the pot we’re heating up and is super easy to clean.

  115. Laura DiStefano

    Cherry pitter! Last summer we picked 40 lbs. of cherries and there’s no way we would have gotten through them without it. Might upgrade this year to a larger one.

  116. Candace- Candace Cooks

    I can’t decide if I love the dishwasher for sterilizing, the jar lifter or funnel more. They all make canning so much easier. I love those blue jars! Heck, I love all jars, even when I’m not canning. I have issues 🙂

  117. LynnCB

    Looks like an amazing recipe! I can’t wait to try it.
    My favorite device is my handheld blender. I used it yesterday to can blackberry jam, apple sauce, and pear puree!

  118. Chris

    I really love our Ball brand collapsible funnel. It works great to fill jars and then collapses for easy storage.

  119. rachel

    Make enough that you can share some as Christmas gifts! Never too early to think ahead.

  120. Karen

    My favorite tool is my canning funnel – it makes it so much quicker, easier and cleaner to fill the jars.

  121. Susan

    Evaluating what canned foods were most popular prior to buying or starting seeds has been really helpful to me. For instance, last fall I had lots of jalapeno peppers, decided to pickle some for the first time, and made one batch of 8 pints. We could have used twice that, so have started extra jalapeno seeds this year.

  122. evie

    I always add lots of whole , peeled garlic to my pickeled asparagus. Three to six big cloves per qt. Also, 1 Tbsp of red pepper flakes along with the dill and peppercorns.

  123. Earen Hummel

    My favorite tool is a good, creative canning cookbook. I love to try new recipes. My favorite so far is cardamom plum jam.

  124. Katie Bell

    Hi Mrs. Wheelbarrow! I now save a ton of time by washing all my tools beforehand in the dishwasher. I used to boil everything. Last season was the first time I had all the jars closed up correctly. (I’m new and this, and I might have had some bad luck)

    Thanks for all the great ideas and for the attention you show your readers!

  125. Laura

    Love making your pickled asparagus, a billion types of cucumber pickles, and pickled okra… all as garnishes for bloody marys. Couldn’t do it without my big, deep steamer pot and canning tongs.

  126. maureen

    i love stacks of clean dishtowels & my half sheet pans, keeps the counters clean & lets me easily move batches of jars around my counter-challenged kitchen.

  127. Angela Napolitano

    I love pretty jars for canning. Jams, mustards, etc look so pretty as gifts in these jars. I also could not do without my jar lifter!

  128. tory cross

    my best canning tip is to do with it others. Have your kids, family, friends, neighbors… whoever more help in the kitchen then better!

  129. carrie s

    wipe your rims with vinegar to cut the salt and oils when placing on your lids

  130. Gayle

    I’m still pretty new in preserving land but I am madly in love with my Kuhn Rikon 4th Burner Multi-Pot thingy, with its tall skinnyness and its lift-out basket (with wee feet on the bottom!). It’s awesome for small batches (and I’m strictly a small-batch girl so far) and had plenty of other uses so it’s not a canning uni-tasker — clutch when storage space is limited. All that and I paid well under $40 for it.

  131. Katie C.

    Last summer was the first time that I ever canned anything – specifically tomatoes. It was such a kick! I would say that *one* of my favorite canning tools is my cutting board with the channel around the edge. It really helps trap the extra tomato juice instead of having it run all over the counter and down my front! I still ended up with a lot of tomato on myself but it would have been worse.

  132. Susan I.

    Don’t give up! I think canning and preserving is practicing good stewardship. Also, love those jams in the middle of winter!

  133. Melody Meek

    This year, I loved my big stainless steel pot (IKEA’s Favorit stock pot). It’s a solid 1/8″ thick, and works with tomatoes. Life changing.

    I also ended up freezing several bags of tomatoes I couldn’t get to in summer, then made tomato soup in the middle of January, just when you crave a bit of summer.

    The squeezo is also hard to beat for applesauce and tomatoes. Not sure how I’d manage without it.

  134. Lindsay

    So excited to can this summer. I’m almost out of everything i made last year

  135. Jeanne D-B

    I have found love in using small raised garden beds for herbs and flowers for canning. Weeding is quick and effortless! Perfect for busy women who would rather be canning in the kitchen than weeding a garden!

  136. Pam Whitman

    Re: Strawberry, mint, peppercorn recipe
    2nd step mentions butter? I found the recipe on one of your other posts minus mention of butter and going with that. I am so excited about this. Thanks again. I love your blog!!

  137. maxie

    Just my pet peeve, but when testing your thermometer, please adjust for altitude. Water boils at 208/209°F at my house. I forget where I saw a chart for this, but it was probably either the U of GA Extension site for food preservation or maybe USDA.

    • maxie

      Ach! I just saw my error–water boils at around 216°F here. I have no idea where I got the other numbers!?!

  138. Sandra

    Hi there,
    I’m rather new to the canning and preserving thing (only got started when I found out last autumn I had a peachtree on the propety and just HAD TO do something with the instant overproduction of this HUGe treat! What a succes..) and find myself getting ‘greedy’ to try presesrve more and more. So far I’ve only re-used commercial jars with ‘popping lids’ that have seemed to work well. Filled them with the warm product, put the lids on and wait for the popping to let met know it worked.
    In these posts I find the remarks ‘ process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes’. Is this just a different way of achieving the same thing, has it advantages to what I’ve been doing so far? Any input much appreciated.


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