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Home Canning

I have noticed a resurgence in interest in home canning this summer. A local hardware store says supplies are flying off the shelves. I get a number of younger customers looking for canning goods and info in the shop. This week I am going to help 2 friends learn to can tomatoes. Today I got my stuff out and made 4 little (jam sized) jars of hot dilly beans with haricot verts. I may do more later in the week. It is such a quick and easy thing to do and they make great Christmas gifts.

I had kind of just not done much of it in the past few years. What are you putting up? Jams, jellies, preserves, pickles, tomatoes etc. Do you have any interest? Are you an old hand at it or a newbie?

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  1. newbie here, this is my second summer of canning. I've made (knock wood) everything i've tried with success! My favorite was the blueberry preserve I made last year - the first thing I ever canned and it was so exciting that it really worked. This year I frooze a lot of berries and will make more in the fall. I made cherry jam with pectin this year and freezer peach jam, but so far I much prefer the blueberry which had no pectin, just berries and sugar...

    I've also had luck with applesauce and sliced apples in syrup - makes a great crumble and so easy! This past week I just put up 12 pints of sliced peaches - they look gorgeous and can't wait till winter to crack open a jar and hopefull give some away as gifts...

    I find this a fun adventure, but a bit of a time comitment, probably because I'm so new and afraid of missing a step...I forgot to take the bubbles out of the cherry jam, but looks like it did not cause any problems...

    1. I'm a newbie at doing it myself, but I grew up assisting Mom, her sisters, and my grandmother in canning all sorts of stuff. A few years ago I was house sitting for Mom and her huge garden. After eating, blanching and freezing more green beans than I could stomach I decided to try canning since Mom has all the supplies. They turned out great.

      Since then I've canned spicy bread and butter pickles, and corn relish. I'm thinking I'll try something else for Christmas presents this year, but not sure what ... I missed strawberry season, so no attempting jam this year. I might try apple butter.. Or mushrooms.

      1. This is my second year canning, and I've had so much fun with it! Last year I canned probably about 20 pounds total of plum tomatoes, and this year I'm going to do more, because they were so useful and fun and easy to do, once I got the hang of it. I made fig jam today, blackberry jam last weekend and a few weeks ago (my favorite), and apricot and apricot/cherry jam earlier this summer. Last year I made raspberry jam, which was a hit, so I will make that again soon. My mom's neighbors have an overgrown quince tree, so I might make some quince preserves soon (once I figure out what you do with them once they're made into preserves), and I've been intrigued by the descriptions of tomato jam in some other threads, so I might try that out. So far I've only done jam and whole tomatoes (and I made some pearsauce in the fall), but I want to try pickling too, I just need to decide what. I ate my jam all winter long, and gave lots of little (4 oz) jars of it away as Christmas presents, so I've made sure to make some small jars again.

        6 Replies
        1. re: JasmineG

          quinces are lovely - like a tropically scented apple. Last season I canned some quince butter, and quinces in syrup. The quinces in syrup were great in apple pies, on top of upside down cakes, and several people I gave jars to as gifts drained and tossed the quinces in salads.

          1. re: Gooseberry

            Thanks for the quince recommendations! Do you have a recipe for quince butter?

            1. re: JasmineG

              Not really. Basically follow the recipe for apple butter, but recognizing that quinces are a lot harder than apples, so will require more water and cooking time to soften. Chopping them smaller than you would apples helps. Then puree and proceed as with apple sauce to make butter.

              Otherwise, if you're going to be poaching them in syrup, I'd simply poach some extra, and then puree some poached slices and proceed from there, adding less sugar than you normally would.

          2. re: JasmineG

            Quince is also wonderful in applesauce. I've done it with Gravensteins and a mixture of cider-type apples and it's always a hit. It's amazing warmed up-- it's so fragrant. I made gifts of it and encouraged people to have it alongside of a pork roast. I'm trying to source quince this fall just for that purpose.

            The only problem is cutting the darn things up-- they are SO dense!

            1. re: Vetter

              I find the quinces hard to work with, too. I peel them with a vegetable peeler, then cut them into rounds with a big cleaver. If I am doing poached quince pieces, I halve the rounds and remove the woody core/seedy area with a round cookie cutter. It's a bit of a nuisance, but as you say, so delicious.

            2. re: JasmineG

              Quince paste is great on a cheese plate!

            3. I started teaching myself last year too. I did strawberry jam, lemon curd and chicken stock last year, and am planning on doing a big batch of spaghetti sauce with meat. Maybe a few pints of chicken stock, too, to supplement the quarts.

              1. I am a newbie at home canning, but I have a date next week with some cherry peppers, and have already found a great source of some beautiful peppers! I am looking forward to pickled cherry peppers.

                In the past I have been intimidated by the process, and have only done refrigerated products, or freezer jams.

                I do have a silly question (please remember- newbie here!). I am intrigued by the thought of putting up home-made tomato sauce. I once received a gift of the most heavenly tomato sauce from an Italian grandmother, and have been dreaming of canning my own sauce. But from what I can gather from my book of preserving, thisis a low-acid product, and to be safe, I must do something called "pressure-canning" if I want to make it safe to store in the cupboard. Is this true? It certainly sounds like sage advice, but I am completely intimidated by the concept of pressure-canning!

                6 Replies
                1. re: moh

                  Pressure canning involves a big pressure cooker. :) I tried it, and succeeded as a completely newbie. I plan to can some tomato sauce as soon as it cools off. The thought of having the canner going for 90 mins right now is depressing.

                  1. re: moh

                    Homemade tomato sauce can be canned in a water bath, you just need to have a tested recipe with enough acid in it.

                    1. re: JasmineG

                      I must disagree. Modern tomatoes do not have enought acid the be safe in a water bath. When I was growing up we canned a lot of tomatoes and tomato juice, etc. using hot water bath, but now USDA recommends pressure cooking.

                      1. re: pepperqueen

                        Or add acid such as lemon juice or citric acid.

                        1. re: pepperqueen

                          That's not true, USDA and Ball both say that you can can tomatoes in a water bath, as long as you add a little acid to the jars.

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            According to my 2008 ed. of Ball, you can safely water bath tomatoes, but you generally have to boil pint jars for 65 mins, plus add a little lemon juice. The pressure canning doesn't require lem juice, and you can safely can in only 30 mins for a pint (depending on the recipe, of course).

                            This summer, I've pressure canned crushed tomatoes, basil marinara, and plain pasta sauce- it's my first try with the pressure canner, and I'm finding it much less intimidating than I expected.

                    2. Isn't it great that there is a resurgence of interest in canning? I am an oldtimer myself. Been doing it for more years than I care to admit. I make lots of stuff- dilly beans, jams-(strawberry, raspberry, raspberry plum, cran raspberry, mint jelly), applesauce, Chinese Duck Sauce, pickled peach relish, peaches in syrup, hamburger and hot dog relishes, two kinds of BBQ sauce, watermelon rind pickles, chili sauce, piperade, caponata and cranberry sauce and chutneys. Since I have a pressure canner I also make a variety of tomato based pasta sauces- marinara, tomato porcini, tomato chipotle, Sausage & mushroom , Spaghetti Sauce and Syracuse Sauce-eggplant, tomatoes and olives. I give away cases of canned goods to my family as Christmas presents. It is also great to have what you like, prepared how you like it in a jar on the shelf.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                        I'm about to embark on making my baby's food and canning it in my pressure cooker. I'm going to start with plain organic carrots/sweett potatoes, bananas, essentially emulating what is sold. Over time, I'll start adding to it.

                        Is there a reference book for such an activity, or have any of you done that?

                        Of course, a natural extension to that will be to can for the whole family.

                        1. re: rudeboy

                          The two books that were recommended to me when I started canning are:

                          The Ball Blue Book

                          Putting Food By

                          Between the two of them you have all the information needed for both water bath and pressure canning. Good luck.

                          1. re: rudeboy

                            well, slightly off topic for canning... but I got a lot of great recipes for baby food from


                            I froze most of it... and used these


                            they are kind of spendy, but re-usable... and very convenient. After my daughter started eating more of a variety of food, I just froze it in ice cube trays and stored it in ziploc bags... now she's firmly on solids... but it was fun and rewarding while it lasted.

                            1. re: rudeboy

                              I have read and been told that it is not a great idea to feed babies home canned food. Frozen, yes. Canned, no. Their immune systems are still too young to be able to fight off anything that might end up lurking in homecanned food. Also, there aren't many tested recipes for purees. I get my canning info from the following website (considered one of the leading sources of expertise on home food preservation) and I directly emailed them to ask about this very question.


                              1. re: Jen76

                                ummm, not to be contradictory but then my mother and her sister and well, when it comes down to it, all my grandparents, ought to be dead or something. My family was made up of farmers way back and all they had was home canned food. And there were LOTS of them because that was the day of big families. The only young death [why yes, I am the family geneology person] was Cousin Hila way back in the early 1900s but that was a hunting accident involving falling on his gun while getting out of the boat while duck hunting. Come to think of it, my grandmother canned well into her 70s and both my cousins ate Sunday dinner including lots of canned soup at her house every week and yet they lived [which for a variety of reasons is well, sort of too bad.....].

                                I think the real key is to know your limits as a beginning canner and not try to can tricky stuff like meat or soup or other non acid things [plain green beans vs pickles] without a good teacher right next to you.

                                Myself, I do jam and fruit. I have done tomatoes but I took two classes to learn how to do them--one from the local ag department and one in connection with Slow Food. I have tried kosher dills and I'm hoping to do saurkraut this year. But I don't can anything that requires a pressure cooker and unless I could find a real experienced canning person, I doubt I ever will.

                          2. I just canned a dozen pints of fresh peaches....my 2nd year doing so. Last year was my introduction to canning--my MIL gave me an old copy of the Ball Blue Book, which was pretty helpful.

                            I also canned spaghetti sauce using just a water bath.....pretty sure the Ball Blue Book said it was OK. At any rate, I didn't die yet from eating it! I plan to do the same this year IF my tomatoes get ripe.

                            Next year, I want to try jams and jellies....they're so beautiful in their little jars!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Petrichor

                              I also have survived a delicious winter of eating jarred sauce. Although apparently I shouldn't have added olive oil to the top. I did it because I thought it would keep oxygen out. Whoops.

                            2. I used to help my grandma when I was a little kid... I really only remember making apple butter. But I've got two crates of peaches and a crate of pears sitting in my kitchen (and an un-used ball blue book & canning kit... and assorted jars, etc.)

                              so my first foray in to the canning world will be this week! yippee!

                              I just got done washing everything... and realizing I need pectin, some oranges and some different sized lids. the ball blue book seems to lay it all out pretty clearly... mild adjustment in time in the water bath for high altitude... and I'll be ready to go.

                              I hadn't even thought about making pickled green beans.. I like the hot and spicy ones. anyone have a favorite recipe?

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: withalonge

                                I like making the mustard beans. They are good as pickles and also, really yummy used as dressing for a potato salad.

                                1. re: withalonge

                                  my pear butter was mostly successful, but I have a question... it is really, really, really sweet. tastes fine if you just use a little... or say, thin it down and put it on vanilla ice cream... but straight it is just tooth achingly sweet.

                                  first question.. will the sweetness "fade" with time?

                                  second question... is the full quantity of sugar necessary? or can you add say half the sugar the recipe calls for and then more to taste? the pears I used were very ripe and very sweet on their own.

                                  thanks in advance!

                                  1. re: withalonge

                                    We are using much less sugar than the several pear butter recipes we consulted. When we make the jelly though, we willl follow the Certo or Sure-Gel recipe faithfully.

                                    1. re: withalonge

                                      I just made pear butter tonight. I used the 'no sugar needed pectin' but the recipe still called for a lot of sugar. I know it's sweet but I use it as a condiment with ham or pork. The recipe I have, uses a crockpot and I slow cook the pear puree with sugar all day and it carmelizes nicely. I always use my pear butter with meat rather than on toast or with ice cream. Never thought of it actually.

                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                        ah, never thought about using it on meat... but will try for sure now
                                        and the crock pot... good idea (because it took 2+ hrs of stirring to cook mine up. I will definitely have to try that with some apple butter this fall.

                                        I didn't use any pectin in my recipe.. but added OJ for acid.

                                        i'm assuming it is the natural pectin in the fruit (depending on type and/or added pectin) and the carmelized sugar that gives the resulting butter its body??

                                        my next project is peach jam... mmmm... then I might try putting up some pickled green beans.

                                        1. re: withalonge

                                          Make mustard beans! They are so yummy. And I add a jar to some roasted or boiled chopped potatoes for an easy and fat-free potato salad.

                                          1. re: sarah galvin

                                            do you have a favorite recipe? I love, love, love a good mustard-ey potatoe salad... and I would think it would be great with beans too.

                                            1. re: withalonge

                                              Mustard Beans from Bernardin

                                              11 cups prepared green or yellow beans
                                              1 large sweet red pepper, finely chopped

                                              3 c granulated sugar
                                              1/2 c all purpose flour
                                              1/4 c dry mustard
                                              1/4 c pickling salt
                                              1T ground ginger
                                              1t ground turmeric
                                              2 1/2 c white vinegar
                                              1/2 c water
                                              4 c chopped onion

                                              - prepare jars and lids
                                              - wash and tirm beans. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.
                                              - Combne sauce ingredients in large stainless steel saucepan; cook until thickened. Add prepared beans and red pepper; return to a boil, stirring constantly.
                                              - Fill jars and heat process
                                              500 ml jars for 15 minutes up to 1,000 ft altitude. Check recommendations for high altitude from Bernardin or Ball

                                      2. re: withalonge

                                        I add sugar to my pear butter to taste, when they are mostly cooked down. It's the acid you need for safety, not sugar. Every batch I do uses a slightly different amount of sugar, and they all come out dandy.

                                        By the way, epicurious has a great pear butter jumping off point. I think I combined two recipes on there, and now make a pear butter with riesling, lemon juice, brown sugar to taste, plenty of vanilla bean, and cardamom. I get more requests for it than any jam I make.

                                        1. re: withalonge

                                          Withalonge, with your pear butter consider putting a whole lemon through the grinder or processor per 4 or 5 pounds of pears. Also I add some candied ginger, grind it up too. It picks up the bland sweetness of the pears.

                                      3. We are Newbies in North Carolina with too many pears. We bought a peeler/corer/slicer from Linens-n-Things. http://www.lnt.com/product/index.jsp?...
                                        We're putting the biggest, prettiest pears through it, cooking gently, then freezing to make pies and COBBLER!

                                        The rest of the pears we cut off stem and blossom ends then quarter. Immerse immediately into pot of water with Tb of lemon juice. Cook till tender and process through food mill to make pearsauce. We do reuse the liquor, and now have some concentrated and will make jelly.

                                        The pearsauce is used in Pear Honey, or cooked in vented crock pot to make pear butter. The ginger cardamon butter was quite tasty, and the cinnamon is very good. All three are jarred and processed in borrowed canner/rack.

                                        Without the food mill we would have gotten so sick of peeling and coring pears that we would have given most away. With the mill we will give away jars of homegrown homemade goodness.

                                        1. I've been canning since about eight years ago when we moved to Eastern Washington and started planting a garden every year. We also have access to inexpensive fruit from all the orchards around us. Dill pickles, tomato puree, salsa, pickled beets and green beans are staples for us every year. This year we've had a plethora of jalapeno peppers so I put by some chutney that used green tomatoes (we have had lots of those too), peppers, sugar, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, cilantro and mint. It's like jalapeno jelly, but a little more dressed up. I've also done apple butter, and pear butter in years past.

                                          1. I have received different opinions regarding the hazards of botulism and canning, especially when it comes to highly acidic things like pickles. Recently, I skipped the step of the post-can boiling water bath for a batch of pickles. I sterilized the jars and caps thoroughly and immediately poured in the boiling pickle solution. The jars sealed well. Some people have told me that I should throw them out because I skipped the bath. Other people, including a woman who sells homemade pickles at a nearby farmers market says that she never processes her pickles in a water bath because it over cooks them and that as long as I sterilized the jars and caps and have a good seal my pickles should be ok. Finally, my father, who is a 59 year old microbiologist and infectious disease specialist MD says that he has never seen a case of botulism in his career. 1. Should I throw out my pickles? 2. Does anyone have experience with botulism and canning (seems very rare)? Anybody care to weigh in on this?

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: squabbit

                                              My mother does all her canning that way. Hot jars and hot lids from the oven and piping hot contents and everything always seals very tightly. If any don't seal, they go in the fridge right away. All the sealed jars make that loud satisfying un-sealing noise when the jars are opened. But then I have read this method isn't safe. No one ever got sick from anything she has canned though.

                                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                                And I want to clarify, she only cans high acid foods and jams/jellies. No low acid.

                                              2. re: squabbit

                                                If I were you, I'd eat it. Especially since it's pickles. We're not talking something on the cusp of 4.6 on the pH scale here - pickles are well below that.

                                                For the record, it turns out I didn't boil my tomato sauce long enough in the hot water bath AND I followed my own recipe AND I put olive oil in it. We've been eating them for months, no one's died yet. While I'm not suggesting everyone follow my lead and throw the rules book out the window (I'm going to be better about this when I can sauce again. Promise!), I think the botulism fear-mongering is a product of US germ phobia.

                                                1. re: squabbit

                                                  Botulism is very rare based on the stats I've read. And I agree, since it's pickles, there probably isn't anything to worry about. I wouldn't go feeding them to any babies (haha) or elderly folk though, just in case.

                                                2. I'll be doing salsa, if my tomatoes ever turn red! I have loads of peppers already!

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: Morganna

                                                    Morganna - I just did another independent post on this, but have you ever made salsa before? I'm just wondering because I did for my first time yesterday, and the results were very sour/vinegary. I followed recipes that I found in several different locations, and stuck to them precisely, but I felt they weren't right. I'm wondering if that will mellow, or if I should try a different recipe in the future...

                                                    1. re: bflocat

                                                      I have made salsa before and canned it. None of the recipes I've ever used has been vinegary, though. My salsa fresca is way better than the cooked/canned stuff, and it's been a few years since I've done it, but I am pretty sure we only used peppers, onions, tomatoes, salt, and pepper in the recipe. I can double check with my husband, he helped me out with it. I don't think we even used cilantro (both my husband and I have that genetic marker that makes cilantro taste like soap to us, so we have to use it VERY sparingly in stuff). I think we got the recipe from, possibly "A Cooks Tour of Mexico"

                                                      1. re: bflocat

                                                        We had a salsa recipe that, the first time we tried it, it was a bit more watery than we liked. The second time we tried it, we cooked it longer to allow it to reduce more and it was too vinegary. We haven't tasted batch #3 yet... But, perhaps you allowed it to reduce too long?


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          Sauerkraut! My historians group has been running a Christmas market for the past few years and one thing that sells surprisingly well (to me at least) is pickles, chow chow, jellies, etc. I put up a little extra sauerkraut last year and sold about 12 quart jars within the first half-hour of the sale. I never dreamed people would pay for it. I have grown extra cabbage and will probably use 100 lbs. of cabbage this year.

                                                        2. re: bflocat

                                                          This salsa recipe is fantastic.

                                                          Keay’s 3 Beer Salsa

                                                          Assemble the following:

                                                          15 lbs. slightly under-ripe tomatoes (roma’s are best)
                                                          20 assorted large hot peppers
                                                          4 jalapenos (or more if you want it hotter)
                                                          2 large green bell peppers
                                                          2 or 3 large yellow onions
                                                          13 oz. tomato paste
                                                          3 – 12 oz. beer
                                                          ½ c. pickling salt
                                                          2 c. vinegar
                                                          2 T. sugar
                                                          4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

                                                          Equipment that you will need:

                                                          12 litre soup pot
                                                          8+ litre plastic pail or bowl
                                                          canning jars totally about 7 litres capacity
                                                          24+ litre canner
                                                          food processor
                                                          small glass bowl or saucer
                                                          wide mouth funnel
                                                          wooden spoon
                                                          unsalted taco chips

                                                          You will need about 1 hour, 3 to 12 hours ahead of time to prepare the tomatoes (phase 1). The salsa (phase 2) and canning (phase 3) take about 2 hours total. Add ½ hour for clean-up (phase 4).

                                                          Phase 1

                                                          You are going to skin the tomatoes by blanching. Get 2 or 3 litres of water boiling in a wide pot and fill a clean sink with 4 or 5 litres of cold water. Select about 30 barely ripe and 5 definitely under-ripe tomatoes. Drop tomatoes in boiling water for 40 to 60 seconds (NO MORE) in batches of 6 or less. Quickly fish them out and drop in the cold water. Theoretically the skins should peel off with minimal effort. Cut out big stem ends and cut into 1/8ths or whatever to make 1 to 2 inch volume pieces. Slightly larger is OK, smaller is no good. Throw pieces in plastic bowl or pail and mix in ½ cup pickling salt. You should have at least 8 litres. Cover and let sit for 3 to 12 hours. The salt will suck most of the water out of the tomatoes and if you don’t screw around and shake things up, you’ll be pouring off 2 or 3 litres of clear, salt water.

                                                          Phase 2

                                                          Carefully drain tomatoes. The more salt water you lose the better. Throw tomatoes, vinegar and sugar in the soup pot and start heating at medium. Place saucer or small bowl in freezer. Meanwhile, your assistant has been chopping all the hot peppers and 4 of the jalapenos in the food processor. Use everything except stems, chop very fine and throw in with the tomatoes as soon as possible. Time to crack beer #1 because now you’re pinned there gently stirring for the next hour as the salsa starts to simmer. Assistant should enjoy beverage of preference in moderation as dangerous utensils are in use. The salsa will burn if you don’t stir it. Keep it at a gentle simmer. Check the time and remember when simmering started. Do not taste. Meanwhile your assistant is manually chopping the onions and green peppers in ½ to 1 inch pieces. Remove green pepper seeds. At precisely 30 minutes past start of simmer, throw in the onions, green peppers and the tomato paste. Fill canner with hot water, jars and lids and get it boiling. At precisely 45 minutes past start of simmer, spoon 3 to 6 tablespoons of salsa into bowl from freezer and return to freezer. Avoid tasting the hot salsa. At 50 mpsos (figure it out) cleanse palate with ice cold beer #2 and ready nacho chips. At 55 mpsos remove cooled salsa from freezer. It must be at room temp or lower. Taste. If mild, quickly add 3 or 4 more jalapenos and cook for 10 more minutes. If too hot, too bad, girlie-man.

                                                          Phase 3

                                                          Remove salsa from heat and stir often as you deftly fill your sterilized jars to precisely ½ inch from the top for pint jars and 5/8 for litre jars. Fill large jars first. Wipe rims, install lids and screw on rings snug but not tight. Reduce water level in canner to about 2/3 and immerse jars. The tops should be at least 1 inch below water level. Process at full rolling boil 15 minutes for pint jars, 20 minutes for litre jars. Enjoy beer #3 while monitoring processing and supervising Phase 4.

                                                          1. re: sarah galvin

                                                            awesome recipe! i will definitely try it out, though I might go for 4 beers...:)

                                                        3. re: Morganna

                                                          Just a thought since my husband and I were thinking of making salsa wouldn't lemon work instead of vinegar? they use limes in salsa and it tastes fine, or citric acid?

                                                        4. So, the only experience I have is with tomatoes, but you people are making me drool. Any tried and true recipes for:
                                                          fig jam/preserves
                                                          putting up peaches (not salty or brown)
                                                          hot red pepper jelly
                                                          bread and butter pickles
                                                          pickled/herbed eggplant in oil
                                                          Please help or point me in the right direction. Never was successful with some recipes.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: itryalot

                                                            I have made hot red pepper jelly and peaches. Just go onto the Bernardin website and they have some good recipes. It is probably something like www.bernardin.com but you could google it.

                                                          2. Old hand. I've been canning for about 6 years. Invested in a 25 qt. All-American pressure cooker/canner back then so I could also use it as a hot water bath for acid foods. It holds 7 qt jars or 19 pints. It's also a bit of a monster to store but it has performed well and is worth the investment.

                                                            I started out canning corn, beets, mustard beans, mustard pickles, and tomatoes. I found out that corn is better frozen and beets are better pickled--the high heat of the canner made them too soft and bland. The other stuff turned out great.

                                                            This year I've already done strawberry/rhubarb jam, black current preserve, peaches, curried cucumbers and the 100-year old family standard mustard pickles (all hot water bath). This weekend I'll pressure can (with help from the neighbours) about 2 bushels of roma tomatoes into tomato coulis (James Peterson's recipie) and a bolognese sauce (in total, about 50 pint jars worth).

                                                            For tomatoes, I put them through a hand-cranked tomato mill to get rid of the skins and seeds, but am thinking about an electric one to speed up the process. Anyone have one of these expensive devices or have advice on which kind to get?

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: speake

                                                              19 pints, omg I'm so jealous! Mine does 6....how does it fit on your stove top and how long does it take to boil!

                                                              1. re: geminigirl

                                                                How does it fit on my stove top? Barely. I have a Viking 4 burner range so it can take the weight on one and a half burners. The stove could also be used the re-start the fires of Hell because it gets really hot in a hurry. With 19 jars, (It comes with two racks so I can stack the jars), I fill it to just about half way (12 qts), put the lid on and start it about 20 minutes before I need to fill it. The only real problem with it is where to store it. I'm thinking I could keep firewood in it!

                                                              2. re: speake

                                                                Oooh... I want the mustard pickle recipe!

                                                                Would you be so kind as to post it?

                                                                This is my first year canning. I started with passionfruit preserves. Two dozen jars for holiday gifts. I've got an over achieving passionfruit vine out back ; )

                                                                1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                  I'll dig it out and post it later today for you

                                                                  OK, here goes. One word of caution, though. Below, I mention that you use only a thick bottomed stock pot for this—the cheap, thin ones should be avoided because they can burn quickly and ruin the recipe. If you don't have one, borrow one or make the investment of at least $150. It will be worth every penny.

                                                                  Mustard Pickles

                                                                  2 qts. pickling onions
                                                                  3 hot red peppers
                                                                  3 sweet red peppers
                                                                  2 whole cauliflowers
                                                                  2 whole celery
                                                                  6 qts. gherkins (these, the 1 ½ to 2 inch kind, can be hard to find this time of year. You can use bigger ones, but they should be split or quartered)
                                                                  4 qts. cider vinegar (avoid the cheap, processed stuff. This year I tried Maille White Wine vinegar and the pickles tasted sweeter, more delicate than those made with cider vinegar)

                                                                  Dry ingredients (use nothing older than 2 months)
                                                                  3 tbsp dry mustard (Keens)
                                                                  1 tbsp turmuric
                                                                  1 tsp curry powder
                                                                  2 cups white sugar
                                                                  2 cups white flour
                                                                  ½ of a large bottle of Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce

                                                                  1. Prepare gherkins (keep the small ones whole and split the larger ones), cauliflower florets, diced celery, juliened peppers and peeled onions and soak overnight in brine (½ cup salt per qt. of water).

                                                                  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and add 1 qt of cold vinegar. Stir until smooth.

                                                                  3. Heat the remaining vinegar in a stainless steel pot (the biggest, thickest-bottomed pot you have) and when near a boil, blend in the dry ingredients. Stir constantly for approx. 10 minutes until thick. (Leaning over the pot while stirring is an effective way of cleaning the pores of your face!)

                                                                  4. Drain and rinse--and drain again--the vegetables, then add to the hot liquid.

                                                                  5. Bring the liquid to a boil. Stir constantly to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom for 30 minutes.

                                                                  6. Remove the pot from heat and let cool, then pour into crocks

                                                                  1. re: speake

                                                                    Thank you so much for typing that all out.

                                                                    Tell me (since I'm so new to this)... when you say "crocks", do you mean canning jars?

                                                                    1. re: Jennalynn

                                                                      Nope. Crockery, the ceramic thingies used to store pickles etc that can hold several quarts to gallons. If you don't have one, you can put them straight into jars. I prefer to let them age in a covered crock (watch out for fruit flies) for a few weeks before I jar them, but it's up to you and whether or not you have something big enough to store them in.

                                                              3. Just as this thread pops up once in a while and in season, just thought I'd pass along a tidbit.
                                                                You may be looking at jars at the hardware store and see the accessory section - you know lids, booklets, kits, etc etc.
                                                                You may also come across a salsa seasoning packet (of which I will maintain anonymity...) and be tempted to give it a try (like I did).
                                                                IMHO, it sucks.

                                                                Took plenty of doctoring to get it to be somewhat palatable (didn't want to waste the batch as I already skinned the tomatoes, added the ingredients, cooked a bit, etc).

                                                                I know, I know, I shouldn't have even went to a prepackaged source of seasoning. What can I say (hanging my head)? I was seduced by the dark side.

                                                                Well we did can it and are going to label it as "lousy salsa rojo".

                                                                We did make a great batch or our own, though.

                                                                1. I made my first foray into canning this summer after I acquired 4 pounds of figs at my grandmother's birthday party. I made preserves, and they are fantastic, really good on vanilla ice cream and much better than anything I've had from a store.

                                                                  You could say I'm hooked on canning, since the fig preserves I've made dilly beans and marmalade. Haven't tried the beans yet, but I'm confident they'll be at least as good as the stuff from the store. The marmalade is a little too sticky but tastes good, I won't cook it quite as long next time. For $5 worth of citrus I'm ok with 6 jars of marmalade even if it isn't perfect.

                                                                  1. First year canning, until now I froze everything. After reading the posts I am feeling better about myself. I have done both hot bath and pressure cooker ( doing the pressure cooker is stressful in itself as some of the stories I heard about them blowing up)the new pressure cookers have a plug in case to much steam builds up. I canned so far 12 spag. sauce, 10 spicy tomato sauce, 4 strawberry jams and 4 french cut string beans. I have help my ma has canned and while shes not here when I can I call her with questions. I kept asking if I could add this or sub that in the recipes what she said was yes, just cook it your way. To be safe I added lemon juice to my tomatoes even when I used the pressure cooker, added olive oil to one batch and had a small breakdown when it rose to the top (thought I did something wrong). The beans however I added to much salt but otherwise they are fine.
                                                                    What my ma said was as long as you process correctly and the lids seal your fine. She also said to make sure you take the rings off for storage, that way if anything did go wrong the lids would pop so you would know. I tried following the recipes but there were spices we preferred over the ones they called for. One thing I did learn is you can't double a recipe for jam, it doesn't work or maybe I over cooked it as while it is good it's really sticky and you can't stick it in the frig. or you'll never get it out of the jars. I just used sugar no pictin.
                                                                    Because I am doing fresh veggies from my garden sometimes I don't have a full load to process at once but it's still worth the extra work.
                                                                    I have gotten a few good hints here like to put the jars in the oven. It's less work than boiling the water and putting it in each jar to get them hot.
                                                                    I grew sweet potatoes and would like to can them in brown sugar syrup does anyone know if I can do this?

                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                    1. re: lcky9

                                                                      Good for you! I haven't used my pressure canner yet, but all the talk is to be sure not to mash or puree but leave in chunks. So I don't see why you couldn't do them in brown sugar syrup. It sure would make it easier to finish off for a meal - like fast food. How did you cut your beans?

                                                                      1. re: sarah galvin

                                                                        actually I did the French cut they are tender that way. I just took off the tops and pulled the strings (I planted stringless but some still had strings) they cut them down the center (where the strings would be) and if the beans were large I took them out. Then I soaked overnight in salt water cooked and canned. Beware easy salt on the soak made the first ones to salty, told the kids we could make bean jerky but for sure they are preserved.

                                                                      2. re: lcky9

                                                                        Good advice from your ma. you may find that blanching your veggies then freezing them may give you better results than canning them. Not sure about sweet potatoes, though, as I've never processed them. Also, I've heard that if you're processing jars for 10 mins. or more, you don't ned to sterilize them: the time in the hot water or pressure canner is good enough. I know that using the canner can be a bit nerve wracking but as long as you use a pressure canner and not a pressure cooker, you'll be fine.

                                                                        1. re: speake

                                                                          Always sterilize the jars no matter how long you are going to process, always, always, always.

                                                                          1. re: speake

                                                                            It should be a pressure canner (although you can cook in it as well) the directions told me how to do canning so I guess they are duel purpose.

                                                                          2. re: lcky9

                                                                            I was wondering about taking the rings off? What do people do? My book says take them off, but I leave them on just for looks...

                                                                            1. re: geminigirl

                                                                              It's best to at loosen them almost all the way off so if your seal blows you'll know about it instead of much later because the rings were too tight

                                                                              1. re: speake

                                                                                good idea, never really thought about it that way, just figured I just would know if I had a bad seal when i reached for the jar and opened.

                                                                                1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                  I take them all the way off. I had a jar of pickles fail recently and the lid was noticeably askew in the cupboard. If I'd had the ring on it, I wouldn't have noticed.

                                                                                  Plus applesauce and the like can leak a little out the sides but have a good seal. It's a good idea to remove the rings, clean the (cold) jar and lid, and store it. Better than having applesauce glue the ring on or mold.

                                                                                  1. re: Vetter

                                                                                    thanks for the advice, will put this on my to-do list...which will probably be gotten to tomorrow morning since I am going through a patch of not sleeping well....

                                                                                    1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                      Hi, just a follow-up question. I've removed all the rings, but now wondering if stacking is ok or not? At most I stack 2 small jars, but it's pretty rare. any advice either way? thaks

                                                                                      1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                        That's iffy. I guess it depends on the weight of the jars. I have stacked smaller ones two-high, but I also store the jars in their original boxes and stack them that way.

                                                                              2. re: geminigirl

                                                                                My ma said to take all the way off, so if something goes wrong the lid will just pop with the rings on they bottles can blow causing a big mess. Also always check lids before using. I told my kids to always check better safe than sorry. I was worried about the seals even though I checked but the dog knocked my jar of string beans off the counter when I was out and rolled it around the floor. No leaks seal still tight. This is not recommended for testing seals just something that made me feel better about my pressure cooker.

                                                                              3. re: lcky9

                                                                                The Ball Blue Book has a recipe for Potatoes - Sweet. So, that's a good indication they can be canned.


                                                                                Select freshly dug potatoes of uniform size and color. Wash. Leave small potatoes whole; cut large potatoes into quarters. Boil or steam slowly until peels can be rubbed off. Remove peel. Pack hot potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Ladel boiling water, medium or light syrup over potatoes, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 1 hour and 5 min, quarts 1 hour and 30 min at 10 lbs pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

                                                                                Syrups for canning:


                                                                                2-1/4 cups sugar

                                                                                5-1/4 cyos water

                                                                                Yield: 6-1/2 cups syrup


                                                                                3-1/4 cups sugar

                                                                                5 cups water

                                                                                Yield: 7 cups

                                                                                Heat water and sugar to boil.

                                                                                I think the key to safely canning potatoes is washing them very thoroughly.

                                                                                I also remove skins by putting them in the microwave for a short time. The skins peel off easier. Seems easier than the above method too.

                                                                                1. re: LanaD

                                                                                  You HAVE to use a pressure canner for sweet potatoes. That's the key to making them safe. The temp gets to about 240 deg F which is hot enough to kill the C. botulinum spore. The most thorough washing can still leave spores in the food, which grow into bacteria and release the botulism toxin in the anaerobic environment of the canning jar.

                                                                                  Having them canned would be awesome for a quick dinner side during the winter.

                                                                                  1. re: applgrl

                                                                                    Yes, this recipe is for a pressure canner. Note the processing instructions include "10 lbs pressure". Heating to adequate temperature is neccessary but so is thoroughly washing (with a brush) to lower botulism risk. The botulism spore comes from dirt, proliferates in an anerobic environment , and can be killed by heat.

                                                                                    And I agree that's a great side to have on hand!

                                                                              4. I've been canning jam for about 6 years, but this summer I decided to step it up: 50 lbs of tomatoes, both whole and as paste, tons of pickled veggies, preserved lemons, and just about anything else that doesn't need a pressure canner... but maybe one of these days I'll spring for a canner too, and then I'll really go crazy.

                                                                                The best thing I've made so far has to be Lavender Plum Chutney from The Herbfarm Cookbook - that stuff is seriously addictive. My next projects are hopefully kimchi and pickled watermelon rind, and I just started a crock of giardiniera pickles, so I'll be canning those when they're ready. .

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: erican

                                                                                  hey erican. Care to share the recipe for lavender plum chutney? My mum grows both, and I love a nice chutney...

                                                                                2. This is a great link-helped me in my quest to learn how to can! I have made Applesauce and pickled beets so far.
                                                                                  I am wondering about storage for canned jars. Right now I have them in my pantry which is under the stairs-stays dark unless we go in for food, maybe 5 degrees cooler than room temp. Wondering if I should put them in the cold garage on a shelf and cover the shelf with a curtain to make it darker? Would that be more like a root cellar? The temp out there is more like 50 but it also changes with the weather, but all in all it is cooler than the pantry. Also since they have been in the pantry for 2 weeks-changing the storage temp to cooler-bad-ok? Any suggestions? thanks all :)

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: kspunky

                                                                                    A steady temperature is best. The garage will fluctuate too much during the year. I'd leave them under the stairs.

                                                                                    Also you want it to be dark because the light fades the colours of your food.

                                                                                  2. I'm new to blogging but not to canning, so please excuse any computer goofs. I recently picked about 35 lbs of olives, and I packed 1/3 in salt, have 1/3 curing in brine, and have 1/3 curing in water. All the recipes I have say to eat the olives within 2 months or they say to store the olives in a high-salt brine and vinegar. I was hoping there might be a canning recipe out there. I assume it would involve using the pressure cooker, and I'm hoping it wouldn't drastically change the texture of the olives. Any suggestions? 35 lbs is a lot of olives to eat in 2 months.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: karice

                                                                                      Lemmee know how the olives come out - I've been wanting to try but most recipes (if I recall correctly) asked for a pre-soak with lye. Never had ambition enough to seek out lye.

                                                                                    2. ...and I'm seeing a lot of BAD ADVICE on food blogs, food safety-wise. Let's hope a wave of botulism doesn't follow the busy summer....MY great grandma had 9 kids, but only 7 lived so I'm definitely not buying into any nonsense about canning the same way she did....LOL.

                                                                                      These folks are the experts:

                                                                                      Despite having canned for a couple decades now, I still check my recipes and make sure I'm playing according to Hoyle. Times change.

                                                                                      My products so far: spicy dill beans, 51 quarts of garlic dills, dill slices, bread & butter pickles, sour cherries in apple juice, sweet cherries with balsamic vinegar, apricot jam. Still to go: plum/ginger sauce, tomato salsa, green tomato mincemeat, applesauce, peaches, and pears.

                                                                                      I'd like to branch out and get a pressure canner so that I can do corn, beans, and carrots, but quite frankly it's all I can do to manage the preserving that I do now. So Green Giant gets that part of my food budget.

                                                                                      1. I've been canning chicken and beef stocks for about eight years, roughly every three months, and every time I re-read and faithfully follow the instructions that came with the pressure cooker. I prepare the jars by running them through the dishwasher on the "sanitize" cycle just before I use them. After the jars are processed, I check to make sure they're sealed - if not, those jars go in the fridge to be used asap. I don't know how long they'll keep as they generally get used pretty quickly.
                                                                                        (why can instead of freeze? I have more shelf space than freezer space.)

                                                                                        It's mildly entertaining to sit and listen to the lids as the jars cool and the vacuum forms: I'm easily amused.

                                                                                        I've done fruits and tomatoes via the hot water bath method, but not for a long time.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: tardigrade

                                                                                          I second your method of washing the jars. It makes no sense to me that canning sites say to boil the jars in water in the canner. Our water has sediment in it, the canner is rusty, not to mention mineral deposits---they would come out FILTHY. The temp of the dishwasher coupled with the bleaches in the soap should result in a much cleaner jar, IMHO.

                                                                                          On one occasion I froze stock in canning jars and they all broke. (despite it working previously). Love the idea of pressure canning it.

                                                                                          1. re: applgrl

                                                                                            I've noticed a lot of websites just copy information from other websites without doing much original work. I think the "boil the jars" instructions come from the days when people didn't have dishwashers, and their dishwashing water only got as hot as what they could stand to put their hands in. Between the super-hot dishwasher cycle and the pressure canning that heats the stock to well above the boiling point of water for an extended period I figure that any microbes that survive that (although tardigrades might) will just as soon break out of the jars and take over the world.

                                                                                        2. I have been canning for about 5 years. I like to make pickled beets they are delicious. I will make a tomato chow in the fall. I am not as successful making jam.

                                                                                          1. Hi, I canned 5 pints of crushed tomatoes today, first time doing tomatoes. I added the required 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per jar ( as per Ball) but I'm thinking it would be awful easy to forget to add it to the jar, which I almost did on my first jar. So, that got me to wondering, would there be any signs if I forgot to add the lemon juice, spoiling, etc.... Thanks

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                              Boil the tomatoes for 15 min as part of your recipe prep and all is well. The lemon juice increases the acid for food safety. Apparently modern tomatoes have less acid than years past. The lemon juice won't completely make it safe from botulism, but helps create an acid environment. Unfortunately, only a lab test will show botulism. The jar will seal and it won't cause signs of spoilage. Heat over 240 degrees will kill the spores.

                                                                                              1. re: LanaD

                                                                                                Thanks for the feedback. And silly question, boiling tomatoes first, vs boiling the entire dish (soup, sauce), are both an ok option or need to boil tomatoes separatly first? Thanks

                                                                                                1. re: geminigirl

                                                                                                  I think it's a matter of what works for your recipe. Boiling for 15 min is going to reduce the tomatoes. A lot of us simmer a spaghetti sauce to reduce and enhance flavor. For that recipe I'd be less inclined to boil the tomatoes first.

                                                                                            2. Just bought my first water bath canner and made my first batch of plum jam with my 4-year old daughter. My grandmothers both made jam when I was a child and I used to 'help' though they never used a water bath . . . just 'followed the directions on the pack of Certo', using sterilized jars and letting the cooling action seal the jars. Anyway, I have a question. I followed the instructions for the plum jam very carefully (except I made a half batch because it was our first try and we didn't have enough plums) except I forgot to run a spatula around inside the jars to release air bubbles in the excitement of moving hot things around with a kid 'helping'. The bubbles are tiny--I don't know if they would have come out anyway--and the jars sealed well. I did skim off the 'scum' first but I didn't use fat to bring down the foaming. Also, my headspace, on half-pint jars, was more like a half inch than a quarter inch, as called for in the recipe. Can I keep these in the pantry? Does anyone have a food-science explanation for why the bubbles must come out, or practical experience as to whether it is possible to get rid of all the tiny ones? I'm trying to decide whether I have to give them away for immediate consumption!

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: eldithia

                                                                                                I don't have a food science explanation, but I call my aunt the jelly queen. She's made a lot and it's the best! I think running the spatula around the jar prior to canning is to remove those tiny bubbles you see. I don't think it will affect the safety of the jam. I think it's more an aesthetic or consistancy problem. She told me that the correct gel comes from the right ratio of fruit, pectin and sugar. It can be challenging to measure certain fruits. It's possible the texture isn't quite right, but open a jar and check it out. The headspace is to get the jars to seal. If it's more than 1/2 inch sometimes the seal doesn't happen. The old paper instructions from the Certo liquid package said to fill wihin a 1/4 headspace, the new ones say 1/8th. Sounds like the headspace is good.

                                                                                                1. re: eldithia

                                                                                                  If the contents are warm, there might still be some convection giving you the tiny bubbles. BTW, I frequently get the tiny bubbles, whether I've done the spatial thing or not.

                                                                                                  You certainly aren't the first person to forget this step (raises hand).

                                                                                                  1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                                                    I'll raise my hand too. I chronically forget that step.