Last weekend we decided to take a giant face-dive into home canning. My father-in-law was visiting from Missouri and had lots of experience helping out with canning for decades. It was great to have someone with experience and an extra set of hands. We hope to have a great garden some day, but since we're not quite there yet, we did some negotiating at the farmers market and came home with 30lb of tomatoes, which made 24 quart jars.
I won't get into all the details of what's involved, but we basically learned from YouTube. The Ball Canning videos were the most helpful, but it was good to watch how a few different people did things. For each round of 7 jars, it took about 30 minutes of prep time, 45 minutes to process, and then 12-24 hours of letting the jars sit in a still/stable location. Equipment needed:
- huge pot (at least 21-quart with lid)–we used the one we had from Josh's home brewing. Ours fit 7 quart jars.
- canning jars with caps and rings–best price we found was at Lowe's (12 for $10.99 quart size), but buying used would be a great way to go too. I tried really hard to get some used, but I was unsuccessful. People wanted $1.50-$2/jar. WTH?! They should be $5/dozen used, but I digress... Either way, you will need new caps, as they are not reusable.
- canning kit
- canning rack
- Or, if you don't have a pot already, you might just get something like this whole kit.
Canning is a beautiful way to preserve summer's goodness. It is healthy, preservative-free, inexpensive, and fun. Unfortunately, there is some waste involved, as you cannot reuse the lids (and they are lined with plastic-boo!), but it is far less waste than freezing in disposable bags or buying frozen or canned veggies. Also greener than buying out-of-season produce shipped in from some faraway region. Some day, I would love to get a set of Weck jars with glass lids and learn to can the way they do in Europe, but I thought it would be a good idea to start with the easier method first. You do have to be super careful with canning to make sure that you are doing things exactly right for health and safety reasons.
We also froze some sweet corn in pint jars. We got 9 jars out of 36 ears of corn, and the only prep we had to do for that was to blanch the corn and cut it from the cobs.
Overall, it was a great experience, and I'm so excited to have these sweet veggies come winter.
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