Canning is definitely making a comeback. If you've yet to try it yourself, here are some simple tips to turn your garden (or CSA!) into a DIY pantry of plenty.
Before I started canning myself, I wondered how anyone who did managed all that effort and stress. Wacky contraptions and the potential of poisoning? No, thank you! That is, until I tried it and learned just how simple and safe it is to can at home. Here are some tips for a nervous novice that will get you preserving in no time!
Start Small. Small batch canning means you're only processing a few jars instead of an entire harvest's worth. For urbanites and small-space dwellers, this is perfect for practice and practicality. Most of us don't have a ton of room for putting up preserves. Plus, if you only have a couple of pots of tomatoes, windowsill herbs, or a tiny plot at a community garden, a handful of jars of jam and pickles are what you'll have after enjoying some fresh, anyway.
Follow the leader. Like any DIY project, things go smoother if you do your homework first. Many of us are visual learners, so take a class, watch some videos, or ask someone you know to show you the ropes. There are also many books, blogs, and resources on the subject.
Canning is like gardening. You can't just toss some seeds in the ground and expect a lush garden to grow, and canning is the same way. Safe preserving requires a proper balance of acid, salt, and/or sugar, so stick with proven, published recipes and don't deviate until you know what you're doing.
And some helpful tips from the experts at Ball Canning:
• Lay out all of your tools and prep all produce before you get started.
• If you have a dishwasher, use it to wash and heat the jars all at once.
• Clean as you go! It will help you stay organized and keep your workstation clean.
• Grab a friend! Home canning is even more fun when there's somebody else to join the fun!
(Image: Tara Bellucci)