The Joy of Canning

Aug
24

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I didn’t grow up around home canning. My mother didn’t can. Both of my parents grew up on farms (my mother in Oklahoma, my father a stone’s throw from where I live now in West Virginia), and they both escaped the hard labor of life on a farm as soon as they could. Like many of their generation who left rural areas for the cities and suburbs of a new America after World War II, they were only too eager to embrace the miracle of Green Giant vegetables, among other things.


Life on a farm still includes hard work today, but it’s tempered by modern conveniences that allow you to pick and choose at least some of those labors. (They still haven’t invented an automatic chicken house cleaner. What’s up with that?) You don’t have to milk the cow, scrub your clothes on a washboard, churn some butter, clean every last dish by hand, sew all your dresses, and then can all in the same day. (No wonder people ran away from farms.)

Caramel Apple Jam slathered all over a slice of Grandmother Bread. See Caramel Apple Jam and Spiced Applesauce and Grandmother Bread.

Whether you live in the country and have a big garden or you just grow some tomatoes and peppers mixed in with your flowers beds in the backyard, you can choose to can, taking it up as a serious endeavor or simply an occasional hobby. You can spend all kinds of time canning, or just can one or two weekends in the summer. It’s not an all or nothing proposition.

Since I didn’t grow up around home canning, I viewed the entire process as somewhat mysterious up until a few years ago when I moved to the country. I never even thought about canning when I lived in the suburbs–even though I kept a vegetable garden. I didn’t know how and I was slightly afraid of it, to be honest. But I like to try new things and I was eager to learn when Yoda presented herself. Georgia taught me to can during the two and a half years I lived in the old farmhouse. She had a cellarful of tomatoes, relishes, jams, jellies, butters, green beans, and more. She kept all her canning in the old cellar in the farmhouse and I enjoyed “shopping” there the first (excruciatingly cold, have I mentioned that?) winter I lived there. By spring, I was helping her plant her garden and by summer she was teaching me how to make jams and butters and put up green beans and tomatoes. She also made me hoe, but let’s not go there. The hours I spent learning to can with Georgia will always be some of my best memories of living in the old farmhouse.

Coffee cake made with apple butter. See Rum Raisin Apple Butter and Apple Butter Coffee Cake.

In the beginning, I canned with Georgia always by my side. I wanted to be sure I did things right. The first time I canned something by myself, I walked over to her house to bring her a jar and nearly jumped up and down with pride for having done it all by myself. (Georgia thinks I’m so entertaining. Or weird.) Georgia worked as a home extension agent before she married, so I don’t know how many people she may have taught to can in the past, but I am probably the last person she will teach to can. (She’s nearly 80.) Yesterday morning I picked all her tomatoes out of her garden. She hasn’t canned anything this year and isn’t able to with her upcoming hip surgery. I’ll can them and share them back with her.

The last time I canned with Georgia was last fall. See Making Pear Butter at the Old Farmhouse.

I’ve canned a lot this summer already and I’m not done. I’ve canned from my own garden, Georgia’s garden, and from some of the “pig” produce we get from the farmers market. (We pick through it and weed out what’s still good before we give anything to the pigs. You’d be surprised how much they have to throw out at farmers markets because people are picky and they can’t sell anything with even a minor blemish.) I’ve canned things I’ve canned before–jams and butters, tomatoes and green beans, and I’ve canned things I haven’t tried before–relishes and pickles and salsas. There are more new things I want to try before the summer canning season is over. There’s always something new to try in canning.

My latest new thing: Hot Pepper Butter. See Picking Hot Peppers at the Old Farmhouse.
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Home canning is practical and self-sufficient. It’s also interesting and artistic. You can put up basic necessities like tomatoes and peppers or gourmet treats like Madeira Pear Mincemeat and Blackberries in Framboise. It’s not mysterious and you don’t have to have your own Yoda. There are books and videos not to mention endless internet resources available. Don’t let the lack of a personal guide hold you back if you want to learn! It also costs very little money to get started. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve gotten many of my canning supplies for free or nearly free. Sometimes you can find someone with jars to give away–either they’ve stopped canning or they’ve inherited the jars and don’t want to can. You can also find jars in the classifieds and “penny” papers. Buy a couple dozen jars to get started then keep your eye out for a deal. We even got a pressure canner for free. You’d be amazed at the stuff people want to get rid of! You can actually use any large pot for a hot water bath as long as you can find something to fit into it to work as a rack.

Fruity Jam Cake Glaze on Old-Fashioned Pound Cake. See Strawberry Jam and Fruity Jam Cake Glaze and Old-Fashioned Pound Cake.
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If you’re just starting out in home canning, a wonderfully basic yet extensive “bible” I’d recommend is the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. (My cousin gave me this book for Christmas a couple of years ago. I love it and use it all the time.) We also have an active discussion on the Chickens in the Road forum about canning here. Whether you have expertise to share or questions to ask, join us. There are also a whole bunch of canning recipes in the Community Cookbook and I have canning recipes and a how-to on using a hot water bath here.

You can get an incredible sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and creative fulfillment from putting up your own food. Try it! Start out with something simple, a jam or a butter (it’s almost apple butter time again!), and next thing you know, you’ll be making Curried Fruit Compote and having more fun than you ever imagined.

And, wow, there’s nothing like the fresh taste of popping open a jar of summer in the middle of winter.

So, if you don’t can, are you thinking about it? Are you scared of it? If you do can, what have you been canning lately? And who taught you to can? Tell me your stories!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on August 24, 2009  

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  1. 8-24
    3:52
    am

    :hissyfit: I want to can so bad but I am scared..I dream of canning..I have a ton of grape,plum and jelly bean tomatoes…
    How lucky you were to have Georgia. My Aunt Nita may have to come for a visit and teach me. Have great week!!

  2. 8-24
    3:54
    am

    So funny…my grown son has moved home to caretake his mama after his father ditched me for a 30 year old! We live on a little “farm” of 11 acres, and just last night he proclaimed, “Mom, we’re having a big garden next year, and I’m going to learn to can with you!!”

    I am looking forward to it, as I have not canned in years. Don’t you just love seeing rows of canned food in the pantry? “Putting Food By” just speaks of security and warmth. Loved this post! C

  3. 8-24
    4:33
    am

    I am definitely in the middle of canning season myself. Although our tomato plants got a late start and have only been turning the past couple of weeks. I was never shown how to can either. Butters, jams/jellies, pickles (bread and butter pickles are the best!), relishe, salsas or just plain ol green beans, tomatoes, applesauce….what fun. And it gives me a feeling of accomplishment when I open a cupboard and see all of the pretty jars filled with our garden bounty…waiting to be opened in the middle of winter, or given as gifts. I love not having to go to the store to buy these things. They have gotten SO expensive! If you have even just a little yard in the middle of town..why not make good use of it and make a garden? You won’t regret it.

  4. 8-24
    4:34
    am

    Tomatoes, green beans, and spaghetti sauce so far. We freeze the blueberries, strawberries and blackberries.

  5. 8-24
    4:35
    am

    I love to can! And I got the itch last year after I found your site — caramel apple jam got my taste buds roaring, so I had to have it! Following step by step in your post, I HAD CARAMEL APPLE JAM!! I had a stock pot with a towel in the bottom, a neighbor whose mother had passed that had a huge inventory of jars, and you to get me started.

    Throughout the winter, I was making lists of things I wanted to can, then we really started talking about preserving on the forum and the possibilities have become endless! I realized I needed a pressure canner next, so I could do even more canning for my family.

    And I even have my little brother talked into making the jam and canning applesauce (he has a tree that was very bountiful for him this year).

    Once again, Thank You, Suzanne for all you do! (I would not be doing half of what I do if it wasn’t for you!)

  6. 8-24
    5:34
    am

    I have canned tomatoes, salsa and pears.
    I have many jars to fill this year. I’m hoping my second plantings will do better than the first.
    My late ex-mother-in-law got me started. And then later, books helped.
    I have pictures of both of my late parents helping me can pears. They mean the world to me.

  7. 8-24
    6:06
    am

    My hubby has been layed-off of work since last Oct. He has now become the Jelly King and Salsa Sultan! We have 5+ cases of jelly, nad 2+ cases of salsa. We’ll be using these as Christmas gifts for the family. He’s learned the art of canning to keep busy while battling the unemployment blues. Canning is good therapy…and cheaper than a real shrink! =)

  8. 8-24
    6:11
    am

    this year we canned 61 quarts of green beans in a canner I bought at a yard sale. I’ve been making grape jelly and hope to make stove top apple butter later. I’ve been freezing my tomatoes, blackberries and spaghetti sauce. I found a newspaper article on line dated October 1925 titled Prizes Given at Two School Fairs where my grandma is listed as winning prizes for her blackberries, cherries, water melon and blackberry preserves and blackberry jelly. I thought that was neat.

  9. 8-24
    6:22
    am

    I love canning. I remember my mother and my grandmother canning when I was young. I mostly have canned just jams and butters in recent years, but I’m hoping to get enough produce from a friend this year to can plenty of veggies to can as well this year. I also plan to can some venison if my husband gets a deer this year during hunting season.

  10. 8-24
    6:26
    am

    I taught myself how to can. It was just me and the Ball Blue Book! My canning season has been slow. What with all the rain and the cool weather! I have my yearly stash of pickles put up. My tomatoes are just starting to turn so salsa will be next. I have beets to do and some onions to dehydrate, too. And this year I am going to can pumpkin!

  11. 8-24
    6:31
    am

    I do hot water bath canning but I will admit I am scared of doing the pressure cooking canning. I did grow up with both types but mom always did the pressure canner while us kids did the manual work of preparing the veggies and such. Our garden did really bad this year, July was the 3rd coldest since 1870. The corn which had started out really good, has failed. As did the tomatoes, cucumber plants, cherry trees didn’t do well either. Neighbors peach tree though went nuts on producing peaches.

  12. 8-24
    6:35
    am

    I shunned all attempts at homemaking and homestead skills when I was young. How foolish that was. Now, I am learning as I go the things I could have learned as a child. I learn from books, team up with like minded friends and spend a lot of time on the phone with my mom. (Eating humble pie.) The best thing I’ve done in a long time was to pick strawberries and cherries with my mom and dad while they visited this summer and turn our work into strawberries jam and canned cherries. My mom said it was so good to work side by side with me in this. Preserving fruit is easy… I do admit to being scared to pressure can but I will attempt it next year.

  13. 8-24
    6:40
    am

    I am a self-taught (thank you Ball Blue Book) canner. The BBB is a canner’s Bible! All kinds of information can be found on the internet too.

    Yep, it’s canning season here in the midwest too. Tomatoes, salsa, green beans, blackberry jam, and OMG…HOT PEPPER BUTTER…it’s da’ BOMB! Thanks for that one Suzanne!

    After a bad gardening season last year…think three kids…softball, baseball, Scouts, football camp, church camp…you get the idea…there was little time for the garden. I didn’t put up anything last year. My eight year old asked when we were going to have “real green beans again.” She would not eat store bought beans…she said they were “fake beans.” I made the garden a priority this year, and have put up forty quarts of green beans and planted another two rows of fall beans, which are doing great and will hopefully give me another 40 quarts. You can taste the difference and you know where you food comes from. ‘Nuf said!

  14. 8-24
    6:43
    am

    I canned for so many years. You make it sound like I might like to do it again. Hmmmmm….naw, I just freeze stuff now. LOL The jellies and butters sound great though. Can you do those with a hot water bath?

  15. 8-24
    6:51
    am

    Yes, you do jellies, jams, and butters in a hot water bath!

  16. 8-24
    7:21
    am

    I taught a friend how to can yesterday. We did 40 jars of jam. Yesterday. Half blackberry and half huckleberry.

  17. 8-24
    8:11
    am

    This was my first summer to can anything!! My grandmother had planned on teaching me this year and she did, but from her death bed, literally! She planted six rows of green pintos just for me, and she talked me through the process while in her hospital bed. Now I know how much she loved me, all those years she shared her canning treats – it takes a lot of love and work to make it all work out just right. But I’m glad I gave it a try and I’m more glad that she was still alive to share in the accomplishment with me. Even though we lost her in June, I will always cherish our last summer of canning together.

  18. 8-24
    8:39
    am

    When I was 4 years old, my job was to stand on a chair and turn the crank of the meat grinder as Mom fed endless apricot halves into it. We spent a couple years living with my Grandparents while Dad was overseas. Gardening and canning were expected of everyone. When Dad got out of the army years later, we lived next door to my Grandma and Grandpa and continued that. We used to can stuff from our gardens and go to orchards and u-pick fields for other stuff as well.

    This was the first year I’ve canned in quite a while. Between being busy with tiny tots and depressed, I have let a lot slide. This year I’ve done lots of jams: strawberry, apricot-pineapple, plum, strawberry-blueberry. This is the first time I’ve used the low-sugar or no-sugar-added pectins to good results.

    My collection of beautiful filled jars makes me happy. Sharing them with my friends makes me happy. Having canned them WITH MY KIDS (ages 7, 5 and 2!) makes me giddy beyond belief. It reaffirms the ties to my Mom and Grandma (and all the canners before them I never had the chance to meet), and brings back all those memories of the times we worked together.

  19. 8-24
    8:42
    am

    I actually taught myself to can a few years ago after I couldn’t find anyone to teach me. After a few missteps and taking it slow, I’m in full swing this summer and having a blast canning everything in sight. Lots of different jams, pickles, tomatoes, green beans, chili meat, spaghetti sauce, salsa, corn. Whatever comes into season, it goes into a mason jar. Pears are starting this week and peaches look good for next weekend. When the produce end of things dies down, I’ll be canning beef stew and chicken ala king.

    Nothing better than homemade jam on Grandmother’s Bread with my coffee in the morning!

  20. 8-24
    9:06
    am

    I just finished canning 8 quarts of orange juice with plenty of oranges left for canning 8 more if I want to. Our neighborhood was built on an old orange grove so everyone has a huge orange tree in their backyards. Ours is at least 60 years old. Planning on making applesauce when the apples in Oak Glen come into season. I also have a wicked good Brandy Pecan Sauce recipe that I plan on making for Christmas gifts.

    Not many people can here in Southern California – I think it’s so worth learning.

  21. 8-24
    9:16
    am

    tomatoes, salsa, wild cherry jelly, blackberry jam, dilly beans, tomatilla salsa, end of garden relish, the list goes on. I have canned for years, but since selling my land and moving to the city, not anymore. It is a lot of work, but satisfying work, to be sure. July, August, and September can be stressful months, but oh the beauty of all those clean jars of summer lined up on the shelf. Awesome. thanks for the memories. :purpleflower:

  22. 8-24
    9:28
    am

    I need to teach myself to can too. Too many summers have gone by and I havent learned yet. Sounds like your doing a good job canning all that. Any good tip?

  23. 8-24
    9:46
    am

    Well said! I don’t do as much canning as I used to now that my family is grown and gone and I live in a small city apartment with limited storage space … but I still put up my favourites. I grew up in a part of the world where summer conversations started with “have you started your canning yet?” or “got your canning done now?”. I’d like to recommend another canning book for people who don’t want to put up multi-dozens of jars of any one thing, “The Complete Book of Small Batch Preservcing: over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round” by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. Perfect for single people like me. Thanks for promoting this great skill!

  24. 8-24
    10:28
    am

    Hi Carol,
    I’m so close to you! I live in wine country between Hemet and Temecula and I work in Corona. I just finished canning the raspberries we picked at Oak Glen last week. I plan on going when its apple season as well (first time for apples). I’m curious how you can orange juice, I was just given 2 trash bags full and I am at a loss. Nice to meet another southern Californian.

  25. 8-24
    10:31
    am

    Ahhhh, as Mom used to say ” the fruits of our labor”. I was raised
    in a rural area, in a family that canned, preserved, pickled, jellied, jammed, buttered, dried or froze. Anything from garden produce, wild balackberries, wild greens (in the spring), purchased fruit, ‘pick your own’, etc. etc. NOTHING tasted as good as my Granny’s homemade sauerkraut! White as snow, it was crunchy, tangy goodness. Store bought cannot even compare, the taste is not even close. My Mom made a sour picalili that is a family favorite. It was a labor intensive endeavor & spanned weeks of watching & prepping. But so worth it! I remember one summer we made 30 gallons of dill pickles. Going to the cellar to retrieve Mason jars & washing them by hand in unbelievably Hot water, snapping green beans for hours, washing veggies, grinding, peeling, pitting. All this with no running water & no AC.
    We do a few favorites like pear honey & sweet pickles & freeze some fruit. But I am thankful for what I was taught. Most of it can be applied as life lessons-finish what you started- hard work, pays off- tried & true is usually best- prepare for the future.

  26. 8-24
    11:21
    am

    I’ve helped my folks make gallons and gallons of jams and jellies since I was little. We were great pickers and jammers. But, that’s about it. Last summer I taught myself how to can chicken. I don’t know why. It just seemed like something I should know. And, let me tell you…home-canned chicken is the Food of the Gods. It makes the BEST chicken salad, which is one of my all-time favorites. If you have conquered everything else, get yurself some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and get ready to impress your friends! Delicious!

  27. 8-24
    11:28
    am

    My Mom has always canned (still does). I never had an interest in it until about 15 years ago. Our garden was full & not wanting to be wasteful, I purchased a book from our states agricultural dept.. I made awesome salsa, but found canning tomatoes to be a royal pain. Instructions in the book stated that I should remove all seeds prior to canning. I had no A/C in my kitchen & spent 3 very hot miserable days picking out the seeds. Almost everyone laughed about me going to this extreme! But, my family ejoyed the fruits of my labor. I have also canned venison, which is the only way I will eat it.

  28. 8-24
    11:37
    am

    I’ve never canned but having become interested in it lately. My mother and grandmother always canned.
    One of these years….

  29. 8-24
    12:21
    pm

    I actually bought myself a pressure canner for my birthday back in February. Last year is when I really needed it with all the green beans I had. We froze them last year. This year, what little big we planted was eaten by the deer (the only thing in the garden that they ate.) Everything else that I’ve canned this year (tomatoes, banana peppers, salsa, pickles, sauerkraut) I’ve done the water bath way, although I just boil my jars in a big pot, get my ingredients as hot as possible, then seal them and put them back in the pot and use a ladle to pour the hot water over the tops continually for about 5 – 10 minutes. So far, everything has sealed this way. When I look at the instruction booklet for my new pressure canner, I end up putting it away again and tell myself I’ll figure it out when I can something like meat. I’m a big procrastinator! :bugeyed:

  30. 8-24
    2:25
    pm

    I love to can. I love hearing the pop, pop, pop of the lids sealing. This week it has been apples and tomatoes. Last week it was green beans before that it was more tomatoes, salsa blackberries and cherry jam way back in June. I can’t wait to try your hot pepper butter!

    I decided to do green beans for the first time this year and needed a pressure cooker. Guess what I told DH I wanted for our 10th anniversary? I got a pressure cooker! :D

  31. 8-24
    3:42
    pm

    I taught myself to can about 40 years ago. I started canning fruit in a water bath.
    Have to admit I was a bit afraid of the pressure cooker. I have canned tuna and venison and all sorts of veggies in the pressure cooker in the ensuing years.
    Nothing tastes better than home canned fruit, veggies and jams and jellies.

  32. 8-24
    3:53
    pm

    I love the sound of the ‘ping’ when the jar seals! :snoopy: It is a magic sound of a job well done and a satisfactory sigh of a full cupboard. I told my Hubby that I want a jar grabber for my birthday so I don’t burn my hands anymore. We have a simple but a good life, with lots of love and hopefully stored food. The next few weeks are going to be VERY busy picking vegetables and canning.

    I have more good news: We have a hen setting on about 9+ eggs–I’m going to be a grandma!! I don’t remember us having too much success when Daddy had chickens when we were little, but I think they didn’t want to brood. I will definitely keep you posted!! :happyfeet: :heart:

  33. 8-24
    6:05
    pm

    Until my husband and I moved to Florida 5 years ago my girlfriend and I canned out of our garden. Bottles of dilled beans (with a carrot slice to add color) apple butter, blueberry jam, stewed tomatoes (wonderful in Chili and spagetti sauce) and pickled garlic. The jars were beautiful and last year she sent me a “remember the garden” gift of stewed tomatoes and squash relish. What a treat.

  34. 8-24
    6:47
    pm

    I kind of remember my grandmother canning when I was little. She had a full time job, so she only did a little herself. I jumped right in to canning when I was fising commercially. I actually wasn’t doing the fishing this one year, but I was following the boat up the coast in my truck with a chassis biult camper on it. The captain had caught a dozen or so albacore. When he had gone out to catch them the markets were buying, when he came back they had stopped. We were left with fish we didn’t want to waste. I learned very quickly how to can tuna! I did batch after batch in my little 4 quart pressure cooker. I think I ended up with abourt 10 cases of canned albacore tuna…it was the best!

  35. 8-24
    7:06
    pm

    Another favorite here on our farm that Georgia started is canned PORK! Yum! Watch for pork loin to go on sale (really cheap) and can some of it. It is great for stir-fry, breakfast hash, etc.
    Cousin Mark, AKA my hubby, has even canned the pork himself.

    To Janet (above): Try cooking down your apple butter in a crock pot until you get the desired thickness. My retired, 81 y.o. dad is the king of crock pot Apple Butter that is then hot-water bath- canned in our family. He’s the king of green bean canning, too.

    BTW, Suzanne’s Peach Pie was DELISH!!! (Don’t envy me, I lured her to WV so I could eat her baked goods!

    :happybutterfly:

  36. 8-24
    10:50
    pm

    I’ve been canning for 30+ years. Like Suzanne, my mom and her family moved from the farm to the big city to escape a very harsh life. The only thing I can remember them canning was blackberry jelly, not with pectin either. My first effort was crock dill pickles, which I threw out on week two because I thought they were rotten. Kerr Krispy Lunch Pickles (bread & butter) were a smashing success and I haven’t stopped since. More water bath than pressure, but have done both plus dehydrating and of course freezing. A couple of my favorites are sweet relish made with pears (you’d never know if wasn’t cukes), peach jam. And who doesn’t love having their own canned tomatoes? There are very few pick your own places here and the number of roadside stands are disappearing, but as long as I can find it, I’ll keep putting up good food. This newly found website has been wonderful for me. Like minds and all. Thanks everyone, especially you Suzanne.

  37. 8-25
    7:48
    am

    We can salsa, green beans, bread and butter pickles, peach jam, apple butter. We’ve done potatoes but they aren’t our favorites. We freeze corn and we butcher. Yep, we eat pretty good at our house. I didn’t grow up canning . . . but I must say it is the greatest sense of accomplishment, and self-sufficiency. I LOVE IT!

  38. 8-25
    8:07
    am

    >Everything else that I’ve canned this year (tomatoes, banana peppers, salsa, pickles, sauerkraut) I’ve done the water bath way, although I just boil my jars in a big pot, get my ingredients as hot as possible, then seal them and put them back in the pot and use a ladle to pour the hot water over the tops continually for about 5 – 10 minutes. So far, everything has sealed this way.>

    Susan,
    Some years ago, I took a master home gardener class. One important thing I learned was this:

    There is a difference between having sealed LIDS and CANNING.

    ANY lid that has food in it hot enough to “melt” the rubber will SEAL, however that doesn’t mean that the food inside is SAFE! It takes only a minimum of heat to “seal” the lid! There is a reason that the instructions calls for 2″ of boiling water over jars AT ALL TIMES. It’s to kill the naturally occurring bacteria that is in the food and not allow the botulism spores that exist to multiply. Botulism spores thrive in improperly “canned” foods.

    I’m really concerned that the ladling has not killed all the bacteria. It only takes a “little” to cause poisoning.

    Home canning is safe – when good directions are followed EXACTLY. It’s when people “improvise” that disaster occurs, causing people who know nothing about canning to “be afraid” to can.

    Questions about canning can be directed to your local Extension Agent in charge of Family Science (I think that’s the new term for the “Home Ec” agent.)

    Also, at least many places here in the south, your local county has a public canning facility. For a small charge (here it’s 50 cents a jar) you can go in with your own jars, lids, rings and produce or meat and use their equipment. They also have jars and cans there that you can buy (for another small fee. Here, wide-mouth jars ar $1 and #2 cans are also $1.) They will help you. They can can 170 jars a batch, have stainless steel work tables and sharp knives.

  39. 8-25
    10:06
    am

    I am a suburbs girl but I’m living out my alter ego on the farm with you! I would love to do what you have done…move from the suburbs to a farm and make it happen, but alas, I don’t see that in the cards for me. It’s OK though…I read you daily and pretend! LOL! The first thing I ever canned was apple/pear butter. I came across apples and pears for dirt cheap one year and made jars and jars of the butter. It was delicious!!! I gave it away as Christmas gifts to friends and family and had a ball with the whole thing. With fall coming and all the talk about canning around the internet I’m inspired again, so I’ll be on the look out for jars and suitable produce at a suitable price. Thanks for this post!

  40. 8-25
    8:06
    pm

    I am canning like crazy right now! I have done green beans, mixed veggies, salsa, squash, peaches, and now tomatoes. I have also done freezer jam (blueberry, strawberry, black raspberry, sweet cherry, tart cherry, blueberry-strawberry) and freezer peach pie filling and freezer blueberry pie filling. If I had more free time(read= no 18 month old.. :D ) I would have done a lot more. In a couple of weeks, though, we are getting apples and I am doing apple butter, apples for baking, Cinnamon Red Hot Apples, etc… I am hoping to do some jalapeno or hot pepper jelly myself, as we have jalapenos and cayenne peppers coming out our ears, but we’ll see what I have time for… this is my first year canning and I am simply LOVING it! I can’t wait for the snow to fly so I have an excuse to pop open a jar of fresh salsa!

  41. 8-26
    2:37
    am

    I just started this summer. I’ve made blueberry preserves, strawberry preserves, orange marmalade, spaghetti sauce and sweet pickle relish.

    I’ve been intimidated by the pressure canner but hope to resolve that at a class I’m going to on Thursday, which is being given by our county’s extension agent. It’s not as critical as it was a month ago since the deer came and cleaned out most of my small garden, but at least I’ll be ready next year!

  42. 8-26
    12:47
    pm

    I’ve been canning tomato juice every couple of days for the last two weeks. It tastes soooo much better than the stuff you buy at the grocery store! My husband loves it!! I learned to can from my Mom and Grandmother. My grandparents lived on a farm and my grandmother and my mom always canned things from grandma’s huge garden. As soon as I was old enough, I was drafted to help with the canning. I live in the city now with a tiny back yard but my mom and my uncle still have big gardens and they share with me (lucky me!). Course, these days I have to can after I get home from my 9 to 5 job which is a little tiring, but so worth it come winter!

  43. 8-26
    3:06
    pm

    I canned all summer. I’m pooped! I learned from my mom and grandmother. When my grandmother passed away, she had AT LEAST 500 cans in her cellar. The lady was a serious canner…

    It feels good to see all those cans lined up on a shelf.

  44. 8-26
    9:15
    pm

    I’ve been wanting to can for a couple of years now. I’ve even got berries in the freezer holding for preserves and purchased a canning bath and access. I’ve never done it before and I admit being a little scared!
    Oh Lord let me be brave and just DO IT!

  45. 8-27
    12:27
    pm

    Shelly,

    There is plenty of information available on the Internet posted by universities on the current techniques of canning. I purchased the Ball Blue Book to pick up the basics and then a few other recipe books, including the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Judy Kingrey-excellent recipes) and a Farm Journal preserving book. Anything you want to can needs to be fresh and the canning jars, lids and rings very clean.

    Water bath canning is relatively easy to do. The pressure canning takes more time and can be a little tricky, especially if you have an electric range (can be tough to get your pressure stable). But don’t let that scare you off – it’s like anything else – practice makes perfect. Once you know how to adjust the heat on your stove, the pressure will stay consistent.

    Start with a few jams since the summer isn’t over yet and start out fresh for next year. Pickles are also very easy to can. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish!

    Happy canning! Cate

  46. 8-29
    6:17
    pm

    I grew up in the city and never knew much about canning until the last 4 years. I am now a self-reliant farmer and can anything and everything. I live for canning and got so depressed at the end of the last potato canner full last year. I waited a month or so and just couldn’t take it anymore…so I went to the butcher and got 40lbs of fresh beef bones, made stock, and canned up the years supply. I now have gravy for the year. :shimmy: I am in the full swing of it now…I just canned some convenience foods and can’t wait to try them. You’re right about it being an all or nothing thing. I’m hooked!!! Glad to see that I am in great company.

  47. 9-14
    7:02
    pm

    I thought your questions about canning were interesting. I have canned for nearly 30 years. My aunt always canned just about everything and my mother always canned tomatoes. When I wanted to begin canning, I hit the books and learned all that I could. I’m obsessive about cleanliness and procedure, so I feel very safe about the food I can. I always seem to grow a garden big enough for numerous families so there is always an abundance of veggies, etc. This year I have canned green beans, whole tomatoes, salsa, pasta sauce and numerous types of relish. I have loads of peppers still to be used…..and tomatoes too.

  48. 9-23
    11:08
    am

    When we moved to our farm in WNC the first thing we did was to put in a garden. We also became the proud parents of a 100 year old grape vine that had been gone feral! With tender loving care we nursed it back to where it’s producting fruit, beautiful Concord grapes. Our first harvest produced 8 jars of deeeeeeelicious grape jam! I made homemake bread and homemade butter and . . .well let’s jut say, before I could ring for breakfast my husband was already sitting at the table! Canning is now a necessity to keep hubby happy and well fed!

  49. 1-31
    10:49
    am

    :chef: I love to can and taught myself. All I needed to learn was the desire and a book to teach me. Come on wanna bee’s, you *can* do it!

  50. 2-11
    10:33
    pm

    I grew up eating my grandmother’s home-canned garden fruits and vegetables. Yet, I’m afraid to can my own. I admire you and love your blogs!

    I am thinking of signing up with 4-H and see if they’ll teach an older person how to can. Kaci in FL

  51. 4-11
    3:08
    pm

    I am a self taught canner. Now a grandmother I am teaching my granddaughters to can. I bought my first pressure canner this year and am having a ball with it. If you can read, YOU CAN CAN.

  52. 12-8
    12:10
    am

    I started slowly learning to can not quiet a year ago , I’m still interested in it and hopefully this spring I can get a head start on my garden so I can have things to can , so far I’ve done some blueberry jelly , strawberry jelly (or jam I’m not sure which LOL) , grape jelly , apple butter , apple jelly (though it didn’t completely thicken LOL) mayo , peanut butter , honey mustard , some of suzannes cranberry sauce and spaghetti sauce.I’d like to try to make some tomato sauce as well and maybe some salsa. I have a ball book on home canning and preserving but it’s not the ball blue book.My hubby makes fun of me for it , but if I feel that I’m doing something good , I say let him laugh (and he does LOL). :? .

  53. 1-14
    9:42
    am

    I started canning 3 years ago. We have a CSA share, and I wanted to make a lower sugar higher fruit jam for my 3 year old who was eating a jar every 2 weeks with the help of my husband. The following year I tried pickles, and now I have canned soups, pickles, many fruit preserves. Last year we picked 20 pounds of strawberries and I made strawberry vanilla bean jam, it was SO good, my new thing is wine jelly (easy to can in winter, when you want the heat and humidity in the house!)

  54. 11-4
    11:26
    pm

    I loved your blog on canning and how your learned. I started canning in small amounts last summer, but have devoted almost the last month to canning everything I can get my hands on. I am having trouble with jellies and jams though. I live at a high altitude in Colorado and find everything turns thick and crystalizes after a week to ten days. I have tried recipes that do not call for pectin and those that call for pectin, with the same result. Any ideas on what I am doing wrong?

  55. 11-5
    6:38
    am

    Tracy, come on over to the forum and describe your problem–there is a Canning section:

    http://chickensintheroad.com/forum/

    You’ll get lots of suggestions there!

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....






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