Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Put A Lid On It

I ran over to Walmart Monday morning to get some CWF (Clear Wood Finish) to apply to the back deck to help protect it from our intense sun.  (SM had borrowed our neighbors power washer this weekend and had cleaned the deck for me already.)

As I was buzzing through the aisles I saw a stack of boxes on the end of an aisle with a sign that said Canning Jars $7 a dozen - You pick the size.  I stopped dead in my tracks and thought.  "Why not?"

Back in the day...ages ago it seems, my parents canned.  I remember helping can tomatoes and peaches and pears.  I don't think we ever made jelly.  I'm pretty sure someone in the house made a killer bread and butter pickle.  Everything was canned using a water bath.  A few years later we got a huge upright frost free freezer and that was the end of canning at our house.

I've mentioned before that food texture is a "To each their own kinda thing." 

I'm not shy about freezing foods but I don't care for the texture of frozen peaches and pears.  Applesauce is good either way and I truly can't image preserving tomatoes any other way than in a jar.

So I loaded 3 quart boxes into my cart, spun over and picked up a water bath canner, (lifter "thingy", funnel and magnet included) and eyeballed the food processors.

SM has wanted to get me a food processor for awhile.  I just think that they're a pain in the butt.  Maybe I'd think differently if I had one but that's a mighty expensive "If".

What I think I'd like is a Food Mill.  It's seems right up my alley but again I've no experience with a food mill either.  It just seems "right" to me. 

I've also read on a blog (somewhere) about using a  Food Steamer/Juicer to help condense the water out of tomatoes for a denser sauce.

I've read blogs on slow oven roasting and crock-pot sauces too.

So I'd like to throw this out there.  Canning is on my "2011 To Do List".  I'm going to start simple this year.  Water Bath only.  Maybe next year I'll venture into pressure canning land. 

What utensils, tips, tricks would you teach a newbie like me?

Peaches, pears, and tomatoes (maybe applesauce, not sure)  That's it.  That's all.  Everything else goes in the freezer.


  1. $7 a dozen - I'd have bought 8 dozen LOL

    Hints - the only thing I can tell you is last year, when I began my first preserving, I bought "The Preserving Book" by Lynda Brown (I wrote about it here: http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/2011/01/preserve-me.html) I could not have done anything without this book :-)

  2. Did you pick up the Ball Book? That's what I started out with, now I have several and many more from the internet and friends. The great thing about canned food is it leaves room in your freezer for meats etc and you don't have to worry about power outages. I've been canning for years and love it. It's very nice to grab from your own shelves and know exactly what's in it.

    Just make sure you have a surface to let the jars rest for 24 hours without ruining the finish on your nice kitchen table. Been there, done that. Errrr

    Don't be afraid of the pressure canner someday. But this is an excellent place to start!!

  3. Wonderful!!! Canning is so great. It saves room, the jars are reusable, and it's just so old worldly. Kind of like a dying art.

    My tip is to make sure you follow the recipe. My first jam making didn't go so well, and we ended up with strawberry syrup instead of jam. Most other recipes are kind of a little here, a little there, but try to be pretty close to accurate. When you can tomatoes, you have to put some acid in with them. Again, just follow the recipe.

  4. I agree with APGal, pick up the Ball Book. Anything you need to know about canning you can find in there. I have several versions dating back to the 1930's.

    Before you know it, you will be making pickles!

  5. Congratulations on joining the rest of us nuts who just love to put stuff in jars. My only advice is to get the lobster claw looking sealed silicon pot holders. I cant tell you how wonderful they are for reaching in the water canner to grab the handles to lift out the hot jars.Priceless.

  6. What a deal those jars were! Canning is on my wannalearnsomeday list too. I can't wait to ride along on your canning 101 adventure!

    I have a mini-processor and a larger one. They are used all the time in our house, especially the mini chopper. I'm not one for a lot of gadgets, but these are stayin'!

  7. Hi Tami!
    First of all congratulations with taking the first steps to learning the art of home canning! Your excitement is clear in your post!

    I agree with Apple Pie Gal and Robin that the Ball Blue Book of Canning is the best way to start. I also relied on our local county's Food & Nutrition extension agent as well as friends and sweet elderly ladies who'd been canning for a long time...just as you're reaching out to your blog friends here! Advice from someone who'd 'been there - done that' was priceless....and still is!

    Food processors are nice to have on hand, particularly for things like applesauce, but your Food Mill looked neat. I used a cheap food processor (less than $50)for years until upgrading to a more expensive model later.

    But whatever appliance you use or method you try it's great that you're wanting to learn a new way to preserve your food.

    Good Luck and keep us 'posted' on your progress!

  8. First: Get back to that store and buy ALL of those jars! You will become addicted to canning! Also pints are more than enough for a small family.

    Second: I get the biggest bang for my buck canning tomatoes and apples...you need a mill or strainer. Cook down your sauces in a big electric roaster...for HOURS...a food processor is very handy. DON'T buy new: Go to your local thrift shops and hit a few yard sales...you'll get all you need for next to nothing.

    Third: The internet is your friend. You can GOOGLE and get recipes and canning guidlines without spending any $$$.

    Fourth: Pictures...lots of pictures!

  9. THANK YOU all for your tips and advice. I don't have the Ball book but I do have my Putting Food By book. (I'll have to check out the Ball book)

    I've also told SM to try and stop by WM tomorrow and pick up a few more cases. Sounds like the food processor is a thumbs up and I love the idea of the silcone pot holders. (I don't have any of those)

    Follow the receipe? That one is a HUGE a tip as I tend to "wander" when I cook. (Must remember that this is PRESERVING not cooking.

  10. Excellent price for the jars. I have to say that I have a small food processor and also a food mill. Really, they are used for different things. I use the food mill for liquidy things like applesauce or tomato sauce. The food processor was too much a pain to clean up so I kept on chopping everything by hand. Then I got my King Kutter. I love it! Easy to use and easy to clean. Pricey, but I'm happy with it.

  11. I love canning and like to preserve enough to last us the year. One favourite tool that I can't imagine going without is a little magnet on a handle that I use to pick up the canning lids out of the hot water. Here is what it looks like and it has saved me many burnt fingers over the years.

    I also have and love the Ball book.

  12. You Have to follow the latest instructions when you can. Older Ball books and others can have outdated canning instructions that could make your family sick if you followed them. When in doubt about a recipe call Ball or Kerr 800 numbers or your county extension office. Canning is not like regular cooking where you can experiment. If you want to change a recipe Ask first! You will get the canning bug..even can your nut meats instead of taking space in the freezer etc. Many also use the Food Saver system to vacuum pack nuts in canning jars using the Food Saver. A Food Saver though cannot 'keep' other foods like real water bath or pressure canner can. Better safe then sorry when canning. Each system has their place. Have Fun!!! :) Sarah