So, if I’ve managed to spark your interest yesterday, even the tiniest bit, I have a few recommendations and caveats for you:
One – Start reading.
One book that I believe lit the canning fire under my pot is Animal,Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, co-written with her daughter and husband. It’s a collaborative book recounting the year they spent eating only foods from their own farm or from sources within a 100-mile radius of their home.
It includes fascinating information on “locavorism”, humorous stories about their adventures and mishaps that year, and, perhaps most importantly, recipes for canning and for healthful, earthy fare. Although many of these recipes are for large canning projects and might not be practical for the new canner or the non-gardener, they are still helpful for understanding the process and for finding inspiration.
Two – Keep reading.
Invest in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, by Judi Kingry and Lauren DeVine. A dear friend gifted me with this book, and I couldn’t live without it. It is the must-have canning book for anyone wanting to learn how to put-up food.
Three – Stock Up In Season.
This time of year, canning products are easy to find. In another month or so, however, they’ll be marked down, so keep your eyes open for BOGO sales of jars, seals and other canning necessities. Even if you’re not planning on starting until the Spring, buying supplies on sale is a huge benefit.
Four – Follow Directions
If you indeed decide to try canning, follow ALL directions carefully and only use recipes from reliable sources. Pinterest and other online sites may provide recipes that sound yummy, but they may not have been tested and approved for consumption.
Five – Do not “fudge” the recipes.
They are tweaked for peak safety. For example, if a recipe says to use bottled lemon juice, don’t use fresh lemons. The acidity in bottled juice is standard and controlled, whereas the acidity in fresh lemons is impossible to measure. Improper acid levels will lead to spoiled food and possibly food poisoning, so, following directions carefully is essential.
And, if you are novice, stick to recipes that use the water bath canning method. Pressure canning is best left for those who’ve done a lot of canning using the boiling water method.
Six – Take Courage.
Don’t be afraid – despite all my warnings, canning is not scary and quite safe, when done the right way!