Friday, September 26, 2014

diy: canning at home

SMBP // DIY Canning
For those who have never canned it can seem like a pretty scary undertaking. I won't lie, it definitely takes time, but scary...not in the least. I have been canning salsa, tomato sauce, jams and pickles for about 8 years- once you have a few of the basics down, canning can be fun and a pretty seamless process. 

You only get better and more efficient with experience. Believe me, I have had Jam over boil on the stove top (not fun), scalding hot water down my arm and leg and a few other disasters- but they never caused me to give up on canning.

You know why?  
Because there is nothing better than opening a can of jam or sauce in the dead of Winter that you put up yourself- you can almost taste Summer.

So today, I'd like to share with you a few helpful tips, tricks and resources that will make canning a little less scary for those looking to preserve the Summer harvest for the first time

SMBP // DIY Canning
One of the best things you can do before diving in is research. Immerse yourself in canning books, websites and blogs. You will pick up safety tips, techniques and methods that are tried and true. 

In addition to the Ball Blue Book on canning + the Web, I absolutely LOVE Canning for a new generation which focuses on small batch  artisinal canning- lets get real, some of us don't have time to process 56 pounds of tomatoes, but 6 pounds or so of peaches, no problem! This guide also provides you with a ton of important information on safe home canning and all recipes can be processed in a water bath- which in my opinion is the no fuss and most versatile way to go.

SMBP // DIY Canning
Salsa is the one thing that I always make sure to save time for; typically in August when peppers, tomatoes + onions are plentiful.  This year I found myself with an over abundant cherry tomato crop- the quickest way to use my little bounty was by way of cherry tomato salsa- no need for de-seeding or removing the skins of the tomatoes. Simply place all ingredients in a food processor, pulse a couple of times, move to a pot, bring to a boil and can. I prefer to remove access tomato juice (which you can save) for a thicker, chunky style salsa by draining in a fine sieve colander. 

Once you are comfortable with canning in general you can get a little more creative with your recipes- I always make sure to add additional lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (5% acidity) to all my tomato based recipes to keep the ph up {about 1-2 tbsp to each jar}. 

SMBP // DIY Canning
Homemade pickles are another really great recipe to start with, easy too! A simple brine of water, salt  and vinegar along with cukes, garlic and pickling salt and your are on your way to homemade pickle heaven.  You can experiment by adding in cauliflower, red peppers and carrots to the brine as well. Word to the wise, Purple cauliflower will turn your pickles a brilliant purple!

SMBP // DIY Canning SMBP // DIY Canning
So, to get started on your canning adventure you will need:
A reliable canning recipe/book
Stock pot or canning pot that is large enough to cover the tops of the jars by 1" of water 
(I just bought this one from Amazon that I love!)
Canning Jar basket or rack for the pot
Jar Lifter
Canning Jars, Bands and Lids
Funnel or Ladle
(neat bundle with canning basics)
Wire Cooling Rack
Small Sauce Pot to sanitize the lids + bands
Loads of tea/kitchen towels
Recipe ingredients
Large Stockpot for cooking your recipe
Food Mill, Immersion Blender or Food Processor are also handy
SMBP // DIY Canning

SMBP // DIY Canning

SMBP // DIY Canning SMBP // DIY Canning
Next to pickles, making jam is probably one of the easiest canning recipes to master.
 All you need is fruit, sugar and lemon juice. I typically use white sugar, however this year I experimented with Coconut Sugar, let me tell you - it was amazing! The coconut sugar lends these  caramel tones throughout the peach jam- this stuff is addicting. Most recipes will call for peeling the peaches, however I'm lazy and just diced them up skin and all. I love my jam thick and chunky and the skins pretty much disappeared during the cooking process. My rule of thumb for every 4 cups of fruit I add 3 cups of sugar. For those looking for a less sugar heavy recipe, the Canning for a new generation offers a trick of utilizing green apples in place of the majority of sugar- I have yet to try this method but it sounds interesting!
SMBP // DIY Canning

SMBP // DIY Canning SMBP // DIY Canning
I'd love to hear any canning tips or tricks you have learned along the way.
Are you one who has been intimidated by canning, if so I'd love to hear why?
I'm gearing up to process 76 pounds of tomatoes this weekend- do you have canning plans soon?
SMBP // DIY Canning
Cherry Tomato Summer Salsa
makes about 4 pints

you will need:
10 cups organic heirloom cherry tomatoes
hot peppers- to taste
3 cups assorted green or colored peppers
2 medium red or white onions
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar {5% acidity}
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
garlic (optional) to taste

add ins optional (1/2 cup)
- peaches
- pineapple
- lime juice
- zucchini


Prepare Jars + Lids {sanitize + keep warm in water}

Fill Canner with Water and turn on to start the boil
{I sanitize my jars in the canner after washing with warm soapy water}

Place all veggies + add ins (lime juice at the very end if using with vinegar + honey) in a food processor- pulse a few times until veggies become chopped to your likeness. Transfer to a medium stock pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10  minutes. If you want a thicker salsa drain away the excess tomato juice and freeze for another day. Return mix to the pan and stir in salt to taste, honey and vinegar.

Working with one Jar at a time transfer the hot salsa mixture the jar and wipe rim clean with a damp cloth prior to placing the lid and band. Gently turn the band finger tip tight. Move filled jar back to the canning pot and repeat until all 4 jars are filled (you may have a little extra salsa left, I kept it in the fridge for chips + tofu scrambles}.

Process jars in canner for 25 minutes at a continuous boil. Remove jars one by one and place on a wire rack with a tea towel under to catch the hot water dripping from the jars.

Allow Jars to sit overnight, you will hear popping sounds- this indicates the jars are sealing. Also, check all jars to ensure they have sealed by pressing the center of each lid, if it does not bounce back it has sealed, if it does place in the fridge and enjoy within a couple of weeks.




  1. Great tips! Never tried canning at home, but will be great to preserve summer flavours!

  2. Yay, canning! I made plenty of canned tomato sauce this year, but nothing else yet. Ideally, I'll find a good way to make canned crisp dill pickles and make a few jars of those too, but realistically, it's probably going to be fridge pickles. There's always room for a good fridge pickle!

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