Spring is here, summer is coming in a few weeks. Which means I’m sure that most of you “canners” (or preservers, or dabblers) have started making your lists for spring/summer 2014, or even started canning already. If you even make lists at all- which I usually don’t, but I’m trying to be more organized this year. I haven’t really stopped canning all year, myself, between apples & pears in the fall, & all the winter citrus fruits, then the rhubarb. But this is really the time to start to prepare for the canning boom… pickled cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, & berry jams & jellies, oh my.
So this year I thought I’d do a little preparation post slash canning round-up, and what better to feature in the post than some of my vintage jar collection & my 1945 Kerr Home Canning book!
Jay got me this book in an antique shop in Indiana while on tour with his band. Of course, I love it! It’s right up my alley. Here in New York you don’t find many things like this. Maybe because people in rural areas tended to do more canning. Either way- I treasure it, and it goes along with my vintage cookbooks.
Anyway.. this is (what I hope to be) an organized post of everything you need to can this season. Note: I only included recipes for seasonal produce, you can obviously preserve many fruits & vegetables other than this!
First of all: the how-to. BEFORE YOU START CANNING, READ THIS POST!!!!
There’s nothing I can stress more than SAFE canning practices, and that post lays it all out for you. Read it, know it, live it.
Second, check your jar inventory. This goes for newbies as well as not-so-newbies. See what jars you have plenty of, which ones you need, and check your lid/band supply. I always try to have two lids for each empty jar in my pantry. Bands I always have more than enough of, but I double check anyway.
Also, check all of your jars that aren’t brand new and make sure there are no cracks or chips. Run your fingers around the tops of each, and any that have nicks or chips use for storing grains or beans instead of canning. If you have old jars that are suspicious or as if they might have cracked, fill them with water and put them on a plate. If they leak after an hour or two, then you know they’ve definitely over-stayed their canning welcome. If not, then they’re probably good to go. Unless there are visible or touchable cracks, you’re most likely okay to use ’em.
DO NOT USE JARS LIKE THE ONES SHOWN ABOVE FOR CANNING PURPOSES.
Thankfully, safe, new jars are pretty economical to replace if you find you’ve got some duds.
I like to have an assortment of jars in different sizes. I always have a lot of pint jars & 8-ounce jars (pickles & jams) but I like having a decent amount of quart jars as well as 4-ounce jars, too. And of course a case of novelty sizes like the 12-ounce crystal jelly jar or the 24-ounce jars.
Third, check your inventory. Do you have a TON of pickles left? Did you make far too much strawberry jam but plum jam is but a distant memory? Take note! For me, pickles rarely last into the winter, but I always end up with a few stragglers jam-wise. And my marmalades are ALWAYS left behind. What does that tell me? This coming year: I need to make even more pickles, keep the jam going but give more away, and lessen up on the marm.
Fourth, make your lists. What you need to buy, how much of it, etc. And of course the canning list! What recipes you want to make, how much of each, and the “share plan”; who’s getting a jar or two of what. If you find your recipes online, then start bookmarking them in their own folder. If you have canning books, stick post-its on each page listing what you’d like to make.
To help you out with that last part, I decided to list my previous years’ canning exploits here for you! Just in case you’re interested in canning up some of these yourself this year.
Some of the recipes below do not require canning; this means they must be refrigerated right away. If you choose to make any of the recipes below without processing them for shelf-stability, they MUST go into the refrigerator or freezer in a jar or container that’s safe & appropriate.
- Martini pickles (made with vodka & olive juice)
- Hop pickles (made with beer)
- Maple-bourbon pickles/whiskey pickles
- Molotov cocktail pickles (made with vodka & hot pepper)
- Lemon-garlic-tarragon pickles
- Sweet cinnamon clove pickles
- Grilled pickles
- Asian-style pickles (no canning required)
- Kosher dill pickles (no canning required)
- Pickled garlic (for medicinal purposes)
- Pickled eggplant
- Melanzane Sott’Olio (eggplant in oil)
- Pickled carrots
- Dilly beans
- Strawberry-rhubarb preserves
- Blueberry-basil jam
- Strawberry-vanilla jam
- Chocolate plum jam
- Brandied vanilla peach jam
- Nectarine-basil preserves
- Cherry vanilla vodka preserves
- Blackberry lime jam
- Raspberry-cilantro-jalapeno jam
- Tomato jam
- Rhubarb-ginger jam
SAUCES & SALSAS:
NON-CANNING-RELATED INFUSIONS & SYRUPS:
- Ginger syrup (for homemade ginger ale)
- Tarragon vinegar
- Chive blossom vinegar
- Blackberry honey syrup
- Chili oil
And of course, as always, keep looking back here throughout the summer for more delicious jams, jellies, pickles & everything else. Not to mention tips or tricks for helping you out along the way.