Get Ready for Canning Season!27. April 2016
It's time to get your CAN plan on well before it's time to harvest. Preparing for the growing and canning season will help you to keep your sanity in tact. And if you're efficient in the kitchen, you can avoid being over stressed. Here are a few tips that I keep in mind when planning my canning projects.
1. PLANT TO CAN!
For some of us, preparing for canning season takes place way before stepping foot in the kitchen. It starts with your garden chart! If you grow your own food to can, you'll need to plan accordingly for what you want to put up. If it's a salsa year, you'll need to plant tomatoes, peppers, and onions. And if your garden is like mine, you'll need to plant extra tomatoes in case a groundhog or raccoon stops by for a bite.
2. MAKE A LIST.
Ooooh, I like to make lists. My husband jokes that I might have an OCD when it comes to writing lists. For me, pre-canning season starts by listing new canning recipes to try. Then I note past recipes to avoid and what I want more of on my pantry shelf. My Grow it, Can it, Eat It Pinterest board has lots of food canning inspiration and gardening tips.
3. MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
When I first started gardening and canning, I would plan our vacation during the height of tomato season. Then I'd stress about how my garden would get watered and when the salsa would get put up when I was out of town. There's nothing as unfortunate as homegrown produce going bad before it gets used. It's criminal! These days I leave a few weekends open in anticipation of the tomato harvest. Apple season is less stressful since the harvest can sit around longer than tomatoes and berries.
4. CHECK YOUR SUPPLIES!
Be sure to have your supplies and ingredients ready before you jump into the kitchen on canning day. The last thing you want is to realize you're missing an important ingredient when you're standing at your stove. One year I was making applesauce when I noticed that I purchased wide mouth lids, but I only had regular mouth jars. Dang! I believe I said more than "Dang" that day. My husband says I went canning crazy (but not the good kind of canning crazy)!
- Check your pressure canner gauge to make sure it works properly. Call your county extension office to see if they are able to check your gauge for accuracy and safety.
- Inspect your jar and lid supply. Make sure jars are free of cracks and rings are rust free.
- Check your pantry for staple ingredients like pectin, canning salt, sugar, and spices.
- Stock up on canning labels, especially if you're giving your food in jars away for gifts.
5. ASK FOR HELP.
Don't be shy and don't feel like you're swallowing your pride by asking for help if you need it. One time my brother-in-law came for a weekend visit and found himself peeling tomatoes. He didn't know what was in store for him on that visit. Neither did I. I made an impromptu purchase at the farmer's market that morning. It was a deal I just couldn't pass up. A guy was unloading bushels of tomatoes for $2 a pail. He must've been sick of tomatoes. So I asked my brother-in-law and husband to help. Actually, I doubt I asked. I'm sure I just handed them knives and told them to get busy.
6. DON'T GO OVERBOARD!
I'm a try-it-before-you-buy-it person. My husband however, is a stock-up-now person. I'd rather do a small batch recipe to taste test, but he'd rather go full boar and assume we'll like a recipe. And while I prefer marathon canning sessions, I don't want to get stuck with a lot of something we won't eat. I still have many jars of a nasty tomato bruschetta from 8 years ago. I only keep them around so I can use them in photoshoots for my shop's canning labels. At least it looks pretty in my jars.