Learning Canning

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Canning How To: Where Do I Start?

Maybe someone can help. When I was quite young my parents saved a great deal by canning. We would pick strawberries from local farms and can preserves. We would pick blackberries along the side of the road and can those. We had gardens both in our back yard and on rented lots and from those we canned everything from squash to green beans.

Unfortunately my parents broke up before they ever got around to passing on their canning talents. Neither of them kept it up after the break (I don't think canning was the cause, though)... Anyway, my own girls are very young themselves, and it made me think back to those years with all that good stuff in mason jars (especially the preserves).

I was wondering if anyone knew of any really good resources I could check into to get started. I am a beginner, I was too young at the time to participate, I only got to relish in the results (as well as the relish).

Best Book

There is a book out there that I have just been loving. It's great to answer all your questions without making you feel stupid, but giving vital information that other canning books aren't. It goes into prices, best deals to purchase bulk food. If you need it they have answered it.

It's Food Storage for the Clueless by Clark L. and Kathryn H. Kidd. It's the best book I've found, and I've been looking for a decent book for several years now. It cost me about $17 and there are over 400 pages. The publisher is Bookcraft, 2405 W. Orton Circle, West Valley City, Utah 84119. You can also purchase from Desert Book Stores available in 10 states and via e-mail or direct ordering from any store. I got my from a store that I just called and with a credit card number, they sent it to me in a few days.

Canning How To: Teacher's Advice

I am a Family & Consumer Science Teacher (AKA Home Economics!) in Oklahoma and have a few suggestions for your canning needs. First of all, it usually costs more to can than to buy it canned. But if what you are looking for is the great taste and the experience of canning, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Find a good basic canning guide. Kerr has an excellent one. It will give you detailed instructions for each type of food and also recipe suggestions. Also included are safety tips and suggestions for equipment. This book becomes your "Canning Bible."
  2. There are 2 basic canning methods, one for high- acid foods (tomatoes, peaches, etc.) and another for low-acid foods (green beans, meats, etc.) For high-acid foods, you use the easier water-bath canning method, and for the low-acid foods, you'll have to use a pressure canner.
  3. There are several type of special equipment that you'll need. After getting the canning guide book, try going to a few flea markets or garage sales to look for used equipment.
  4. Start with one or two small projects and find a friend or relative to help,preferably with some experience. If not, you can learn together. Call the local extension office for suggestions or the local Home Economics teacher. Don't forget to save your prettiest jar and enter some of your "art" in the local county fair!

Have fun and happy canning,
Kay B

Check sale prices for Boiling Water Canners and Pressure Cooker Canners on Amazon

Web Resource

Go to www.homecanning.com and check out what's there. When you have the time, canning is fun!

Canning How To: Learned From Mom

I, too, grew up helping my mother can during the 1930s, and I have continued that tradition during most of the 50 years I have been married. My own children grew up on "bottled fruit."

First of all, go to your state Land Grant University if possible. Find the County Agent's Office. The Extension Service in Utah has a wealth of pamphlets and booklets covering every aspect of home food preservation, including freezing as well as canning. (I even have an old Extension Service booklet about how to cut up and preserve venison, but I sure don't do that any more.)

Next, instead of going to the grocery store for bottles and rings, go to your neighborhood thrift store (don't buy chipped bottles or rusty rings). It may take a few trips, but by watching thrift stores, I can procure quarts and pints for 25 cents each instead of over twice that amount at the grocery store. The lids will cost more. They have to be new and dependable, and you should purchase a brand name like Kerr or Ball.

If you are interested in jams and jellies, many low-sugar recipes are included in the Slim Set or MCP reduced sugar pectin packages. Fresh berries, of course, come from your own back yard, roadside stands in season, perhaps neighbors, or perhaps wild if you are lucky like blackberries in Oregon. We utilize all sources. Follow the pectin recipes carefully or the jams and jellies won't set (good hotcake syrup though.)

Store your sealed fruit in a cool dark place. This is the standard advice, although I canned during the three years we lived in Hawaii, and the fruit lasted ok, although for a shorter time. (It goes dark eventually and loses flavor.)

Vegetables are another problem. They must be carefully preserved by a different method for safety. Again, find your State Extension Service and you will get all the help you need.
Gwen S.

Look to Manufacturers

We do a lot of canning ourselves. One of the best resources I have found is a book put out by the people who make the canning jars, Kerr. It talks about home canning and how to freeze foods. You might could go to their site and request one. They also carry them at Wal-Mart stores near the canning jars. Also, if you buy a Mirro Pressure Cooker-Canner it comes with a book. I have also found books at our local library. You will be surprised at how easy it is and how much you can save by canning your own food. You will also be amazed by the variety of things that can be canned. Did you know that you can can meats?

Check sale prices for Canning Jars and Canning Lids on Amazon

Canning How To: Grandma's Kitchen

I remember my grandmother canning when I was a little girl and especially how good everything would smell. After I got married and had two sons, times were tough and I took up home canning.

If you want to know how to acquire good, cheap produce to can, I suggest you barter with friends or family that have ample gardens. We had room and I had time to garden and can most things, but I did help an elderly neighbor each fall with some end-of-the-season yard work in exchange for wonderfully mellow pears. We live near Dallas and there was a branch of the Dallas Farmers Market nearby.

This market was not very busy on Sundays and many venders would not be there on Sunday. So, late Saturday afternoon, many of these guys would accept ridiculously low offers for what was left over. I bought all of the Italian green beans that was left by one man and he threw in all of his carrots, onions, and beets so that he could pack and go home. I don't know if this is the case in other locations, but it worked for me. There is a nearby you-pick'em strawberry and blueberry farm that I frequently visited. I got to know the woman there very well and she would call at the end of the season and tell me to come pick everything that was left, for free.

As far as cheap actual canning, I would give the following suggestions. Ask around and see if any of your friends or family have canning jars and equipment that you can use. My husband's grandmother gave us her Presto canner, waterbath canner, and around a hundred jars. I have acquired more jars over the years and I have never bought anything, but some fancy jelly jars for gift giving purposes. I also suggest that you freeze some things, such as corn. You have to pressure home-canned corn for so long, that it would not save you any money. Corn, cut from the cob, and blanched freezes very well and is delicious.

Finally, don't can or freeze any produce (even free produce), unless you know that your family will eat it. I was given free beets one time, and spent one whole day canning them. I then discovered I was the only person that liked beets. It is hard for one person to eat 28 quarts of beets before they go bad or you need the jars for the next canning season.

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