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Ask The Readers {Canning}

Many of the questions I often get asked this time of year is about canning.

So, many people want to learn how to can various fruits and vegetables and I love that. I love the fact that canning is gaining in popularity.

I grew up with a mom that canned. She would can several hundred quarts of fruits and vegetables every year. What she canned was what we ate during the winter months. She canned all kinds of things.

She canned peaches, pears, applesauce, green beans, tomatoes, corn, cherries, all kinds of pie fillings, jams, jellies, and even meats and fish. And I am sure I am missing a few things that she canned over the years. We basically ate what we grew and preserved.

I spent many hours watching and helping my mom can during the summer and fall. From snapping beans and pitting cherries, to loading and sterilizing jars. I have watched and helped in the process many times.

I have also done some canning on my own as an adult. I canned jams and jellies, tomatoes, salsa, and a few other things. I love home canned food and know how to can.

The process of canning fruits and vegetables is not hard, but it does take some time to learn. And it is something I think that is hard to learn by reading a blog post. It is best learned hands on.

So, my best advice for those wanting to learn to can is to find someone in your area that knows how to can. Find a family member or friend that has been doing it for years. Ask if they can teach you. Volunteer to help them can some of their fruits and vegetables in exchange for teaching you how it is done.

Preserving fruits and vegetables is a skill that most people will gladly take the time to teach to others. You just need to ask.

If you can not find anyone to help show you how to can, there are some good resources. Ball has several great books that include step by step directions and recipes. One of the books I have and love is Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

You can also find very helpful information online, but be sure to get it from a reputable source, like the Ball website.

Now, I would love to hear what you have to say about canning. Do you know how to can? If so what do you can? And what would be your tips for those wanting to learn.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. My state’s cooperative extension service has several studies and publications about canning the game, fish, and produce that grow where we live. Most of their recipes are free, but the pamphlets with a fee only cost $2-$5. The advice about canning local products has been very useful to me. (The co-op is often represented at the state fair, but it can also be found online through Google.)

  2. Absolutely, I can. I learned from my mother, who did pretty much the same as yours, and now my daughter is learning from me. I think anyone who pays attention to the instructions in something like the Ball canning book will be successful, but they must realize that even people who have done it forever will have a failure now and then, so make note of the instructions about checking for spoilage, too. The other thing to realize is that there are dozens of canning recipes for any given item you might want to make and not all will be to your taste, so start with small batches or ask someone who makes a particular favorite. I’m still looking for a dill pickle recipe that I like enough to keep.

  3. Both my parents can and have for many years and I am hoping to start this year. I will probably start with salsa. If possible I will get my mom to help me but otherwise I will follow the Ball book instructions. And make my husband help!

  4. I grew up with a mom that canned too and I helped a little, but not much. As an adult when our budget became tight I decided I wanted to learn to can to help save money in our grocery budget. Mostly I can fruits – jams and peaches. I haven’t yet been brave enough to try anything that gets canned in a pressure cooker. I agree with your advice to get the Ball Blue Book. They have a great website too. It has forum where you can ask lots of questions of experts and usually you get an answer within a few hours. I also recommend The website has step by step directions (with LOTS of pictures). I didn’t have someone to tutor me when I started canning, I relied heavily on those three resources and still go back to them to be sure I’m getting my recipe and timing right.

    If you’re just starting canning jams or jellies I recommend buying one brand of pectin and sticking to that one for at least one full season. The amounts and times are a bit different in each brand of pectin and that can be confusing for a newbie.

  5. My mother and grandmother canned; I grew up helping them (but not paying attention as I thought canning was hot and troublesome!). I “won” a Ball Canning party last summer and had 12 friends over to can salsa together. Luckily for me, I have a friend who has canned for 25+ years and she was my canning teacher. She & I now can pretty much everything together, either sharing what we can or just helping each other can things. I can salsa-she helps me but her family doesn’t eat it. She cans tomato juice-I help her but we don’t use any.
    My best suggestion to someone starting out is to try to find someone to can WITH you. Maybe ask around at church or call an Aunt that you know used to can. It’s so much more FUN with a partner and you’ll avoid making newbie mistakes like screwing up the headspace or something.

    I can salsa, dill pickles, pears, peaches, jelly/jam, spaghetti sauce, applesauce and pizza sauce. =)

    • @Dorothy,

      I have never canned, but have been interested in canning my mother’s salsa. I was wondering if the salsa has to be hot, in order to canned?

  6. This does seem to be the hot topic right now doesn’t it! I just had a FB discussion with one of my Aunts who just bought a water-bath canner and seemed a little intimidated by the whole process – I told her if she likes to cook and can follow a recipe, it’s actually very easy, it’s just a matter of having the time. Growing up, my Mom did some canning primarily of jams and jellies. As an adult I continued to put by jams and fruit syrups and canned peaches and pears. This year though I’m going all out and I just bought myself a pressure canner! I’m so excited – I contemplated trying to borrow my Mother-in-law’s pressure canner ( she has a huge garden and cans a lot!) but came across a good deal on Amazon so I treated myself instead! I’m planning to can stocks, my own beans, tomatoes, sauces, salsas, and veggies. I’ve been freezing my homemade chicken stock and pizza sauce and prepared beans but I hate having it be frozen solid when I want it now. Now I just need to keep my eyes open for lots of jars at a good price!

  7. I grew up with a Mom and two Grands who all taught me how to can. My daughter cans now too. You name it we can it. I’m not much of a gardener but I love to can. If you don’t know how to can and want to learn find someone who does and ask if you can help so you can learn.

  8. My Grandparents canned when I was a kid but all I was allowed to do with them was peeling and cutting. About 5 years ago I took a jam making class at a local natural foods store and I was hooked. This year I will can apple sauce, pickles, jam, jalapenos, peaches, salsa and pasta sauce. I have canned pie filling in the past but I am trying to lose weight and homemade pie filling was WAY too good. We don’t garden (we live at 7800ft) so I buy in season from a local growers farmers market.

    My favorite website is – they have some really good recipes and lots of helpful hints.

    I also want to mention to those just starting out to expect a few failures; not everything turns out great the first time you try it so start with small batches. We have endured runny salsa, mushy peaches and I am on our fourth batch of blueberry syrup and it is still too thick:)

  9. In Kansas we have access to a great county extension office that not only is conducting afree food preservation class (including freezing, drying and both water bath and pressure canning) but they also offer to check the guage pressure dial to insure the guage is registering the correct pounds of pressure. Be sure to do a yearly check on your pressure rings also.
    We have a great extension service and I use them regularly.

  10. Howdy
    I’m in Michigan. We just canned a bushel of greenbeans. That came out to 27 quarts. I haven’t canned in years. I didn’t think I could afford to do canning again since we had to re-stock all my canning supplies. New Wide mouth quart jars are scarce. It’s that time of year, I guess. We bought our greenbeans from a farm market. It was astonishing to see the huge price difference and quality of beans between 2 different farm markets. It truly pays to shop around. That includes shocking price differences for jars at different stores. Kroger has had a nice sale on jars and supplies. It’s been very difficult to even find stores that carry canners and supplies. I’d like to learn how to can pie fillings and tasty recipes to can summer squash and other squash and tomato sauce. We use a lot of tomato sauce.

  11. I started canning several years ago and I LOVE it! One of my favorite websites is: National Center for Home Food Preservation –

    I can homemade salsa, cinnamon apples, applesauce, apple butter, strawberry jam, stews & soups, chicken stock, tomatoes, pears, peaches & carrots.

    My suggestions to newbies would be to start of with one thing at a time. Don’t try to can 10 different items the first summer you start. The first time I canned I started in the fall with apple butter, applesauce & cinnamon apples. (Don’t try and do it all in one day, pace yourself!)

  12. Man do I EVER can, although not so much this year because my garden never got put in right and my canister garden was a complete flop. So, I am trying to find things that I know we’ll use (we still have peaches, apples and other things that I canned last fall that we have to use up). I’m planning on canning salsa again, tomato sauce, I have sauerkraut sitting in jars fermenting right now and will can that when it’s ready, green beans, blueberry syrup, home made pancake syrup (really need to make some more of that), beef stew, chicken soup (minus the noodles this time as they get mushy when canned) and chard. Those seem to be the things I canned last year that we just blew through :).

    One of these days I’m hoping to try my hand at making my own mustard, but we’ll see how that goes. I also made my own vanilla extract, but found out that you don’t have to can that since it’s just alcohol anyway, so that was a cool thing to do.

  13. We have 5 children, and I began canning because many of our friends who have large gardens were blessing us with their overabundance from their gardens. We have a small garden, and usually don’t get enough produce to can. I taught myself to can using the Ball Blue book of canning. If I can do it, anyone can. I had some friends who were available to answer questions, which was very helpful.

    I can applesauce, apple butter, pears, tomatoes (juice and whole), jams, green beans, and sweet pickle relish. I would love to learn how to can meats, but just haven’t had the time to do it yet.

    A couple of my girls have shown an interest in learning how to can, so I’m trying to pass my knowledge on to them.

  14. I have been canning for about 5 years now, I started with peaches, than added more every year. I’ve had a garden for 4 years now, so I can green beans, tomatoes, salsa, peaches, pickles, and apple butter and I would love to add one or two more items to my list this year. I also freeze applesauce, strawberry jam and corn. I love having the fresh and tasty produce that I know is good for my family to enjoy!

  15. I love canning! I love that you know what goes into your food and the taste….oh boy! 🙂 We make a family day of picking at the local farm then I come home and can (sometimes as a family, sometimes by myself). I started canning jam, and I highly suggest that since its so easy. Now I can peaches, beans, tomatoes, jams, meat, and spaghetti sauce. Have fun! Enjoy the fruit of your labor!

  16. I Love Canning!! I didn’t know anyone who canned when I got started but I read about it online. I dont think it was that hard to learn from blogs. I read the how to book front to back before I ever got started and then just followed the how to’s of some bloggers I liked.

    I have a friend who now cans but other than that everyone thinks I’m from another time!

    I love seeing those jars in my pantry months later with tasty food!

    • @Amy, It’s pretty funny to see the reaction of people who don’t can when they find out you do, isn’t it? I only know one person my age who cans, everyone else says they can’t be bothered. However, they do have to be bothered to work for someone else 30 – 40 hours a week in order to earn the money to go to the store and pay more for stuff I consider inferior, that is canned by a factory. I’d rather spend a morning canning and put my feet up in the afternoon!

      And rows of jars filled with all those good things are more than a pretty face in the dead of winter when the roads are a mess. When I was a kid and lived in a more rural setting, we had a small outbuilding with insulated foot thick walls. By late fall the floor to ceiling shelves all the way round were filled with row after row of home canned produce. I tasted commercially canned or frozen foods for the first time as an adult, didn’t like it at all.

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