i grew up with two amazing grandmothers. they would spend hours each summer and fall canning fruits, making homemade jams and jellies, and using every last inch of their gardens before the winter weather set in. i can rememer staring at them in awe as they worked with their canning jars, poured hot wax over the top to seal them all, and set them aside to cool before we could enjoy them. those are sweet memories of a time long since past.
the whole canning process seemed like a science project to me at the time and, i have to admit, i was very intimidated to start the adventure on my own. still, i wanted to have those types of moments to share with my own kiddos and those memories to cement in their little brains. not only is this great process a piece of their heritage, but it also teaches them the importance of using everything we grow. i don't want to waste my fruits and vegetables. i can't eat them all so, after sharing them with friends, it's time to preserve them for later. besides the practicalities of it all, it is amazing to see my kids spreading the homemade jams and jellies i make on their toast or pb&j's. i like knowing what goes into what i'm making for them and i love knowing they enjoy what i make.
so, here is how you can join these adventures in canning...one step at a time.
before you get started: you'll need to purchase some canning essentials. here are the basics:
a huge pot - you may have a pot large enough but i purchased a new canning one. it has a special tray inside that can be raised and lowered to make putting your jars of jellies and such into and out of boiling water a little bit easier. i highly recommend the canning pot!
canning tongs - as i said before, you'll be putting your jars of jelly, fruit, veggies, etc, into a boiling water bath for extended periods of time. these tongs help you get the jars and and out.
a canning funnel - this funnel is specifically sized to fit into the mouth of your canning jars.
canning jars - these jars are typically sold in packs of 6 or 12. i have seen several packs at target, walmart, hobby lobby, etc. they have removable lids and rims. the rims can be used time and time again but the lids have to be replaced after each use. lids can be purchased separately each year.
pectin - this is what turns makes your jams and jellies into, well, jams and jellies. there are a couple different brands and different sizes of this product. i like to purchase a larger container because i know i will use it. (if i'm going to get out the canning products, i'm going to make a ton of it all at once.) you will use several tablespoons for one batch of jam or jelly.
this is all you will really need to get started. once you have your products in place, you are ready to begin. check out diy: making your own jams and jellies - the process for simple recipes to start cooking.