33 Canning and Preserving Tips from Experienced Home Canners

Beginners and pros alike will find something new and exciting in this roundup of home-canning ideas. These 33 canning and preserving tips will help you stock your pantry so you can eat healthy food year-round.

| June/July 2015

  • Safe Canning Methods
    As long as you follow a recipe and safe canning methods, you can preserve all sorts of food at home.
    Photo by Veer/578foot
  • Water Bath Canner
    Save energy by heating jars in your water bath canner while it's preheating.
    Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
  • Homemade Jams
    Invest in an inexpensive water bath canner kit to load your larder with homemade jams, jellies, pickles and salsas — no pressure canner needed!
    Photo by Tim Nauman
  • Jelly Making
    A jelly bag and stand are extra tools for pro-level jelly making.
    Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
  • Jam Gifts
    Jams make delightful gifts.
    Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
  • Home Canning Ingredients
    The best ingredients for home canning are organic, fresh from the garden or farmers market, and put up at peak ripeness.
    Photo by Fotolia/shellystuart
  • Brie Topping
    If your pantry is jammed with sweet spreads, enjoy the surplus as a crowd-pleasing topping for brie and other mild cheeses.
    Photo by Colin Erricson and Mark T. Shapiro / www.RobertRose.ca

  • Safe Canning Methods
  • Water Bath Canner
  • Homemade Jams
  • Jelly Making
  • Jam Gifts
  • Home Canning Ingredients
  • Brie Topping

Nearly a decade ago, I arrived in my grandparents’ kitchen with a pound of beets, some apple cider vinegar and a craving to learn how to can. My interest in sustainable food had grown while studying the environmental and health problems of our industrial food system, and had led me to a simple solution: Harvest beets from my organic garden and pickle them in my own kitchen. After a couple of hours with my grandparents, I had safely preserved my ruby gems. The pings of the lids sealing fed my desire to produce healthy food for year-round meals, and to continue the multigenerational tradition of canning and preserving.

Newbies often approach home preserving with trepidation and no grandparents to teach them. As long as you follow a recipe and safe canning methods, you’ll be able to preserve all sorts of foods. A few hours of energy use will reward you with months of energy-free food storage, and an unsurpassed feeling of security and wealth.

I turned to our readers, book authors, our editorial team, and, of course, my grandparents, to compile these pro canning tips. For step-by-step processing instructions, refer to any of the books listed as Home Preserving Resources. Find more how-to and myriad tested recipes by reading our Home Canning Guide.

Planning Canning Ideas

Experienced home canners know to plan, and then can accordingly. If you don’t spread jam on biscuits every morning, then don’t preserve enough jam to feed the whole neighborhood. The time investment isn’t worth it (although homemade jam with a hand-lettered label and a ribbon tie makes a great all-occasion gift).

1. Think about what you’ll realistically eat. Take into account the food your family enjoys. Plan for meals based on what’s in your pantry, and make substitutions to recipes to include what you’ve preserved. — Sharon Astyk

2. Calculate your annual needs for whatever you’re planning to preserve. I felt like a genius when I realized I use approximately four 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes a month, and that if I just canned 3 or 4 pints a week during tomato season, I’d end up with all I needed for an entire year. — Robin Mather

3/12/2019 1:04:51 PM

anitaburns...We run our tomatoes through the blender then strain for our juice. That makes a juice that generally does not separate after canning.

3/12/2019 10:15:55 AM

When filling your jars, especially with preserves which are especially hot, wear a dish washing glove on your "off" hand. You can steady your jar and funnel and are now immune to drips and splashes. I think I also get a better feel for tightening the jar rings when I can hold the hot jar with my gloved hand and put the lid and ring on with the other. This works really well if you use the heavier gloves that have a cotton lining.

4/26/2016 8:48:23 AM

Although most tips in this post are basic rather than advanced, I did find some things that gave me an "aha" moment. One tip I use that I didn't see is about tomato sauce. My sauce always gets rave reviews from those I share it with. My secret is that I don't peel or seed them. The peel and seed lend the sauce a deep, rich flavor and sweetness. To smooth out the tomato sauce, I use an immersion blender. I also use home grown tomatoes and blend them for flavor variations. Golden tomato sauce is amazing but you need lemon juice to keep it from turning brown during canning. I always use a pressure canner for tomatoes so I don't have to add extra acid. Just use the time listed for any food of the same PH or time instruction for "spaghetti sauce."



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