How to Plan a Canning Party Article -
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How to Plan a Canning Party

When summer bounty overflows, break out the canning gear, gather together some friends, and preserve your produce for the months ahead.

Make It a Party

When you make it a party, you’ve not only ensured a social scene, you’ve rustled up some helping hands. And you’ll be glad you did! Canning and preserving are labor intensive activities.

    Getting Started

    Clear plenty of kitchen counter and table space for people to work. Then divide the tasks: Two people can peel and slice fruit and veggies, one person can wash and sanitize jars, and another can set up a staging area next to the stove with utensils and towels for placing jars before and after filling.

    If you’ve harvested so much fresh produce from your garden you don’t know what to do with it all, invite people over to help can, and then give them some jars as thank-you gifts.

    Otherwise, invite people to bring their own, but limit the kinds of produce you’ll be canning to a manageable amount. "This Saturday we’ll be canning tomatoes," for example. If you encourage everyone to bring their favorites, there might not be enough tools or time to get the job done.

    You might also consider dividing responsibilities: One person brings the jars; another brings the tomatoes, green beans or berries; another supplies the big boiling pot, etc. Everyone works together, and then, when the party’s over, the jars are divvied out fair and square.

    Canning Tools

    Canning requires specific tools. Make sure you have the following items on hand:

    • One extra-large pot for sterilizing jars and lids
    • Five- or six-quart metal or glazed cast-iron pot
    • Jar grabbers
    • Metal funnel
    • Several metal ladles of different sizes
    • Jars, lids, and rings
    • Paper or cloth towels

      Tips for Home Canning

      Read your canning recipe carefully to see if ingredients have to be prepped well ahead of time. For example, does your watermelon rind need to soak in brine overnight before you can move on to the pickling process? This essential bit of information could have a big impact on what you choose for your canning party.

      Here are some additional tips:

      • Use local fruits and vegetables picked at peak ripeness.
      • Put lids back to back in the sterilizing pot so they’ll be easier to separate.
      • Determine your altitude; processing times are dependent on altitude. For the most up-to-date canning information, contact your local agricultural extension office.
      • Use a funnel to fill jars to prevent splashing hot liquids, and to measure fullness.
      • Clean rims of filled jars with a towel dipped in hot water so the lids can seal properly.
      • Make sure jar lids are tight. If not, return them to boiling water to reseal; if they still don’t seal, refrigerate and eat these first.
      • Remove jars from boiling water one-by-one using the jar gripper.
      • Date your jars; best to use canned foods within one year of preparation.
      • Allow jars to cool 12 hours before storing in boxes.
      • If in doubt, throw it out.

        Aug. 19, 2009 6:36 pm
        I usually make a bread & butter type of pickle from zucchini & no one can tell..
        Jul. 22, 2010 4:54 pm
        already made strawberry rhubarb, blueberry rhubarb and strawberry blueberry rhubarb Jams YUM! next week (hopefully) i will have enough start start canning tomatoes =D
        Jul. 23, 2010 10:16 pm
        I used to can a lot when my children were young. I usually made over 300 qts. of tomatoes plus lots of other things like pickles of all sorts and beets, corn relish sauerkraut and whatever I had > I would love to have some new receipes to do for smaller families .
        Aug. 18, 2010 7:55 am
        My daughter and I have canned Apricot Honey Jam, Rhubarb Jam, Raspberry Jam, Tomato Basil sauce, Chili Sauce and Bread & Butter pickles. My kids, 25 & 21 have never had store bought jam or jelly. They love the Strawberry Freezer jelly that I make them. The same my mother made me. Recipe on the leaflet in the Sure Jell box. Easy and Good!
        Aug. 18, 2010 9:45 am
        This is my first year to can anything other than once before I made some strawberry jam. As of now I have pickled okra, squash, squash relish, pear sauce, pear jam and salsa. It's a lot of work but a canning party sounds fun!
        Aug. 18, 2010 10:30 am
        This year will be my first year canning, ever. I'm going to can salsa, peaches, and jalapeno jelly. I'm going to take it slow, and see how I do. Hopefully it turns out!
        Aug. 18, 2010 10:35 am
        Aug. 18, 2010 8:38 pm
        I really enjoy canning my homegrown produce. I canned a lot when my children were very young. Then, I went back to teaching full time and kind of quit except for freezer jams and such, but now the kids are grown and I'm retired and LOVING canning everything from my garden and trying new things to preserve. My grown children and grandkids are the appreciative recipients. SO FUN!!
        Aug. 19, 2010 4:23 pm
        This summer I have canned strawberry rhubarb, peach, cherry, blueberry, and blackberry jam. I have also made strawberry and peach freezer jam along with just canned peaches. I have had a couple gatherings to do some jam and it is fun. You get something done while hanging out with your friends. The process goes faster. Plus, the homemade aspect makes for really yummy food. Even if you don't have a canner try freezer jam. It's easy and you don't have to boil it.
        Aug. 20, 2010 6:01 am
        I love canning! My grandparents always had a large garden and I remember everyone getting together canning. I now have a garden and enjoy working it, and canning with my daughter. We make pickles, green beans, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, chili sauce, jams, jellies, you name it. Just finished a batch of fig preserves yesterday and made some biscuits right then to smear the warm preserves on YUMMY!
        Aug. 20, 2010 1:54 pm
        When the family was young the pantry would fill with up to 1000 jars of just about anything you can put in a jar. Now we are retired and I can just the things I know my husband and I will consume this winter. Still love to look at those beautiful jars of summer bounty.
        Aug. 21, 2010 4:28 am
        great post!
        Aug. 21, 2010 7:23 am
        I began canning three years ago when we moved to a small farm. I am only sad that when my grandmothers were talking about canning, I wasn't listening. All that knowledge and advice I could have had straight from them. I have taught myself and now even teach a home-canning class. So much fun that I could talk about canning all day long!
        Aug. 21, 2010 7:36 am
        i need recpies for squash. relish and or any thing to do with squash . thanks skip
        Aug. 21, 2010 11:57 am
        This week I made Escabeche. Next week Marmalade and dill pickles. Regular and spicy.
        Aug. 22, 2010 4:55 am
        Great post as we head into the cooler months and winter will be here very shortly. I just canned 50 jars of tomatoes and 24 jars of homemade salsa last night and everything came out perfect. Recipe for salsa on my profile.
        Aug. 22, 2010 9:34 am
        So far I've made 30 qts of marinara (usually make much more, but the tomatoes aren't all harvested yet. I've made kosher dill pickles, pickle relish, pickled eggplant and green beans, salsa verde, red salsa, sweet & spicy corn salsa, tomato soup, and too many preserves to mention.... My goal is to NOT buy anything from the stores that I can make from my 1000 sf garden! Recipes to be posted- I'm a chef :)
        Oct. 2, 2010 5:12 pm
        I've made up several pints of ketchup, salsa, and sweet pickle relish. Next is tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce. Corn and green beans go in the garden. I am so spoiled with my huge garden.
        Mar. 6, 2011 7:28 am
        My wife kinda laughed at me when I said I was going to teach myself how to can. She does not laugh anymore since we have cut our grocery bill by more than half. I just planted peas last week and can't wait until garden season is in full swing again!
        Jul. 10, 2011 7:19 pm
        i taught myself and then my family how to water can from this site and we just appsolutely love it, I cant keep the pickles jaleneos in stock long enough because they just love them now I am in search of how to can peaches and pears also green beans
        Jul. 25, 2011 5:54 am
        My only tip is get a lid lifter. Its a plastic stick with a magnet on it. It makes pulling hot lids out of hot water much easier. Put the lid on the jar, and put the lid over it while keeping the lid in place. So cool.
        Jul. 25, 2011 11:31 am
        I too enjoy making my own jams and preserves. However as a food safety professional I must add a word of caution: canning low acid foods, such as green beans, squash, corn, peas, peppers, etc. can potentially be very dangerous if done incorrectly. There is a bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, known also as botulism, that is usually fatal that will grow in improperly canned foods nonacidic foods. This does not include foods that are high in acid or sugar, such as tomatoes, pickles or jams. Commercially canned products are normally safe because the manufacturers have many safeguards to protect the food, but it's easy to make a mistake if you don't follow the processes correctly. Be very careful to follow all instructions and use good sanitation and handwashing practices. Don't do this if you're not sure what you're doing - botulism acts quickly. As a professional I get nervous when I see people try this at home!!
        Jul. 25, 2011 1:13 pm
        My friend and I just spent a whole day making Blenheim apricot(which are abundant in Santa Clara Co., CA this time of year) jam. We made 2 batches of regular and 2 batches with 1 Tbsp. of red pepper flakes in them. They turned out delicious. We are giving them away as Christmas presents this year. My Grandma always says the key to great canning is having the freshest ripest ingredients.
        Jul. 26, 2011 12:52 pm
        If you have a turkey fryer, you can do your water bath outside and beat the heat in your kitchen! Just put your canning pot with the jars on the fryer and boil away!
        Brenda Recipe Collection 
        Jul. 26, 2011 3:21 pm
        Tara, thank you for the caution flag.I listened to so many folks tell how they can this week.A little scary.The famous line I hear constantly" Oh,my mother and grandmother never had to do that and they were just fine". Personally, that makes me a bit uneasy.
        Jul. 26, 2011 3:57 pm
        I can all the time, meats, veggies, fruits and pickles. The best investment for convenience and safety is a pressure canner. I got mine at WalMart for $64.00. A steal!
        Jul. 27, 2011 1:31 pm
        My freezer is my best friend for preserving fruits. When they are in season and very ripe I cook them slightly with just enough sugar to preserve the color and make in small batches. They can then be turned into jams or fruit tarts or coffee cakes at a later time. Adjust the sugar accordingly. I remember my Mom canning in the oven and it usually worked for her except for the one time she had a jar explode. See the above post on safety. My mother-in-law also canned tomatoes with the open kettle method. It apparantly worked for her but when I tried it as a newlywed mine spoiled. Now as a seasoned cook I would never use those unsafe methods. Stay with the recommended Ball Jar canning directions.
        Jul. 28, 2011 9:27 am
        canning is a lot of work, but for me, very theraputic. The squirrel hoarding takes over and I fill the cold room with everything I can safely place into jars. I use a propane burner on the deck so as not to over heat the house while processing. Bring on the cold winter months, my cold room will be full.
        Elizabeth Alma 
        Jul. 28, 2011 11:14 am
        my oldest daughter is almost 50 and has never had "store bought" jam my third oldest granddaughter has just been married and the "treat" at everyone's spot at the table at the reception was a small jar of "home made jam". It is such a treat to see the reaction.
        Jul. 28, 2011 6:26 pm
        I've been canning for many years and find it to be a lot of work, but very therapeutic and satisfying. My favorite things to can are preserves, tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and my mother's recipe for chili sauce. It's so worthwhile. I also raise basil and make pesto sauce which I freeze. This is a great blog.
        Jul. 29, 2011 11:57 am
        I and my wife are just starting to learn to can. I hope some of the things are good to eat in the end. I put out a half garden maby it will rain. already caned 20 jars of bunch beens
        Jul. 31, 2011 12:46 am
        I can all my own tuna. My dad was a commercial fisherman among other professions. We had fresh tuna coming out of our ears. I use a 35 qt. pressure canner. There is no fishy odor or taste. I only add water and salt. Everybody loves it. It can be used in any way that store bought tuna is used. It is delicious right out of the jar!

everyone loves it
        Apr. 3, 2012 9:25 am
        I completely agree that we should have some food saved away because anything can happen and it will happen when you least expect it! If you are like me and have not yet learned how to preserve your own food or don't have the space (both which apply to me!), here is a great alternative so you can be better prepared for tomorrow! Just add water! .. There is even a link there to get $30 worth of food if you just pay shipping this way you can try it!
        May 9, 2012 11:01 pm
        i've always wanted to can with friends and this article makes it seem so much more accessible. time to try it!!
        Jul. 15, 2012 9:11 am
        I love perserving of all kinds, whether it be relish, marmalades, jams, jellies or pickles. It is like an addiction, once I get started it seems I don't know when to stop. I end up giving a lot away to friends and family who are not affected with my obsession. I also am so happy with the results that I leave the bottles out on mmy counter just so I can view them. It must be a family thing and one on my two sisters does the same thing.
        Jul. 16, 2012 1:31 pm
        I have already canned up salsa, & pasta sauce.
        Jul. 17, 2012 1:56 pm
        I love canning! This summer I've canned strawberry jam, peach jalapeno jelly, spaghetti sauce, lots of pizza sauce and blueberry pie filling! Looking forward to apple season!
        Jul. 18, 2012 9:45 am
        I love canning...but the last few times ive tried to make salsa, it didnt come out right!I followed the recipe exactly except added alot more jalapenos and still it wasnt hot at all,,, and it was so vingegary i had to throw out all 10 jars!! any advise thx
        Aug. 29, 2012 1:51 pm
        can someone tell me the difference between pickling vinegar and distilled vinegar
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