5 Tips on How to Prepare for Canning Season

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Whether you’re a canner, a freezer, a fermenter, a dehydrator or all of the above; we’ve compiled a few tips to help you gear up for canning season, so you can get the most taste and quality out of your preserved goodness.

1. Start a Preserving JournalCanning journal FillmoreContainer

We started one so that we could preserve our family-canning journey. Our children began taking an intense interest in helping with putting up our bounty – from planting & tending the garden to putting those cooled sealed jars on the shelf. A journal was a great way to record our journey.

We still use it for that original purpose, but the journal has evolved into a very useful reference. We record important basics like: dates, volume of produce that you started with, recipe &/or process used, actual preserved yield. It can also be used to make notes and compare recipes or processes, or even comparing different strains of produce. Lastly, you can record what’s left on the shelf, helping you to determine what to make more of, or less of.

2. Check Your Preserving InventoryCanned Goods - Fillmore Container

    • Check dates – Make sure that your oldest foods are being used first. Depending on your storage limitations, it can be inconvenient to rotate your stock, but it’s an important task and best done whenever you add freshly preserved items.
    • Spoilage  – Do a visual check of seals and quality. If something is unsealed discard it. If any of your preserves look discolored it could be a sign it has spoiled, it is best to discard it. Here’s the best way to discard bad preserves.
    • Determine what’s left in your pantry – Re-evaluate how your consuming patterns matched up with your preserving patterns. A preserving journal is a great way to track this. You may decide to skip something this summer, or do more of something else. For example, we did a ton of apple butter in 2013. Between the jams we did in season, plus the ones we did during demos, we’ve got more than we need for the year – even though we shared a lot of it! Jams, jellies, preserves - Fillmore ContainerWe determined that we will make less jam this year. Although, we do have a list of “new” jams we want to try, and we might not do any apple butter. However, if I find myself with an excess of apples we will put some of the recipes from our Preserves in Action Pinterest board to use.


    • 3. Evaluate Your Preserving Supplies & Ingredients Fillmore Container Jar line-up1

      Jars -Inspect your canning jars for chips, cracks, and defects. Put aside any that are not suitable.

      NO Button lids - Standard plastisol

      Closures

      • If you are using re-useable lids like Tattler, check them for staining or odor. It’s better to sort them when you put them back into storage, but if you haven’t, separate any out that have absorbed dill or garlic odors and label them for use of the same type of products.
      • Check your supply of flat canning lids. As all preservers know, these can only be used once for preserving. You can stock up on regular mouth and wide mouth flat lids by bulk. If you don’t already have a system in place to store and sort your lids, here’s how we do it. How to store Canning lids
      • If some of your rings have gotten too rusty, it may be time to send them to the recycle bin or do something else creative with them.
      • Do you have lids for all of the jars you wish to use? If you have jars that are not standard regular mouth or wide mouth and need to replenish your supply, learn how to measure your jars for the right lid here.
      • If you’re not sure what type of lids you should be using, here’s how to choose a canning lid.

      Ingredients

      • Check expiration dates & freshness on all of your preserving additives – pectin, pickling spices, citric acid, etc. (Note: Pomona’s Universal Pectin does not expire.) Discard outdated items or spices that have lost their aroma, and replace with fresh ones.

      Freezer Containers

      4. Prepare and Inspect your Preserving Equipment

      • Waterbath Canner: If you have an enamel one, check it for dings & chips that may become problems. Check your rack to ensure that it’s still intact and will be able to handle the weight of canning use.
      • Pressure Canners: If yours has a gasket, check it for drying, cracking or tearing and find a replacement, if needed. Get your pressure gauge tested. Most extension offices will offer this service during certain times of the year, or by appointment. Some stores that sell pressure canners may also offer testing.6_piece_canning_set Fillmore Container
      • Tools – Check to see that you still have some of these handy tools: Funnels, magnetic lid wand, jar liftercherry pitter (and its replacement rubber) & any other favorite tools that are part of your canning habit.
      • Thermometers – If you use a thermometer it should be tested and calibrated, and here’s how. If you’re curious about why you would use a thermometer for preserving, read this.
      • If you are preserving on a big scale, consider using a community kitchen that will give you adequate space and access to additional equipment.

      5. Gather Helpful Resources

      Hopefully, these tips will get you ready for preserving. Every year we set some preservation goals, maybe it’s to work with a fruit we haven’t jammed before, or maybe it’s to do more fermenting. One goal we always have is to encourage someone who hasn’t preserved before that – Yes. You. Can! We were all new to preserving at some point, and we want to know – who taught you how to can? Tell us something about your preservation story in the comments, and we might feature your story here on our blog!

6 Comments

  1. June Gibbs
    Posted March 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Since I can year round I have opted to repurpose an entertainment center for my canning supplies. Since I have an extensive supply of jars they are stored on commercial racks by size. I can’t post the pics of the repurpose here but can email them if you like to see. Believe me…I am not creative and had seen one done on a canning forum and had to do one and love it. Entertainment centers are going relatively cheap nowadays as folks are hanging their TV’s on the wall. :D

    • fcadmin
      Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Hi June,

      Cool idea! We’d love to see a picture of your entertainment/preserving station! Can you post it to our Facebook Page? https://www.facebook.com/FillmoreContainer

      • June Gibbs
        Posted March 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

        I tried to post on fb but only allowing one pic. I did email you the pics. :)

        • fcadmin
          Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

          Great, we will keep an eye out for them! Thanks.

  2. Posted March 31, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Great post! I teach canning classes in Southern Maine. The constantly updated schedule is here: http://umaine.edu/food-health/food-preservation/hands-on-workshops/
    Thanks!

  3. Allie
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    This is a wonderful resource to have! My mom canned all the time while I was growing up but I never was interested in learning. Now I wish I had paid more attention, now that I am starting a family . Thanks for the help

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