Canning is a great way to preserve a bountiful harvest, create healthier meals and save money on groceries, but it can also be an arduous workload, particularly if you have a large garden and many different types of produce to can. Fortunately, there are several ways you can get a head start on canning to lighten the workload without sacrificing either the quality or quantity of your canning.
- Gather Your Equipment
Be sure you have enough jars, lids and rings on hand to cover any broken equipment that cannot be reused. Also check for a jar lifter and other appropriate tools you will need, and stock up on extra gear before supplies run short in the midst of canning season.
- Clean Equipment Thoroughly
Dust can gather on jars and lids and contaminate your canning or cause sealing problems. Clean all your tools thoroughly and place them in plastic tubs to keep them dust-free, and at the same time, check for any chips, cracks or other subtle breakages.
- Inventory Older Produce
Check your canned inventory and note what excess produce you have; you may want to adjust your canning plans to avoid stockpiling food that may not be eaten. At the same time, rotate your stock to ensure older food is eaten first.
- Check for New Recipes
If you are planning to can something new or want to try new flavors with old favorites, search for suitable recipes and read them thoroughly to be sure they match your skills. Consider a canning class or trying a small batch first to sharpen your canning prowess.
- Stock Up on Ingredients
Long before the canning season begins, you can stock up on general ingredients such as sugar, spices and vinegar. Watch for sales and discounts, but don't wait until canning season to go shopping, when supplies will be limited and everyone needs the same ingredients.
- Trade Work and Help
Offer canning services to others and trade labor to make your workload lighter when you start canning. You might help a neighbor with their gardening in exchange for an assistant when you are canning, or make similar bargains to make your canning easier.
- Can Early Produce
Many novice canners assume autumn is canning season, but if you wait for fall, you miss out on a lot of delicious options. Start canning early with spring fruit preserves such as strawberry jelly or blueberry jam. Even early veggies such as asparagus can be canned.
- Don't Wait for Full Harvesting
You don't have to wait for the peak of harvest season to begin canning. The freshest produce is best for canning, and if you work in small batches earlier in the season, you can get more comfortable with the canning process and you will have tastier results.
It's easy to get an early start on your canning, from prepping your equipment to working on earlier produce. When you start early, the process will go faster and be easier, and you'll be able to enjoy the delicious rewards of your efforts much sooner.