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A Beginner's Guide to Canning Garden Vegetables and Fruits

Justine writes from her home in Michigan. Her interest in herbs led her to become a certified herbalist in February of 2019.

This article provides guidance on how to start canning summer fruits and vegetables so they last for months.

This article provides guidance on how to start canning summer fruits and vegetables so they last for months.

Want to Start Canning?

Canning your own food can be a rewarding alternative to buying the sometimes tasteless and bland canned and frozen vegetables from the supermarket.

If you are anything like me, you want your food to have flavor, and you buy homegrown and organic whenever possible. There is something about that summer sweet corn that normal canned corn just can't compare to. There's a special taste to those vine-ripe tomatoes, a certain crispness to the freshly picked cucumbers, and an uncanny sweetness to home-grown strawberries that you just won't get any other time of year.

Let's discuss how you can preserve some of these staple foods so that you and your family can cherish that rich summer flavor all winter long!

1. Gather Your Supplies

Here are some supplies that you will need to gather in order to prepare for the canning process:

  • Canning jars: You can buy them new, or you can reuse old jars as long as you boil and sanitize them. Some good places to look include your local Dollar Store, Amazon, thrift stores, and even Facebook Marketplace.
  • Canning jar lifter: These often come with rubber grips, making it easier to remove cans from the hot water bath. This is not a required item, but it definitely makes the job easier.
  • Funnel: This helps keep the lips of the jar clean when filling, which will help ensure a better seal when you are finished.
  • Large pot with a lid: You will need either this or a pressure cooker for a hot water bath you'll use to finish the sealing process.
  • Spoon or ladle: This will help you transport the contents into the jars.

Some other kitchen staples you will likely need include:

  • Salt & pepper (I prefer sea salt and cracked pepper for pickling.)
  • White vinegar
  • Pickling spices
  • Sugar or stevia
  • Pectin (for jams and jellies)
Farmer's markets and local pop-up sales are great places to source, seasonal, home-grown produce.

Farmer's markets and local pop-up sales are great places to source, seasonal, home-grown produce.

2. Source Your Fruits and Vegetables

It's now time to start gathering up fruits and vegetables for your canning process. First off, it's important to know what fruit and vegetables are plentiful in your area. For instance, here in Michigan, there is an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn. Find out what is in season in your area. Strawberries mostly can only be found here in Michigan in the spring, but in the fall, there is an abundance of apples!

Places to Obtain Local Fruits and Vegetables

  • Local farmers' markets
  • Roadside stands
  • Facebook Marketplace (or other Facebook groups in which people sell and trade their garden vegetables)
  • Word of mouth (perhaps a friend of a friend)

Read More From Dengarden

Remember, by shopping close, you are supporting your local community.

Common Fruits and Veggies for Canning

Common Summer VeggiesCommon Summer Fruits

Sweet Corn

Apples

Green Beans

Strawberries

Potatoes

Pears

Peppers

Peaches

Tomatoes

Raspberries

Cauliflower

Blueberries

Cucumbers "Pickles"

Carrots

Canning when local produce is plentiful is a great way to make sure you can eat your home-grown favorites year-round.

Canning when local produce is plentiful is a great way to make sure you can eat your home-grown favorites year-round.

3. Compile Your Favorite Recipes

Now that you have gathered together a whole bunch of different fruits and vegetables, you can start exploring canning recipes to figure out what you want to make. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Tomatoes and peppers can be combined to make salsa or simply prepared and canned on their own. I love to just can diced tomatoes to add them to pasta recipes throughout the year. I often use my canned tomatoes in goulash, spaghetti sauces, and soup bases.
  • Cauliflower can be canned alone or combined with peppers and onions and then canned similar to pickles. You can use a white vinegar with some sea salt and cracked pepper to make an awesome base. This is one of my family's favorite go-to snacks—we eat it straight out of the jar with a fork.
  • Pickles lend themselves easily to a lot of different recipes out. Whether you enjoy sweet or dill, pickles are almost always a crowd-pleaser. We often add chopped-up pickles to our egg salad.
  • Apples can be made into apple sauce, diced apples, or even apple pie filling before canning. We enjoy making homemade apple sauce because we get to add the perfect amount of sugar or even make it with stevia for our diabetic family members.
  • Berries, one of my favorite things about summer, can be used to make jams and jellies of all sorts. I love making mulberry jam because you can't usually buy it in stores.

4. Let the Canning Begin!

You may decide to do a lot of canning in one day or make a weekend out of it. Preparing everything takes time and goes quicker with a helper, of course. Grab a friend and tell them you will exchange canning goods for their time. Or do like I do and grab a cocktail or two (or three—hey, I don't judge) and put on that music that makes you vibe! Happy canning!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Bhattuc on August 31, 2020:

An excellent guide. Very useful. Thanks.

Justine Nalbach (author) from Michigan on August 25, 2020:

Thank you Liza! I just finished up some tomato sauce from the garden last night. Happy Canning to you!

Liza from USA on August 25, 2020:

Canning vegetables is such a great way to preserve the vegetables from the garden. I need to do this before the summer ends. Thank you for sharing the suggestions and tips, Justine.

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