While I’ve been cooking for most of my life, canning and preserving is not a skill that I’ve spent much time on in the past. But this summer I am starting to dabble in it a bit. So far I’ve made strawberry rhubarb jam, spicy dill pickles, and quick kimchi (all of which I kept refrigerated so I didn’t have to go through the canning process, since I had no idea what I was doing). I had (and still have) a lot to learn about canning and preserving, so today I attended a canning workshop lead by the very reassuring Marisa McClellan, author of Food in Jars, Preserving by the Pint, and Naturally Sweet Food in Jars.
After a brief discussion about ensuring proper food acidity to avoid botulism, Marisa did a wonderful job of making canning feel easy and accessible as she walked us through making a Plumcot Vanilla Jam and canning it properly (a plumcot is a hybrid of a plum and an apricot). The jam we made was naturally sweetened with honey instead of sugar . The recipe came from her most recent book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, which focuses on replacing sugar in canning recipes with more natural alternatives such as honey, maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar, etc. I love this strategy and look forward to giving it a shot on my own!
One of the reasons I avoided canning in the past is because it always seemed like you needed a lot of equipment to do it. Personally, I try to maximum the limited drawer space in my kitchen by avoiding the purchase of kitchen tools that only have one purpose (other than my apple corer because I think it is fun to use!). But Marisa set me straight and showed me that you really don’t need a bunch of fancy tools… just a couple of pots, a funnel, a jar lifter (or tongs), and something to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot when boiling (even a kitchen towel will do). Oh… And jars of course!
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in learning more about canning and preserving, check out Marisa’s “Canning 101” series at FoodInJars.com. Also, you can check out her books at the links below. I picked up Preserving by the Pint because I tend to only have small amounts of produce to work with, so the smaller batch recipes are ideal for me. But I looked through all three of the books and they all seem really useful. I’m planning to pick up Naturally Sweet Food in Jars once I get a little more practice with this canning business! Now I just need to decide which recipe to make first!
Marisa, thanks for a great workshop! I hope to learn more from you again in the future!
Do you have a favorite canning recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments below.