As a child, I would spend most of the month of August canning and preserving foods I had helped my Grandparents grow in their backyard garden. I’ve always wanted to try canning for my self as an adult, I reviewed a lot of canning information, and researched Bernardin Canning, the name brand that stuck out from memory.
I was enthralled with all the pretty canned food photos that came up in my search, they looked just like my Grandparents, pretty little jars full of delicious jams and jellies. Large jars of tomatoes, beans, carrots and garden harvest all lined up on the shelves in the basement, just waiting to be opened and enjoyed.
I HAD to do this, I wanted to be able to do this! But how?! It always seemed so complicated!
It’s Not Complicated
Looking back on my experiences, I remember canning being a HUGE undertaking, everything had to be just right! Grandma always said conditions and timing were important, one little mistake and you could run the risk of spoiled food. Or worse, preparing great food only to have a jar break in the middle of sealing.
Now that we have our own backyard garden that is producing large amounts of food faster than we can consume, I wanted to find a way to preserve it all so that none of it went to waste. But I was afraid of canning, honestly, it looked complicated and tedious!
After much research, reading and asking around I decided that maybe it was not as complicated as I thought it would be. After all my Grandparents and my Father all canned, I had the backup should I need a few pointers, and heck I am a big girl I should be able to can!
Armed With Knowledge
With all the research I had done, it was time to go get some supplies and dive into this new and exciting homesteading adventure!
Kevan, the girls and I loaded up into the car to go shopping! We knew what brand we wanted, and had done our price comparing. It was time to purchase our supplies and get to work!
Thankfully Bernardin makes a great starter kit which saved us a lot of time shopping and a lot of money. Everything we needed was in the kit, the only thing we needed to do was prepare the recipes and begin the canning experience.
Inside the kit was a great DVD that also contained a booklet of How To’s, not owning a DVD player anymore we relied on the book to begin the process of preserving our food.
We also came across pre-mixed spices, and since this would be our first time we opted to try them to ease the lesson. We had already picked our tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, so we chose to use the Fiesta Salsa Mix. I am very glad we did as it turned out to be amazing, and we almost didn’t want to can the final mix.
I was very glad to have a wonderful helping hand in the kitchen, Kevan made quick work of chopping up tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers and onions.
While he was chopping I washed the new canner kit contents and got everything ready to go, which was much simpler than I imagined it would be.
Using the water bath canner I boiled the jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them properly while our salsa mix was cooking on the stove. I also set the jar lids in hot water to prepare them for sealing, this all took a total of 15 minutes to prepare.
Fill Those Pretty Jars
Using the jar lifter I took the jars out of the water bath canner and set them down on a wooden cutting board to begin filling. I was glad to have the headspace funnel from the kit as it made ladeling the salsa into the jars a breeze! No spills, no mess, and best of all I did not have to judge my head spacing.
Head spacing is important as you need room in the jars for the contents to be properly sealed, it is best to leave about an inch of headspace. Your recipe will tell you exactly how much headspace you need to leave, be careful as you do not want to leave too much head space. Air in a jar meant to be preserved is a big no no! You do not want your food to spoil, but you also do not want to overfill as the lids won’t seal properly.
Once I had my jars filled with our salsa I used the bubble remover, a handy tool that came in the kit, to remove any bubbles by carefully dipping the bubble remover around the sides of the jars and in the centre for good measure. Again, bubbles equal air and air equals BAD. Be sure you do not skip this step! Once I was finished doing this, I took a damp clean cloth and wiped down the lips of the jars and around the threads where the lids would be screwed on.
Next up was to remove the jar lids and sealing caps from the warm bath, I used the magnetic lid lifting tool in the kit for this, and was glad I did not get a single burn from trying to grab hot metal lids! I placed the lids on the jars and screwed on the lids finger tights, you do not want to tighten the lids too much, yet you want them to be on tight enough so they don’t burst open in the water bath.
The last and final step was to place our filled jars into the water bath canner a second time, bring the water to a boil and set a timer for the length of time your recipe calls for. Our recipe had us leave the jars in the bath for 35 minutes once the water was boiling.
Cheers for popping lids
Once our salsa jars were removed from the water bath, we placed them on a wooden cutting board to cool off. As they begin to cool the lids get sealed from the pressure inside the jar, you can hear them “pop” as they seal.
The first time we heard the jars pop we let out a huge cheer! We had successfully canned for the first time! Now and then as we were sitting down at dinner we would hear a jar lid pop and all of us would throw our hands up and scream ” YESSSSSS!”
I would like to say that it got old cheering for our jar lids, but it hasn’t! We have canned a few more times this week and every time a jar lid pops it does not matter who is where in the house, everyone is heard celebrating the lids popping!
Our first batch of salsa has been labelled and put away in a cool dark place for storage, and I am sure on a cold winter day we will pull it out from storage to enjoy. I hope that while we are enjoying it we are flooded with memories of our amazing garden and the time we spend together as a family to grow it!
Have you canned before? What do you enjoy canning, let us know in the comments below!