5 Essential Things to do before Canning

Preparing for Canning Season:

Spring is here and the farmer’s markets are starting to get exciting!  No matter where you live or what stage of spring you are looking at, NOW is a good time to prepare for the upcoming canning season.

If you take the time now to look over your inventory, gather your supplies and plan just a bit for the canning season, you will be so thankful when in a few short weeks you find yourself up to your eyeballs in produce with no time to race around!

Below I’ve listed my Canning Season Checklist that I use for teaching. Each section gives you a comprehensive list of questions to help you get ready. You can use it right off this post OR if you are a “pencil & paper” gal (or guy), you can download a FREE PDF version of this list so you can check them off as you go.

I hope you find this helpful and happy canning!

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Infusing Vodka w/lemon & herbs

“When life gives you organic lemons, make infused vodka!”

Oh Baby!

It’s fast and it’s easy. Infused vodka makes killer martinis or takes a simple vodka tonic to a whole new level. In fact, the cocktail possibilities are endless! Here are three yummy combos that I’m making right now… [click to continue…]

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Happy PB & J Day!

Yes, April 2nd is National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day and in celebration, I’m having a…

NPB & PJ Sandwich

(Nutty Peanut Butter & Peach Jam Sandwich – with my low sugar farmstead jam, of course!)

How are you celebrating?

national pb & j day

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Rhubarb Means Spring!

canning rhubarb

Canning up some rhubarb is a fantastic way to celebrate the arrival of spring. No, really it is!

So in celebration of SPRING, today I cover lovely rhubarb and answer the following…

  • What is it exactly? (Don’t believe what the government tells you)
  • What’s the pH level? (Can we really water bath process it?)
  • What’s my favorite recipe for using it up? (Trust me, it’s delicious!)

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Making sauce with JamUsing Jam as Sauce:

Okay – I know what you are thinking…Why would I condone slathering refined sugar on a perfectly good meal?

Well first of all – most of my jams and jellies are LOW SUGAR. So I am really talking about slathering a meal with seasonal fruit flavor and natural fruit sugars.

But more importantly, just think about how well cranberry sauce spruces up a slice of turkey and you understand how sweet, sour and savory can all play well together on the dinner plate. I’m telling you, a scoop of jam from the bottom of the jar can take ordinary meals to a whole new level of yumminess. And the best part? It is easy!

Here are two techniques that you can use to get your “jam on” when it comes to meat dishes.

And if you are vegetarian, well…jam can still be used in a ton of ways for you too. Try peach jam on a grilled veggie sandwich or plum jam in a stir-fry and there is the whole salad dressing thing. The idea here is to think of what fruits mesh well with a particular food flavor and then getting creative with that.

And one more thing before we start:

If you give your jam as gifts, be sure to share different ways your friends can use the leftovers from that jam. Most people don’t think past the toast angle and honestly, there are SO many other possibilities. It is all about the flavor and how best to harness it. So let’s get crack’n!

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Canning 101 Q & A:

Canning 101As more people are learning how to can, I get a lot of Canning 101 type questions over on my Canning Blog at Growing A Greener World TV and also on Facebook – which is awesome! No question is too small and I am glad to help out. But with over 100 Q& A in the comment section of those posts or a fast moving FB thread, many answers can get lost in the shuffle. This is especially obvious when the same questions are being asked over and over in different ways.

So here are three of the top questions I get asked repeatedly. Obviously, they are common concerns. Maybe they are your concerns as well?

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My family is restoring an 1892 Farmstead in Northern CA. I’m in charge of the heirloom orchard and garden renovation. Other family members are in charge of restoring the farmhouse and outbuildings. You can read more about the project HERE.

Restoring an heirloom orchard

“Caring for the orchard is about what we can give these old friends, so that they in turn can offer us the bounty of many fruitful years.”

~Michael Phillips “The Apple Grower”

Learning a New Approach to Orcharding:

This past month has been a bustle of activities, as we had to winter prune the 60+ fruit trees at the farmstead. This farmstead land has always been cultivated organically and of course I am keeping it that way. But I am also learning a new (to me) approach to orcharding and I thought I would share some of it with you in this post.

I’ll also share how we are working to restore some very old, neglected fruit trees as part of this holistic approach. If you have a fruit tree that needs a little bit of TLC pruning, it should help you as well.

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Salad Dressing with Leftover jam

I make a lot of jam each year. I mean A LOT! With all the fruit growing at my small homestead and my family’s 18-acre farmstead, I have no choice. But you might be surprised to know that I am not much of a “jam and toast” type of gal. Although I do enjoy jam with cheese and wine (Tee Hee), I actually use much of my jam and jelly as a flavor enhancer in things like salad dressing, sauce, jam cocktails, glaze or in desserts, etc.

Homegrown preserves can add zing to just about anything! So at this time of year, I am on a mission to use up the last of my jars before I’m hit with new fruit to be preserved.

Do you have some leftover jam or jelly right now?

A few days ago, I posted on a cool blender-canning jar trick for mixing up salad dressing (or smoothies) and gave a link for Jam’n Salad Dressing. But I had a few more tried and true jam salad dressings that I thought I would share.

Oh, and here’s the best part: You can change out the jam or marmalade in the recipes below for a different type of jam, jelly, marmalade or whatever fruit preserve you have on hand. That is the beauty of these recipes. Switch it all up however you like and make it your own. I swear they all work beautifully!

And yes, you can also substitute store-bought jam/jelly in these recipes. But why would you want to do THAT??

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Cool Blender Trick with a Canning JarI’m on a mission to use up the last of my previous season’s jams over the next few months. For me, that means a lot more jam salad dressing.

I first posted on this cool blender trick over on my canning blog for Growing A Greener World TV. Below is the 2-minute video demonstrating it. I use this trick for salad dressings and my smoothies too. Use it to amaze your friends…

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how to use pickling saltA few weeks ago, I taught a canning seminar at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show and several people asked me about pickling salt.

They wanted to know about Pickling Salt’s:

  • - Necessity
  • - Safety
  • - Benefits
  • - What they could use as a substitution (if any).

Great questions!

So in today’s mini lesson, I thought I would give you all the low down on SALT!

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