I have a lot of friends that have told me over the years that they really want to get into canning, but it seems so overwhelming. The jars, the lids, the pots and all of the accessories – it’s so much they say. I try to explain that you really don’t need all the gadgets, bits and bobbles to get started, but they never believe me.
If your’e thinking about getting into canning, the best advice I can give you is to focus on ONE thing to try and stick with it. Don’t plan to make salsa, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, green beans and award-winning jelly in your first year. Instead, focus on ONE thing and learn to make that really well. Then next year you can expand on your supplies and your skills.
One of the easiest things you can start off with when learning to can are tomatoes. Just plain, canned tomatoes. For equipment, you won’t need much, just:
-A large pot
-A jar lifter
That’s really it! Sterilize your jars, get your lids in warm water and start peeling those tomatoes. Pop the peeled and diced tomatoes in your jars, along with a basil leaf, a little salt and some citric acid, then cover with hot tomato juice, put the lid on and process in boiling water. The size of your jar determines the processing time. Once it’s done, use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the water and put them on a towel on the counter to cool. You’ll hear the lids pop as they close.
That’s it – you’re done!
Even once you’re canning a variety of things, you’ll still buy more equipment each year. Lids, rings and extra jars are always needed. You can upgrade your equipment, buy new recipe books, labels and other goodies. When you first start canning, it’s a bit of an investment. Ease into it to spare your wallet and your sanity.