I bet you’d agree, we’re all looking for ways to save money and eat healthier. Canning our own foods can do that for us and I’ve asked my friend Jenny to walk us through the process today. Don’t worry, we’re totally doing “canning for beginners” here – no experience needed!
(This post probably contains affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is quite boring, but you can read it here if you’d like!)
Canning is one of the most overlooked ways that you can save money on groceries. Especially if you have a garden, have access to homegrown food, or can get produce at a really good price (like with a CSA or Misfit Markets). It’s also an amazing way to eat healthier, and eat fewer processed foods.
And it’s not just for your grammy, I promise!
My friend, Jenny from The Domestic Wildflower is going to show us what canning is, walk us through a simple tomato sauce recipe to can, and she even has a free download for a canning process pdf that will help us in the kitchen!
Let’s get started! Here’s Jenny…
Home Canning and how it will save you money:
Simple Canning Definition
Canning is a way of preserving food in jars so the food inside is shelf stable. The very basic process of canning is taking jars that have been getting hot n’ clean in boiling water, putting hot food (hot jam, hot applesauce, etc) into the hot jars, putting hot lids on, and putting them back in the hot water. Hot food goes into hot jars, and they go back into hot water.
Are you with me so far? Then you set a timer for a specified time for the jars of hot food to process in the boiling water bath. When the time is up, you can take the hot jars out one by one and the lids magically seal.
It is a time investment up front for a huge time, money, and effort savings later. Canning a large batch of tomato sauce might take you 2 hours from start to finish, but the end result is many jars of healthy sauce that you can store pretty much anywhere in your home for up to a year or more.
I love this tomato sauce recipe in particular because I use it to make an adaptable sauce that I can open months after I have canned it and have a kid-pleasing pasta sauce ready at the snap of my fingers.
Canning is an ideal accompaniment to meal preparation and for moms interested in feeding their crew healthier meals.
Home Canning equipment
The first thing you need to begin canning is a canning pot. These are often the black with white speckled enamel pots that are really large and are frequently sold with a wire rack inside. You don’t have to have a huge pot like this, and if you are a single person or a small family (read: not canning to feed a small army) a pasta pot will work just fine.
In the pot you will need either a rack made of wire or a silicone trivet. Both keep the bottom of the jars off the bottom of the pot. This is not an optional piece of equipment.
You need a small or medium sized saucepan that will hold the 4-8 lids and rings where they will warm in simmering water. You probably have one of these!
You need another regular pot (we’ll call this the preserving pan). This is the pot/pan you will cook the fruit or vegetable in before you pour it into the hot jars. You probably have this too!
You need canning jars. There are many different sizes – just choose the size you prefer for whatever you’re preserving. Here’s a good size for this tomato sauce recipe. Also note, there are regular mouth and wide mouth – just make sure your lids and rings match the type of jar you get.
You need rings (they come with most sets of jars).
You need NEW canning lids each time (that’s right – keep the jars and the rings but the lids get thrown out after you eat up whatever you’ve canned!). Again, make sure you match the right “mouth size” – regular or wide.
You need a utensil kit that includes a jar lifter, a funnel, and a lid lifter.
Here’s a super cheap canning pot + utensil set all in one.
Simple Canning Tomato Sauce Recipe
Here’s the recipe that I use to work up 12 pound batches of Romas, that usually yields 4-5 pints (1 pint =2 measuring cups) adapted from a great canning book that I warmly recommend, Canning for a New Generation.
12 pounds peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces onion, diced (about 2 small or 1 large)
2 large cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
about 2 teaspoons citric acid (a white powder sold in stores, usually near the new lids)
Prepare your largest pot with the rack inside, on the bottom of the pot. Put the jars inside (I am fond of large mouth pints for tomato sauce personally) and fill the jars and then the rest of the pot with hot tap water. Bring to a boil.
Fill the saucepan halfway with hot tap water. Put a corresponding number of brand new lids and rings to simmer in the saucepan.
In a wide preserving pan, heat the oil and saute the onions on medium high for about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another five. Combine the peeled tomatoes with the alliums and cook on medium high for about 45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and darkened in color. Add salt to taste. Stir occasionally and beware of the sauce boiling over the edge.
Use the jar lifter to remove one canning jar from the boiling water bath at a time. Pour the hot water within back into the pot, into the nearby saucepan, or into the sink. Set the hot jar gently on a towel-covered countertop.
Add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each hot jar that is removed from the waterbath. Ladle boiling sauce into sterilized jars. Add lids and rings, tightened about as tight as you’d like a bathroom faucet, and return the jars to the boiling water bath. Bring the water back up to boil if need be, and add water from the tap to cover the tops of the jars with 3 inches of water if necessary. Process in a water bath for 35 minutes, adding 5 additional minutes of processing time for every 1000 feet you live above sea level.
When the time is up, you can carefully remove the jars one by one, using the jar lifter, to the towel covered countertop. You will likely hear the lids seal with their tell-tale “ping” sound. The lid will become concave and firm to the touch. If you have a lid fail to seal, never fear. That means there was probably a tiny bit of sauce on the edge of the jar and you should refrigerate that jar and eat it within a week. Label sealed jars and store.
Canning process pdf
Download the Canning Process PDF so you can have a handy-dandy reference in your kitchen when you start to can!
And that’s it! Canning is a perfect fit for a busy, modern home and once you understand the process, you can preserve countless recipes to help make mealtime a breeze. If you want to learn more about canning, head toThe Domestic Wildflower . I’m always sharing new recipes and techniques you’ll love.