Yes, you can!
It's the height of summer, which means vegetable gardens and farmers markets are overflowing with the most perfect produce of the year, from tomatoes and beans to blueberries and peaches. While I love to eat all of these things while they are fresh and juicy, it's also a great time to start canning so that you can relive summer just a little bit when the weather gets cold and grey.
Okay, I know, I lost you when I said it's time to start canning. Canning can seem intimidating, but, honestly, it's easy as pie and once you get started, it's a little bit addictive. You also don't need to have much equipment to get started, just a big stockpot and some Mason jars. The worst thing I can say about canning is that sometimes it can heat up the kitchen a whole lot on a hot day, but, once you get in the groove, it doesn't take much to keep things moving along. Before you know it, you'll have your pantry stocked full for the winter and your family and friends will thank you.
Let's get canning!
1. You don't have to do much to get the Mason jars ready to fill; just wash them well in very hot soapy water and then be sure to keep them warm with some hot, but not boiling, water until you are ready to fill them with your pickles, preserves, or other recipes. This is to make sure that the glass doesn't crack when you fill them and put the jars into the boiling water.
2. It's nice to have a jar lifter of some kind to help get the hot jars out of the boiling water when they're finished processing. These are usually special tongs made to fit around the lid of the jar or a basket designed to fit inside a stockpot that can hold a few jars at a time.
3. Once the jars have finished processing, they'll need to sit out for a few hours to cool down. If you press your finger on the top of the lid and it doesn't give, then your jars are properly sealed. If the lid does pop slightly, then it's not processed, but, don't despair — you can refrigerate that jar for a few days and just enjoy the fruits of your labor that much sooner!
Here are two of my favorite canning recipes:
To safely and properly pickle, be sure to check out the USDA guidelines and follow them carefully.