Give this beginner your simplest canning tips

My first motto is “Choose Joy, First” and my second one is “Live Simply”

I will be starting my journey in canning this year. I have been slowly learning different ways of preserving and now I have canning in general and fermentation to learn. I like to learn things slowly and thoroughly through trial (and hopefully no error).

My hope is this group can help me by giving me some specific tips.

1) What is your favorite canning method?

2) What has been the easiest veggie or fruit to can?

3) If you were just beginning what would be the one resource you wish you had (or maybe did have)?

Please keep this discussion simple. 😊 Thank you.



  • @herbantherapy learning by trial is always the best way 😁. I inherited my grandmothers canner and put it to good use ever since.

    The easiest veg to can for me is pickling cucumber. I have an old booklet in canning that came with the canner and using the recipts in there has never failed me.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    The BEST tip I ever got was from my mother. Instead of boiling everything in water, she just puts it in the oven at 250F For at least double the time. So if she's making jam and the recipe says to boil it for 15 minutes, she bakes it at 250 for half an hour. I still boil the supplies before I start, but this makes canning so much easier. No one has died from it yet in our family.

    My best tip is to start with small batches and make sure you like it first. I made lots of the loveliest Meyer lemon rose petal marmalade, but no one wants to eat it. It makes my heart cry just a little.

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    Start with water bath canning and something simple - like tomatoes or a jam. Simple tip for tomatoes is to wash them and freeze them whole first - when you take them out to can them, the skins will slip right off and you will not have to go through the whole process of scalding them to remove the skins. Canned whole tomatoes are easy since they can be raw packed and processed right away. Jams require a bit more prep and cooking beforehand, but if you tend towards a sweet tooth, you cannot beat a homemade jam!

    There are also a lot of resources out there - please choose to follow safe canning methods (especially since you are just starting!) so that your foods turn out both delicious and safe :) The Ball canning website has a ton of great recipes to try.

  • Desiree
    Desiree Posts: 255 ✭✭✭

    Wow! this is all good information and I can't wait to visit some of the links provided.

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    Marisa McClennen's blog and books have wonderful advice for the newbie canner. She has one called, "Preserving by the Pint" which might be a good one to start with.

    I would definitely recommend starting small. That bushel of peaches might have seemed like a good idea at the farm market, but it will take on enormous proportions when you are trying to deal with it as a novice canner, especially if you're working by yourself.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @Megan Venturella your Meyer lemon/rose petal combo sounds AMAZING!!

    Thank you all got some really fantastic tips!

    This has been inspiring!

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy my simplest canning advise is to read, read, read. There's so much more to canning safely than the "measure twice cut once" which can be applied to other projects. If you don't follow safe guidelines, the end results could literally kill someone. Food poisoning from home canned goods can be a reality. Still, you do not have to be afraid to do it. If can be done easily and safely. In 26 years I've had 3 jars of food go bad. (Better shut my mouth or this summer will be a bust.)

    Tomatoes are probably my favorite to can. I've done quartered tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, and what I call tomato puree which is the left over fiber and seeds from tomato juice. It is delicious in stews, soups, and chili without adding much bulk to the dish.

    The site I like best for canning information and recipes is the Missouri University Extension. You can download the information and recipes and make your own binder. That way you can make any notes needed in the margins, highlight things you want to find easily etc. I may have put the chapter on canning squash, recipe highlighted of course, on the counter when I knew my husband would be home from work 3 hours ahead of me.😊

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @Marjory Wildcraft Maybe this is something the Grow Network should consider for the academy. A course in Home Preserving.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    Just an FYI I will be taking a home canning course through the OSU extension program. So hopefully I will get hands learning for safety precautions.

    I have 16 canning/preserving books and read about canning all the time but the more I read the more confused I get and then overwhelmed with so much info that I’m paralyzed and don’t even try.

    i have made refrigerator pickles and freezer jam and small patches of several jams that get eaten within a month so I don’t do any actual canning.

    I want to be more prepared for an uncertain future so I know “real” canning is a survival tool I need to become familiar and comfortable with.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Hi @torey and @herbantherapy - oh thank so much. YES, we need a food preservation cert.

    A few years back at one of our Summits we had Kendra Lynn do a nice job on both steam and pressure canning. Tom Bartels has shown some really easy ways to preserve harvest. Hmm, I forgot who did an awesome presentation on how to make a home smoke house. Gosh, let me think on this.

    But thanks so much for reminding me that yes, we do need a cert on this.

    I know there is a lot of info out there, but honestly for me, I've always found it to be fairly simple. The best part is getting a group of others who would like to share the work with you! I love getting to catch up and share memories while canning with girlfriends.

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    Don't try to can 2 bushels of apples your first time canning.

    Start small

    Only do enough to fill the canner. Don't over welm your self with think you have to do everything.

    Applesauce, jellies, jams, peaches, tomatoes are all easy.

    Ask around church, club etc. find someone who cans, ask if you can come and watch/help.

    Good luck you can do this just don't over think!

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Do be safe with your canning by using only recipes from safe resources! Several of them are mentioned in the comments already. There are things that are unsafe to can, no matter what you see on the internet or in old books. Dairy products come to mind, and for some reason pumpkin puree is not safe. Meats require careful handling. The acidity of foods determines if they can safely be water bathed, or must be pressure cooked.

    Note that the Instant Pot and other electric pressure cookers ARE NOT safe to use in canning!

    You will need to know your elevation, since processing times are different at locations over 1000 feet.

    Food poisoning is serious, but don't let that stop you! Just know your resources are safe, and have at it! As noted, there are safe canning resources, so always check any suspect recipe against what they say.

    I like the Ball Blue Book (get the latest edition, as some things have changed over the years), and the National Center for Home Food Preservation at

    Check your state extension office, also. As @dottile46 mentions, the Missouri site is really good.

    Have fun, and do can what you like to eat. As also mentioned, having a pantry full of food you don't enjoy is not a good use of your time and energy.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,278 ✭✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy I especially enjoyed reading all of the comments and laughed a lot. Thank you for asking for advice. I don't know if you live in Oregon but I would love to help you if I am close enough in Springfield. I get a new Ball canning book every year I am going to can anything. Mostly I have experimented with fruits. I have also canned jellies and jams. One year I also made fruit cocktail with grapes and no maraschino cherries.

    I do want you to know that it does talk about making a sugar syrup but I have canned with pineapple juice. The other thing I do that is very different I do not use a syrup, instead I pour the boiling water onto the fruit and then add sugar. My mother used to make minted pears by using mint flavoring and green food coloring. The pears are very pretty on a plate with cottage cheese.

    Let me know if I can help. Good luck with all of these great tips!

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @Dianne Petersen I live in South Beach (Just south of Newport). How fun would it be to meet others from this community!

    It sounds like you have some fun alternative ideas!

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    @Mary Linda Bittle the pumpkin puree thing has baffled me too - something about the heat not being able to get to the middle of the jar I believe... We have just been canning chunks of pumpkin instead - when we go to use them, you can literally stir them with a spoon into puree. Makes the BEST pies! :)

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    @Mary Linda Bittle Pumpkin puree is too dense to safely can at home. The canning forum I'm on is quite particular about that one.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    Apparently, ignorance is bliss! I have canned pumpkin in the past and have had not issues with it. Haven't done it for a while as now I usually just freeze pumpkin, squash, etc.

    @herbantherapy The Seed to Pantry School has an extensive library of blog posts about all types of preserving foods, including charts for time tables, etc.

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy I have just used water bath canning until I received a pressure cooker (that can be used for canning) last Summer. I use Ball Mason jars. The first thing that I canned was salsa.

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    i started out canning with a water bath caner, then i took a class at the county extension office they did waterbath and pressure canning.

    i got a pressure caner with out a gauge just a weight because i didn't want to have the gauge tested every year. the directions for pressure caner took me several attempts to master i think i over cooked corn several times before i realized i had it rocking way to fast. lol but i'd start out with fruit and pickled items and jams. then pressure canning. i have a few canning books mostly ball and kerr and a book from a sunset books also printed out from usda complete canning.

    i think i would have like to known sooner about tattler reusable lids. also i just discovered 2 years ago that the handle of my pot makes a perfect rest for my jar funnel so it hangs over the pot especially helpful while doing jam.

    @Marjory Wildcraft maybe a dehydrating cert also. i do more of that than canning sometimes

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Hi @nksunshine27 got it! Yes, I dehydrate a lot also. And last summer I splurged and got a freeze dryer - that thing is so much fun! We had suich a good fruit year last year, everyone was preserving like crazy and strongly suggested I get it as that kind of bounty doesn't come often.

    I was initially going to use the freeze dried foods for backpacking trips... (uh, when will I have time for that??? well, nevermind). But I've found I use the freeze dried foods for work travel trips. Getting good food on the road can be tough sometimes. But you can always get hot water...

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    Hi @Marjory Wildcraft I am a dealer for Excalibur dehydrators cause they sell the best product i can find. but the people down the road from me own a freeze dryer so thats my next saving purchase after i buy some land and start my herbal growing business (hope to get a grant for that) anyway i trade eggs for her to freeze dry stuff for me.

    well when you are wildcrafting aren't you backpacking lol. Yes there is a little different texture from freeze dried and dehydrated

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    If you have hard water and are water-bath canning, add about a cup of white vinegar to your water. It will keep mineral deposits from forming on your jars while you boil them.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    I water bathed 8 4oz jars of Elderberry syrup yesterday! All the lids made that popping sound and look sucked down and sealed so I’m happy! I made 12 jars total. 4 for my husband and I to microdose on and then the others are for my niece and nephew. I plan to make more this week for my grandma and sister and mom who all have compromised immune systems and if I can help them boost their immune system right now I will.

  • KarenBeesley
    KarenBeesley Posts: 14 ✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy i probably would have frozen the elderberry syrup. in ice cube trays and transferred to ziplocks.

    heat kills a lot of healthy stuff in our food. freezing is another method of preserving.

    great that you asked for input. and what a lot of response.

    i grew up with parents and grandparents who had large gardens and put up food. and we U-picked, with my father always saying as we walked in to a strawberry farm "you better weigh me on the way in and out".

    fruit and pickled vegies is safest to can

    but freezing keeps more nutrients alive.

    i use the jam setting on my breadmaker for saucing apples/pears, works perfectly. no water added, and can put through two settings. just another little tip.

    also, there are questionable practices passed down the family line. folks used to add lots of salt to water canning their meats, prior to pressure cookers.

    have to be very careful when straying from current guidelines.


  • T. Michael Smith
    T. Michael Smith Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    We will be beginning again this year. I say we because it is something my wife and I will do together. I am the gardener on this 2 acre farm and she is the husbandry expert. When we assist each other, there isn't much we can't do. We have a Pressure cooker/insta-pot, and we have the big water bath system. I am more old fashioned than my wife though only 10 years separate us, and she is techy. We both have AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES, all caps, because I think America's current food system which I survived on for 50 years and she for 40 years is the cause of our disease. My Hope's are that with 5 -10 years of proving our own food that we will finally see relief from our diseases. Being self sustaining and buying locally grown food is the only way I know to truly have a controlled environment for this scientific theory of the cause of our diseases. As for canning I imagine we will do both methods because for us that is an experiment too.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,278 ✭✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy Thank you for bringing up freezing items. One of my friends explained one day how to do flash freezing. It is simple and fast and I am alive and well because of it. I like to grow green beans. because they are closer to the ground it helps the joints. This is the trick: pick the vegetable, prepare it like normal, (I snap the beans and take off the ends), boil them for three minutes, then take them out of the boiling water and flash freeze them (use cold water and ice). I have done this with broccoli that someone has given me. After you have done the flash freezing add them to containers or bags and put into the freezer. When they have been eaten they taste like green beans from the garden. Yummy!!

    In the past I have added tomatoes to the freezer, after removing them from the freezer the outer skin can easily be peeled off.

  • T. Michael Smith
    T. Michael Smith Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft I second the motion about a canning class for Grow Network University. I am not on here as much as everyone else but I try whenever I'm well to get involved. I believe what we put into us, is so important and the more we can avoid buying canned or frozen factory farming made food the healthier a people we will be.