Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Must Have: So Easy to Preserve Book & Giveaway!

I've been doing some thinking...

Lately, I've been enjoying the fruits of our labors and we've had a busy summer putting up all the wonderful food we've grown or purchased locally. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this website called Canning Across America. It is a place were you can find recipes, events, instructions and a place to share canning experiences. Here is an excerpt that explains what they are all about:

"Our goal is to promote safe food preservation and the joys of community building through food. We believe in celebrating the bounty of local and seasonal produce and taking greater control of our food supply. Together, we can".

What a great concept! And I've been really caught up in the enjoyment of canning and keeping such an important tradition alive. I grew up in an environment where canning is what you did every summer and fall, to preserve the food that you worked so hard to grow and maintain in a yearly garden. And I realize that not everyone grew up with these wonderful experiences and I'm happy to see that there are so many people who are wanting to share their knowledge and I too, want to be involved with passing on this tradition of preserving homegrown foods.

I've been reflecting on all the canning and food preservation experiences I've had over the years, watching and helping my Mom in canning food from our garden every year, as far back as I can remember. At the beginning of the summer, my Mom taught a food preservation class, explaining the various techniques & methods of canning. I think that really got me into the excitement this year and it's still going! Through her research, and let me just say, that she is very qualified having taught Home Economics & Food Science for years and has been canning since she was a girl with her grandmother, I realized how lucky I am to have this resource of knowledge at my disposal.

Back to her research--she found this great book called "So Easy to Preserve" written by the Cooperative Extension of the University of Georgia, which I mentioned in this post. This book has up-to-date, safe and complete information on canning, pickled products, jellied products, freezing and drying foods. Every recipe and formula has been tested and is recommended for use throughout the United States. Visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website for more excellent information.

So all of these thoughts and ideas have come together to create today's post. I hope your own excitement and interest is peaked and you will decide to try some of your own canning this summer.


This book has been so informative and so very helpful, that I need to share it with you. I just can't say enough wonderful things about it. The information is very clear and complete, with lots of helpful charts and pictures. My copy already has tons of notes from things I've canned this summer and it even has pockets for handouts or loose notes at the end of each section. I have found it handy to put the cute canning labels in the one behind JAMS, so that when it's time to put them on the jars, I know exactly where they are. Another tip I'd like to share is when you make a recipe from the book, put the date you make it--it's like a little canning journal and you'll be able to look back and see what food you put up and when, in the years to come.


Since I've been doing so much canning this year and I am so excited about sharing great information and recipes, this week will have posts dedicated to canning various fruits and produce. And it coincides with the Canning kick-off that starts this weekend everywhere.


If you know me, then you know I love to be ORGANIZED. I realize that this really only applies to a few of you that do know me and so I am sharing a little more about myself to those of you who happen to read my blog--it's true, I crave organization--which is why I'm giving you the plan and outline of the posts for the week.

Monday: Monday Must Have & Giveaway
Tuesday: Lemon Cucumber Pickles (Part 2) & Canning
Wednesday: Peach Jam (Two kinds & Canning Methods)
Thursday: Daring Bakers Challenge Reveal (yes, it's the 27th already)
Friday: Garden Fresh Beans (Canning & a delicious recipe for Freezing)
Saturday: Homemade Tomato Sauce


I'm really, REALLY excited to share this AWESOME book with someone who likes to can, who wants to learn how to can, or if you love collecting really great food books, then here is what you do:

1) Leave a comment explaining why you enjoy canning or what you would like to learn about canning. I will be accepting comment entries from now until next Monday, August 31st at 8:00 pm (PST). *One comment/entry per person.

2) Please include your blog link or email, so I can contact you if you win.

3) The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009.

*Good luck and happy canning! Be sure to check back each day this week for a new canning recipe and instructions.


  1. Why I enjoy canning or what I would like to learn...... I know nothing. I'm pathetic. My mother never canned, which is fine, but I feel like I really need to learn at least the basics. The only jam I've ever made is plum freezer jam. And the only person in our house who even eats jam doesn't like it! Ugh! Help!!! Our garden this year turned out to be so pathetic, even though we really did try. I have an apple tree that is begging for me to make and can either applesauce or pie filling, but nope, I have no canning jars and no skills!

  2. Very fun idea... and thanks for connecting us to the Canning site! I love canning! Sounds like your childhood was similar to mine, we always had a store room of goodies from the garden or local farms. Now, every September a few friends and I have a canning party. We always make Dill Pickles, Spicy Pickled Beans, canned tomatoes, peaches etc... so yummy! One day I would like to try the pressure canning method, for now we only use the hot water bath.

  3. I remember canning with Mom as a child, every year, mostly in the summer. My faves were the apricots and peaches we put up. I have NEVER canned as an adult and am starting to think I should. :)

  4. Jill, I love canning and like you I grew up with a mother that make tons of canned tomato sauce and other things. I haven't canned anything yet this year (still have tons of stuff from last year), but I have so many pears now that I need to figure out what to do with them. I might can some.

    Happy canning and compliments on the wedding cake, it looks beautiful!

  5. So exciting! I have fond memories helping my mom can in the summertime when I was a kid. Our house had a special "canning kitchen" in the basement where my mom would spend hours and hours canning. I got to do the entry level jobs like pitting cherries and grinding fruit for jam (so old school). But I never actually learned how to can. But lately I've been interested in learning how. In fact, I wanted my mom to teach me this summer, but then the whole Utah thing came up and it's not going to happen. But I still want to learn how, so enter me in your drawing!

  6. Jill, this coming Saturday is our Island Food Preservation Fair and my mother has asked me to help with it. I'm feeling intimidated! Although I've canned for years, I don't know the reasons behind so many of the processes.... I recently purchased the book, "Putting Food By" and have been devouring it. I've never seen this book you have here, and it looks like a wonderful read! I recently wrote an entry on my feelings related to preserving food on my Blog. Here's the link: It's the entry called, "Family Root Cellar"

  7. Wow, this post is packed with informations!
    I started to preserve just this summer, and it's only fruit jams for now, I love to see all my cans lined up on the shelf and knowing that I matched tastes that I could not find at the shop.
    Never tried with vegetables so far.
    Who knows, you may talk me into it!

  8. Jill, I am so glad you put a great focus in canning. By doing it, all of us could benefit from it and actually developing something healthy on our own.

    That's what I want to say about why I love canning. It gives me the assurance that I am able to put health and taste under my own control. Couldn't really trust those canned food found in the supermarket such as the expiry date and all. Well, with canning I can rest assured.

    It will be great to learn more about the hygienic bottling and storage. And would there be any preservatives that we should know about?

    Happy canning week...

  9. Oh how exciting. you recipe line-up looks fantastic. I would really like to learn how to make and bottle my own hot sauce. I go through it so quickly that I think in the end it will save me quite a bit of $$$ in the end. Can't wait for the next recipe!!
    Meg (

  10. That books sounds so good! What I like about canning is that I know what goes into it. Then it's also a great gift to give away my jams and pickles. I also enjoy showing family and friends how to can. They are amaze how easy it really is and how much you don't have to spend to do it. What would I like to learn next well, for my b-day I got a pressure canner and I would like to be doing more with that.

  11. I would love to learn how to can correctly! I am intimidated by the process, even though I grew up with relatives who canned. Thanks so much for the chance!

  12. Hi, I just found your blog and am so thrilled! I love bread and butter pickles and adore lemon cucumbers! I will be making those for sure as I swear I have hundreds of the yellow buggers! I am fairly new to canning, I have been making pickled bannana peppers all summer since my pepper plant went nuts to. So that is all I have ever canned. I would love to be entered into your drawing for the canning book! I know it would get a lot of use in my little kitchen.
    Gin1906 @ aol . com

  13. I came for the Dobos, but then got a peek at the peaches.. and then had to keep scrolling down to see all the wonderful stuff you've canned before. And my reward was discovering those cucumbers you used.. I never knew they existed. How wonderful!

    We make our own pickles each year, as well as fresh fruit preserves once in a while (made a boatload of fresh Italian plum preserves for the favors at our wedding last year) and would love to learn how to can more foods. We tried canning our own tomatoes once and it was a disaster.. so now we slow roast them after we harvest, which is delightful, but it'd be so great to have the tomatoes we grew made into sauce and canned for the winter! Thanks for the chance to win the book and to have discovered new veggies! :)


  14. I have been teaching myself to can since last summer and I do it to help me to save money (when things are on sale, I buy alot of it) and to control what is in my prepared foods. The only thing that I can't seem to be good at is getting rid of bubbles. Some tell me that tiny bubble are to be expected but I am still a little paranoid. I would like to know more about how to get rid of those tinier bubbles and if I don't get rid of them, is it safe to eat?
    I found your site on the Canning Across America blog and have enjoyed visiting.

  15. My grandmothers both canned. I have very fond memories of summers spent with the fragrance of peaches and tomatoes in the kitchen processing. This year, I took my first stab at canning and was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed it. I made watermelon pickles, dill pickles, mock apple rings, and watermelon jam. All were a success but the jam. Still, I enjoyed the feeling of connectedness I had during the process.

  16. Jeanna: Plum freezer jam sounds yummy! And you would be surprised at how easy canning is, once you've done it a couple of times. :)

    Bakergirl: You're very welcome for the info. Try the pressure canning method, it's not as scary as you might think. :)

    Natalie: You'd do great at canning, I'm sure. You are such a super mom already. :)

    Laura: Thanks for the compliment on the wedding cake. Let me know if you do some canning this year.

    Jeff: I can totally picture you with your "assigned job" and being such a good help to your mom. :)

    Sarah: Thanks for your blog link. I will totally check it out.

    Anna: I hope I did talk you into canning veggies. :)

    Kris:I agree about knowing exactly what is in your own canning, doing it yourself. Also, there isn't a need for extra preservatives in canning. For example, in jam, the sugar is a preservative or in tomato sauce the acid from lemon juice acts as the preservative. The important thing is to make the amounts added are accurate as called for by the recipe. Great question! :)

    Megan: I will be sure to post something in the future about canning salsa/hot sauce. There are some important "do's" and "don't's" for that process. Great idea! :)

    Jane: I hope you'll try a recipe using your new pressure canner. You'll really love it.

    TZel: I'm glad you stopped by and hope you'll try canning soon.

    Ginny: Pickled banana peppers sound great!

    Lis: I love the idea of slow roasted tomatoes. We are starting to get a large crop of tomatoes and I think I will have to try that. :)

    Rebelpigs: Some people use chopsticks to slide down the side of the jar and release the air bubbles. I actually use the handle end of a rubber spatula, because it's rounder on the tip and doesn't break up the fruit or vegetables as you are pushing down the side of the jar. If you still have just a few tiny bubbles, it should be fine and safe to eat. But if you are ever in doubt--throw it out. Better to be safe, than sorry. I hope this helps. :)

    Knitncycle: That is so cool that you have memories from both your grandmothers in canning. Wow, you've done a lot for just starting this summer! :)

  17. I really excited about starting our own garden and being able to preserve some of the foods through canning. Thank for all the useful posts.

  18. I want to learn everything about canning. That's how I found your blog. I know nothing about canning. I ended up freezing some corn and green beans, but I am really interested in making jellys and jams too. Thank you so much for your blog for others to learn


  19. Natalie: I'm glad these posts have been helpful for you. Good luck with your garden! :)

    Carol: Thank you for visiting my blog! I hope this will be a helpful resource for your canning experience. :)

  20. I started canning this year! 132 jars of yumminess and counting at this point! I love knowing e x a c t l y what is in the food I am eating :O). Being a vegetarian and organic eater when at all possible, canning just seems like the perfect thing to do does it not! I love to garden and am lucky enough to live where I can do so.
    My blog