Everyday Cheapskate: Got a Big Harvest? Can It!
So you planted a garden, lucked out when you bought a property that had fruit trees, stumbled upon a produce sale or joined a Community Supported Agriculture program. Good for you!
Now what? What will you do with all that bounty?
Your choices are: quickly consume your harvest before it spoils, give it away or preserve it to enjoy in the future.
Preserving is making a big comeback. One of the best ways to preserve is canning.
Canning is not difficult, but it is a procedure that should be followed precisely.
To get started, you need basic equipment, a good teacher and beautifully ripe produce. Your investment now will pay off in spades come winter, when you'll be able to enjoy summer all over again. If you're new at this, start with fruit, jams, pickles and tomatoes because these items are highly acidic and do not require a pressure canner.
Canning jars. These are specially made tempered jars with lids designed for canning. The jars can be reused for many years. They come in various sizes and are usually sold in boxes of 12. Each jar includes a two-piece lid. Look for canning jars online and in supermarkets, hardware stores and discount department stores like Walmart and Target.
Large covered water bath canner. A water bath canner must be deep enough to completely immerse the jars with 1 to 2 inches of water covering the top of the lid. Canners have a rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot. You can improvise with any large stockpot and a wire cooling rack placed in the bottom.
Jar lifter. A jar lifter is a very handy tool for removing freshly processed jars from the boiling water. It looks like wide tongs.
Wide-mouth canning funnel. A canning funnel makes filling your jars simple, safe and tidy.
A non-metallic spatula. You want to avoid anything metallic coming into contact with your prepared food item, so use a non-metallic spatula, a long plastic knife or a chopstick to run through the filled jars and release trapped air bubbles.
Linens. You'll need a clean dishcloth to wipe the rims before placing the lids on the jars and a heavy dishtowel or absorbent mat to sit the hot jars on after removing them from the canner.
Rather than searching for each item individually, consider a home canning kit that comes with everything you need except the jars. Expect to pay about $40 online or in stores like Walmart and Target.
A GOOD TEACHER
When it comes to finding a great teacher, I have two suggestions for you:
Book. The book "Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving," edited by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine, costs about $15. This book includes comprehensive directions on safe canning and preserving methods, lists of required equipment and utensils, specific instructions for first-timers and handy tips for the experienced canner.
Website. The Simply Canning website offers hundreds of recipes created specifically for home canning, plus lots of instruction, help, tips and tricks. This is a terrific site for beginners.
The website PickYourOwn.farm will help you find local pick-your-own orchards and farms in your local area. Just log on and input your ZIP code.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at email@example.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.