Return to Our Roots – How We Got Started Canning

How We Got Started Canning

A little over 6 years ago, we unexpectedly had our first canning experience. We had grown a lush garden but had an early frost. We had so many tomato plants that were loaded with unripe tomatoes. We picked several large bowls of green tomatoes and pondered what we could do with them. After all we didn’t want to throw them all away or have them go to waste. Due to the quantity of tomatoes we had, we thought we could freeze them but quickly realized we didn’t have enough room in our freezers.

We then thought we could can them but neither one of us had any canning experience. We both have mothers and grandmothers who were avid canners and thought we could try our hand at it too. We trucked down to our local Bi-Mart and purchased a canning pot and canning supplies. After we got home we scoured the internet for recipes for green tomatoes. We found recipes for green tomato relish and salsa verde that we modified based on our own personal preference.

Even after both of these canning projects we still had green tomatoes left over so we made a green tomato pie. While this pie tasted and resembled apple pie, we just couldn’t get over the fact that there were tomatoes in this pie. We ate a couple of pieces each of this pie before giving the rest of it away. Needless to say, we haven’t made another green tomato pie since.

Therefore, out of desperation of losing a large crop of tomatoes, our canning skills were born. Since then we have not lost the desire to can and preserve our own food. We especially find joy in turning the food we grow into to delicious canned goods that we can enjoy throughout the year. In addition, it has also become very important for us to know what is in our food and where our food is coming from. While we can’t grow and produce everything we eat, our goal is to become as self-reliant as possible so that we only have to purchase minimal things from the store.

For the first several years we only did water bath canning recipes including jams, jellies, relishes, pickled vegetables, and salsas. We then started venturing to canning other things such as bbq sauce, enchilada sauce, and chocolate sauce. And just this past year we purchased a pressure canner and started pressure canning beans and chicken. We were especially delighted to learn that you can stack jars in a pressure canner meaning you can get twice as many jars done at once.

Canning Tips

Here is a list of a few things we wish we would have known before we started canning.

1. Do your own research. Get information from a reliable resource. Use your best judgment regarding what you can and how you decide to can. We swear by the Ball Blue Book!

2. Wipe the rims of your jars with vinegar before applying the lid. This will ensure that the rim is adequately cleaned. If the rim is not cleaned or food is left on this rim, it could result in the jar not sealing.

3. Add vinegar to the canner water to prevent water spots on the lids of your jars during processing.

4. Don’t start the timer for your processing time until you have dropped your jars into the water and it has come back up to a boil.

5. After your processing time is completed, pull the jars up out of the water but leave them in the canning rack in the pot for 10 minutes before removing.

6. Your jars may ping immediately or it may take several hours after they are removed from the pot before they will ping. Just be patient!

7. After your jars have cooled, remove the rings and wash them thoroughly.

8. Do not store your jars with the rings on them as this could result in a false seal. This means that the seal can fail but then because of the ring still being on the jar, you don’t notice it. This can be very dangerous as it can result in botulism.

9. After putting your jars into your pantry or storage, check them periodically for false seals. Discard any jars that you find to be unsealed.
Below you will find links to the canning pot, canning tools and the Blue Ball book we use for canning. The following are affiliate links which means we make a small commission at no extra cost to you.


These are just a few tips we feel would be helpful for any new canner to learn. Don’t let canning overwhelm you. If you want to learn how to can, just do it. Get all of the equipment and start with a simple canning recipe. Also water bath canning is easier and less expensive than pressure canning. And if it would make you feel better, do a canning project with a friend or family member and make a fun day out of it. After all canning can be fun and it is especially worth it once you hear your first ping.

We would love to hear how you got started canning and if you have any canning tips to offer new canners. We would also like to hear if you tried a new canning recipe and how it turned out. Please let us know if you have any canning questions and if we don’t know the answer, we will help you find the answer. Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for stopping by and visiting Sunup to Sundown! We’ll be back soon with another recipe or update regarding our garden or our journey to becoming more self-reliant.

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