Earlier this year, I was chatting with Amy and she told me that if I started canning I was likely to get bitten by the preserving bug. As it turns out, the girl knows what she’s talking about.
I started by signing up for an online certification in home preservation (suggested by Amy), adding a few books to the canning collection in my “library”, and getting into the kitchen to make the magic happen, five or six jam jars at a time. And while I’m not an obsessive canner, I do really like it, and look forward to the weekend when I try to carve a little time out each Saturday morning for a quick preserving project.
I set aside the time to put up the things I know my family will eat, making only the preserved goods that we’ll be excited to find in the pantry later in the year, when the markets are barren.
I’m still learning as I go, of course, but one of the things I’ve discovered is essential to the ease of canning is to have the right equipment on hand when you start. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to dig metal lids out of a too-small pot with short tongs, all while trying to avoid burning your hands with the bubbling water. Having the all-important tools available makes the work so much easier, and for me, the Bernardin Home Canning Starter Kit is the perfect purchase for the job.
Included in the box is:
- 21 qt. covered preserving canner with canning rack
- Bubble remover and head space gauge
- Jar funnel
- Magnetic lid lifter
- Jar lifter
- 4-250ml jars
- Recipes and a home canning how-to DVD
Other than plenty of tea towels and clean cloths for wiping down jars (which we all have plenty of, I’m sure) I think the only thing this kit is missing is a ladle for transferring hot liquids to the jars. Otherwise, it’s a comprehensive collection of items that fit snugly inside the pot, which makes for easy storage when not in use. As someone with a small urban kitchen, I truly appreciate that all of the items can be kept together easily.
In the past few weeks I’ve made garlic dill pickles and peach barbecue sauce. We all know how I feel about tomatoes, so the peach version of this popular summer condiment is ideal for me. Not only is it a snap to put together, but it also tastes amazing when slathered on grilled or baked chicken, and I look forward to having a few bites of summer tucked in the pantry for when the cold weather months set in later this year.
The kind people at Bernardin have a complete home canning starter kit to give away to one lucky Canadian reader. Please leave a comment below letting me know if you can, and if so what's your must-make item each year? For extra entries you can like the Family Bites Facebook page... just come back to let me know you've done so. The giveaway is open until August 11th...I will notify the winner via email shortly after that.
A few notes:
- Canada’s first National Can-It-Forward Day is taking place on Sunday August 11th at Cirillos Culinary Academy in Toronto. Chef Emerie Brine will be broadcasting live from the location, and the online demonstration begins at 1pm. You can register here if you’re interested, and for more information on the National Can-It-Forward Day program click here. Lastly, if you’re on Twitter you can follow the conversation using the hashtag #CanItForward or by following @Bernardin.
- Alternatively, you can host your own canning party on the same day. Last summer, my friend, Tess, and I spent a day making pizza sauce together and it was a blast. If you have like-minded people available why don’t you gather for a day of jammin’ together?
Small Batch Peach Barbecue Sauce
Makes 3 or 4 – 250ml jars
- 5 cups finely chopped pitted peaches
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup honey
- ¾ cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
Prepare the canner, jars, and lids. Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow the sauce to cool, then purée using an immersion or regular blender, or food processor.
Ladle the hot sauce into jars, leaving ½” headspace. Wipe the rims, centre the lids on jars, and affix rings. Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 20 minutes.
Remove the jars from the pot and allow them to cool completely before storing.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Bernardin for providing me with a home canning kit to sample. The words, photos, and recipe used in this post are my own.