According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month—not that you needed an excuse to eat all the sweet corn and plump strawberries you wanted. While you're munching on all the delicious summer produce, it's easy to forget that winter is coming, and you won't have that fresh food for long. Store them properly in the short term; then, rather than suffering a tasteless winter, spend a rainy summer day canning a few of your summer favorites.
While delectable fresh, not all fruits and vegetables are suitable for canning. You want to choose a high-acidity food, such as peaches, tomatoes, or strawberries because the acidity prevents bacteria from growing during the months the food is canned. Avoid low-acidity foods, such as meat, seafood, and most vegetables.
It is also important to select the right recipe for you. While some recipes make enough canned food to last you through an apocalypse, there are other recipes for smaller batches, as well. The water-bath canning process is pretty uniform across foods, but the recipes to prepare the food for canning vary. Not all canned peaches are prepared the same way. Find the recipe you like best—just make sure it's intended for water-bath canning.
Once you've prepped your produce, check out our “canning how-to” below for an easy way to preserve those summer favorites during National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month.
- Produce already prepared for canning (we like this & that recipe)
- Glass jars, rings, and new lids of any size
- Water-bath canner (or a large, deep saucepot with lid and rack)
- Jar grabber (or tongs)
- Clean all jars, lids, and rings.
- Fill a separate pot with water and begin heating on stove, but do not let the water boil.
- Put jars in the hot, not boiling, water until use. This prevents them from breaking when you add the hot food.
- Place rack in bottom of water-bath canner/saucepot.
- Fill water-bath halfway with water and keep at a simmer.
- Using jar grabber/tongs, remove heated jars from separate pot of water & fill with food. Make sure to remove air bubbles, and leave about ½ inch of space from the top of the jar.
- Clean jar rim and threads of any excess food.
- Place lid on jar rim, then place ring and screw finger tight.
- Place filled & sealed jars in water-bath and lower jars until water covers jars by 1-2 inches. The jars shouldn't touch the bottom of the water-bath or each other.
- Place lid on water-bath and bring to a full boil; begin processing time stated in your recipe.
- After processing, turn off heat and remove water-bath lid; let jars stand for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove jars and set out on a towel to cool for 12-24 hours. Check that all jars are sealed, and label them with the present date. If a jar isn't sealed, reprocess it in the water-bath, or refrigerate it and eat within 1 week.
- Store sealed, cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 1 year.
- Enjoy summer produce all year!