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I would consider myself an amateur/hobby canner ? 

I like to can applesauce and apple butter. I like the idea of canning salsa, but I'm particular about my recipe, and when canning it's important to follow a tested recipe. If I ever get my stuff together at the right time of year, I'd love to can some strawberry jam. 

I think that the Ball/Kerr website (https://www.freshpreserving.com/canning-101-getting-started.html) and the National Center for Home Food Preservation site (https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html) are helpful and provide safe recipes and canning guidelines.

So far I've only done water bath canning, and I use a large pot, a jar rack, jar tongs, a lid lifter, a funnel, and of course, cans with new lids. I think I found a starter kit on Amazon several years ago, that had all of the tools (except for jars/lids), and I haven't outgrown them yet. Mine are similar to this set, though I have a stainless funnel https://www.amazon.com/Granite-Ware-Canning-8-Piece-Black/dp/B00BZLJX60/ref=sr_1_8

I also use our canning jars with plastic lids for all sorts of food storage (dry goods that don't close back up easily, leftovers in the fridge or freezer, etc.). I think it's helpful to choose one mouth size (regular or wide) and stick with that, that's way you only need one size lid for all of your jars. 

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We have a large backyard garden, so I've practiced canning green beans, tomatoes, and lots and lots of pickles.

I've concluded that it's easier to freeze the green beans & tomatoes.

Pickles are fairly easy to can--spears, slices, relish--with sweet, bread & butter, and other recipes.

It's great if you can "inherit" a friend's mom's canning jars.  ? 

However, if you end up buying both the jars and the food, it becomes an expensive & tiring hobby . . . instead of a thrifty food source.

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I can every year, but how serious I am about it waxes and wanes. 

I always can tomatoes every year because they are easy to manage and I have an abundance of tomatoes. Also, they make me happy in the winter. Other things I have canned: jams, green beans, pickles, hot peppers and sweet pickle relish. The sweet pickle relish was very successful and we have been eating that for years. If there is a downside, it is that it doesn’t use up quickly, so we are still eating 2015 relish. I always use all my quarts of tomatoes up before they come around again. 

I think the easiest beginner project is canning tomatoes because you do not have to use a pressure canner to can them successfully (but don’t tell anyone I said that because apparently Ball Mason company does not recommend this anymore). I put up a blog post ages ago about how to do this and I’ll see if I can link it here. 


Here you go: http://25hoursadaymom.com/how-to-can-tomatoes-without-a-pressure-canner/

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Food allergies have zapped some of the efficacy of canning here. It's far less convenient when not everyone can eat what you put in a jar. 

We received a hot water bath canner and some jars at my bridal shower, and the free stuff has continued to fall from the sky. What little we've bought was very easily justified because of that. When people who were getting older and tired of canning found out we canned, they brought us bags and boxes of jars--they had fond memories and wanted their beloved equipment to find a new life. We found some at yard sales. I was friends with sweet old ladies at church who didn't use the internet. One of them said she could no longer replace her pressure canner seal locally, and she was too thrifty to throw it out. She already had a replacement canner, brought me her old one, and said since I knew how to shop online, I might as well enjoy her old canner. We did! Eventually a friend passed along a super high end pressure canner that doesn't require a seal--it has the bolts you screw down.

Once we started canning in earnest, we found that pressure canning was easier. I broke a LOT of jars in my hot water bath canner no matter what method I followed. I rarely break jars in the pressure canner. If you want to do only fruit (and shh...tomatoes as Quill said), you are fine with a hot water bath canner or even a Ball basket that goes in a regular pot for "trying it out." Basically if your jars are covered with water, and you have something to keep them from clanking on the bottom (rings tied together can be used for this), you can hot water can in any kind of pot.

Our favorites: tomatoes, peaches, black raspberries (my parents do those), applesauce, pears (oh, my word!!! the glory), string beans (totally different than frozen!), carrots (taste like CANDY even if they are kind of blah fresh), beets, dried beans (black, pinto, navy, kidney, etc.), and all kinds of meats. 

Meat is so easy to can, and it's super tender. It takes a long time to process, but we always put it outside on a big propane burner so the house wouldn't get hot. The meat and beans were nice because you could buy meat on sale, and we were often going to be cutting the meat up anyway. This way, we had super fast ingredients to put in a soup or to heat up for school lunch (we all prefer a hot lunch since we're home). Our canner accommodates double layers of pint jars, and a pint is perfect for meat or beans. Beans process for the same amount of time as meat, so we often did half beans and half meet in one canner load. We didn't ever get to do broth (I developed an allergy to gelatin), but you process that like meat as well. People who do a lot of bone broth often can it if their freezer space is limited. For us, part of the deal is that it saves freezer space and it diversified our risk if the electricity went out! The dried beans we canned were hands-down our kids' favorite beans. If I could eat them, I would've figured out a baked bean recipe to process. 

Canning compatible things at the same time is my biggest tip. Generally if one thing processes for a slightly longer time or a greater pressure, but it's close, you can use the longer time/pressure to can both items, and they will both be tasty. 

Enjoy! If you have a friend that cans, offer to help out, and you'll get a lot of ideas and practice.

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We can a lot. Salsas, jams, pickles, apple pie filling, apple sauce and tomato sauce. 

Prepare and accept that you will have fails.  It will happen to the even pro canners who do it all.  So don’t cry over that 10 dollars of jam that is syrup instead. Lol

Start simple first while you get familiar with it.  Applesauce is easy along with pickles and salsa.  Get the Ball book and amazon has some canning kits at a good price ( have the magnetic lid holder, jar grabber, funnel).   Do not buy the Walmart brand lids.  They are notorious for failures. 

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I make jams and jellies.  I do not do anything that requires pressure canning.  I enjoy it and it provides some unique gifts to have on hand to give people.  But, unless you have a large garden in which you are growing things you will can or have some extremely inexpensive source of fruits or vegetables, canning will not save you money.

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