The Courage to Can

Do you know those 80 lbs of tomatoes that Leanna was talking about in yesterday’s post?

Well, I canned them yesterday. They made 28 quarts.

There is something so rewarding about canning. I absolutely love it.

It wasn’t always so. In fact as a young adult (okay, teenager) I was pretty intimidated by the pressure canner. However, the summer I was 16 was the big learning season for me. I usually just helped my mom and as you all know there is a big difference between helping and leading.

But that summer, my mom’s back went out and landed her flat for over a month.



But you know what? It was probably the best thing that could have ever happened for me. (sorry, Mom) I learned to can that summer.

I put up quarts and quarts of green beans, tomatoes, squash, and pumpkin that year. It got my feet wet and from then on, I was the “chief canner” in the house. It was like a right of passage, growing up, entering womanhood.

Now I have my own home and canning is a “piece o’ cake” and lots of hard work. 🙂 But oh-so rewarding.

Do you have a fun story about when you learned to can?

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About Sheri Salatin

Sheri is married to Daniel Salatin. She is the marketing director at Polyface Farm and stay-at-home mom of three children. Sheri is passionate about clean food and is enjoying working the land along side her husband. When not farming, Sheri can be found reading, writing, sewing, baking and serving in her church family.

21 Responses to The Courage to Can

  1. Lyndsey says:

    I bought a pressure canner this last year & I’m scared to death of it! Hoping to get over it real fast when the green beans really come in 🙂

    • Sheri Salatin says:

      Lyndsey, green beans are a great way to start out. They are much simpler since you don’t have to peel or do too much prep work with them. Let me know how it goes!! 🙂

      YOU CAN DO IT!! 😉

  2. Eric Samuelson says:

    I started canning this spring- summer after reading Joel’s reintroduction of the term larder to American culture. I am so hooked. It is a therapeutic task for me and it really leaves you with something to show for your work. The beef stew made with Polyface Chuck-Arm roast is simply the best meal when you have 5 minutes to feed the family. Stewing hens for pot pie/chicken and dumpling filling next!

  3. Angie says:

    My honey got us a pressure cooker :0) I am a bit scared of it but that is because it’s so BIG.. hehe It’s TO BIG I can’t reach into it to put the jars or take them out. I thought use a something to stand on but scared to get burned. lol I end up using just a hot water bath… lol I will use it al by myself this year.. grr I think :0) We do can everything we grow. :0)

  4. Wendy says:

    I don’t remember when I started canning but we really got into it once our kids were born. Canned peaches, pickled quail eggs, pickled beets and tomato sauce are staples in our house . This year we’re going to get a pressure canner to start saving all the chicken stock that’s filling up my freezer.

    As a kid my mom used to can peaches, pears and beets. It wasn’t until only recently (I’m in my late 30’s) that I finally saw a can of pickled beets in a grocery store. I had to look for them as to me the words pickled beet came with the picture of a clear 500ml bernadin jar with those little screw top lids. I never thought that you would actually buy them in a store, and fortunately we never will.

  5. Kristen B. says:

    I love your post title, Sheri, it’s encouraging! Looking forward to beginning my story of canning real soon!

  6. Allison says:

    I love filling my glass jars with bountiful produce! Cucumbers, Pickled Beets…and of course Strawberry Rhubarb jelly are my faves!!
    It wasn’t always this way… I grew up in an urban area, no canning, but my mom always had a garden…and oh how I loved fresh tomatoes and asparagus! Not that being from an urban area means you can’t can…lol, but canning was not on the list of to do’s in our household. We moved to Kansas when I was in high school and there was something about the land that really drew me in…plus all those wonderful women in bonnets just made me want to go barefoot and cook from scratch, so that’s what I did!
    I married me a wonderful farmer whose hands are always dirty and whose stomach is always full. We have two beautiful little girls and I look forward to teaching them how to grow and preserve their own meals too!

  7. Leilani says:

    Until this year my repetoire only included jams and jellies. I was terrified of a pressure cooker. Then I bought one and quickly got over the fear. I am having a blast! Canning is right up there with mowing on the list of rewarding instant (well almost) gratification tasks. The full shelves make me feel full as well.

    My story is in reverse of a sort. This year I taught my 70 year old mother to can 🙂

  8. My canning each year is mostly jams, jellies, canned fruit and chutneys. I don’t have a pressure canner – yet. My funny story is not really mine…it’s my mother’s: years ago, when I was a child, she borrowed a pressure canner from someone to can some venison we were given. She was terrified of it, but followed the instructions, got it started, banned us all from the kitchen, and then left her self, standing anxiously behind the closed door, waiting for the timer to go off! I remember she was worried the lid would blow off and take someone’s head with it….obviously nothing happened, and she canned her venison successfully. I know she never bought one though 🙂

  9. Lyndsey says:

    Does anyone use a gas stove? My gas stove’s high is like an electric medium. I worry that I’ll never get the pressure canner up to temperature. It takes forever to boil water! Any thoughts?

    • Leilani says:

      I don’t use gas now, we have a flattop (which has its own issues) but I find that it doesn’t take as much as you would think to get the PC up to temp. In fact I fight sometimes to not get to pressure to fast so I can keep it within the parameters I need.

      • Tricia says:

        Leilani, be careful with that flattop if it is glass. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to use canners on them and I cracked mine. Very loud, scary incident.

    • Eve says:

      I use a gas stove and have no problem; there’s probably something off in the setting of your burner flames. When I got my stove in March, all the flames were way too high and there was no such thing as “simmer” on my stove. After checking the manual, I learned how to set them to the right height. It wasn’t too scary, in fact the setting screw is under the control knob for each burner. If you still have your instructions, you can check this out. If you don’t, you could search your stove brand online and probably download the manual. Good luck!

    • Maureen Widmer says:

      I know this is an old thread, but I had the same issues with my stove. If you take the knobs off and insert a small screwdriver, the gas level can be adjusted. Light your burner, remove the knob and start adjusting until the flame level is satisfactory. I’ve adjusted all of them on my 7-year old stove so that my ‘power burner’ is once again a power burner. I’ve researched this for safety, and was not able to find any ill effects for your stove or people in the house. Good luck!

  10. Ruth Anton says:

    I got the crates of canning jars out of storage today. A little soon for up here, but it’s been my experience that harvest time ‘can’ sneak up on you.
    On another note, our ‘Friday chick’ arrived yesterday, the first to hatch from the first clutch of this year. And she would appear to be a she.

  11. Annie says:

    I absolutely LOVE to can!! My husband has a saying, “If I leave anything in the kitchen too long, Annie’ll can it!” For me, canning season never stops: in the summer and fall, I’m canning produce; winter and spring, I’m canning meals in a jar (for those busy summer and fall times). I just did 16 quarts and 10 pints of peas last week to end pea season.

    My favorite saying is: I eat local because I can.

  12. Annie says:

    My favorite saying is: I eat local because I can.

  13. daisyglitter says:

    I was so excited to read this post!! I bought my first pressure cooker and canner today. I also was reading last night out of Joel’s book about his sweet wife who puts up hundreds of jars and I was very inspired to do it, too. I have wanted to do it for a long time but I was paralyzed in not knowing how to do it. I have done strawberry preserves and tomatoes (hot water bath) but I am amazed with all of the things you can (!) do. My project list is getting long and I’d like to start with chicken stock (just had a whole chicken as dinner tonight) and peaches and green beans. Do most people keep their veggies raw or cook them first? My thought is to keep them raw but I don’t know if I’moff because I’m new at it. I’m thinking of raw because Iwould like to keep them as close to their fresh state as possible but maybe I’m missing something.

    • Annie says:

      I would be careful with an item marked “pressure cooker/canner”. My canning books state that unless the cooker/canner can hold at least 4 quarts, it is not large enough to reach sufficient pressure for safe canning. I have a large pressure cooker that I use for rice, beans, stews, etc. and I have a pressure canner that holds 7 quarts or 9 pints. And the two are NOT interchangeable.

      You can certainly do a raw pack on veggies. Any good canning book will give you both a hot pack and raw pack instructions. My two favorite books are “The Practical Produce Cookbook” and Jackie Clay’s “Growing and Canning Your Own Food”.

      • daisyglitter says:

        Hi Annie,
        Thanks for the heads up. This thing is a huge beast. It can hold seven quarts or ten pints or twelve half-pints. The label on it advertises that it is a canner first and then in smaller letters, a cooker. I don’t think I’ll use it as a cooker, though. This is the one it is if you want to tell me what you think:

  14. I love your story I have one of those scanners identical to the one in your short story I need to know how to use it and how the part for the way Coach Works so if you have any knowledge on this or where to send me to learn about it please let me know thank you so much God bless you and this is San Juanita Reyes AKA Janie thank you so much