What is your favorite thing to can?

I love canning because it can save foods that I can’t finish in time—ripe tomatoes or a super-sized backyard harvest—from going to waste. Plus, canning your foods even brings out deeper flavors from your fresh ingredients. But most importantly, it makes your food last for a super long time. I make everything from fruit preserves to pickled veggies to the cranberry relish on my last Thanksgiving dinner table.

And if you don’t have a garden of your own, many farmers markets sell “Seconds” at very, very cheap prices, especially this time of year when there’s excess.

These are the things that I use and are a great starting point if you’re just getting your toes in the water:

Complete Canning Kit

This kit I love because it includes every tool you need to see the process from beginning to end. You have everything from a funnel and ladle to fill your jars to a water bath and rack to heat up your canned goods. It’s great for a canning beginner because it’s fool-proof. All you need are a few dozen Mason jars and you can get to canning.

Make yourself some of these Pickled Turnips while you’re at it.

Pickling and Canning Seasonings

Once you have the essentials, the trick to canning comes down to fresh vegetables and good seasoning. Look in your backyard and the farmers markets for the veggies. And either make up your own combination of seasonings to flavor them or these delicious seasoning packets also make it easy. They would make a great gift for a preservation fiend.

If you’re going for the classics, there’s nothing like pickles. If you like sweet bread and butter pickles, there’s one packed with whole mustard seeds, coriander and turmeric. You just need to add vinegar, sugar, water and your veggies you’ll have pints and pints of the stuff. If you prefer a garlicy dill pickle to add some snap to your deli sandwich there’s that too. Or if want to venture a little outside your contort zone try pickling a mix of red and yellow beets with a clove-infused seasoning packet. And if you’re undecided, stick with the all-purpose All Rounder. Just pickle away and see what you come up with.

These pickled peppers are a pretty example of how to create a satisfying mix.

Food Mill

There’s nothing like making and canning your own tomato sauces and purees. The store-bought stuff just is not the same. And since it’s the end of tomato season, expect my food mill to get a ton of use. It’s a must-have in every kitchen.

Using a mill versus a food processor means you get a great sauce without any unwanted seeds or skin in the mix. Sure, you can remove the seeds and skin by hand for a few tomatoes but if you’ve got any more than that, it’s going to be a pain. If you’re not into tomatoes, don’t worry. A food mill will cover all your bases whether you want super smooth mashed potatoes, homemade applesauce or a quick way to puree soups minus a stick blender. And who doesn’t love smooth mashers?

Try this apple sauce recipe and see what I mean.


Apple Master

Like I’ve said, I’m not exactly a pastry connoisseur simply because it takes patience and precision and more patience. Of course it doesn’t have to look good to taste good, but alas as a chef, presentation is key! I use this crazy looking device a lot in the fall during apple season. The sharp blade pares, cores, and slices in seconds. I love using the paring and coring features to make my French apple tart. And it’s great if you’re prepping a bushel of Galas for homemade apple sauce. But if you want to have a little fun with this, put a Russet in there in lieu of an apple (hello, cool tornado potato!).

This French Apple Tart is what you should try once you have the Apple Master.


What is your favorite thing to can and pickle my friends? Or for that matter, what is your favorite thing about fall?


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