We take a brief intermission from our FRESHFARM Markets Week to share the news of National Can-It-Forward Day, sponsored by Ball. Today, experts from Ball are sharing canning tips on live WebTV and on Twitter (search: #canitforward). While I’ve averaged just one or two batches of preserves each of the past couple summers, I can assure you that the preparation really is the hardest part. If you’re new to canning, Ball offers a Canning Discovery Kit with the items and instructions you need to safely preserve at home. Once you have your equipment (large pot, sterilized jars and lids, and a jar lifter), find the freshest local produce you can and set aside a block of time — you do need to attend to the jam while it cooks, and will want to avoid distractions while processing the jars.
And yes, it is possible to can with kids. You’ll want to keep them away from boiling pots and hot jars, of course, but little helpers are perfect for the preparation phase — rinsing, de-stemming, pitting, etc. I’ve even employed a child-safe-knife-wielding toddler to dice tomatoes for our tomato jam. (Since they’re going into the jam, preciseness of the cut doesn’t matter.) And kids love to see their hard-earned produce (in the case of picking it ourselves, or even better, home grown) turned into something that they can enjoy later in the year.
If you don’t have time to pick your own produce, farmers markets of course are the perfect place to source produce at peak flavor — and many farmers will gladly offer a discounted price for a flat of “seconds,” the slightly blemished fruit that is perfect for jam and preserves.
GIVEAWAY: Ball has generously offered a case of jars to one lucky reader. Just comment below with something you have canned (links to posts welcome!), or the first thing you’d like to, and be sure to include a valid email in the comment form (no need to put it in the comment itself). Comments will be open until 11:59pm Eastern on Friday, July 20. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Additional canning resources:
Disclosure: I received a Canning Discovery Kit from Ball for review purposes, and Ball is providing the giveaway prize to a reader. No other compensation was received and all opinions, as always, are my own. Please always follow safety instructions and professional recipes when canning.