Canning Food Preservation Marathons. If you are planning on developing a full pantry you may be having marathon days. Many of these tips are geared for those who are planning a full day in which several loads of produce are done in a row.
They will also be helpful if you are preserving on a smaller scale as well but some may not apply.
Make sure you have all supplies on hand. Check to be sure you have the right size lids and jars. You know the saying "a place for everything and everything in its place"? You may think that a particular piece of equipment is in a certain cupboard. Go ahead and check now. Then you won't be scrambling to find it tomorrow if/when it is not in its place.
Be familiar with your directions and recipe. Print them out if possible. If you have your directions printed and they get spilled on it is not a big deal.
You might want to write notes to yourself. I don't like to have my canning book on the counter where it is likely to be spilled on. Sometimes I'll have it on a table away from the action so I can run over and check a detail if I need to.
Be familiar canning with terms. Read through your directions. If you don't know what something means, find out now. Don't wait until you are in the middle of your first load to figure it out. Do you know what is meant by head space? (the space between the top of your food product and the bottom of your lid) How about: raw pack - hot pack - or cold pack? What is the difference? I’ve included a glossary of terms on this page.
Know your elevation. Water boils at different temperatures at different elevations. You will need to know this in order to be able to properly adjust the time and/or pressure when you process. This page includes more on why this is important and how to find your elevation and adjustments.
Plan easy make ahead lunches and snacks for the rest of the family.
This is mostly applicable for those who will have those food preservation marathons! Stopping in the middle of filling jars to make sandwiches for everyone is too distracting. If you are working with something yummy like peaches, give them a peach!
Plan a crockpot supper. That way all you have to do is set the table and you are ready. One-pot dinners usually are less clean up. You will have enough equipment and supplies to clean up without adding supper pots and pans. You could even call it a picnic and do paper plates!
Or, as was suggested to me... go out for dinner. Let someone else handle cooking and cleaning up after dinner. Canning day is a great day to pick for pizza out night.
Prep your canning food preservation kitchen and supplies.
Clear off counters and sinks. The less clutter you have to work around the better. Be sure you have counter space to work on. Empty your sinks and dish drain if you have one.
Wash jars and prepare equipment now. Tomorrow all you will have to do is heat the jars up before packing them. Turn clean jars upside down on a clean dish towel to store until tomorrow. If you are using a pressure canner check the vent openings and make sure they are clear. Make sure you know where the weights are for your pressure canner.
Enlist the help of your family.
Kids make great green bean snappers, food mill crankers, corn huskers and apple peelers.
If you can get an assembly line going so much the better. It is less work for you and good for the kids to see how things work. Let the kids know now what will be expected tomorrow.
Pick or purchase your foods the same day as preserving.
Most canning food preservation books recommend that you process your foods within 1 or 2 hours of picking. If I am picking from my own garden that is not a problem.
However life happens. Same day is not always realistic. But the sooner the better.
Some foods will handle a short wait. Other foods really do need to get in jars ASAP. Apples will survive much longer than green beans and still can up fresh.
If you are going to an orchard to pick or a u-pick farm for your veggies, go early. Your veggies will be at their peak before the heat of the day hits.
If you can get back with enough time to work before lunch that is best. I try to pick in the morning, come home get lunch for the kids, and process in the afternoon. Keeping my produce cool and moist. Occasionally next day works too. It depends on the food.
You will get better results the sooner you can your produce.
Remember canning and food preservation does not make bad food good. Good produce will make better final products.
Start early. Don't wait until you have barely enough time to finish before supper. It never fails, you are not quite done and the troops start tromping in and asking "when do we eat?"
Last updated 3/31/2020