Do the Can-Can

Full Disclosure: Ball sent me one of their Canning Discovery Kits and a case of Heritage Collection Jars to try in exchange for a post about my experiences canning as a beginner.  I received no other compensation, and as always opinions are 110% my own.

I intended to get this post up two weeks ago, and then I realized something awful.  I have no idea how to get the pictures off my phone and on to my computer with this new phone!  I think I have to download a program (which I can’t do on my work computer), and I haven’t had a chance to even deal with it at home.  I actually ended up setting up the automatic back-up to Google and downloading them from there.  Technology…usually it’s great, but sometimes WTF?!  Anyway, on to the post…

Canned Applesauce

If you’ve been reading for a while you know I’ve want to give canning a try for a long time.  It’s been on my to do list (and my apparentl,y long-lost foodie bucket list) for years but I’ve been terrified of giving it a try because it just seemed so complicated (spoilers: It’s not.)  I was afraid my inexperience would lead to something going so horribly awry, and I’d some how blow up my kitchen…or at least ruin a really delicious batch of jam or something.  Plus I was convinced I was going to screw it up and make someone sick.  Thanks to my mother I am well versed in all of the things that can happen to you as a result of food-bourne illness.  I was quite sure I was going to give someone botulism.

During her session at HLSAundra really inspired me to finally give canning a try.  She convinced me it’s not nearly as difficult as I’d built it up to be, and I should really just do it.  She basically said, worst case scenario is the jars don’t seal and you have to eat the jam or whatever right away.  After that how could I not suck up my fears when, post HLS, Ball offered to send me the stuff I needed to get started?!?

I needed to bring something to a family reunion at my grandparents’ house a few weeks back, and since it’s peak season for apples (and apples are having an AWESOME season here in the midwest,) I decided to make (and can, obviously) some applesauce to bring along.

To get started I read through the guide that came with the Ball Discovery Kit as well as this tutorial from Julie at Savvy Eats.  I’ll admit, even reading through the tutorials, I was a little overwhelmed and was sure canning would be a complicated process.  Washing the jars, keeping them in hot water, it all seemed much more complicated than necessary.  What I figured out though is that all those steps are to ensure the jars and lids are clean and kept warm so they don’t crack due to temperature changes from adding hot food and boiling.  I ended up washing the jars in the dishwasher (it needed to be run anyway) and then leaving them in there to stay warm until I was ready to go.  Once my applesauce was done, I washed the lids by hand in the hottest water I could handle.

Cans before prepping

For the applecause, I used this applesauce recipe from Savvy Eats.  If there’s anything I’ve learned from Julie (who I consider the canning queen of blog-world) it’s that it is important to follow a recipe that has been tested and approved for canning to ensure food safety.  As an added bonus, this is pretty much my ultimate applesauce recipe since it didn’t require me to peel my 6lbs of apples.  I used a mix of apples – honeycrisp, gala, blushing golden, golden delicious, and cortland (I think.) – and this made some of the greatest applesauce I’ve ever eaten in my life.  I really wish I’d had the exact number of each type of apple so I could recreate this in the future.

Processing Cans

So after the applesauce was done, and the jars and lids were clean and warm, I got on with the canning.  I filled the largest stock pot we own with hot water and set it to boil.  I processed three jars at a time so I filled each jar to the 1/4″ mark and then put the lid on and set it in the rack that came in my Discovery Kit (that green thing in the picture above).  Once all three jars were done, I placed the rack into the pot of water (which was just barely big enough so I’ve now added extra-large stock pot or canner to my Christmas list), set the time for 15 minutes, and hoped for the best.  When the timer went off, I pulled the cans out and set the on the counter while I got the second batch going.  After both batches were finished, I cleaned up and came back an hour later to test the seal and…victory was mine!  All of the cans were sealed and good to go!  So assuming no one gets sick when we eat that applesauce in a couple months, this was a canning success!

Finshed canned applesauce

So the lessons I learned from this little adventure into canning? 1) Canning is crazy easy.  Seriously.  2) I need to invest in a large pot if I’m going to continue canning. 3) I am definitely going to continue canning…probably a lot.

Right now I really want to can some homemade pumpkin butter or apple butter and some spaghetti sauce.  If you’ve got a good recipe for either of those, please send it my way immediately.  Or if there’s anything else you think I need to can immediately, send me a link.

Thanks again to Ball for finally giving me the kick in the pants I needed to start canning!

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