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my first foray into canning & $150 Ace Hardware Giveaway

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I bought a book on canning years ago.  I liked the idea of gardening, growing, harvesting and preserving.  Well, that book was about the extent of my efforts at canning until last week.

If you have read my blog for a while, you may have picked up on the fact that I love cherries.  I rejoice when they first hit the stores in May and feel like there should be a moment of silence when they are no longer available in August.  My family knows that if they see good cherries, buy them for Marian.  I’ll even pay the outrageous $8.99/pound when they make a brief appearance around Christmas.

So, while cherries were plentiful, I decided to try canning some.  Well, a lot.

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In addition to the cherries, I also picked up tomatoes, herbs, lemons and a few other ingredients.  I mean, if you’re going to can, you might as well can a lot, right?  I also picked up a variety of canning jars at Ace Hardware.  (Who knew they had canning equipment?)

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I started with the cherries, so I could snack while I canned.  

I always cut the pits out of cherries, but in hindsight, a pitter would’ve been a smart purchase!

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I made two different recipes with the cherries – a cherry pie filling and cherry jam.  It may be jelly or preserves, but I’m a little fuzzy on the exact difference.  Let’s just call it a jam.

The pie filling was just 4 cups of cherries, 1/2 cup honey, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 cup corn starch, and 1/8 teaspoon almond extract.  I love that the recipe was so simple and didn’t have a ton of sugar.

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I just stirred it together until the cherries were soft and all of the ingredients were combined.

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I seriously just ate it with a spoon and it was heavenly.  Definitely the best cherry pie filling I’ve ever had.

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And it was so pretty.  I love things that are yummy and photogenic.

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A blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do.

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I washed all of the canning jars and heated them in a pot of simmering water before filling them.  It’s important that everything is clean, so the contents of the jar won’t be contaminated by a dirty jar.  Heating the jars reduces the risk of breakage when they are submerged in the canning bath.

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I canned the jam in the same manner.

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(I sealed the two full jars and we ate the one that was half-full right away.)

Speaking of the jam, the recipe I used called for five cups of sugar.  FIVE!  I just couldn’t add that much sugar, so I decided to add one cup to see how it worked.  I figured it would be sweet enough, especially since I was using sweet cherries.  It ended up being quite tasty!

(I’ve since learned that canning recipes shouldn’t be altered and you should always get updated recipes from a trusted source to make sure the canned food is properly preserved.  While this jam tasted amazing fresh, it may not have had the right balance of ingredients.  Lesson learned!  There is some great info in the comments section on canning tips, safety, and great resources.)

And lastly, I made a tomato sauce.

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Kriste peeled the tomatoes while I was working on the cherry jam and pie filling.  We laughed about how she just never knows what she’s going to do from day to day.  One day it’s painting furniture and another day it’s peeling tomatoes.

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I strayed from the recipe we found online, in order to add more flavor and veggies.  I added some sautéed zucchini, onions and garlic to the sauce, along with a bunch of herbs and some red wine.

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The kitchen smelled amazing!

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Once everything was cooked, it was time to get everything into the jars and then into the canner.  As I said earlier, I washed and heated the jars and I also boiled the lids.

When it came time to put the jars in the canning bath, I was really nervous.  I’m not a precise person and I was certain that leaving air bubbles or having too little or too much head space would mean the jars would explode.  I actually asked Kriste to Goggle what would happen if there was an air bubble in a jar.  She assured me the jars wouldn’t explode, but they just might not seal properly.

Jeff, who was hidden in his office working on a research paper during most of the canning, took some time to come out and poke fun at me.  He started saying things like, “Hey, Kriste, can you Google if the jars will explode if I stand one foot away from the canning bath?”

Hardy-har-har.

The freshTech electric canning bath from Ace Hardware did make things a lot simpler.  You literally fill it with water, turn the dial to “canning”, and it just does what it needs to do.

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As I was gently dropping jars into the canning bath with some tongs, Jeff asked me if I knew how dropping the jars in boiling water sealed them.  “I don’t have a clue!  That’s just what you’re supposed to do.  I’m sure it has something to do with science.”

I’m so smart.

After the jars were in the bath for the proper time, I removed them with the tongs and set them out to cool.  The lids had a little give to them, so I thought it was a failure, but as they cooled, the lids popped down and created a seal.

I did learn that adding a little vinegar to the canning bath prevents any build-up on the jars from minerals, etc. in the tap water.  I didn’t add that to the first batch and there was a white powdery build-up on the jars.  I added it to the second batch and the jars came out nice and clean.

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We’ve been sampling everything and it’s all been so tasty.  I look forward to the day we have a garden full of veggies that need to be canned and preserved.

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In all of my spare time, of course!

Until that day, I’ll be eating through four jars of cherry pie filling with a spoon.

Since I’m a newbie, you can learn more about canning from the pros at Ace Hardware HERE.

As a little bonus, Ace Hardware is offering up a $150 gift card to one lucky reader.  If you’d like to enter, simply leave a comment on this post!  The giveaway closes September 6, 2016 at midnight PST.  A winner will be announced and notified by September 7, 2016.

Good luck!

Ace Canning Blogger

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Ace Hardware.  They provided the supplies and some of the produce, as well as compensation, in exchange for this post.  I was excited to try out canning and share it with my readers.  All opinions shared are my own.

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Comments

  1. Your blog brought back memories of growing up on a small farm and canning everything we ate.
    My mom canned beets, string beans, tomatoes and peaches. She made strawberry and grape jellies and bread and butter pickles. Mmmmm!

  2. Jeanna says:

    I should send my recipe for Bing amaretto vanilla jam or boozy cherries– big hit at the holidays as a garnish or ice cream topping, then there is spiced pickled cherries to serve with a meat and cheese plate ( charcuterie ?). Invest in the stainless cherry pitters( dishwasher safe) buy 2-3 then you can press gang the boys into helping. Also buying grower direct saves big$$$, look into it. The farms we buy from are 5 hours away but they deliver to stores and if your buying a flat(20-25 pounds), many farms will have a drop off stop where people meet and buy farmer direct. Looks like your off to a good start!

  3. Fun giveaway! I love canning.

  4. Julie says:

    Yes, good giveaway! I just need to make sure to USE all of what I can!

  5. Dana Mertz says:

    I think receiving or giving a gift of a canned good is Big Love! Beautiful pictures. Brought back sweet memories of my Mom, Aunt’s and Grandmother’s canning days. You’ve inspired me!!!!

  6. Linnier says:

    I buy canning supplies at my local Ace store, very friendly helpful guys.

  7. Just started canning on my own this year. It makes me feel just like a farm wife! In a suburb of Seattle. 😉

  8. Bri D. says:

    Would love to try canning! The canning bath makes it look a lot easier.

  9. Crystal Crouse says:

    That electric canner is SO COOL (& would be PERFECT for me as well!!!—I too am a canning novice & the couple times that I’ve done it, I was a NERVOUS WRECK THE ENTIRE TIME!!!!) Talk about stressful! I tend to feel like a jar is bound to explode (probably in my face!), that I’m not filling correctly, timing things right, getting a good seal, yadda yadda yadda!
    I’ve managed to do on, but secretly, every time we open & eat something that I’ve canned I hold my breath for a while waiting to see both how it tastes…& that no one gets sick…YIKES!!!!
    I always breathe a secret sigh of relief when we skate thru yet another jar safe & sound (& as a bonus things taste the way they should, LOL!!!)
    Everything you made looks AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS! YUM :)

  10. karen hines says:

    I love canning and the electric canner looks like a great product!

  11. Michelle M says:

    Been reading & reading on canning & preserving. Time to take the plunge!

  12. Canning seems so farm wholesome. A nice reminder of simpler times and family traditions. Can’t wait to try the cherry recipe.

  13. Judy Stewart says:

    Your cherry preserves look very good. I love home canned food, but am a little afraid of the process. I have a friend who is teaching me. I have canned plum conserve, peach butter, and chicken, all good. I canned muscadine grape jam, which was a lot of bother removing seeds, and it looked good but a few weeks later had a thick black scum over the top of the jam. Three it all out.

    Enjoyed your canning story.

  14. Elizabeth M says:

    My daughter and I have tentatively dipped our toes into the art of canning. That pot from ACE Hardware looks like it would make things so easy.

  15. Melissa says:

    I first canned as a teenager and loved the feeling of accomplishment. I’ve lapsed lately, but you have inspired me to bring out my old recipes and give it another try.

  16. Michelle james says:

    I went out and bought the exact canner and 2 Ball Books on canning! I bought them as a gift for my boss and her 16 yr old daughter, they have an AMAZING enclosed, raised garden! Thanks for the great gift idea.

  17. Dolores says:

    I have many great memories of canning tomatoes and pears with my mom and grandmother! Enjoy!

  18. Would love to start canning. Always wanted to try!

  19. Liz H says:

    Oh Marion I’d love to win $150.00 from Ace Hardware! I’ve been wanting to get back into canning again!! Great looking cherries! ❤️

  20. Caryn says:

    I have made peach preserves from our Texas Hill Country peaches. So yummy!

  21. Jennifer Barton says:

    I have a kumquat tree in my backyard, I don’t really know anything about them except my neighbor said they have to be really ripe to use them or they make your mouth numb.So my husband and I thought kumquat jam would make great Christmas gifts at our annual Christmas Eve dinner. We followed the instructions from a canning book that I had purchased years before. After much excitement how pretty the color was we dropped jars in water bath and they did explode!!! All over the stove, walls and floor. So I am going to look into the electric one which I didn’t
    even know existed. Lesson learned and don’t give up our batch of fig and ginger jam turned out great!

  22. Would love to be your winner !

  23. Sue Pagels says:

    I always use to help my mom can, but I have never done it by myself as an adult. We made strawberry, blueberry and raspberry jam, “special sauce” which was like stewed tomatoes, tomatoes, pears, peaches, tomato juice as I recall. When the jam was “frothy” on top, we spread that on bread, warm. Yummy! And by now, I am sure someone told you the secret to peeling tomatoes – drop them in boiling water for a few seconds, put them in cold water and the skin slips right off. We do that with peaches too. I would love to win by the way!!

  24. I’ve never tried canning before, but you made it look fun! I really admire women who are domestically gifted :)

  25. Suzanne Drolet says:

    Canning is definitely something I want to do more of in the future. That jam and pie filling look amazing!

  26. Suzanne Drolet says:

    Beautiful photos, it all looks so good!

  27. I would love to win a gift card to Ace Hardware. It would be really helpful. Thanks for the chance.

  28. I saw a neat way to de-pit cherries on Facebook (don’t know how well it works but it worked great in the video). You take one cherry, place it on top of a small-necked soda bottle, then poke it with a wooden skewer. The pit falls neatly into the soda bottle. It’s worth a try….

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