How many of y'all grew up canning? I totally did. Canning is huge in Alaska – a necessity, really. The growing season is short and the winters are long so all summer long, people are canning and canning H A R D. A Canapalooza, if you will. I have really strong memories of my mom, sister, and friends canning for days on end in our kitchen. I was always in charge of wiping the jar tops down in preparation for adding the lids and bands. Hour after hour, I would wipe, lid, band, repeat.
As a teenager, I didn't get the big deal about canning. I mean, it's food in jars. Whoop dee do, right? I would help in these canning marathons and then watch through out the year as people gave each other these jars of canned goods as gifts. Thank you for watching my house while I was on vacation – here's a jar of jam. Thank you for the graduation gift – here's a jar of tomato sauce. It took a long time to realize that canning is act of caring and giving someone something you've canned is a powerful way to say “I care about you”.
These days, I just don't have the time, space, or (frankly) patience for those long ass canning sessions of my youth. What I can do is small-batch canning and I LOVE IT. In less than a hour, I can cook, can, and seal a dozen or so small jars of jam or sauce to enjoy year round. Since my kids eat jam by the metric ton and my husband only married me for my tomato sauce – you can imagine how much time and money I'm saving now by small-batch canning their favorite recipes!
Want to get started on small batch canning? Here's what you'll need:
I also really recommend picking up this super helpful book (found at Walmart, Target, and Amazon): http://bit.ly/CanningBookBall. I also recommend checking out http://bit.ly/JamWithBall and for more Ball® recipes and canning ideas!
For funsies, add one of these sweet custom jar tags to your jars before gifting them to your friends. Because if there's one thing I've learned from growing up in Alaska, it's that canning is love.