If you have ever taken on a big canning project, you’ll know just what I mean, when I tell you we turned 75 lbs (3 half-bushels) of tomatoes into tomato sauce last weekend.
It takes planning! And until it’s routine enough that it’s second nature, I recommend you think it through ahead of time. I made a page of notes, listing what supplies we’d need and where each step in the process would occur. I wanted no accidents from carrying full pots of boiling tomato sauce! I wanted the day to be fun, not just productive.
It was a full day (click for link to photo gallery) and we finished tired, but pleased, with lots and lots of jars of that wonderful sauce. This post is meant to pass on tips and tricks for holding a fabulous group canning day of your own.
- enlist help ahead of time – set a date, and gather the troops. We were six in the kitchen this year. Extra hands are especially welcome when accompanied by smiles and jokes.
- think it through first - what will happen where? What will those people need? Make sure that tools and containers are where they’ll be wanted.
- make it comfortable – we couldn’t control the humidity, but we had a shade umbrella up for the outdoor crew, and chairs, and a stack of clean towels.
- be ready for minor boo-boos – it’s almost inevitable that someone’s going to nick a finger; have first aid supplies on hand and conveniently located. And then have jobs appropriate for the wounded: no blood in the jars, please!
- have refreshments handy - since we were beginning at 11am, it made sense to have a lunch ready to go. We had a crockpot of sandwich fixings and lots of stuff to drink. Set up your feeding station out of way, in some convenient spot.
- take notes - especially if you’re trying something new, make note of it! You won’t remember next year just what it was that you did.
- label promptly and wisely - Let the label tell you what’s in the jar, when it was put up, and even which recipe was used, if there would be a question. Label the lid, not the jar: the lid gets discarded, and that way you don’t have to scrub off any sticky residue.
- labels don’t have to be fancy – a permanent marker writes well on those lids.
- use your time well – always be doing something, while prepping for something else. Avoid idle time!
- share the results – let everyone who helped take home some of the jars.
- celebrate the finish – the best end of a day of canning is a shared meal. Relax and enjoy the feeling of success.