Last week I made our family’s favorite Strawberry Raspberry Jam. After asking my readers on my Facebook page if they wanted to learn more about canning, the cries for help came in! By the way, did you know that RE has its own Facebook page? Join in daily on the conversation for easy tips and recipes! Also, for the next 5 days I’ll be sharing posts on canning that I hope you’ll find inspirational.

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My love of canning started years ago when I was a little girl. My Grandma Dubs canned and my Mother canned. I’m sure my Great-Grandmother, Rosa, and Great-great Grandmother canned, too.

You can gain all the knowledge you need from canning websites, books, tutorials, … but I still say the best way to learn is to experience it alongside someone who’s done it before.

So I learned how to can from my Mother.

And my mother learned from her Mother. (Top photo is my Grandma Dubs, in her garden on Vilas Road, Medford, Oregon, over 25 years ago. I so love this picture. And the picture below is my Mom’s incredible Pear Butter.)

My sisters and I would dance around in Grandma’s mud room, from where we’d step down into the cold, dark pantry lined with canning jars. We’d play house, act, play and pretend, all in the midst of the wonderful scent of canning jars. Have you ever noticed how absolutely yummy a pantry of canning jars smells? Sweet and savory both. And then there was a big bucket of fresh dill ready for Grandma’s canned dill pickles. I’ll never forget that smell.

My sisters and I would tie on Grandma’s apron, while one would wear Grandpa’s knee-high rubber boots, and the other would put on a garden hat.

My childhood friends would tag along to Grandma’s mud room, usually while my Mother was helping my Grandma can, and we’d play for hours. All make-believe. No televisions or video games or electronics. There’s nothing like using your imagination with a few farming props! We had great fun.

(Picture below of me, left, and my childhood friend, Betsy, right. Don’t you just love our buttoned sweaters?)

I have many memories of canning with my Mother. My little hand was much smaller than hers, thus it was my job to fill the jars with peaches and pears, turning them over perfectly–they all had to face the same direction.

A pretty jar was very important to my Mom.

And a pretty jar is still very important to me. (My sis and me canning pears.)

If you don’t have family history like I had, canning alongside a friend or mentor will for sure take the intimidation out of canning for you. You get to watch, learn, actually get in there and do it yourself (not just watch a tutorial), with an expert right next to you.

Also, the benefit of canning, besides making healthy foods for your family, is friendship and community.

How to get started with canning
1. Find a mentor or a friend who knows how to can
2. Ask if she’d be willing to teach you or if you could work alongside her
3. Buy the supplies, preferably used, which will save you money (next post)
4. Start small, don’t tell yourself you’re going to can jams, peaches, pears, chutneys, tomato sauce all in one summer – start with jam or something very simple that will give you confidence of the canning process

One thing I learned about canning was to include my kids. It not only makes canning go quicker, but hopefully they will get the “canning bug,” and will keep this lost art going in their families. (It’s really easy to say “forget it” because of the time involved.)

What is it about canning that interests you? Do you already know how, or what has inspired you to start?

Join me tomorrow for Canning Jam Part II: What Supplies You Will Need. This 5-part series will ultimately be on making jam, but in the Fall I’ll be talking about how to can with a water bath.