Canning Jam Part 1: How to Find your Passion and Get Started With Canning

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.

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.

26 comments on “Canning Jam Part 1: How to Find your Passion and Get Started With Canning”

  1. Pingback: Flipping the Jar Over to Seal the Jar Method — Reluctant Entertainer

  2. i just canned for the very first time yesterday….plum jam!! i can’t even describe how exciting and fulfilling it was to hear all those little lids popping and see those jars lined up on the counter full of food…that *i* made!! and then to hear my family rave about how great it tasted when we had toast and jam for dessert {because they couldn’t wait to try it}…it almost made me cry! {hormonal much? lol} it certainly is a lost art…but it won’t be lost in my family!
    thanks for this series…it’s just beautiful!

  3. Ah, I love canning. I grew up in a family where canning wasn’t an annual treat – it only happened if there was really time. My mother had never did a hot-water bath, though. She did freezer jams, which were still delicious.

    I’m a huge history person and I enjoy making things from scratch and serving those to my husband/family/friends like they did in the olden days. Last year when my husband and I first moved out onto our own, I watched tutorials for weeks until I built enough confidence to can something. I bought numerous books, watched what horrible things could go wrong (definitely not something you should do before preparing to can), bought all my ingredients/gear and set out to make some apple butter.

    I made the apple butter with a combination of recipes (the flavor turned out just like the store bought ones), put them in a hot-water bath, pulled them out after their due time, and waited. It was the longest night and following day of my cooking career… finding out if something worked or didn’t. I’m proud to say it did (I might even have cried? Who knows.) and since then I’ve made numerous things.

    So I really appreciate this series of posts you’re about to do. I’m a huge believer in people bring history (if that’s what one would call it) back to life and doing a little more work to experience something extremely enjoyable down the road.

  4. Pingback: Getting Your Family Involved in Canning — Reluctant Entertainer

  5. Both my mother’s grandmother, and my dad’s family canned, my aunt still talks about canning with my grandmother. We canned jams and pickles when I was younger. Lately we’ve just done pickles, either canned or refrigerator. Personally I like the idea of “putting up” my own food, and it’s fun to take to family gatherings.

  6. sandy, you have lit a fire under me to want to can. i have a peach tree that looks like it will be very productive in a month or so. i love this post on canning. you take away the intimadation factor and make it doable. thank you!

  7. Terrific to see such enthusiasm for preserving food. Wanted to offer: that friend you find who might teach you how to can could be a guy… a lot of us enjoy preserving what we grow and using it to prepare meals for our families.

  8. Pingback: Supplies You Will Need For Canning — Reluctant Entertainer

  9. O and I forgot-that photo of you as a young girl – I think Elliot looks like you-funny how different people see different things!

  10. First of all Sandy, I LOVE LOVE LOVE that photo of your grandmother. Also love that you have such a legacy of homemaking-I am working on being a first generation. This morning made cherry-rhubarb jam-had to make it up, but it turned out wonderfully. Can’t wait to trade you for your Strawberry-Rasp. Jam. Love you girly.

  11. I LOVE canning – something about those jars makes me so happy.

    My sweet MIL makes strawberry jam each year for us when she is here over the may long weekend – a whole year’s worth!

    So far this year we have her strawberry jam, my cherry jam, and my canned cherries done. I am hoping to get peaches, pears, and apples still, and would love to try canning blueberry pie filling!

    And more pickles, and relish!

    I think I need more jars.

    But it is such a treat to go to your pantry in winter and see those happy jars all lined up ready to serve your family!

  12. I am so excited about your canning posts! I want to learn…I kinda learned over the holidays but I’m still not 100% confident. I bet that pear butter is amazing!! And that picture of you as a girl looks JUST LIKE ABBIE!!!

  13. I’ve dabbled very slightly in canning. I would love to learn about canning pears–they look beautiful in the photo! We always have a bumper crop of pears, and would love to can them!
    Looking forward to the series!

  14. I am so exctied about this series. I just tried to make pear butter this weekend. I found a recipe and cut it down to 1/4 to try it before I canned. I’m sad to say it didn’t tatse good but I’m happy to say I am going to try, try again. (The recipe I found said to keep the peel on but I think I will peel them next time.)

  15. I love that picture of your grandmother. I have canned, but I’m no expert. Of late, I’ve been doing jams and butters. A dear friend and I used to get together and share batches of chow chow and bread and butter pickles (my fave) and… We haven’t been able to do that for a few years now. It’s ideal if you have small households. It makes the work go quickly and with lots of laughter and everyone benefits.

  16. I really enjoyed reading this as it was quite an encouragement. We were finally able to break out the canning jars over the weekend as I made pickles. Working on peach jam and peach salsa this week. Canning is so relaxing and makes you feel so productive. I always think of my grandmother quoting Proverbs to me about a wife’s idle hands. =)

  17. There is nothing at all that compares with homemade jams. I love canning them each year.

  18. Sandy~
    This is one of my FAVORITE post I have EVER read on a blog.
    Filled with sentiment and quality family time.
    You gotta LOVE and adore Grandma Dubs.
    I can just see that canning pantry…and all of those jars in the dark cool room.
    LOVE that you girls played make~believe in your grandma’s aprons!
    And yes…I do LOVE those buttoned cardigans!!!! CLASSIC!
    Wanna know the pic I really love…the one of you and your sister with those jars of canned peaches!
    If you tell me she lives close…I’m going to be so jealous.
    I miss my sister Melly…oh how I miss her.
    We talk everyday…for hours…and I miss her and my niece and nephew.
    Next summer…mark my word…next summer I’m going to teach my niece Lily to can.
    I’m gonna learn all that I can from YOU…and take a canning course here on Bainbridge Island.
    I just adore the whole idea.
    I have fond memories of my mom and I canning pears just several summers ago.
    I took lots of pictures of her hands while we were canning together.
    I just adore you.
    I can’t wait to follow along.
    I need to subscribe through email so I won’t miss a post.
    You are such a lovely lady Sandy.
    Your PASSION shines so BRIGHT!
    So delighted we are getting to know each other.
    I think I need to come to Relevant 11 and hear YOU SPEAK!!!!!
    Checking it out!

  19. Love canning. Learned from my husband’s grandma. I have her recipes and created more of my own. It came in handy for in 2008 I got canned for my job so I turned my hobby into my new business. I teach canning classes and sell online. ?My facebook page “Just got” has a lot my recipes in the notes section including Bacon Jam. Enjoy the wonders of canning.

  20. I so love the photo of your grandma and the rich history/tradition she has passed on to you. My mother/grandmother and great grandmother also canned. My mom did some canning over the years but not annually. Have you ever made dilly beans?? Green beans in dill brine….my aunt would make those and they were a treat!

    I canned my very own tomatoes from our garden last year from instructions posted by a blog friend and I loved it! The jars did look so pretty and they made everything I made with them taste so good!

    Thanks for the tutorial…I think I may be making some jam/jelly this year!


  21. Great story! I am clueless about canning so this will be very helpful for me. I hope you had a great weekend!

  22. I am so happy that you’re doing this series! I told my husband just the other day that I’d love to learn to can – we both make hug batches of sauce that we’ve love to can, and I am a fan of giving homemade gifts like jams, apple butter, etc over the holidays. But we don’t feel as though we know enough about the process to do so. This is very timely, thanks! :)

  23. I love this series. I felt like a cooking fraud because I didn’t know how to can. My Aunt came over a week ago and we put up some pickles. The next day, my cousin came over and we made candied jalapenos. It was so much fun! My cousin is going to teach me how to make pepper jelly next. I look forward to gleaning your wisdom in this department. Thanks Sandy!

  24. I love your photos and story! I have never canned before but I want to! Looking forward to your posts. I really wish I could come can with you:)

  25. Before our next planting season my hubby said that he wanted to get me canning supplies. I’m excited but a little nervous all at the same time. I really need to start hunting down someone who knows what they are doing!!! LOL!
    Thanks for your advice on here. You are always so helpful.

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