Canning, jarring, putting up—depending on where you live, one of these terms likely comes to mind when you hear someone talk about preserving food. Once the domain of grandmothers with giant gardens and 4-Hers learning home-ec skills, recent years have seen a shift in the people processing at home. Eugenia Bone released Well-Preserved in 2009, sharing recipes developed in her New York apartment and designed to fill two to six jars at a time. Blogger Marisa McClellan launched Food in Jars, and her success and subsequent books helped popularize small-batch canning. Articles on home canning appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and on NPR, and Slate declared at-home preserving “ridiculously trendy.” Since then, the number of books, blogs, and people canning at home have only grown.
I love that a rising interest in eating well year-round has led more people to support farmer’s markets and CSAs, make meals from scratch, and save what’s in season for later use. The appeal of small-batch processing is understandable: Take your leftover fruit or veg and seal it in a couple of jars. The argument is that it’s a quick and easy way to preserve food.
The “couple of jars” part is where I disagree. By the time I prep my canning gear and the food item, heat a kettle of water, make a brine or jam, and finally process the batch, I want to pull the maximum number of jars from that kettle. Instead of going small, I recommend going big—at least big enough to maximize your yield while minimizing your effort and sometimes spreading out the work.
Read more about canning my way