Intro to (Small Batch) Canning with MistressJennie - An LC Community Class

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:strawberry: :hocho: :lemon: Intro to (Small Batch) Canning with MistressJennie! :lemon: :hocho: :strawberry:

Welcome to our November Lettuce Craft Community Class! This thread will cover information and questions about our upcoming class, where we will learn the basics of home canning, and make a recipe that can be given as holiday gifts!

Signup Dates: October 22-November 12, 2021

Class Date: November, 13, 2021 (3:00pm, CST/1:00pm PST.)

How Will the Class be Held: Zoom, with @kittykill Moderating. On the day of the class, participants will also receive a PDF with detailed photos so they can follow along.

Class Limit: 20 people; but if there are more folks interested in the class, we promise to hold a second session, so no one is left out.

Class Details: In this class MistressJennie will cover the basics of home canning, including tools, resources, techniques, and tips for success. We will be creating a recipe suitable for beginners, with affordable ingredients, and wide appeal; Strawberry Balsamic & Black Pepper Jam (or just plain Strawberry Jam for those who prefer). Each recipe will produce 4 half-pint jars, allowing participants to can in their own kitchen stockpots. This class does not require a full size waterbath canner. The goal is to allow participants the chance to try canning on a smaller scale, so they can decide if they wish to invest in a larger canner later. However, you will also need a few important canning tools, that can be purchased inexpensively, as well as basic kitchen utensils and the ingredients for the recipe.

Cost of Class: The class fee to LC will be $5.

To Sign Up: Please fill out this Google Form - Intro to (Small Batch) Canning with MistressJennie. After signing up, you will be sent an invoice via PayPal to pay for the class and kit. Payment is due by November 10th. If payment is not made by then, you will be removed from the list and your spot will be filled from any possible wait list.

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:woman_cook: Basic Household Supplies Needed
-Large Stock Pot (at least 3" taller than canning jars inside the pot on a rack, that holds 4-5 jars)
-Large pot for cooking the jam or jelly (about 5 quart - jam boils up, so don’t use a small pot!)
-Bowl (big enough to hold all of the sugar called for in a recipe)
-Measuring cups & spoons
-Ladle (soup size, not gravy boat size)
-Stainless Steel Spoon (for skimming off foam)
-3-4 Kitchen Towels (that you don’t mind getting stained)
-Small saucepan for heating lids
-Half Sheet Pan or rimmed Cookie Sheet
-Kitchen scale (useful but not 100% necessary)
-Timer (Egg timer, microwave clock, oven timer, your watch, phone, whatever you got is fine)
-Whisk (not shown)

:spoon: Essential Canning Tools Needed: Canning requires a few specific tools. The items listed below do not have links, because I have linked money-saving canning tool sets further below.
-Rack for inside your stock pot (mine shown is a green plastic basket; your rack may be a round metal cake rack, or flat silicone like the one in the Ball Starter Kit)
-4 Half-Pint Ball canning jars, bands and brand new, unused lids
-Jar Lifter Tongs
-Headspace Tool (or a clean chopstick and a ruler)
-Magnetic Lid Wand
-Canning/Widemouth Funnel

Canning Tool Kits available from Amazon
Ball Preserving Starter Kit (Silicone Rack, Jar Lifter, Funnel, Headspace Tool, 4 half-pint jars, packet of pectin) $15
Inspoline Canning Kit (Metal Rack, Jar Lifter, Funnel, Headspace Tool, Magnetic Lid Wand, Tongs, Lid Wrench, Cleaning Brush) $30
Bare Bones Utensil Set (Jar Lifter, Funnel, Headspace Tool) $12
Alternate Bare Bones Utensil Set (Jar Lifter, Funnel & Magnetic Lid Wand) $16

:warning: Note on Canning Jars & Lids
Canning jars can, and often are, reused many times. They are designed to be sturdy, and see you through many canning seasons and recipes. If you choose to reuse jars already in your stash, you must check them each over carefully for any nicks or cracks anywhere on the jar or rim. A cracked jar will not hold up to processing, and a nick in the rim may cause your jar to not seal properly, allowing food to spoil. The same is true for the aluminum bands. They can be reused, but should be free of any rust or damage like dents.

Lids however, CANNOT ever be reused for food preservation. They are made with a thin band of glue around the edge, that helps seal the jars properly. Once the lids have been used, the glue is gone. The good news is that you can buy a brand new box of 12 lids for about $2. (If you are missing lids and bands, you can buy a box of both of those together for just a few dollars.) Once you have opened a new box of lids, be sure to use them all that year. An open box in the back of your cupboard will expire, as the glue in the lids dries out. Check the back or side of the box, and you’ll find an expiration date. Take it seriously! Old, dried out lids will not seal properly, leaving you with a bunch of jars of food to use up right away.

If you buy brand new canning jars, they will come with brand new lids and bands. All of these supplies, (as well as various kinds of pectins, canning salt, and pickling spices) are available in your local grocery store, usually near vinegars and baking supplies. Another great source of canning supplies is your local hardware store, like Ace Hardware, True Value, Tractor Supply Store, or Aubuchon Hardware. (Don’t bother with the Big Box stores.)

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning - FREE PDF (Everything you could ever want to know about canning every type of food, including the science behind it.)
USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning - Print Copy of the free PDF above
National Center for Home Food Preservation
Ball / Bernadin - Ball & Bernadin are both the same company. Both are owned by Newell, with the Ball brand being used in the US, and the Bernadin brand being used in Canada.
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving - Excellent resource for learning to can, and contains 400 tried & tested recipes.
Ball Blue Book - This is the classic your grandma probably had. As long as you are using the most recent edition, it’s still highly useful.
Pomona’s Pectin - This is more of a niche resource. Pomona’s is a different type of pectin, that does not require sugar & acid to gel. Instead it uses calcium to achieve gelling. It is perfect for very-low or no sugar recipes, which can be great for diabetics. If using it, you must use their specific recipes to can safely! You cannot use it in place of traditional pectins in recipes from other sources.
Better Homes and Gardens Complete Canning Guide: Freezing, Preserving, Drying
Southern Living Little Jars Big Flavors - Specifically a small batch canning book, though some recipes border on full size. Gives recipes to use your canned goods in. Has ideas for hosting a canning party, with 4 seasonal menus.

Books to AVOID
Food in Jars, Preserving by the Pint, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, The Food in Jars Kitchen, all by Marissa McClellan

Additional Recipes for Beginners
Jalapeno Pepper Jelly (Detailed, step-by-step recipe with photos is included in class PDF)
Bananas Foster Butter - makes 5 half-pint jars


Recipe Ingredient List
:strawberry: Strawberry Balsamic & Black Pepper Jam :strawberry:
(Makes 4 half pint jars)
2 2/3 cups crushed strawberries*
6 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Ball RealFruit* Classic Pectin (buy at local grocery store; link provided just to show you what it looks like)
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon butter (optional, but highly recommended as it’s very helpful reducing foam)

Reduced Sugar Alternative
:strawberry: Strawberry Balsamic & Black Pepper Jam :strawberry:
(Makes 3 half pint jars, with a little leftover)
2 2/3 cups crushed strawberries*
6 teaspoons bottled lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Ball RealFruit* Classic Pectin (buy at local grocery store; link provided just to show you what it looks like)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon butter (optional, but highly recommended as it’s very helpful reducing foam)

*2 2/3 cups crushed strawberries is approximately 1.5 of the 16-oz clamshell packages of strawberries. So buy 2 clamshells at the store.

Cost breakdown of recipe:
2 16-oz packages of strawberries $5.98
6 teaspoons bottled lemon juice $.09
3 Tablespoons Ball RealFruit* Classic Pectin $1.30
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar $1.03
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar $.15
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional) $.01
1/2 teaspoon butter $.02

Total: $8.58
Cost per jar: $2.14


Yes, please!

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I’m so excited!

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This is going to be fun! I have made pickles and freezer jam but never small batch.

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Exciting! I can’t join this one live but will definitely still partake.


Moving these comments over here, from the Zoom Class general thread.

Thanks for that…I think I will watch you this time and make plans for the next time I do it.

In response to @Magpie generally, historically we make jams and jellies by boiling fruit with plenty of sugar and then transferring them to sterilized jars, we used wax paper discs and cellophane to seal them. They would have been kept in a cool place. Apart from that, and again historically, meat would be salted and smoked, root vegetables kept in a store. I am not an expert, but I’ve never heard of anyone in Ireland in my extended family or friends doing water bath canning. Pre-deep freezing soft fruit went into jam, apples were stored carefully fresh. We don’t have a massive variety of fruit/veg to preserve. Milk was turned into cheese and butter (which was stored in bogs)

I’ve just found a fascinating article about why we don’t can in the same way. And it’s evident I need to learn the proper way to do it. Although I mostly only do jams and chutneys. We learned these techniques from the British.


Goodness, I finally just read through that article, and it was both fascinating and perplexing. I tend to think of the US, Canada, and the UK as being on the same basic wavelength about most common things. We might each have our peculiarities from country to country about certain topics (differences in thoughts on gun ownership come to mind - though I am NOT attempting to start a debate on the topic!), but I feel like for the most part we’re not all that different on things like our families, jobs, food, hobbies, and widely accepted ‘everyday’ science. And if anything, I expect the British to be more open minded than many Americans, who so often dig their heels in, rather than learning from other countries. It was so startling to read about their refusal to listen about food safety and science.

I learned a whole lot, and I also managed to get some 250ml kilner jars with the two part kids. I won’t ever be doing the open pot method of preserving again!

Wow. Just, wow. Off with the nose to spite the face kinda thing, eh?

When we first got together Robert wanted to watch one of his favourite movies with me, First Winter. I already understood the dangers of home canning or it would have put me off for life. Death by mid-winter peaches? No thank you very much indeed!

I picked up some little jars and jam pectin, now to hopefully find nice strawberries in November. We had frozen but somebody in the house gobbled them all up, I’m looking at you miss @Pigeon !

@MistressJennie what’s the purpose of the rack for inside the pot? I don’t have exactly that, but I’m sure I’ve something suitable, if I know what it does…

The rack keeps the jars off the bottom of the pot, both off of the direct heat of the burner, and allowing water to circulate all around the jars. The one shown in my photo above is a green plastic basket that came in Ball’s basic tools kit, back in about 2012. I don’t love it, but it works fine, so I haven’t replaced it. It holds 3 pint jars, or 4 half-pints, but it also narrows at the bottom. If it didn’t, I could fit 5 half-pints, which would be nice.

Their new basic tool kit comes with a silicone rack, that just lays on the bottom of the pot. I like that it’s both flat, and foldable, perfect for easy storage. (The green basket is more bulky and annoying to store, though it does fit within my big water bath canner.) The Inspoline kit I linked to comes with a metal rack, that is basically a round version of a cake/cookie cooling rack. Just about 1/2" tall, to keep the jars off the bottom of your stock pot, and allow water circulation.

I have a cooling rack for baking that fits into the bottom of our large pot, it works ok but doesn’t have handles for easy lifting out. That’s ok though, the jar lifter works great.

I have seen a few places (even very reputable places like the Big Ball book I liked above) mention that if you don’t have a rack, you can attach multiple lid bands together, and use them as a rack. This seems like an interesting idea at first, but then I worry about what you use to hold the bands together. Will it melt if it’s plastic like a zip tie? And once you’ve attached them together, how stable is the base they create? The bottom of half-pint jars is pretty small. Will they slide down into the rings? So yeah, I haven’t tried that ‘hack’, as I’m not sure it’s all that good an idea, especially when something like a rack is so cheap and easily available, and useful in other cooking projects.

And yeah, with a big traditional water bath canner, there is a metal basket that serves as the rack, with handles, that you can hook to the sides of the pot. You sort of lift from the handles, and then rest the handles on the lip of the pot, holding the jars halfway up out of the pot. I have NEVER, EVER used that as a feature. Ever. First off, if you did try to do so with a full pot of jars, especially quart jars, it would be incredibly heavy to lift. Add to that my very short stature, and I’d be trying to lift a heavy, boiling hot, objects, at boob to face height. It’s just a dumb plan in my book. But the jar lifting tongs are your best friend when canning. They are the thing I feel like you absolutely can’t do without. You just reach in and grab one jar at a time, without back strain or possible burns.

Oh, that could work with smaller rings and twine, like the sort you use for stitching up turkey butt!

I’ve used the lifting rack with smaller jars but ya, way too heavy with full quarts!


It’s just never seemed like a time saver to me, to pick up all the jars, even smaller half-pints, at once. By the time I get my step stool to the stove, and grab some pot holders, and lift the rack with both hands, I could easily have plucked all 8 jars out with the jar lifter tongs.

@Edel, scroll down on this listing on Amazon, and you can see a pic of their silicone rack in action. (Actually, there are pics of basically all the tools in action.)

I feel like that would be useful in other instances, such as just a trivet on your counter tops when cooking, or when I do something like candle making and need a place to put my pot of hot wax. So when my jar lifter tongs eventually die, I’ll probably pick up their new kit, and ditch my old plastic basket.