Warmer-weathered days are numbered, and that means our time for enjoying some of our favorite fruits and veggies—like our seasonal fruit topping, nectarine—is limited. While we gave you plenty of inspiration for enjoying nectarines while you can still buy them fresh from your local market, we also suggested canning as a means for preserving this summer fruit for the fall and winter seasons.

This is where food preservation and canning comes in. Canning is a wonderful way to store your fruits and vegetables from the garden or the farmer’s market while they are in season and make the harvest last through winter when local and seasonal foods are scarce.

Canning may seem intimidating, but we can’t turn down a chance to enjoy our favorite produce in the colder months! If you want to give it a try, check out these canning tips—including two of recipe suggestions—below.

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The Tools

First thing’s first—before you start canning, make sure you have the right tools in your kitchen. Many of the required items are likely things you already own like a stock pot, colander, wide-mouth funnel, spoons and knives. However, make sure you stock up on jars and self-sealing lids for storing your finished canned goods. Ball mason jars are great for this, and so are Weck jars.

Also be sure to invest in a good pair of tongs. You will need to douse the jars and lids in boiling water to ensure they are sterile; a good pair of tongs will keep you from burning yourself! If you find yourself missing most (or all) of these pieces in your kitchen, you can find affordable canning kits online. Try the Ball canning kit and jars, for example.

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Planning ahead

Another important step is to research the produce you plan to use. Always carefully select and wash the produce before canning! For some produce, you will need to peel off the skin or add acids like lemon juice or vinegar in order to properly preserve it. And, whereas highly acidic produce like fruit can simply be cleaned with a hot water bath prior to canning, lower-acidic produce—including many veggies—require the hotter temperatures that only a pressure canner can provide.

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Peach Preserves & More Ideas

One recipe that doesn’t require a pressure canner? Peach preserves. In a large bowl, simply mix 3 cups of peeled and finely chopped up peach, 2/3 of a cup of sugar and pectin (follow the directions on the packaging to gauge the amount). Pour into a pan, and bring the mixture to a bubbling boil over medium heat. Stir, and continue cooking until the consistency thickens into a jam. Voilà—two pints of preserves! Fill jars and process in a hot water bath before storing.

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Another delicious idea? Turn juicy tomatoes into tomato sauce. Simply wash, cut into chunks and blend into liquid consistency. Boil in a large, uncovered pot, stirring occasionally until the watery liquid evaporates. Then, can away. Save it for a snowy weekend this winter to make a homemade pizza!

The list of things you can make is truly endless—jams, salsas, chutneys, relishes and pickled veggies are just the start. For more information on canning, check out this helpful guide, written by food writer and canning enthusiast, Marisa McClellan.

We hope these tips inspire you to give canning a try. It’s not only a useful trick to have up your sleeve, but it’s also a great way to get children involved in the kitchen. Older children can help with the canning itself, while younger children can help choose the produce and decorate the finished jars with ribbons and fabric.

Lastly, if your first attempts at canning don’t succeed, you can always count on our pantry for jams and other specialty canned ingredients!

Happy canning!

Photos via Flickr: Migle, Sharon DrummondMarusula