3 Easy Home Canning Recipes

Try these easy small-batch home canning recipes to capture the flavor of summer in jars—with a lot less work than bigger batches require.

| July/August 2014

Ladies Canning on the Porch

Save yourself time and energy and preserve your summer harvest with small-batch canning.

Photo by Veer

When I started canning, I made huge batches. Between cleaning, peeling and chopping, I’d be dripping with sweat and every inch of my kitchen would be sticky. That’s how I thought canning was supposed to be. Every traditional recipe I found yielded five, seven or nine pints. At the end of the first year, even after eating jam daily and giving away many, many jars, I was still swimming in preserves. I needed to find a way for it to take less time and yield smaller amounts.

Easy Home Canning Recipes

Black Raspberry Jam Recipe 
Marinated Roasted Red Peppers Recipe 
Pickled Wax Beans Recipe 

So I started tearing down recipes and finding cookware that worked best with small batches. I also developed techniques for breaking up the work so I could do it when it was most convenient without sacrificing freshness.

These days, I do a lot of small batches that yield just two or three half-pint jars. Preserving on this scale means I get to explore different flavor combinations without committing massive amounts of produce to an idea that might not work. It also allows me to have dozens of different options in my pantry.

Details of Small-Batch Canning

Technique: There are a number of handy things about preserving in small batches. Preparation goes fast. When a recipe calls for you to let fruit sit and rest for a time with sweetener, you can cover your bowl and pop it into the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Small batches also cook quickly, particularly if you use wide pans. Best of all, these preserves tend to be lower in added sugar because you don’t need as much sugar to support the set.

Cookware: I recommend a few pieces of cookware specifically for tiny batches. The first is a basic, 12-inch skillet (stainless steel, anodized aluminum or enameled cast iron), which provides a lot of surface area for cooking and encourages evaporation. For slightly larger batches, a 5-quart Dutch oven (enameled or not) is a good pot for the job. A tall, skinny pot, preferably fitted with a rack, works well as either a processing pot (you can fit two wide-mouth or three Ball Collection Elite half-pint jars in it) or as a pot for heating pickling liquid. Asparagus pots do the job well, but my favorite is what Swiss cookware manufacturer Kuhn Rikon calls a “4th-burner pot.” For processing larger batches, an 8-quart nonreactive stockpot fitted with a stainless-steel rack on the bottom does the job. You’ll also want to have a  small saucepan on hand for simmering canning lids to soften the sealing compound.

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