California is a magical state when it comes to produce and the farmers markets do a great job of showing off their bounty every summer. But even in California, the summer produce only lasts for the season so I’ve turned to canning to make the produce last all year long. Canning may sound intimidating or weird at first but I promise it’s worth the work. Canning isn’t just about making jams, there are tons of options for pickling vegetables too. When winter rolls around and you can pull out a jar of sweet nectarine jam or perfectly crisp carrots you’ll forget it’s cold and rainy outside and summer will last just a bit longer.
Canning requires a little prep work to gather all the materials you need. Refer to your recipe for instructions on preserving and also check out the getting started sections at Ball and Food in Jars if you’re new to canning. You can also try starting with freezer jams or refrigerator pickles which skip the water bath canning process. They won’t last all year but you’ll still get great results.
I like to get my produce at the farmers market for canning projects. There are farmers markets all over SF so I went to the one at the Ferry Building this weekend which is by far the largest in SF. I look for whatever is under $3/lb to make my canning projects affordable. I bought some beautiful cherry tomatoes, zucchini and carrots. Grocery store produce is perfect for canning as well, just try to use what’s in season and pick the organic stuff.
Don’t feel like you have to take on canning by yourself, make it a party! I took a divide and conquer approach to my party. I already had all the canning supplies so I bought the produce in the morning and my friend came over armed with snacks to keep us going all afternoon. We turned up the music and split up washing, chopping and cooking the produce. Once the first recipe was done cooking I started canning it in the water bath while the next recipe started cooking.