Question About Canning

I have never done any canning and don’t even know how. I am thinking about learning how to do it, but I wonder if it would be worth it for me? I don’t like jellies, jams or things with lots of added sugar. Given these limitations, and the fact that I don’t have a pressure canner, are there enough things left to can to make it worthwhile for me to learn? Right now the only things I can think of are dill pickles and tomatoes

I did limited amount of canning . I didn’t use pressure cook to can. I just give a regular hot water bath as it instructed in the book I follow

We don’t do much sweet canning but there are lots of savouries worth doing.
A huge one is cucumber relish. I was shocked at how much better homemade is. It’s easy, cheap and amazingly better.
We do a green tomato relish, when there is a good production year.
Salsa, chili sauce, plum sauce, zucchini relish are all big winners and can be hot water bathed.
Chutneys would also be possible for you.

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A friend suggested a procedure for pickling that seemed a bit off. In short, boiled vinegar (not cut with water), spices, and veg to be pickled… beans, cukes, asparagus, whatever. Poured onto the veg in the jar, sealed quickly, done. No refrigeration. The idea is that the straight vinegar and salt do the trick, along with a blanching effect of the hot vinegar on the surface of the veg. Perhaps the heat flash pasteurizes it too? (Don’t do this based on my post… I’m not saying it’s safe!)

That no refrigeration part freaked me out… started researching on the internet, because everything on it is true… I haven’t seen anything saying it’s safe, but I’ve seen a LOT of things suggesting that Americans are germ-phobes and that canning procedures in other places are far less stringent. The implication is that it’s okay, but Lordy me, I must be American because it makes me uneasy. The allure of crunchy dilly-beans calls loudly to me though.

Related: Traditional fermentation practices seem insane, but traditions that kill people tend to stop being traditions.

Wondering what the hive mind here has to say about this.


This brings to mind a conversation I had with my stepfather a couple of years ago. I raise chickens, so he asked me how to tell if an egg was too old. I gave my standard answer about putting it in a pan of water. If it lays on its side, it’s very fresh; if it stands on end but still touches the bottom, it’s old enough to be easy to peel when hard-boiled; if it floats without touching the bottom, it’s old. He looked puzzled for a moment and then asked, “But when is it too old to eat?” My response: “How sick do you want to get?”

Yes, maybe we Americans are germaphobes, but food-borne illness is no fun. I would rather not take any chances.

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Well, if you’re not going to pressure can, or do fruit preserves, about the only thing you can water bath are acidic things like pickles, salsa, and tomatoes. Other than the pickles, you would have to add something to up the acidity, like citric or ascorbic acids. You can water bath just regular fruits like sliced pears or apples, but would have to add a bit of home made syrup, in addition to some kind of acid.

There are several threads on the site about canning-

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I just bought a new water bath canner. All of my jams and jellies have been made that way for decades without a problem. Occasionally if there is too much sugar added by mistake I will add the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon.

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For me the key has been finding those foods we enjoy that are easy to make but are difficult or expensive to purchase. We don’t eat jams or jellies either but enjoy canning homegrown fruits with no added sugar, so far blueberries, blackberries, and pears. They’re great on oatmeal or for a snack. We love pickled okra. I don’t bother with dill pickles or tomatoes as I think it is easy and cheap to find good tasting versions of those at stores. Canning saves freezer space and my friends and family love getting canned goods as gifts. You probably already know that you can just can in a regular pot that fits jars for water bath canning, you don’t need to buy a canner. Be sure to check back and post your canning adventures. :smiley: There is just something special about seeing your own canned goods on your shelf.

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We have several quarts of pickled okra. I grew up with the stuff growing up in OK. We are growing some more this year, it’s a purple colored variety.

We hardly buy any pickles, we have canned dozens of quarts of cukes over the years. We planted three small rows of cukes this year, we love to just eat them straight of the vine, sliced up with some salt and pepper.


I do pressure canning, yet everything that I can has added sugar in it. I don’t like most jams jellies and so forth, because they are usually too sweet and acidic. The nice thing about the presure canning method is that while canning it kills most of the bacteria in whatever you are canning, something that all the other methods of canning could never do, because of this you don’t need to put as much sugar or acidity in the jam. One nice thing about homemade things is that you can reinvent whatever you don’t like, in a lot of things. Also some fruits are way more sweet than others, if you use sweeter fruit you don’t need as much added sugar. When I make cherry pie I use sweet cherries so that I don’t need to add as much sugar.


I don’t have pressure canner, just use hot water bath. I, too, don’t like sweet jam, jelly. But I sometimes can some my own home grown peaches, I add very little sugar to it. It tastes great when winter comes compare to store bought peaches then.

We use a pressure canner. A few years ago I decided to stop canning tomatoes since canned tomatoes aren’t all that expensive in the store. Turned out I couldn’t make good chilli with store bought tomatoes. In the winter when we make soup we will make a large pot and can the leftovers. It makes an easy meal at a future date.

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Canning is second nature here. Green beans, tomatoes, pickled okra, potatoes, corn, squash, and several types of jellies and jams are standard fare. I bought a very good pressure canner on Ebay for $35 plus a few dollars shipping.

Regarding fruit, look up recipes for preserves and conserves. Both are fruit heavy and sugar light and can be made more so with a few recipe tweaks.

One of my favorite canned items… venison.

I reserve the backstraps for steaks and can anything else that isn’t full of sinew (that goes to burger.) Canning process… cube and lightly pack a pint, garlic and pepper on the bottom, splashed with soy sauce. One hour at 10 psi. Taking the time to remove the fat is well worth it. It comes out as if it were a pot roast… always tender and flakey!

The cubes can be seared quickly to enjoy ala-cart or added to stir fry. When I add it to a chili type pot-meal, it disintegrates, passing its goodness to the dish but otherwise being invisible. The bonus is the exuberance the dog shows whenever I pop open a jar… he jumps in the air beside his dish, desperate for a splash of the juice …every jar brings a smile!

Pressure cooker… got an All American 19 pint cooker at auction… not cheap, but well worth it!


What is the difference between plum sauce and plum jam that did not set?

Growing up my mother would make plum sauce when there was a surplus of plums or you didn’t have the time or the ingredients to make jam. The sauce was just boiled plums, no sugar, then pressure canned. If the plum crop was a failure the next year she would make jam out of that.

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Plum sauce is savoury so it usually has things like vinegar, onions and spices in it as well as the plums. Generally, also very little added sugar.
You will never want the standard bottled stuff for dipping your spring rolls once you’ve had homemade! (Lots of the commercial “plum” sauces use pumpkin, rather than plums)


Hmm. I’ll look up a recipe for plum sauce. I’m assuming that it can be just hot water bath canned rather than pressure canned. I probably have 30+ gallons of plums.

Dont need a pressure canner . Ive canned for years using large Aluminum & Stainless Pots. My favorites are salsa & pepper butter. Things that we can take camping to add to fish, or meat etc… weve canned deer meat & ham… even hotdogs & Pepper mix as meals in jars. Never hurts to be prepared for an emergency or a hasty weekend getaway.
I sold canned goods at a farmers market years ago & actually did very well. Started an Ebay Business also…selling Jams & jellies.
My canning start was a Betty Crooker Cook Book & a At Home Canning kit. My wife got it as a House warming gift & we canned together. Keep in mind canned Pie mixes & things like that can make life easier… A novice could use a betty crocker book & that kit 1st day to can…

Plum sauce is a Chinese condiment.