One of sugar’s many talents is assisting in the process of food preservation. As at-home gardening continues to be a popular practice for many individuals and families, it’s important to consider how to keep produce from going to waste, and sugar can help–if you CAN it! Speaking with Caitlyn Bell and John Wiederhoeft, two young farmers based in Madelia, MN, at Stone Hearth Farm & Garden, they offered their tips from their yearly canning operation. This year alone they will can at least 10 different types of produce/recipes, allowing them to enjoy the fruits of their gardening labor all year long!

First and foremost, Caitlyn and John stressed that cleanliness and organization is key in your canning process! You will want to be strategic in gathering your harvested produce, making sure you have enough jars and sealing lids, a sturdy jar clamp to remove the jars from high temperature water baths, your canning/pickling/jam recipes already chosen and other ingredients gathered. Next, follow these steps:

 

  1. Thoroughly wash fresh produce, also cutting away any bruises. Cut or process your produce into your desired shape/as the recipe directs.
  2. Sanitize your jars and lids. (This can be done in the dishwasher, the oven, or on the stove in a boiling water bath.)
  3. Heat your liquids or combined ingredients for jar contents. For standard canning/pickling, this often is a combination of water, vinegar, and sugar.
  4. Bring your sealing water bath to a boil. This is best done in a large stovetop stock pot. Place a rack in the bottom of the pot to keep jars from touching the bottom.
  5. Load the sanitized jars with produce and liquid, packing them tightly while leaving a bit of headspace (about 1 inch) to allow for expansion of the produce throughout the process.
  6. Top the jars with the sealing lids and place in the water bath for 10 minutes (or designated amount of time that your recipe states).
  7. Carefully remove jars from the water bath with the jar clamp and allow jars to cool fully.
  8. Once the jars and contents have cooled, test the seal, making sure the lid does not move up or down when pressed. This step is crucial in sealing the jar’s contents from any bacteria.
  9. Store your jars in a cool, dark place.

Caitlyn and John use a number of different canning, pickling and jam recipes, but they consistently use real sugar in their process because it dissolves quickly and offers a flavor they enjoy! Their best advice for first-time canning is to start small and use quality ingredients.

They really take pride in this component of their farming operation that keeps them pointing towards food sustainability, allows them to lengthen the enjoyment of their produce and share them with others!

Try out one of their favorite canning recipes for Zucchini Relish here!

Stay in Touch

Sign Up