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Learning the art of canning with Bernardin

December 1, 2014

 

Being able to actually conquer the skill of canning and preserving at home is easier that you might expect, it only takes a desire to try and the right tools to get the job done. Luckily those tools are all wrapped up in the handy Bernardin Home Canning Starter package.

I must begin the story of my first canning experience by admitting my strange (and irrational) fear of the canning process. It seemed like a mythical skill that only grandmas and epic homesteaders knew how to magically achieve. Even when local friends all around me started filling their own cupboards with delicious canned bounty, I was intimidated and held back from trying it myself.

Could I too, capture the harvest in a bottle, I wondered? Dare I venture into the world of canning as an unskilled newbie with basically no knowledge of what I was doing? Or even what I needed to buy to get started?

Then Bernardin Home Canning came to my rescue. A Canadian staple in the canning industry, Bernardin kindly offered me the chance to try out their home canning starter kit, designed for beginners just like me.

This all-in-one kit includes a 21 quart canner pot, jar rack, jar lifter, wide-mouth funnel, lid lifter, and bubble remover. To help you actually use all that equipment, the kit also includes a 4 pack of Collection Elite decorative jars and lids, pectin crystals, a recipe booklet and an instructional DVD CD featuring Executive Chef Emerie Brine (which I did watch, and did find helpful).

The Canning Starter Kit was the perfect opportunity for me to brave up and get canning in my own tiny west coast kitchen, so I ordered 60 pounds of ripe tomatoes sourced by a local farm, bought a tall stack of Bernardin canning jars of all sizes, unpacked my fully-loaded Starter Kit and got right down to it.

I decided to learn how to can for the first time with tomatoes, as it is one of the cans I buy on a regular basis for use in home cooking recipes. Also, it's just three ingredients - skinned fresh tomatoes with salt and a dash of lemon to add acidity. Here's Bernardin's recipe for home-canned crushed tomatoes.

It's important to read up on the basics of canning with a water bath canner, which is the canner that comes with the Bernardin Starter Kit. This method of canning is great for jams, preserves and tomatoes. Make sure you fully understand which method is appropriate for the recipe you are planning, as some foods require a pressure canner.

High Acid foods including fruits, jellies & jams, and tomatoes & pickles with added acid are great options for the water bath canning method.

Low Acid foods including vegetables, soups, stews, meats, poultry, seafood should all be left for when you (and I!) get adventerous enough to try out the pressure canning method.

So I canned. And canned. And canned some more until I mastered the basics of a wide assortment of things we love to eat. From that first jumping off point of canning plain tomatoes, I moved on to salsa and salsa verde, some simple pickles and I even made my own spicy ketchup from scratch! I canned so much that we had to buy a new shelf to hold the growing stack of jars, it was (and remains) pretty damn exciting to have produced so many tasty things in my own home, using my own ingredients.

When I finished processing those 60 pounds of tomatoes, and another 25 pounds grown in my garden, into row upon row of gleaming glass, I moved on a special request from a friend and taught myself how to make spicy hot pepper jelly. It worked like a charm and looks so pretty in the jars that I think it would make a nice holiday gift and I'm planning on making more. Ready to give hot pepper jelly a go? Try Bernardin's Christmas Pepper Jelly Recipe here.

Having fully immersed myself in the entire canning process for the first time, I'm now totally hooked. As you can tell from this blog post, I've gone from too-scared-to-can girl to a let-me-at-it, I'll-can-anything girl.

And it's thanks to the Bernardin Canning Starter Kit, great for anyone who wants to join the world of canning at home or upgrade their current canning equipment. The reasonable $50 price tag is worth every penny, and when you're not canning, you can pack all the equipment and implements into your Bernardin pot to await your next canning adventure.

Links to further information about canning with Bernadin:

Step-by-Step Canning Instructions for Beginners

Answers to all the typical FAQs when canning

A variety of great recipes for canning

 

Disclosure: I have been provided with Bernardin Canning products for review, but have not been compensated for this post. All opinions and experiences are my own.

 

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I can!

This is awesome! Now I want a starter kit - thanks for trying it out for me! :D

I think it's for me to get a little braver than just jams and jellies! Some of those recipes and combinations look amazing!

Love that starter kit! What a great idea. So glad you reviewed it, as I would love to try canning (I'm a scaredy cat!) :)

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