8 Time-Saving Canning Tips to Help You ‘Put Up the Harvest’


Canning and preserving food is rewarding, but can be time-consuming. Follow these time-saving canning tips to save time while puttin' up the harvest! #timesavingcanningtips #canningfood #homecanning #preservingPuttin’ up the harvest (aka. canning and preserving food) is by far one of the most rewarding aspects of this homesteading lifestyle, in my humble opinion. I can honestly say there’s nothing better than the feeling I get come fall and winter when our pantry is overflowing with jars of home-canned food that I put up with my own two hands.

At that time of year, I’m always SUPER thankful that I did the hard work of preserving all that food over the summer months, but when I’m in the thick of it with baskets and bowls full of fresh food waiting to be preserved (and dying a slow death with every second that I’m NOT busy preserving them), I sometimes find myself asking myself why, oh WHY do I do this to myself every year, and wondering how on Earth I’m gonna get it all done with everything else I’ve got going on.

Because while homesteading (which consists of a lot of canning and preserving over the summer) is our lifestyle of choice, it’s not our entire life. 

We’re busy just like everyone else. 

Both my husband and I run our own businesses, we’ve got a 4-year-old daughter at home who also has preschool and dance classes and likes to be involved in everything we’re doing, and of course we have a never-ending to-do list of homestead projects, side jobs, social commitments (whether in person or online) and all the other things that keep us all busy day in and day out.

Even I sometimes wonder how we do it all.

Related: 6 Canning Safety Rules You Must Follow

I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, I published a poll on Instagram a couple weeks ago and asked people what their biggest barrier was to canning and preserving food at home, and every single person who responded said that time (or a lack thereof) was the number one roadblock to canning and preserving more food at home.

I found myself mulling over this the other day while I was on batch 4 or 5 ( or was it 6?) of pickling and canning up 50 lbs. worth of cucumbers I’d picked up from one of my local farmers. It took me 4 or 5 days in total to get them all canned as I multi-tasked and worked in batches between getting ready to launch a course, publish a magazine, tend to the garden and the animals and keep our daughter alive and healthy and happy and on time for school and extracurricular activities.

I started thinking about all of the ways we manage to fit homesteading in general (and canning and preserving in particular) into our lives even when it seems we haven’t got a minute to spare. 

As I pondered all of this (while I waited for the water in my canner to come to a boil, because ya know, multitasking!) I came up with the following list of tips and hacks that help me fit canning and preserving food into our busy summer so that I can be sure that come winter I’ll have a pantry full off food to be thankful for.

I hope that at least one or more of the following tips help you too!

 

Time-saving canning tips to help you preserve the harvest when you’re short on time

 

1. Can what you actually EAT!

My number one tip is to can what you and your family actually like to eat! Because honestly, if you don’t want to eat what you can, then you’re probably wasting your time canning it in the first place.

Sometimes it can be hard to know exactly what everyone in your family likes to eat if you’ve never tried it before (like that time I made 40 pounds of sauerkraut before having my family actually try it and subsequently tossed most of it to the compost bin), so if you’re unsure, try canning a small batch of something first.

If you know your family REALLY likes or uses certain things like, say, pickles or salsa or tomato sauce or strawberry jam, then focus the limited amount of time you have on canning those items. You may miss some things, but you’ll be stocked up on the things you eat most!

 

2. Work in stages

Often times it’s not the canning itself that’s most time-consuming, it’s the prep work. It’s the washing and peeling and chopping and slicing that tends to take up the lion’s share of “hands-on” time when it comes to canning and preserving.

One way to fit it all in is to break it up and work in stages to prep and preserve your food. This is what I do most of the time, because very rarely do I have a long enough block of time free from other obligations when I can focus on prepping and processing a batch of anything from start to finish.

Try washing and prepping your food in the evening before bed on a night when you’ve got a little time in the morning to do the canning portion. Then store your prepped food overnight (in the fridge if possible) and can it up in the morning. 

If preserving apples or pears, place them in a solution of water and lemon juice, adding one tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of water. This will help prevent them from browning.

Preserve your food as quickly as possible after prepping it. But if you have to let it sit for a few hours or overnight, it’s not the end of the world! I almost always have to work in stages and have (almost) never had to toss any food out!

 

3. Ask for help!!!

Your family eats the food you make and can too, right? Well then they can pitch in and help preserve it too!

Back in the day, preserving food was a family affair. You’d sit with grandma and snap green beans with her as she prepped them for canning. There’s no reason why this should be any different today.

In fact, canning can even be more fun and enjoyable when it’s a group effort and you can get things done exponentially quicker than when you’re prepping and preserving an entire batch of something alone.

Plus, if you’ve got kids helping, it also doubles as a useful lesson in canning and home food preservation that they will (hopefully) take with them and use throughout their lives!

 

4. Can small batches

You might not have time to can up a 50 lb. batch of pickles. But surely you can find time for a five or 10-pound batch!

Sometimes when we think of canning and preserving food, we think of making up large batches of food that could fill a bomb shelter and sustain us through the winter and beyond. But there’s nothing wrong with just doing a small batch here and there of something you really enjoy eating or want to try!

So often, us human beings are all or nothing creatures. We figure if we can’t do it all (and do it to the Nth degree) then there’s no point in doing it at all.

If a few jars of jam are all you can find time for then so be it. Doing a little bit is better than doing nothing at all!

 

5. Double (or triple) your batch

Okay, I know this seems to completely contradict the last tip, but hear me out…

If you do happen to have the time and wherewithal to double or triple your batch of something that you eat a lot of, do it. By making more at once, at worst you’ll have a larger supply and at best you’ll maybe even have enough for the following year.

This was the case for me and my pickles this year: I got 50 lbs. of cucumbers (thinking I would share with my mom but apparently she’s not feeling pickles this year), so I ended up making enough pickles to last us a good two years.

It was a lot of work up front, but now I don’t have to make pickles again until 2022. And I just freed up a lot of time next year to devote to preserving other things!

 

6. Keep canning supplies and ingredients on hand

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache if you make sure you’re prepared ahead of time. Keep jars, bands, new lids and special ingredients on hand so you don’t have to waste time running to the store to buy what you need. 

Consider keeping a supply of the following ingredients on hand for impromptu (or “promptu”) canning sessions. (And yes, I know that “promptu” isn’t a real word. No angry emails please).

  • White vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Pectin
  • Pickling salt
  • Pickling spice
  • Clear Jel (for thickening and canning pie filling)

 

7. Use the wait time to multi-task 

A lot of the time involved in canning is spent waiting around for a pot to boil or for your processing time to run out. Use this wait time to knock off other things on your to-do list.

Tidy your kitchen. Throw on a load of laundry. Get some work done on the computer. Just don’t do anything where you need to completely walk away from your canning project as you never want to leave things completely unattended for too long. (In other words, maybe don’t go weed the garden or run errands at this time).

Stick close but use the wait time to multi-task and you’ll have a pantry full of home-canned food and a crossed-off to-do list in no time!

 

8. Accept that some other things might fall by the wayside

This last tip is more of a mental shift than anything, but it’s helped me more than once: you have to be prepared to let some things fall by the wayside.

What I mean by this is that, during canning season, when fruits and veggies are in season and need to be preserved ASAP, canning and preserving them needs to be a top priority because they won’t last otherwise.

This often means that something else gets bumped down the list of priorities, maybe even all the way to the bottom.

Case in point: my house is often an absolute disaster during canning season. Or it’s at least not as clean as I wish it were. There are laundry baskets full of unfolded clothes sitting on the living room floor. There are toys strewn littering every corner and nook and cranny of our house. Dirty dishes stacked beside the sink. Stacks of paperwork and a floor that desperately needs a good vacuuming…

Likewise, we don’t cook from scratch as much. I know this seems strange during the summer months when our garden is in full swing and we’ve got beautiful fresh produce at our disposal, but when the kitchen is in full preservation mode we’ve got canners taking up stove space, jars in the drying rack, ingredients and jars on our countertop, the dehydrator’s going… There’s no room to cook!

Typically we either use our BBQ or sometimes we just opt to order a pizza. (Every year I promise myself I’ll spend the spring making freezer meals that can go in the Instant Pot during canning season but the busy-ness of spring planting takes priority!)

In either case, we all only have so many hours in the day (and so much kitchen space!), so be prepared that something will probably need to give in order for you to get everything canned and preserved. But at the end of the day, canning season is just that: a season. 

When you’re up to your elbows in pickling cucumbers or tomatoes or apples or *insert fruit or vegetable here*, just remember that this is only for a season. Soon enough this season will be over and the next season will arrive, and then the next. And when it does, you’ll open your pantry up and stare at your gleaming jars of home-canned food as you plan your winter meals.

And I’ll bet you’ll be thankful that you made canning a priority during the summer.

 

Ready to take your canning game to the next level?

Whether you’ve never canned anything before or you’ve done a little canning and you’re ready to take the next step, I’m currently offering my first ever complete home canning course that will walk you through everything you need to know to get started canning food at home.

We’ll cover both water bath canning and pressure canning, and I’ll show you how to can your own jams, jellies, pickles, pie fillings, fruits, vegetables, tomato sauce and chicken stock at home. And of course we’ll go over canning safety, equipment and over all best practices in more depth so that you always feel confident both during the canning process and while enjoying your home-canned food afterwards.

You’ll also get a collection of bonuses including checklists and charts to help you stay safe and never miss a step while canning food at home, plus my bonus jam and jelly video training series to help you make and can your own jams and jellies with store-bought pectin, no pectin and even low-sugar.

Plus, you’ll gain access to our private Facebook group where you can ask questions and get answers in real time as well as share your canning projects with others in the group as we go through the canning season together!

But the best part is that, since this is the first time I’m launching this course and I’m still adding a few videos as we go through the growing and canning season, I’m offering a massive, one-time-only discount of 50% off the regular price to my first group of students.

So if you’re ready to get started canning (or canning more food than ever before this year!) then enroll now for just $49 and get started stocking your pantry right away!

Doors for the Yes, You CAN! Home Canning Course are now open for a limited time only. Enroll now and start preserving the harvest today!

 

Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness:)

 

 

 

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

5 Comments

  1. Holly

    I’ve been making jams, jellies, marmalade for years, but this year I wanted to do tomatoes. I did my best to grow what I needed, but I overshot the mark and have double or triple the tomatoes I need.

    Unfortunately this translated into canning pressure… erh… no pun intended. I felt OBLIGATED to do more canning than I planned, to prevent spoilage and waste. Next year, I will plan better, but I will also come up with an alternative for where I can donate my extra tomatoes! As it was, I was giving them to my friends, but even they can’t keep up with eating as many as I’m growing… I guess I need more friends, haha. So, I have learned this year (by my mistake), to plant only what I need, to can only what I need for the year, and to know where the extra tomatoes will go. Extra = more work.

    Another thing I learned this year, is to put all of my processing in a straight line, like a Ford assembly line, instead of needing to crisscross around the kitchen. So for example, marinara sauce… first I wash… I get this all done first while I’m boiling water for blanching. Then I’m ready for my assembly line…. pop the first group of six in the boiling water. I have a bowl of cold water in the sink (but you could put it on the counter), then there is the paring knife and a container for the peels and a container for the stems, then the chopping board and chopping knife, and then the big pot which I will later put on the stove to boil the tomatoes. So then I boil, dunk, core, peel, chop, and put in the pot in a straight line. It makes SUCH a difference! When I’m chopping, I put the next batch of six in the pot to blanch. It goes much faster, and I do a similar assembly line when I’m doing the actual canning part. I have to say, for me anyway, it’s also less confusing!

    Reply
  2. Jeanne Leopold

    Thanks so much for this news letter! It gave me a boost to read your timesaving tips because that seems to follow my canning season life very closely. You have given me reaffirmation.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      I’m so glad! I know that time is such a roadblock for so many people. Not just for canning, but for so many of the things we really want to do! And I know I love hearing other people’s organization and time-saving tips. Glad I could offer some reassurance:)

      Reply
  3. Sheri

    Every year I pray that I don’t die during canning season – because my house looks like a bomb went off in it.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Right?! I knew I couldn’t be the only one! Lol

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I'm taking you into our garden as we're tearing it down and planting out our garlic. I'll show you our fall gardening routine and I'll walk you through planting garlic so you can start growing it at home too! (It's honesty the easiest, most rewarding crop that we grow).

It's time for the grand finale in the garden this year as we tear it down and prep it for next spring. Will you join me for one last hurrah?

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Sometimes I question why I do what I do. Why do I take on so much? Why do I bother making everything from scratch and growing a garden and preserving food when I could just as well buy it from the store and save myself a ton of time and effort?⁣⁣⁣
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Why am I working hard to build a business out of my passion when I could just as easily go to work for a pay check and just enjoy homesteading as a hobby on the side?⁣⁣⁣
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Why do I choose to do everything the hard way and see against the grain? Why not just go with the flow and hope for the best?⁣⁣⁣
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I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen to follow all the same paths that I’ve gone down over the past few years had I not become a mother, but what I 𝘥𝘰 know for sure is that my beautiful daughter is worth every ounce of hard work; every dollar I’ve invested in our future goals and dreams; every late night work fest and canning session; every seed planted and loaf of bread baked.⁣

She’s worth it because I want to give her the best I can in life. I want her to eat good food and live a long and healthy life. I want to teach her how to be self-sufficient so that she has the skills she needs no matter what kind of world awaits her in the future. And I want to show her that anything is possible and any dream is worth pursuing, even if the work that it takes to achieve it is harder than following the herd and taking the road of least resistance.⁣⁣⁣
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This little human right here: this is my why. This girl and her goofy smile make everything worthwhile ❤️⁣⁣⁣
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What (or who?) is your why?
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This growing season has seriously been the strangest I’ve experienced so far. Summer came so late we thought it wasn’t gonna come at all. Our greens and peas and spring crops produced for weeks longer then they normally do as we waited FOREVER for our tomatoes and peppers and summer crops to grow and ripen.

Now that we’re into October, we’re having a warm spell and the garden is acting like it’s summer! The tomatoes are all just starting to turn red, the cucumbers and zucchini are still givin’er, the pumpkins and squash are having another growth spurt, and now the green beans are starting on round two after about a month of dormancy!

We’re supposed to be going fishing tomorrow, and I’m wondering if the salmon are a little late this year too...

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Can you imagine how bland and boring our food (and life) would be without spices??⁣

Seriously! We take them for granted nowadays because they’re so readily available in our pantries and on grocery store shelves. But for thousands of years throughout history, spices were coveted, revered and hard to get. For around 1,500 years, spices travelled overland on camelback and horseback on the Silk Road from China to the west. And then, just over 500 years ago, explorers set out into the unknown to find a maritime trading route, and one of those explorers just so happened to stumble on the Americas along the way, essentially shaping history and the modern world as we know it. ⁣

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So if you’re already subscribed, be sure to check your inbox for the latest issue (it came out yesterday). And if you’re NOT yet subscribed, then head on over and click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe for FREE, and get the latest issue delivered straight to your inbox!⁣

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In the garden, some plants are dead or dying. There’s brown, crispy stems, dried pea pods bursting with next year’s seeds and a natural layer of mulch in the form of fallen leaves. But at the same time there’s still so much life. So much greenery and colour. So much of summer still left.⁣

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But this year our return to our “normal” fall routines is anything but. For many families, there is no return to school. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Instead, more families than ever before have found themselves educating their children at home for the first time, whether by force or by choice. And trying to balance all of the usual September tasks with navigating full-time homeschooling can feel daunting, to say the least.⁣

I know we can all use as much help and expert advice as we can get at this time, so I’m honoured to have Ginny Aaron, a full-time homeschooling, homesteading mom of three sharing her wisdom on the blog this week. She’s generously shared her best tips for incorporating homeschooling with your existing routine and finding the teachable moments in the every day so that you don’t need to uproot your life or find another 7 hours in your day to recreate a classroom environment at home.⁣

I just love Ginny’s approach to homeschooling and if you’re anything like me, I think you will too. You can check out her full post by clicking the link in my bio or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homeschooling-on-the-homestead/

It’s also Ginny's first time guest posting so be sure to leave a comment while you’re there and let us know what school looks like for your family this year.⁣

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead
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I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders lately. Between balancing work and the garden and all of the canning and preserving tasks this time of year, I’ve already got enough on my plate. Add a string of social commitments, back-to-school and extracurricular activities, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure, as I usually do this time of year.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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But lump on a pandemic, worsening political tensions, division and civil unrest, intensifying environmental disasters (we’re currently socked in with smoke from the California wildfires), and it all just becomes too much to bear some days.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I know I’m far from the only one who’s feeling this way. And yet, we all have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going even when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and burnt out. Even when the present is frightening and the future is uncertain.⁣

I’ve developed some strategies over the past few years that have helped me keep moving forward and get things done even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, and I want to share them with others who need help coping with stress and overwhelm right now too.⁣⁣
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You can check out my list of 10 tips for managing stress and overwhelm on the homestead (and in life!) by clicking the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and then clicking the link to the full blog post at the top.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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You can also grab my free time management planner by clicking the link in my bio and then clicking on “Free Resource Library,” (find it under “Homesteading & Self-Sufficiency Resources” in the library).⁣⁣⁣
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No matter what you’re struggling with right now, I hope some of these tips help keep you navigate these extra stressful times and stay focused and moving forward with your to-do list, as well as with your big goals and dreams. But most of all, I hope it reminds you that if you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read more.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
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I don’t think I have a jar big enough for this pickling cucumber 🥒 ⁣

What do you do with the huge pickling cukes that inevitably get missed in the garden??⁣

Please leave suggestions below! I’ve got two of ‘em! 😂
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#humanswhogrowfood #homesteadersofinstagram #mypickleisbiggerthanyours
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Late summer is truly the time of abundance (and by far the busiest time of year for us).⁣⁣⁣
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We’ve got so much food that’s ripe for the picking in our own garden, plus baskets full of produce that we purchase locally when it’s in season and preserve for the winter.⁣⁣⁣
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Between harvesting and preserving (and trying my best to document it all for you along the way), there’s little time for much else in August.⁣⁣⁣
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We’re busy sweating in the garden and the kitchen, working around the clock to preserve all of the fruits (and vegetables) of summer so that come winter we hunker down and relax knowing we’ve got a pantry full of food to sustain us.⁣⁣⁣
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While there have been more times than I like to admit when I’ve asked myself why we do this when we could be at the beach or floating down the river like everyone else, come winter I am ALWAYS grateful for the time and energy we invested in the spring, summer and fall to grow and preserve all of the food that lines our pantry shelves.⁣⁣⁣
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With everything that 2020 has brought so far (and more uncertainty to come), this year I’m feeling grateful even in the thick of it; Even while I’m sweating and pulling late night canning sessions and constantly scraping dirt out from under my nails. This year it’s more apparent than ever how much growing and preserving our own food is worth the time and effort that it takes.⁣⁣⁣
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If you feel the same way and you’re looking to get even better at gardening, preserving and homesteading in general, or maybe you’re finally ready to start living a more sustainable lifestyle where YOU have control over your food supply, I highly encourage you to check out the Gardening & Sustainable Living Bundle (link in bio @thehouseandhomestead). It’s packed with almost $600 worth of resources designed to help you take control of your food security and live a more self-sufficient life, and it’s on sale today only for just $19.99!⁣

If you ask me, we would all be wise to invest in our own food security as we head into fall and winter 2020, so click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab your bundle now. The sale ends tonight at midnight so don’t wait!!
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