40 Preserving Links: Beginner tips, pro tricks and canning with honey

During the month of July, I go through more apron changes than any other time of the year. Every canning project, large or small, begins with me wrapping this necessary splatter shield around my waist before I begin prepping the produce and cooking it down.

Although spring produce such as strawberries, asparagus and rhubarb are still at their peak in my area, the mid-summer contenders are not far off.  I’ve began tucking in the occasional home preservation project here and there when time permits.

The ramps and asparagus are pickled, strawberries are jammed and rhubarb has been cooked down to compote and frozen in jars. It feels really, really rewarding, as I’ve shared before.

It’s time to rev our engines for the start of the canning season, then settle into cruise control until September. Whether you are an expert or a novice canner, you can benefit from these resources I’ve gathered on the topic.

New to home canning? Start off here.

We published our Canning 101 tutorial back in the early days of the blog, and I am still referring beginners to the post to read before they get started. It’s a solid breakdown of equipment and the process of canning.

Over at Food in Jars, Marisa has just launched a new six-week series called New to Canning? Start Here, which is sure to be an amazing resource. Her first post, Equipment, is up, and a prime example of Marisa’s clear voice and helpful photographs.

If you’ve got some time to read, check out:

Gear up

My enamel caning pot is never put away over the summer and boxes of jars are stacked up in every kitchen corner. I keep a drawer filled with fresh clean tea towels, as well as plenty of scrubbed metal rings for jars on hand. I purchase my pectin new every year, as well as metal flat lids, as they should only be used once. It’s important to get your gear in order before your purchase or pick any fruit.

Canning doesn’t take an expensive All-Clad pot and trendy colored jars. Here’s a look at basic tools from three different canners:

Cannin tips and recipes on simplebites.net

Decide what to make

Start the season with a practical assessment of what you will eat. This is the first step in getting your act together for the canning season.

Try and think realistically about what you can accomplish. Take a good look at your list. These should be your ‘Must Have’ items. If you feel like you will be able to fit them in, add one or two new recipes or techniques that you’ve been wanting to try.

Photographed above is a sampling of home preserves I currently have in my pantry. Those preserves were photographed yesterday and feature many of our ‘must haves’, minus tomatoes, which are not in season yet. Remember, everyone’s favorites are going to be different.

Here are my go to recipes for the preserves above:

Pro Tips: learning from the experts

I read some pretty fantastic blogs and websites on home preservation and they never fail to inspire me, season after season.

July is canning month on www.simplebites.net

Canning with honey

Here at Simple Bites, we’re working toward canning without refined sugar and have featured a handful of solid recipes using honey as a sweetener. Apricot Lavender Butter, Honey Strawberry Jam and Canned Apricots in Honey Syrup are all good examples, and I’m working on a few more for my upcoming cookbook Brown Eggs and Jam Jars.

For now, here are a few recipes you can put to use this summer featuring honey as the main sweetener.

Books are the best resource

No matter how many recipes I try from blogs and websites, my very favorite way to expand my canning repertoire is still through a cookbook. It may be my tattered family cookbook, with pickle recipes written in my mother’s beautiful script, or the latest hot-off-the-press canning guide. Here are some favorite titles:

Do you have a home canning question? Let’s discuss!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. Great canning tips, Aimee! And I love the idea of using honey!

  2. Such a GREAT reference post for the art of canning. Thanks girl!

  3. What a great roundup! Canning is on my summer bucket list this year and this will be so helpful as I give it a try. Thanks!

  4. Josefa Vivolo says

    That’s big collection, useful of course 🙂

  5. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    I’m excited to try preserving with honey! I bet it’s delicious.

  6. awesome canning tips! i’ve been meaning to start canning but haven’t yet and these tips & tricks are perfect!

  7. Love that this post just popped up on FB. I’ve been searching for info on how to substitute honey for sugar in pickles, is it just a to taste kind of thing or is there a safety concern? And what’s a general rule of thumb (if there is one) for a ratio of honey to sugar?


    • I haven’t completed any pickling projects with honey instead of sugar yet, Judy. I DO use organic raw cane sugar though, and that can be substituted one-for-one for granulated sugar.

  8. I need this post! We planted a huge garden this year and I hope to do some canning!

  9. Such awesome canning tips!!

  10. Must be a great day for canning. I plan on making blueberry-lime jam this afternoon. Yum!

    • Sounds like a killer combo, Melissa. Happy canning! I’ve got a classic strawberry-rhubarb jam in the works. If the baby ever naps, that is!

  11. iHeartQuilting says

    Tis the season! I made pickles yesterday. One thing I learned (the hard way), is that towels were not enough to put my processed jars on to cool. I realized after the fact that my hot jars had taken the finish off of my kitchen table ! So after that mistake, I now use an old board covered in a towel for added protection for the table. The rings are a lot less visible now that time has passed, lol. My goal this summer is to tackle the pressure canner I bought, that I haven’t used yet.

  12. I’ve dabbled in some canning, but always get nervous about how to use the weck jars I’ve got as most recipes assume you have regular ball jars. Biggest lesson learned: You have to be brave when canning!

  13. I see your honey experiments have the same results as my agave jams… not so good staying power 🙁 BOOOO so tasty though!

  14. Awesome round-up! I’m going to show the ropes of canning to a friend who’s just learning to cook this weekend and will direct her here to give her more confidence to try it on her own.

  15. Love all of these resources!! I’ve made it a goal to preserve more this year, I guess it’s time I get started!

  16. I am always a bit overwhelmed by the process. But this roundup just gives a insight into canning with details.
    Love all the pics.

  17. I love the idea of canning with honey! Great tips and tricks – so useful for a beginner like me.

  18. What great tips! I need to start canning!! Love this 🙂

  19. Such terrific tips! Thanks Aimee 🙂

  20. This is amazing- I am always so intimidated by canning, but these are great tricks!

  21. Aimée,
    I’ve got a pile of Ball and Mason jars accumulating on the counter top. Usually, as I empty a jar, I take it downstairs to the basement to my canning supplies boxes. Nowadays, though, it seems kinda pointless since I’ll just be bringing them all back up.

    We are most anticipating pickles, as we really fell in love with refrigerator kosher dills last year.

  22. Invaluable tips, Aimee! Although I grew up in a home where Mom did this ever summer, besides skimming the top of the blackberry or raspberry jam bubbling on the stove, I’m sad to say, I never did more – and still haven’t canned at home yet! The smell in the house, alone, is worth it! Thanks for the inspiration – I will add that to my list! Now only if my kitchen was ready…

  23. I’ve been using honey to make jams and bake for awhile now. I love the Pomona’s Pectin because I can use honey with just about any jam. However, I want to make marionberry syrup with honey instead of sugar and I haven’t been able to figure out if it is possible. Also, can you can peaches/pears etc. using a honey syrup instead of a sugar syrup? I’m not a novice canner, just looking for some guidance on sugar vs. honey in canning because sugar causes me some real problems when I eat it. Thanks!

  24. I love your picture of all the canned items in your pantry. Canning is one of my favorite activities during the summer. I am headed to the lake for two weeks and hope to bring home many treasures that will last throughout the year. I am very interested in trying to can without refined sugar this summer as well. Hope this note finds you well, KC

  25. Thank you so much for this. Next year I plan to go semi self sufficient and have been wanted to find ways to preserve the food I grow. I’ve done some drying before but that always seems to completely change the flavor of stuff, so it’s only good for certain veg, tomatoes for example. The the only that scares me about canning is me messing things up and getting botulism or something! *Touches wood*.

  26. The Ball Blue Book should have been your first recommendation. Ball literally wrote the book on how to can. It is the reference “bible”.

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