Tips on canning and preserving summer fruits and vegetables from A Way to Garden

WPA canning posterDid you grow your own fruits and vegetables this year? Or, are you finding lots of great looking fruits and vegetables at great prices at local farmstands or the grocery? If so, it’s time to start putting up the harvest. My friend Margaret Roach, author the blog A Way to Garden, has been testing freezing and canning methods for some 20 years. She’s very practical and has gathered all her tried and true tips and recipes galore. Here is a round up of some favorite — and timely advice — from her archives:

Of course, Margaret’s blog is a feast for the eyes, as well. Even if you don’t grow stuff, it’s fun to look at all the HEALTHY food. Put down those donuts, peoples (okay, you can have one, it’s Saturday morning) — but eat your vegetables later, okay! Thank you, Margaret — nom nom nom.


  1. Chutti says:

    Awwww! I love all the family stories about canning. I agree-how many times can you make memories, then mail them out and taste them later??
    Railroad Jelly! We call our blackberry one “cemetary berry”.
    Yes….using grandma’s tools. It’s mostly her rolling pin that gets me misty.
    But we always think of hubby’s mom when we put up whole fruits.

    The best was your dad-“this one’s too good”!

    This. This is exactly why we do it!

    1. pam kueber says:

      I love it: Cemetery Berry! I want to hear more stories and names like this. I bet my mom has some… Thanks, Chutti!

  2. Sara of WA says:

    Best thing I’ve ever canned was blackberry syrup. Have a juice bag and a recipe from my mom. Paused after the first bite and called the friend who made it with me. We agreed it was one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. Gave to a few select people for Chistmas. Worst thing I ever canned: catsup. Don’t bother! After days in the crockpot on the covered patio it still wasn’t so good. Used it as a BBQ sauce base. Some might remember the canned goods shelves in my rustic kitchen. Canning is such a bonding & satisfying experience. Done with a friend or family member it will be a loving memory forever. My dad canned too. He would show me a really big cherry and tell me, with a twinkle in his eye, that “this one is just not good enough to can”, and the cherry would disappear into his happy mouth. Good times. By the way, a little factoid from my home ec teacher/big sister. The tip of the green bean should be left on as it has more vitamins than the rest of the bean. Most people break off both ends – just the end it was hooked to the plant with is all you need. Happy canning!!!

  3. Nina462 says:

    My yard came with black berry bushes so I have made black berry jam for a few years now. This year I’ve put in rhubarb and blue berry bushes & discovered a gooseberry bush – that I will tend with loving care to hopefully produce more berries next year. My grand parents were the caretakers of the Ball estate in Leland, MI –
    I learned to can at an early age – but haven’t done much, other that jams lately. This year (Friday, in fact) I plan on canning MI peaches & will do tomatoes in a few weeks. I live in an area with many little farmstands – since I don’t really have a green thumb, I do pay my neighbors for their produce.

  4. JKaye says:

    Thanks for the link to a fascinating gardening blog. I got my interest in gardening and canning from my grandma. At 98, she no longer has a garden and can’t manage the rigors of canning, but she still makes things like refrigerator pickles and freezer jellies with produce given to her by relatives. It gives her so much satisfaction to share it. She makes elderberry jelly, which she calls railroad jelly, because the berries used often have been gathered from bushes growing along railroad tracks. My favorite thing to put up is persimmons, the ones that are native to Kentucky (diospyros virginiana). I put the fruits through my grandma’s old food mill to get the seeds out, and then I freeze the pulp. I use it to make cookies, cakes, and pies. It tastes like a blend of pumpkins and peaches.

    1. pam kueber says:

      What a wonderful story – especially about the “railroad jelly”, JKaye, I remember well the persimmon bread you served to me and my sister Jenni when we came to visit you. What a treat that was! xoxo

  5. Chutti says:

    Wow! What a great blog and resource!
    We’re pretty deep into native gardening here, but we do what we can to grow/eat edible natives. Our new house has 30+ rosebushes, so before I freecycle some, I am taking advantage of all those rose hips for jam, tea and more.

    We also do ethical wildcrafting, where we preserve wild fruits and edibles. Actually off on a jaunt to pick berries later today.

    A friend gave me a great book- The Neighborhood Forager- about scavenging in town. It’s a really fun thing to do.

    Our all time favorite is Elderberry Jelly…..we make enough to last all winter.
    Also planning on picking blackberries in the culvert at the cemetary, and have our eyes on some wild plums behind a golf course.

    Try Craigslist for jars if you don’t have any. And old 4-H kid that I am, I have to give a plug for support from your local Cooperative Extension or Ag Extension. There are great local resources to supplement the USDA stuff. Sometimes even classes.

    We’re totally amused that canning/preserving is trendy now. We love it, partly cause we’re cheep, but also cause nothing ever tastes as good.

    Thanks for sharing this….so timely and inspring!

  6. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the link! I will definitely check-out Margaret’s blog. We are growing green beans, tomatoes, corn and peppers this year. My tomatoes are all ripening at once, so I’m going to have to make sauce again, although I use the freezer method. I need to get brave and try canning.

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