Once the domain of only grandmas, canning is coming back. In the last three years alone, sales of home canning gear have risen nearly 35% as the popularity of local, seasonal eating has grown.

When pondering what you’d like to can, think about your favorite seasonal foods. What are, for example, your summer favorites? Juicy strawberries? Sun-kissed tomatoes? Also, see what’s abundant and affordable. When peaches are piled high at the farmers’ market, you’re probably looking at a good deal, so stock up.

And canning isn’t limited to summer produce. Hot pepper jam in the fall, citrus curd and marmalade in winter, and pickled asparagus in spring are all fair game. 

There are really only two ways of canning food at home— the boiling-water method and the pressure-canning method. Both methods work pretty much the same. The ingredients are prepared and loaded into jars with special lids that allow steam to escape. The jars are heated, and as they cool, the food contracts and creates an airtight seal that preserves the contents for up to a year. 

The boiling-water method is no doubt the easier way to get started in canning because the equipment you’ll need is minimal, ditto the cost.

You can ease into canning with the Ball Canning Discovery Kit ($12, freshpreservingstore.com), which includes three 1-pint jars, a polypropylene rack with a handle for lowering the jars into hot water, and a beginner’s guide to canning with recipes.

Have a canning tip you’d like to share? Tell us in a comment!

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