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The best way to learn something is practice. I have been practicing my new hobby, canning, a lot! The more I can, the easier it gets. I decided to try canning because I am a horrible cook, but good baker, so I thought this would be somewhere in the middle. I also get something I need out of it: holiday gifts. I am not a fan of the big box $19.99 holiday craze. I prefer thoughtful, handmade gifts that don’t break the bank since the holiday list get longer every year. The reason my list get longer is because I make it a point to give something to the people I see everyday that might not expect it, for example the coffee guys. Jam and other canned items fit the bill perfect!

I learned how to can from one book, Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. It is very easy to follow and has great recipes like the Apricot Jam recipe. I have made more than a few recipes and they have been a hit each time. My mom sent me her 1974 vintage canning recipe book which I also like. Some of the recipes are crazy, calling for 18 pounds of sugar (has to be a typo). You can tell the ladies who wrote that book were not messing around, they said that too much skimming was ‘wasteful’. I had better lay off my OCD skimming.

Here are some beginners lessons I learned:

– do not double recipes, they will never cook

– fruit and sugar will burn the bottom of the pot, stir constantly

– make up extra jars but wait to do extra lids until you are sure you will need them

– clean up as you go or your kitchen will never forgive you, or your husband

– you can pick up tips from blogs like Small MeasureFood In Jars and Wooden Spoon

– if you are in NYC, you can order canning supplies at the Ace Hardware on 21st and Broadway

The last item about ordering canning supplies in NYC is no joke. I couldn’t find supplies anywhere downtown and picked up four cases of jars while visiting my family in Maryland. I also picked up some jars at yard sales which was very economical.

I have a whole list of items I would like to make before the holiday season to share with friends and family, and the coffee guys. So I had better do something with the 17 pounds of apples we just picked!

Chutney anyone?

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