A task reserved for only those flawlessly organized and pulled-together?
If so, you better prepare yourself for this – wait for it – canning is so easy and even (dare we say it?) downright fun.
Everything tastes sweeter when it’s had the chance to ripen under the summer sun. While true, it’s less than pleasant to find yourself up to your ears in zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers.
A flourishing garden may provide a welcome bounty of food, but sometimes we just can’t eat it fast enough! Don’t let those fresh flavors go to waste: home canning is a wonderful way to preserve your favorite summer veggies.
Benefits of Home Canning vs Buying Commercially Canned Foods
Store-bought canned goods are often loaded with preservatives. DIY canning ensures you enjoy the most nutritious produce all year long.
Another downside to buying canned food in stores? They are expensive!
For a frugal Summer, stock up on jars and jars of homemade canned vegetables at a fraction of the price.
Supplies Needed to Get Started Canning
You will need:
A pressure canner with canning rack
Quart or pint canning jars
Enough vegetables to fill your jars
A jar lifter for retrieving hot jars
A pressure canning recipe for your vegetable of choice
Table or canning salt (optional)
A canning funnel (optional)
How to Can Vegetables at Home
1. Clean your pressure canner with a quick swipe of vinegar and inspect it
Pay special attention to the pressure gauge. If it has been dropped, cracked, or submerged in water, it might not be accurate.
Your local agricultural extension office can test it for you.
2. Wash and inspect jars, lids, and rings
Unlike with water bath canning, you don’t have to sterilize your jars before you pressure can.
Fill your jars with hot water to keep them warm and set them aside.
Filling a cold jar with hot canning material can cause jars to shatter.
3. Add water and rack to your pressure canner
This step varies based on the canner. Follow your own canner’s directions.
4. Put canner on stovetop over low heat to get water started while you fill jars
5. Prepare your vegetables according to your recipe
Most pressure canners come with recipes, but you can also find instructions online or in books on canning available at Amazon.
6. Empty the warm water from your jars and fill them with vegetables
Always allow at least one-inch of “head space,” the empty space between the top of your canning materials and the jar opening, to allow for expansion.
Use a non-metallic spatula to eliminate air bubbles and wipe the jar edges clean.
7. Put lids on your jars
Make sure the sealing compound, which is usually an orange, slightly tacky ring around the inner edge of your lids, is facing down.
Then screw on the lid rings.
8. Place your jars in the canner on the rack
Make sure your canner’s lid vent pipe is open before closing up your pressure canner.
9. Process your jars according to the canner’s instructions
Be mindful of adjustments needed for high altitudes.
10. When processing is complete: move canner away from hot burner
Wait for pressure to drop.
This can take an hour or more.
Afterward, open the pressure regulator and vent.
Allow your canner to cool another 10 minutes before opening it carefully.
11. Use jar lifter to remove jars from canner
Place them away from drafts to cool.
Make sure not to tilt them.
This can take up to 12 hours.
When they have cooled completely, check the jar seal.
The tops of your lids should be sucked downward and not click when pressed.
Any unsealed jars should be stored in the fridge and eaten immediately.
12. Label your jars and enjoy
Canned foods will stay tasty for a year or two and remain safe even longer. Always check your seals before eating.
You might be familiar with traditional water bath canning.
While it is great for fruits, it’s no good for veggies.
High-acid foods will kill most bacteria, but vegetables are low-acid foods.
To can low-acid foods safely, you’ll need a pressure canner:
Pressure canners heat food to 240-degrees Fahrenheit, destroying bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
They’re easy to use, but be sure to read their instructions and safety information.
A Note About Salt
Salt isn’t necessary for safe home canning, though it will preserve your food’s fresh flavor.
Table salt will work fine, but canning salt keeps your food’s color bright.
With home canning, you can hang onto those feel-good summer vibes all year long.
This winter, you may not be basking in the sun, but you sure will be soaking up summertime veggie sweetness. For more inspiration, you can check out these canning recipes at Whole Foods.
A solid rotation of healthy crock-pot recipes is every busy cook’s best friend. Let’s be honest, wasting gorgeously perfect summer days slaving away in the kitchen is a serious no-no. Who would you rather be … isolated, loner chef or summer’s most social butterfly?
Okay, okay, we might be exaggerating a bit. The point is, a crock-pot is your solution to cooking delish meals while never missing a moment in the sun. We have 6 reasons this handy cooking device is a worthy kitchen sidekick.
Preparing for a classy garden party, but your friends relentlessly insist you join them at the beach? Stop being stubborn already and ditch the apron!
With these healthy crock-pot meals, you can quite literally toss in all ingredients and walk away.
Easy-Peasy, Healthy Crock-Pot Recipes
1. Pulled Pork
Mmmm, pulled pork. You have GOT to try this!
Rub about 4 pounds of pork roast with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little brown sugar. Add chili powder for a kick!
Chop 2 onions and place around the roast.
Options for cooking liquid:
Can of dark beer poured onto the roast will result in a nice traditional flavor.
Can of pineapple juice can be substituted for a fruity Hawaiian taste.
Cup of apple cider vinegar can be used for a tart taste.
Cook everything on low for 6 to 7 hours.
Use a fork to shred the meat and remove any bones.
Mix in your favorite BBQ sauce and let it cook on low for 1 more hour.
Serve your pork on delicious potato rolls. This healthy crock-pot recipe serves 10-12.
2. Chicken Tortilla Soup
When you think of chicken soup, you may picture frosty, stormy nights and a cold (perhaps runny) nose. Hear this: chicken soup is not limited to winter meals and sick-day sipping. Add a twist of lime, wedge of avocado, and dollop of sour cream for an instant summer soup hit!
Place 2-3 chopped chicken breasts into the crock-pot. Add chopped green chile, a can of beans, corn kernels, chopped tomato, onion, garlic, and a pinch of your favorite spices.
Pour 2 cups of chicken broth and 1 cup of water on top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.
Squeeze at least 2 large limes into the soup and add a handful of cilantro.
To serve, pour into a bowl over tortilla chips. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top.
Sliced avocado and a big spoonful of sour cream served as garnish completes the meal. This simple & healthy crock-pot soup serves 4-5 people.
3. BBQ Ribs
This recipe is ridiculously easy. Other than utter laziness, you have no excuse to skip it.
Rub down the 3-4 pounds of ribs with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little chili sauce.
Place in the crock-pot with about 1/2 cup of dark beer.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Cover the ribs in barbecue sauce and bake at 350 degrees for just long enough that the sauce starts to caramelize. This healthy crock-pot meal serves 6-7 people.
4. Mac and Cheese
If you don’t love Mac and Cheese, there’s probably something wrong with you. This all-time favorite is virtually painless to prepare.
Coat the crock- pot in non-stick spray.
Mix 3 cups of milk with 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
Add 1 beaten egg. Season everything with salt, pepper and paprika.
Pour this over 1 box of macaroni in the crock-pot and add a tad more cheese on top.
Cook on low for 4 hours.
5. Healthy Crock Pot Oatmeal Recipe: Loaded Berries
A tangy breakfast treat that is so simple to complete. Try cooking it overnight for a quick breakfast the morning of that camping trip. Delicious and healthy crock pot breakfast recipes can be a pain to find, but this one is a winner every time.
Pour 2 cups of steel-cut oatmeal into the crock-pot.
Add 6 cups of water and a pinch of salt, as well as a ½ cup of brown sugar.
Try a pinch of cinnamon for extra sweetness.
Stir well and let cook on low for 8 hours.
Before serving, stir in about a ½ cup of whole milk and top with a healthy portion of seasonal berries.
Then there is the beloved chili bowl. This ever-popular crock pot healthy dinner is a picnic food classic!
Add 2 pounds of ground beef to 2 cans of tomato sauce in a crock-pot.
Chop up a large onion, a bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic. Add them to the pot, along with 2 cans of your favorite beans.
Pour a ½ cup of water or broth on top. Season everything with a mixture of salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, and cumin.
Stir well and let cook on low for at least 8 hours.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese on top. This will easily serve 8-10 people.
TIP: Find crock-pots at Sears, Walmart, and Macy’s. Some suppliers, such as Amazon, will even deliver fresh ingredients to your doorstep!
Make these healthy crock-pot recipes a summer staple!
We might just make these dishes the only meals we prepare all summer. Berry oatmeal for breakfast, chili at the company picnic, and BBQ ribs for the 4th of July party! Done. This season, these scrumptiously healthy crock-pot meals will ensure you never waste a day indoors. You can find more healthy crock pot recipes and tips at Whole Foods or on these Pinterest recipes.