Canning for beginners

Yup, that's me. A canning novice. I embarked on my first canning project using this easy and tasty apricot butter recipe from (A fun site, by the way, which includes instructions for hosting a "preservation party" with a recommended music playlist that made me laugh. Check out their printable jar labels, too.)

When I set out to make jam, I assumed you simply boil a little fruit and a ton of sugar in a pan and dump it into jars—the end. Not so! You have to boil those jars of jam in something called a "water bath canner." What the?! I was not in the mood to spend $30+ on a giant pot that won't fit in my cupboard, so I did some research. What I learned*:

This article is very helpful and details the canning process.
• A box of twelve 8 oz. jelly jars and lids is about $10. I got mine at Ace Hardware.
• I didn't buy a special jar lifter; I used my regular kitchen tongs.
• I didn't buy a canning funnel; I used a ladle.
• I didn't buy a water bath canner; I used my stock pot with a washcloth on the bottom to keep the jars off the direct heat from the burner and to keep them from jostling around. You could also put a wire cooling rack in the bottom if your pot is big enough. Just make sure you're able to cover the tops of your jars with boiling water.
• After boiling your jars for the correct time (see your jam recipe) and removing them from the water bath, the lids will still be in the popped-up position. As the jars cool over the next several hours, the lids will indent, often with a pinging sound which is very exciting.

*I'm no canning expert; I'm just telling you what I did to make small jars of jam. If you plan to can something else, do read the article above because different rules may apply.

Oh, and I forgot the most important part. Make your jars look cute! I used fabric scraps, baker's twine, and made my own jar labels for gift giving. Printable PDFs you can download are available in this post.

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