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Once you’ve acquired the necessary equipment, canning is a great way to take your gardening to another level. With canning, you can extend the enjoyment of your homegrown fruits and vegetables well into the winter and the next year. There is nothing quite as satisfying as popping open a brand new jar of berry preserves, jelly, salsa, pickles, or relish and knowing that the food you’re putting on your plate was not only prepared and preserved in your home, but with ingredients that grew in your garden. Now, that’s as fresh and as local as you can get!
Getting your gardener started with the basic equipment required for canning is not only a generous and creative gift, but it is a gift that will keep on giving in the long-run. Preservation is a great way to decrease reliance on many canned and jarred ingredients from the grocery store—these ingredients can be pretty expensive in the long term. It also prevents expensive waste in the garden. Considering all of the work and materials purchased to produce those delicious fruits and vegetables, a bumper crop left out to rot is a bummer when it comes to time and money spent. Foods grown and canned at home can be more nutritious than “fresh” vegetables that have been sitting on display for an indeterminate amount of time, and for those concerned with eating organic or non-GMO foods, gardening and canning is the best way to ensure that what goes into your gardener’s stomach follows his or her dietary guidelines or beliefs. Of course, giving the gift of canning also means you can reasonably expect some garden goodies down the road, too.
The most essential tool in the canning arsenal is the waterbath. This is the giant pot your gardener will need to sterilize equipment and boil his or her jars. While a wide and deep stock pot can work with a canning rack, we recommend making sure that he or she has a good quality waterbath made especially for canning to ensure that it will withstand batch after batch, year after year. Our Ball Elite Stainless Steel Waterbath Canner, made by the canning experts at Ball, is made of stainless steel and has a 21-quart capacity for boiling seven quart jars per batch. It comes with a canning rack and a glass lid with steam vents. The handles on either side are silicone-coated to protect the hands. When not being used for canning, your gardener can use this for making soups and creating homemade stocks and sauces.
In addition to a waterbath, or if your gardener already has a suitable canning pot, there are a ton of great canning accessories that will make canning safer and easier, especially for large batches. Your gardener will need a nice canning ladle for filling jars. Our stainless ladle features dual spouts to make pouring easy for right and left-handers, a long handle, and a 1-cup capacity. Our canning jar lifter makes moving jars in and out of hot water much safer—its rim-shaped ends will grip the jar more securely than tongs, and its PVC-coated handles will prevent them from slipping or burning the fingers. A canning funnel with a wide spout will make filling jars fast and mess-free. In our Ball Canning Utensil Set, you’ll find a funnel, jar lifter, and some handy tools for removing bubbles and measuring headspace—a neat little set that makes gifting easy.
Another great addition to your canning gift would be a food mill or chinois. These are used for both grinding fruits and vegetables down to can sauces, like tomato sauce or apple sauce, and for removing seeds, lumps, and skins. Our stainless chinois includes a fine mesh sieve, rubber wood pestle for grinding, and a chrome stand that accommodates pots and bowls between four and ten quarts. The Endurance Food Mill includes three stainless steel disks that will allow your gardener to produce sauces in a variety of thicknesses and textures from coarse to fine.