healthy living

My First Canning Experience

By: Cyndi Ball  |   January 10, 2024

My newborn was nestled into her make-shift bed on the kitchen floor.  My two-year-old had just been toddled up to her bed for an afternoon nap.  Now it was my turn to address the boxes of WA state deliciousness – freshly picked, perfectly ripened, peaches.

I’d been given step by step instructions from a dear, older friend, who’d been canning for years.  The canning skill was not part of my heritage, and this was my first attempt.  I may have been a little overzealous about this endeavor, clearly notated by the mounds of peaches on the kitchen counter.

I’d seen those pictures of pantry shelves lined with glass jars full of homegrown or local fruit and vegetables.  I was determined to make this happen in the next hour and a half while my children slept.

Rinse the peaches and sterilize the lids for the jars – check.  Remove the skins from the peaches.  I pulled out my peeler and began removing the skins.  Not long into the process, I began cursing the fact I had purchased so many peaches.  This was taking forever, and my newborn was beginning to stir, indicating another feeding was imminent.  Found out later, the instruction of placing the peaches in very hot water for a few minutes to remove the skin had been inadvertently omitted from my verbal instructions.

Finally, I had enough peaches peeled for a couple of quart jars.  Sugar syrup was simmering on the back of the stove, the lids were, by now, sitting in lukewarm water, towels were properly adorning the kitchen counters to keep the mess to a minimum, and the water bath canner was bubbling appropriately – the water waiting for the arrival of the fully packed peach jars.

Slices were meticulously cut and stuffed into each jar.  Sugar syrup was carefully ladled into each jar filling the spaces around the peaches, a knife inserted to assure every crevice was filled with sweet liquid. 

Lids were checked to test the tightness and then carefully lowered into the hot water with canning jar tongs.  I was so close to the finish of this, now known, massive undertaking and soon I would realize my dream of bejeweled pantry shelves with glistening “peach” colored quart jars. 

Just as I reached my hand to turn the stove nob to accelerate the heat to accomplish the roiling boil, all the lights in the house went out.

“Are you kidding me??!  It’s July and there’s not a cloud in the sky!”

I stood there, not knowing quite what to do with the jars in the canner.  My spirits plummeted to defeat. My newborn began fussing as my toddler descended the stairs with her sweet, sleep lined, face, curious to know what I was doing.

Eventually, the electricity came on, the jars were re-immersed in boiling water, and my toddler and I savored the sweet juicy goodness of perfectly ripe, WA state peaches.  Oh, and a day or two later, my pantry shelf was indeed decorated with beautifully canned peaches!

For those of you reading this and thinking, “there is no way I’m going to try this canning ‘thing’”, I need to remind you, this was the year 1990, before the introduction of google and YouTube!  Nowadays, there are all kinds of resources to help you get started.

And the best place to go for your needed supplies?  Roots & Harvest!  The quality of their canning jars is unsurpassed these days.  While other well-known jar companies are beginning to skimp on quality, Roots & Harvest is improving on quality. I highly recommend their canning kit for a one-purchase, “all you need to get started”, package deal. Roots & Harvest made all the best decisions for the tools you need to start your canning adventure, all you need to do is purchase them and use them!

I hope after hearing this story you feel one step closer to achieving your canning dreams, having your pantry shelves lined with jars of food, and feeling the incredible satisfaction of providing for your family!