canning-jar giveaway, and produce-stashing tips

sagging pantry shelves from FSA 1940
AS I PLANT MY PARSLEY, PICK ASPARAGUS and get ready for tomato transplant time, it gets me thinking about tomorrow (as in “the offseason”) when my Northern garden doesn’t offer up so much food as it will the next few months. No worry, because I am a hoarder—of fresh garden and farmer’s-market produce (though not on sagging shelves like that 1940 Farm Security Administration slide, above!). Plan now to grow, or acquire, enough for extended enjoyment, using my top 17 tips, and maybe using one of two four sets (update: response has been so huge I had to get more!) of six snazzy Weck canning jars (below) that I bought to share with you, too. Feeling lucky?

Details on the giveaway are down at the end, but first, a word about not just canning but also freezing in glass: You may recall that last year, with increasing evidence about how problematic plastic is in contact with foodstuffs, I shifted even more of my storage containers to Ball jars and Pyrex containers and such. This year, I’m investing in getting rid of the rest, so the tips list starts with that subject.

17 Tips for Canning and Freezing


  • Why I’m not just canning, but also freezing in glass: It’s about mounting evidence on the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA). And glass is just great.
  • A year of parsley, in freezer “logs,” or
  • …a year of most any green herbs in green ice cubes (pestos), such as parsley, sage, chives, garlic scapes, rosemary, cilantro…you name it.
  • Frozen whole tomatoes: Why bother with tins from the store? Pop whole ones into bags, jars or freezer boxes; pop some out as needed. (Remember them from this other post?)
  • Tomato junk: What I do with the dregs of the vegetable garden, an all-purpose base to soups, stews, chilis. Waste not…
  • Freezing garlic: Why put up with withering cloves in winter and spring when you can have peak-of-perfection garlic on hand?
  • Frozen peppers: They’re cheap at peak harvest time, pricey in winter, and so easy to freeze. (So is rhubarb, by the way, and asparagus, though that last one wants the quickest blanching first.)
  • Fast broth or stock: Don’t waste your trimmings or less-than-perfect veggies. Make stock.
  • Easy refrigerator pickles: A hand-me-down recipe (and A Way to Garden’s most popular story ever). And an fyi on pickling salt: Why some batches of pickles get too salty; mystery solved. Oh, and you’ll need pickling spice, too.
  • Applesauce? I freeze the year’s worth every fall, and here’s how. Same with love-apple sauce (meaning: tomato sauce!).
  • Baked beans: My recipe is delicious, good for you, and freezes beautifully, so make a double batch.
  • A final tip: With soups, broth, and other liquids, I don’t dilute as much as I would if I were serving immediately. “Concentrated” liquids take up much less freezer space.
  • Or maybe I should have made the final tip say: Make sure you have strong shelving!

1940 FSA canning jar clide

How to Win the Canning Jars

IRESERVED TWO FOUR EXTRA 6-PACK SETS OF WECK JARS from Kaufmann Mercantile to share with you for this giveaway. Most of my jars are basic Ball Mason jars, but I have long coveted some of the Weck beauties, so I indulged. To enter to win, just tell me something delicious that you plan to stash this spring or summer to savor in the offseason–whether in the pantry as pickles or jam, perhaps, or in the freezer or whatever.

You know me–I won’t force you to say anything specific, and your entry will count even if you just say, “Count me in” or “I want to win” in the comments below. But of course I prefer to hear what your “putting foods by” plan for 2011 is.

The seductive Kaufmann Mercantile catalog just stocked up on Weck jars of various sizes and shapes, so if you want to buy some for yourself you can get a $7 credit on your order by registering for their email newsletter (they already offer free shipping on orders over $25). Weck jars can also be had directly from Weck, or from Heath Ceramics, among other places. Each vendor has a slightly different assortment (some in 2’s, others in 6-packs, etc.) and offerings vary as to shipping and so on.

I’ll select two four winners after entries close midnight Sunday, May 29, and each one can pick whether they’d prefer straight-sided jars, or round ones.

(1940 Farm Security Administration photos from the Library of Congress archive. Weck jar photo from Kaufmann Mercantile.)

  1. Carole Clarin says:

    I like the idea of freezing food in glass rather than plastic and have some tomato sauce and soup already in my freezer. I have quite a few ball jars and use them to store grains and beans but have never used them to freeze anything. My last visit to my CSA farm will be Tuesday so I plan to check the blemished tomatoes and any extra veggies for sale to start storing for the winter.

    1. Dan says:

      I Carol, I noticed when freezing in glass jars you have to eat them within a day it will start browning on top of the jar. When you use 1 qt. feezer bags you can open them take what you need.Seal the left over in the nag and seal with all the excess out. Check it out

  2. marcia joslyn says:

    don,t always have time or supplies (or need) for more Pesto so I grind up parsley and/or Basil with garlic,a little salt, and oil then put in small containers to freeze to use to start sauces, soups, hummus.

  3. Sarah Sellers says:

    Blackberries and raspberries – I have been graciously given access to my neighbor’s berry patch and look forward to canning the berries as a gift to them upon their return.
    Thank you!!

  4. Emily Shirley says:

    I live in Louisiana so we are in different zones, but I absolutely love your blog and website and can’t wait to hear what you post next. Just planted the fall garden here — “heat set” tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, onion chives, and more. I have not been canning or putting up much food this year becasue I have been involved with the Master Gardener Program way too much. After the conference I will “get a life.” I plan on ordering some of the canning jars.

  5. D.Lee Sebree says:

    I put flowers and root cuttings in them. I bake mini pies and cakes and put up homemade salsa, to give away. Little ones store leftovers. They have many noncanning uses!

  6. Heather Wright Ojha says:

    I’ve been making batches and batches of pesto with my plethora of basil this summer and freezing it for use all winter! Just put a little extra olive oil on the top and it is good all year!
    We also use canning jars to store all of our dry goods in the pantry….beans, rice, popcorn, bulk spices, you name it!

  7. sarah jane says:

    I love canning jars for storage of all kinds. Mayonaise jar tops are just right for them, and I love the way that you can see what’s in them. So, pantry, refrigerator, bathroom shelf, all good places to use canning jars. (Also, for the little ones, a guessing game, like jelly beans, but use much larger things like small toys)

  8. Lynda Strode says:

    I keep pecan halves in the fridge in glass jars. I also use jars for oatmeal, cornmeal, pasta, beans, quinoa, rice, etc. to keep out weevils.

  9. Cameo says:

    Though the giveaway is long over, I’d like to mention that I’ve ventured into the realm of canning meat, beans, and rendered animal fats. It is *beyond* worth the effort just to have these foods ready at a moment’s notice. :)

  10. Maria C. says:

    I plan to stash my home made baked beans, and my grandmothers recipe for Concord grape jelly. I have a Concord grape vine so it’ll be a huge treat come winter. I also freeze fresh herbs and tomato paste for my homemade pasta sauce.

  11. Shirley F. says:

    Had a lot of herbs last year and after supplying myself and my best friend, still had plenty to freeze. I used Ziploc bags but am trying your ideas. Was great this week after a storm left 14″ of snow on the ground to make soup with left over pot roast and add my own parsley and sage from the freezer.

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