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. jan says:

    Watermelon….yeppers….When I get a crop of those luscious babies, I take the juice left over from cutting slices, freeze them for use later on in the winter for drinks. Especially nice is adding the watermelon juice to OJ or other fruite juices and then adding coconut milk and coconut rum if desired. A little bit of summertime in Winter.

  2. Nancy Bailey says:

    I love to freeze my garden fresh basil tomato bisque in canning jars, as it’s so easy to thaw, heat and pour. For traditional canning, our favorite winter staple would be the pears (mostly Bartlett) we can after harvest. Slightly warmed with vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of brown sugar. Yum!! I would love these Weck jars! What a beautiful container for garden produce. It’s a win-win.

  3. katrina says:

    Pesto! I’m glad you brought this up, because I stare at those ziplock bags and think it’s not a good way to go. But it’s a difficult decision, because I freeze little bags of herbs and halves of fresh organic peppers, and a bag simply for adding to my twice a week omelet or frittata – bits of celery, fresh dill, odds and ends of carrots. But mostly, in January, I kick myself for not ever having enough pesto.

  4. Gayla Meade Templeton says:

    I guess I’d better hurry this in. I’m thinking all the canning I’ll get done this 1st year here will come from the farmer’s market. I’ve been thinking today that I might offer some youngsters lessons on how to cook on the cheap since groceries have become so valuable. I know I’ll be making jams and jellies as they are so much fun and oh, so easy.

  5. Gayla Meade Templeton says:

    Well, no need to hurry when my clock says 11:59 pm and yours says 12:59 am on the 30th. How strange! See, I should be in bed.

  6. Peg Lotvin says:

    Too late for your giveaway……spending too (way) much time in the garden planting, weeding and suddenly harvesting all at the same time. Thanks though for the link to the people who sell those lovely jars. Crab apple jelly from my Mom’s 100 year old, plus crab apple tree will look just beautiful in them. My 91 year old Mom actually lives near you, in Ghent.

  7. Sonja Dewey says:

    Gosh,these jars are beautiful. They would be very nice to own. My canned tomatoes would look wonderful in these jars. Count me in for a chance to own a few of these jars.
    Thank you,

  8. Margaret says:

    ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED — though you are welcome to continue to tell us more of your canning stories — and the four winners will be notified by email to claim their prizes.

    Thank you all for this astonishing outpouring of information and ideas. Lest there be any doubt that “putting food up” is back in style, your comments are the evidence that there is enormous interest.

  9. Hi. I am new at gardening, harvesting, putting away. Last year was my first successful veggie garden, then I was in a bad crash and was lucky to get away with only the injures I had. However, with a severely shattered & dislocated wrist and the other wrist sprained I didn’t harvest anything other than the bits I had eaten pre-crash. This year I planted spinach and since it is already going to seed, I plan to pick what I haven’t already eaten and freeze it in the next couple days. I also plan to harvest and save the seeds. Lettuce and Kale are also up and I eat them fresh from the garden. I am in the process of planting other things as well. I’ll be back to let you know more later. :o)

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Alice. Glad you are back in the garden after your tough time! Spinach here, too…hopefully other things if the chipmunks stop digging!

  10. sally in the mitten says:

    Love you web site and refer to it for many tips. this is my first year to add garlic to
    my garden and you have helped tremendously with your pictures and advice. So
    happy I saw you on Martha’s show this past spring!!!! One question: can one freeze
    in regular mason jars? I believe I read somewhere where the quarts (side-mouth)
    are fine, but the pint jars will not hold up in the cold. Would love to hear what your
    experience has been! Also, please consider my name “in” for the free jars! I love
    their design…..


    1. Margaret says:

      Yes, Sally, you can freeze in Mason jars if you leave lots of headroom for expansion (I cover with plastic wrap, not a tight lid, until they freeze). Widemouth jars, NOT the smaller ones with “shoulders” that the expanding food will push up against, are much better/more reliable. So the straight pints will be fine…but the round little squat jars might be harder.

  11. mary caplinger says:

    Berries, berries, berries – all I can manage to put up – home grown, wild and from Farmers’ markets! Blackberries, strawberries, blueberries – making of jams, cobblers and yummies at all off times! NEED MORE JARS!!! Thanks for the giveaway offer!

  12. Kay Jordan says:

    Count me in! I love to can whatever is ready for the jars! Vegie soup-green beans-peas-tomatoe juice-squash-pickles-beets-greens-peaches-pears and jelly. I have been canning since I was 11 years old by myself! Love it!

  13. Jenny says:

    This year is odd, having declared that I would not be putting up this year, putting up being one step too far as I plant up my parents’ garden for one last season, now that they are gone and while I’m still dispersing the stuff of their lives. Relented a bit by stuffing some sour cherries into a milk bottle and raspberries into another (with the plan to take the bottles back to Ireland at the end of the year), then topped them up with a bit of sugar, some elderberry cordial, and a good goose of vodka and poteen (Irish moonshine).

    Now that I am back in Ireland for a month – our produce limited to onions and garlic planted last fall before everything went pear-shaped – and a few volunteer potatoes, but glorious strawberries… gazing at a freezer full of veg put up last summer, jars of jam from 2 and 3 years passed… MIgrant life is great until we feel overly uprooted. Well, you got me with the weck jars… which I obtained from Holland a few years back but not without so much hassle that the company no longer ships to Ireland ….

    I would put up beets with dill and red onions, and bread and butter cucumber pickles, might even try some beans with thai basil… or some tomato sauce… ratatouille…all the things that I left growing in Western Mass., to fend for themselves while I am away for the month of August. I pray for rain and sun in alternating doses and worry about my plants. Especially the ratatouille bush. That was a hard one to source.

  14. Dorothy says:

    I have already made red raspberry jam, but the bushes appear to be getting a wonderful fall crop, so I’ll make some more jam, my favorite kind. Maybe this year I’ll have enough red raspberry jam to make some delicious Linzer Tarts!!!

  15. Rae says:

    I just got your email about canning. I have bought small cucumbers for making the pickles you gave us for refrigerator pickles last year, and I have bought a box of 6 Weck jars for freezing. Now I’ll use some for my little pickles because of the jar shape.

  16. Judy from Kansas says:

    Once you have requested that comments be emailed to you, I can’t find a place on the page where I can ask to cancel mailing more comments. Leaving town for awhile and need to cut down on volume in my inbox. Don’t want to cancel my subscription, just stop receiving comments from this post. ???
    Thanks, Margaret – can’t wait to read the blog for three months in balmy Hawai’i.

  17. Anne Larson says:

    I’m posting for my cousin Margaret, an avid vegetable gardener and “putting by-er” who also is a breast cancer survivor. When I shared your posts earlier this year about BPA, she was a bit freaked out, since her cancer was an estrogen-positive type. She has found some lids that work, but I know she would drool over the Weck jars. And if she doesn’t win them, maybe I’ll have to gift her some regardless!

  18. Lo'Vetta says:

    Good morning Dear Margaret….

    I’m a little confused about the date, (month shown above) but you did show the Canning Video in this week’s post and show the Gift of the Jars.

    I would love, love, love, to have some of these jars. Retired, tight budget, wish I had know about these jars in better days… I would have some. But if it’s meant to be, I will! I’ll be making more Green Tomato Relish with the tomato and vegetable junk from the last of the Summer’s Garden. I was so fulfilled by what I canned two weeks ago. Delicious! Nothing like this at the suppermarket…and if there were it would be $10 a jar or more.

    It feels good to be self reliant…. Thank you for all you share. I’m blessed.

  19. Ken Sadler says:

    We serve all kinds of desserts in canning jars as they are a neat departure from conventional vessels. Sugar and honey stored in jars also are cool. Enjoy!

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