10 Mistakes to Avoid when Canning your Summer Vegetables


I love to can, freeze and preserve my summer garden vegetables. I am definitely no expert but I have been canning for several years and have learned a few things along the way.  Whether you are looking for the best tips for canning tomatoes or want to make honeysuckle jelly, I’ve got some great tips and resources for you! I’ve done each of these things and don’t want you to make the same mistakes I’ve made over the past few years of canning summer vegetables.

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10 Mistakes to Avoid when Canning your Summer Vegetables

Don’t Mix Hot & Cold

Never immerse a glass jar with medium or cool liquid/syrup in the boiling water bath on the stove. Your jar will break and you will have a mess!

Label the Dates

Each summer I make salsa and can tomatoes. Most of the time, the jars get emptied over the winter months. But just in case there are a few that last through the next season, I want to make sure and use the oldest jars first. I sometimes write on my lids since I can’t use them again but other times I will use a label maker to put the date and the contents on each jar.

Watch the timer

Always boil your jelly mixture the full amount of time or you will get a runny syrup! You can reprocess the jelly if it doesn’t set up, but it is a pain and not as effective.

Don’t Skin Cucumbers for Pickles

When making dill pickles, do NOT skin the cucumbers! If you peel them, they will be limp and soggy. The kids may still enjoy eating them but they look like something out of Harry Potter’s world and are not worth keeping.

Use the Right Tools

Some produce and recipes can use a water bath canner but others require a pressure canner. Before you can something new, do your research and make sure you are using the right product.

Check your Equipment Yearly

Pressure canners are to be used with respect. I inherited a pressure canner from my Grandma and it works great but the seal had become loose over the many years of use. Last Christmas we were using it for green beans and had an explosion and a near-miss with scalding green beans. You can and should check your equipment each season to make sure everything is in order. If you need a replacement part, check with the manufacturer and get it repaired before the season begins.

Don’t Reuse Canning Lids

Canning Lids are designed for one-time use and should not be used for additional canning runs. I use them to store other pantry products like beans, rice, or popcorn after they have been cleaned but not for future canning.

Don’t Use Grocery Product Jars

Not all glass jars are created equal. Use only mason jars that are designed for canning. Spaghetti, pickles and mayonnaise-type jars are not safe for canning although they are great for other pantry storage needs.

Print the Recipe

When you find a recipe you like, make sure you keep the recipe. We have a cinnamon pickle recipe that we only make once every few years but I keep a printed copy so I can make it when we are ready.

Don’t Skimp on Sugar in Jelly

There’s ALOT of sugar in traditional jelly. But don’t get creative and try to reduce the sugar in your jelly recipes. If you are concerned with the amount of sugar, do the research and find established recipes that have been proven with low sugar options.

Where to Find Canning Supplies

The initial expense to begin canning can be significant. But if you look in the right places you can cut the cost and get started canning your summer produce.

Check with friends and family.

When I was ready to start canning, my Grandma gave me a hot water canner from her garage. I started asking all my friends and family for canning jars. My friends and relative gave me a whole box of jars. Of course, you can also buy canning jars from your local store or on Amazon.com.

Look at Yard Sales

I have found canning jars at yard sale for less than a $1.00. You may even be able to find canning supplies like the water bath pot.

Start small…. then build each year!

In the early years, I used whatever I had in the kitchen, but over time I started buying the tools to make the task easier, like the rubber tongs that lift the jars out of the boiling water bath and the special funnel to help fill the jars.

Get Inspired by Others

Homemade Backyard Jellies

What are your best tips for canning your summer vegetables? I’d love to have you share!

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