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Food Preservation: A Day of Home Canning

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Home canning isn't as hard as you'd think - and it's incredibly satisfying!

I recently shared my tomato chutney recipe, but I didn’t mention that on the same day I also made marinara sauce. For those of you who have yet to tackle home food preservation, I thought it might be interesting for you to see what a day of canning looks like. I started with 40 pounds of tomatoes – not a lot by my usual standards – and processed most of them in a little more than five hours. In the end, I added 8-1/2 pints of chutney and 7 quarts of marinara sauce to my pantry – not bad for half a day’s work.

  • 1:00 start making chutney
  • 1:15 chutney ingredients in pot, ready for 2 hour boil
  • 1:15 move chutney to back burner so I can begin with the marinara sauce
  • 1:16 begin chopping ingredients for marinara sauce
  • 1:35 discover that I turned on the wrong burner for chutney; remedy the situation
  • 1:40 turn heat on under marinara; start cooking onions, peppers, and garlic
  • 2:45 finish chopping ingredients for marinara.
  • 3:00 put water bath canner on to heat
  • 3:10 wash jars
  • 3:15 put lids and rings on to sterilize
  • 3:25 put chutney in jars and set to boil
  • 3:30 pour cup of coffee
  • 3:40 take chutney out of water bath canner; turn heat down on canner while marinara continues to cook
  • 3:41 tink…tink…tink as jars seal
  • 3:45 clean up, wash dishes, continue to stir marinara sauce
  • 4:45 fill quart jars with marinara sauce
  • 4:50 set jars in boiling water bath; set timer for 30 minutes.
  • 5:00 pour glass of wine
  • 5:20 remove seven jars of marinara sauce from water bath canner

So, does this scare you off or make you think that it’s not as daunting as you expected?

Home canning: It's not as hard as you think.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

16 comments… add one
  • April Sep 29, 2011, 7:26 am

    Why am I standing here reading about you canning when I’m elbow deep in canning? 🙂 This week I’ve done 32 quarts of peaches 10 pints of tomato soup concentrate, and today I’m doing apple pear sauce. I’ve also sliced and frozen 50 2-cup packets of peppers and frozen 5 batches of stuffed peppers. I still need to do corn, swiss chard, apple pie jam, some other things. Unfortunately at this stage of my life it takes a lot longer to do these things because I still have 5 little ones at home that I take care of in between slicing, peeling, chopping, boiling, prepping, filling and canning. Happy canning! Wish you were closer so we could swap goodies.

  • April Sep 29, 2011, 7:29 am

    I forgot about pear slices. Those are coming too. I need a clone.

  • Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart Sep 29, 2011, 8:57 am

    I hope you took a good nap when you were done.

  • [email protected] Food. Stories. Sep 29, 2011, 9:58 am

    That sounds about right… although the 5:00 pm glass of wine might come a little earlier in the timeline for me!

  • Christy Oct 4, 2011, 1:52 am

    I just really like the fact that you forgot to put the correct burner on. I would have really felt good if you’d had a dish towel over the mistaken burner that subsequently took on a burnt … flavor. LOL Thank you for sharing – it sounds intense but doable for someone who hasn’t canned before.

  • sarah henry Oct 24, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Brilliant idea, Kris. Breaking it down this way makes canning seem way more doable to newbies like me. This is a preserving public service. Thanks muchly.

  • joanna May 12, 2014, 3:41 am

    Hi, Great to see this.. 

    The way you list it, it makes simple sense ! Nice and easy !

    One question, at what point did you put the lids on the jars ? Before you put them in the water bath ?

    Whilst in the water bath? Or when you took the jars out of the bath , to cool ?

    Can’t wait til I have sufficient home grown produce to be preserving it all like this ! 

    • Kris Bordessa May 18, 2014, 6:44 am

      The flat lids? Those go on the jars after they’re full, followed by a jar ring. THEN they go in the water bath! 

  • Nikki Boyce May 12, 2014, 6:32 am

    Not as bad as I thought. However do you have two little kids at your ankles while doing this?

    • Kris Bordessa May 18, 2014, 6:42 am

      Not these days, but once upon a time I did. It’s definitely easier now they’ve grown!

  • Kimberly Aug 15, 2014, 7:59 pm

    Newer to canning but loving it. Nothing tastes as food I’ve prepped and a stored myself. No hidden ingredients or ingredients I just TV dont want to eat. This sounds like typical canning day but I’m aso dancing around my husbamd who is helping

  • Diana Jul 27, 2015, 4:38 am

    Canning is so rewarding and not very hard to do. There are lots of resources out there, such as your blog, and others. When I started 40 years ago, one good resource was the County Extension Office. No blogs back then! I also used the heck out of the USDA book Complete Guide to Home Canning, Preserving and Freezing. Still available! It doesn’t tell you how to do all that canning with little ones in the house, though! It’s just all about the rhythm and the planning.

  • Bre McStone Sep 14, 2015, 11:38 am

    Hi! Am very new to canning. Can you tell me more about hot water bath? I have an older glass top. Do I need a rack for inside my pot or can I use a towel on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching it and each other? Do I need to have the water boiling when I put the jars in or bring to a boil with the jars in?

    Sorry for the novice questions but new to this and making it up as I go. I haven’t tried anything with hot water batch, simply because I do not understand it.

    Thanks for any help you can offer!

  • L.A.West Feb 23, 2016, 6:05 am

    NO where does the article mention the cleaning up – as home canning is a steamy-sticky mess to deal with, Do enough of it, and you’ll have to scrub the ceiling, windows and the walls too. I know – our family home canned for 20 years.

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 12, 2016, 8:23 am

      Ah! Very good point.

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