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First published December 30, 2015
Since the goal of canning is to preserve foods at the height of freshness, when they are in season, I would like to share my canning plan with all of you, so that you if there is something you want to can for your family, you know when the best time would be to do it. The quantities that I am listing are my ideal to give us enough for 1 year, plus a few jars for competing in the local fair and for gifting at the holidays.
Annual Canning Plan
Jams & Jellies – 36 jars total
- strawberry jam – early June
- blueberry jam – late June
- peach jam – mid-August
- raspberry jelly (no seeds) – late July through August
- grape jelly – anytime using store-bought unsweetened Concord Grape Juice
Locally grown apples are available starting in late July through February. I get my apples from Schober Orchards in Monroeville, NJ. They have a wide variety, knowledgeable staff, and a purchase from them supports an independent family farm.
The majority of my apple canning projects take place in the winter when the other canning projects have slowed down a bit, and the house is cooler so I don’t mind the kettle going all day. That said, all of these projects can be completed any time during the apple season.
- applesauce – 100-150 quarts (yes, we eat 2-3 quarts of applesauce a week)
- apple pie filling – 12 quarts (2 quarts = 1 deep dish pie) and 12 pints (for mixing with sweet potatoes or serving alongside pork)
- apple butter – 24 half-pints
- spiced apple rings – 6 pints
Depending on the weather, tomato season starts in late July or early August. Often you can get cherry tomatoes in before that, but the larger plum tomatoes that are better for canning, start a bit later and carry through until the first hard frost, usually in early October. Between August and October, we process and can a large number of tomatoes, most grown on our own property. If you don’t have a large garden, or you need more tomatoes, talk to your local farms. Many will discount tomatoes when you purchase over 30 lbs.
- tomato sauce (no spices) – 36 quarts
- marinara – 12 quarts, 36 pints
- salsa – 12 pints
- diced tomatoes – 24 pints
I prefer home canned fruits when the fresh fruits are out of season. While a fresh peach in August tastes amazing, they are rather bland if you get on in February. As such, our family’s goal is to put up at least 24 jars of each fruit when they are in season so we can enjoy a variety of foods throughout the offseason.
- peaches – August/September
- pears – September/October
- citrus – December/January/February (this is the prime season for Florida citrus)
- pineapple – December/January (you can often find them on sale during this time)
To safely can vegetables, you will need a pressure canner. If you are not comfortable using a pressure canner, then you can continue to water bath your veggies only if you pickle them (vinegar brine). My suggestion – pressure can them or freeze them. Our family prefers most vegetables to be frozen instead of canned, but I do can some to use for soups & chili throughout the year.
- peas May/June, October/November
- string beans – June/July
- carrots – May/June, October/November
- beets – May/June, October/November
- potatoes – depending on the variety, anytime throughout the year
- sweet potatoes – fall, usually late October
- corn – late June through September
- cucumber pickles – late June through September
Do not get overwhelmed seeing this list of possibilities. Canning does not have to be an all or nothing hobby. If your family loves jam, only make that. Or if you have an apple tree on your property, only make applesauce. The purpose of this canning plan is to show you what the possibilities are and to inspire you to preserve some of your own food by home canning.