Canning Tools For The Hot Water Bath Method

Several of my next posts will be about canning and preserving the produce that we are harvesting from our gardens. I think we should start with talking about some of the canning tools that will help you to successfully can and preserve your produce. Just like a carpenter uses certain tools to build with, there are tools that are very helpful when it comes to canning.

Now, first of all, do not get scared and think that you can not do this! It is much easier than you might think. I will be giving you some ideas on what to do in the weeks to come. First, let’s look at what you will need. Most of the canning that I do is using the hot water bath method. So what canning tools do I use?

  1. Large Stockpot. It should hold at least 12 quarts of water and should be tall enough to cover the jars completely while processing your fruits, vegetables, jams and jellies.
  2. Ladle: It allows you to pour the hot mixtures into the canning jars
  3. Jar Funnel: In order to fill the jars without spilling and making a mess and wasting what you have cooked a funnel should be placed in the mouth of the jar
  4. Magnetic Jar Lifter: This is an option but a good one. When you heat your jar lids and rings it allows you to remove them from the hot water without burning your fingers. Tongs work for this, too.
  5. Headspace tool: Sliding this into a filled jar will remove air bubbles and measure your headspace for you.
  6. Jar Wrench: Assists in turning those sometimes sticky and often time stubborn jar lids.
  7. Tongs: Safely lift foods during the canning and cooking process. Coated handles work the best for these.
  8. Jar Lifter: Allows you to lift the hot jars from the boiling water over to the counter for the rest of the canning process.
  9. Glass canning jars, lids and bands: Have a variety of sizes of the glass jars. The lids can only be used once but are replaceable and the bands or rings can be re-used.

Easy Way To Obtain The Necessary Canning Tools

You can purchase these items separately if you want but you can also get a starter set of these canning tools for yourself. This is great if you are just starting to can. You can get sets at your local stores like Tractor Supply, WalMart and other places or you can order one online. Here is a set that is available on Amazon.

canning tools set
Granite Ware Enamel-on-Steel Canning Kit with Blancher
(paid link)

What I like about this set is that it has just about everything in it. There are no tongs but you can pick up a pair of those easily enough. It also has a handy rack that keeps the jars from sitting directly on the hot pan bottom and make it easier to remove several jars at once. You will also need to get a supply of jars, lids and rings but that is good because you will need to decide what size you want anyway. I suggest that for vegetables, salsas and pickles that you get 1 quart jars (paid link). Jellies, jams and preserves should be in pint or half-pint jars. A magic marker is good for marking what the canned product is and the date you canned it on the lids. You can buy labels but you don’t have to. Always mark the date of the canning so that you will know whether the safe time has passed before consuming an older jar from the pantry.

Just in case you do not understand what the hot water bath method is, it is a simple method where you put your cooked food in the jars, place the lids and rings on the jars and submerse them into hot or boiling water. After a given amount of time (it varies per food item) you remove the jars and let the lids seal. You know they are done when you hear a ping or pop.

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Strawberry Jam Recipe To Make In Your Kitchen

Strawberry Jam Recipe To Make In Your Kitchen

I have tried other Strawberry Jam recipes in the past but I always return to the easiest one I have ever made because it really does taste the best. I learned to make this easy strawberry jam way back in my middle school years from a Better Homes and Garden cookbook that I was required to have for Home Economics class. It just goes to show that sometimes it is just better to stay with the simple and tried and true recipes that have been handed down from generations. And if this is going to be your first adventure in canning and making a jam then try the easy recipe first. Once you have the hang of it, you can get a little fancier if you want.

strawberry jam supplies

supplies for making strawberry jam

What you will need to make your Strawberry Jam

Preparing the jam:

Wash your strawberries and remove the stems, slice them lengthwise or quarter the larger ones. Place 4 cups of the berries in a large saucepan and add 1 cup of the sugar. Mix it carefully and let it stand for 15 minutes.

Now add your remaining sugar, mixing it well. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil and boil hard for a full minute. Stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and stir in the pectin. For 5 minutes alternate from stirring and skimming the foam off. (This prevents fruit from rising to the top or floating.)

Ladle into hot scalded jars and seal at once. There is no need to do the hot water bath because your jars were already hot. Store in the pantry until you are ready to use. Refrigerate any opened jars of jam.

strawberry jam

My latest batch of strawberry jam

About jelly, jam and preserves

Jellies are made from fruit juice with no whole or partial fruits in them. They are smooth and clear. A marmalade is a jelly that has tiny bits of fruits added to it.

Jams are made from the pulp of a fruit or crushed fruit. They will not be as firm as a jelly but will have a nice bit of pulp and texture to them. A conserve is a jam that has two or more types of fruit and nuts or raisins.

Preserves have chunks of fruit in a syrup or jam. They are a thick spread with pieces of the fruit visible in the mixture.

I think if we get technical on this recipe it is more of a preserves than a jam because the cooking process gives some pulp but there are some nice chunks that remain of the berries, too. We love putting it on toast but have also been known to put some on ice cream from time to time. So, you can call it Strawberry jam or Strawberry preserves but I think what you will mostly call it is delicious! Give it a try and come back and let me know if you liked it or not.

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Spinach Salad Recipe Ideas For Your Table

Spinach Salad Recipe Ideas For Your Table

June in Indiana brings us fresh spinach if we planted it and if not we can find some nice fresh leaves at the local farmers markets. I love fresh spinach to eat in salads or to cook with!  A nice spinach salad is often my choice at lunch time. As a kid, I had to eat a lot of spinach because I was anemic and it was a great natural source of iron. My Mom (bless her heart) was not so great with her cooking creativity and usually gave me canned spinach which was pretty awful. As I began to mature and started creating my own meals, I found that fresh spinach was awesome in a salad. I actually prefer it over lettuce most of the time.

So, with that in mind and it being ready to harvest, I thought I would share some ideas for having a spinach salad on your table. The following is one of my new favorite ways to serve it:

Spinach Salad with Mushrooms And Avocado


  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce (paid link)
  • 1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 8 cups baby spinach leave
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen works best) be sure to thaw them
  • 1 cup avocado (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup green onions thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Putting it together:

  1. With a whisk mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce and oil in a bowl. Add the mushrooms and toss them to coat them with the liquid. Let them marinate at room temperature for 2 hours.  Toss it a few times while it is marinating.
  2. Drain the mushrooms and save the marinade. Toss the spinach, corn, avocado, carrot and onions in a bowl. Now add the marinade and toss it again to coat everything.
  3. Serve the spinach in individual bowls .  Top with extra mushrooms and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

A Spinach Tip

Place your fresh spinach in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. You should plan to eat it within three days. Fresh spinach is usually kind of gritty so rinse it thoroughly before you use it. Do not rinse it before you place it in the bag, though.

Spinach Salad With Strawberries …. YUM

spinach salad Another thing that is or will be soon ready to harvest in our Indiana Gardens is strawberries. Have you ever had a Spinach salad with strawberries? Oh my goodness it is so good!  The recipe that I like the most right now is the one that Rachael Ray has on the Food Network. Rather than trying to recreate the recipe, I am just giving you the link to their page because I can’t improve on her recipe. I just know that I really like it. The image to the left is her picture of her recipe, too.

Grow your own or buy from the local Farmers Market

June is the beginning of being able to harvest some of our garden plants and I think it is so exciting every single year. There is just something so rewarding from being able to cook with the items that you have grown yourself. Also, we know for sure what was used or not used on those plants and do not have to worry so much about harmful chemicals and agents that someone else might have used. If you do not have a large garden or use containers for your gardening and there are plants that you just couldn’t grow because of limited space, do not fret. Visit those local farmers markets that are usually open on Fridays and Saturdays. They will begin to have produce that has been locally grown and ready for you to take home to enjoy with your family. Never be afraid to ask where the food was grown and if they know whether it was grown organically or not. My rule of thumb is that if they say they don’t know or they hesitate in giving me the information, I can decide to go to the next stall and purchase from someone who is willing to tell me.

So much of what we grow can be used in a salad like the spinach that I have talked about here in this post. Since our harvesting is just beginning you might like to get yourself a good cookbook that has salad recipes in it. I recommend the Super Salads: More Than 250 Super-Easy Recipes for Super Nutrition and Super Flavor. (paid link) It has so many wonderful recipes to try and covers virtually every kind of plant that is grown in a garden.

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Horseradish Recipes To Enjoy

Horseradish Recipes To Enjoy

In an earlier post I talked about the horseradish plant and the benefits that this spicy root can have when added to our diets besides it just tastes so darn good. I had promised that I would give you some recipes to use once you have harvested some of the roots. So, here I go giving you some ideas on how to use the root other than buying it in a sauce in the grocery store. (Which by the way there is absolutely nothing wrong with!).

And now without further ado….the recipes.

Apple Horseradish Sauce

Perfect for pork dishes!


4 Granny Smith apples
2 fluid ounces cider vinegar
2 ounces fresh horseradish, grated
1 teaspoon paprika
1 fluid ounce white wine

Grate the apples and moisten them with vinegar. Add the horseradish and paprika. Thin to the desired consistency with the wine.

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes


8 large red potatoes, diced with peel on
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon Horseradish

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain well. Add butter, cream, and horseradish, then mash well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Make Your Own Sauce – It is really easy!

The guy in this video shows us just how to do it!

You can also use horseradish as a topper on vegetables and in salads as a substitute for butter and salt.

There are really many ways to prepare and use horseradish in our meals. For some really great recipes, try this cookbook:

horseradish cookbook
Horseradish Greats: Delicious Recipes, The Top 100 Recipes
(paid link)

I think you will have fun and really enjoy these recipes using the horseradish that you grew in your Indiana garden or purchased in the produce section of your local grocery store. Of course, being a gardener, I prefer growing my own but if space for you is limited there is nothing wrong with buying a root and using it in your recipes.

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Baking Cookbook From Duff Goldman

Baking Cookbook From Duff Goldman

Baking Like A Pro With Duff’s Help

baking angels

Baking angels from

I love baking and I also love watching Duff Goldman on the different programs that he is involved with on the Food Network channel. Imagine my delight when I found this cookbook with his recipes in them! I am always fascinated with his artistry when it comes to decorating cakes and also his down to earth personality. The kids shows that he helps host are just delightful and I love how he works with children.

So, one of the items that I plan to ask for when my birthday rolls around is the baking cookbook by Duff Goldman.

baking cookbook
Duff Bakes: Think And Bake Like A Pro
(paid link)

The cookbook offers over 130 different recipes that are not just artful cakes. Duff is actually quite a good pasty chef who happens to excel in cake decorating. In this cookbook we can learn the skills of baking breads, pastry doughs, muffins, cookies and so much more from Duff. I noticed that one of the recipes is for bacon jalapeno biscuits. Now that sounds like a savory treat that both my husband and I would enjoy! I think that is one reason that this particular book appeals to me, it isn’t just about baking desserts.  You and I will find some recipes for other baked items as well.

Available In Different Formats

Another feature about this book is that it is available in hardcover which is what I prefer for my cookbooks and also in digital form for those who prefer reading their recipes from their mobile devices. Being able to access his recipes from your tablet or phone is a real convenience if you happen to be away from home or do not have room to store several cookbooks.

I am really hoping that one of my girls will get choose this as one of my birthday gifts this year. I am pretty sure with the help of Duff, my baking will take on a new level.

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