Last Saturday, Donovan and I went over to our friend Noel's house to have a canning party. Noel has canned several times before and we had been talking about preserving for a while. Thankfully, we finally found time in our schedules to spend the day making some yummy yummy food stuffs.
None of us had any idea what we were exactly going to make until a few minutes before we went shopping the morning of. We had picked a few recipes, but knew it all depended on what we could find at our local produce market. Luckily, Stanley's had everything we need to create our "I really want to make..." recipes. Donovan made Strawberry Lemon Marmalade, from Ball Jar's website. Noel made Pickled Roasted Red Peppers and I made Cranberry-Orange Vinegar, both from the Ball Complete Home Preserving book. I borrowed the book from the library, but it is full of such great info that I think I am going to buy myself a copy.
We all went shopping for the fruit and veggies together in the morning and then started sterilizing the jars, squishing fruit and roasting veggies by 1:30. With everything involved, we were sealing the last jar and sipping beer by 6pm - not bad for three different preserves! We bought our jars before hand, which were pretty cheap, considering you can reuse them indefinitely (you only need to replace the lids, which are about $2 for a pack of 12). We had so much fun canning together and are planning on doing it again. Some possibilities for next time is BBQ sauce or blue berries in liquor syrup. I ended up purchasing way too many cranberries, so I decided to freeze them in an air-tight container (they can keep for up to a year frozen) for a possible future canning project (perhaps Cranberry Mustard).
Throwing a canning party was pretty easy to do, and the tools are not that expensive. Noel bought a canning set, complete with stock pot, can rack, all the utensils, set of mason jars and recipe book from Target for around $50. Just make sure you do all your research about canning techniques and such before you start as there are a lot of little things to keep in mind. The Ball Complete Home Preserving book is a great resource as well as this website, Pick-Your-Own, which also has an entire section for freezing foods, if that happens to be more up your alley. I've also upload some pictures of our process in a Flickr set, Canning Party. Enjoy and share any pictures or experiences from your own canning party!