Canning: stuff I didn't know before

IMG_4456I am neck deep in learning how to put up food for the winter. I'm learning so much about gardening and canning --it's been several years in progress and I'm still trying to get things figured out. For a long time I was intimidated by the lingo, equipment needed, and the quantity/how many jars, etc. Everyone who cans talks about how easy it is, and once you've done it a few times it does get easier .. But let's face it. It takes time. And if you don't know what you're doing and have to check your recipe and the internet before each step you take...it's kind of hard. But luckily I have friends in high canning places that have slowly walked me through the process and have answered my silly questions.. So while my tomatoes are processing, here are a few things I've learned about the whole canning process..

1. Pint vs quart jars: sounds silly but I didn't know anything about ball jars. I love to collect them and drink from them, but beyond that I was clueless. The quart jars are the taller ones, pints are shorter. There are also wide mouth jars vs the regular mouth (don't know the technical term) and I'm realizing I prefer the wide mouth because they are easier to pack.

2. Cold pack: when you cold pack the fruit or veggie that you are canning it means that it isn't cooked before you put it in the jar.

3. Lids: there are 2 parts, the flat lid (provides the seal and should only be used once) and the rings (can reuse) hold the lid in place when it's processing (boiling in the super hot water).

4. A canner vs pressure canner: I bought a giant pot to can last year to do a "hot water bath" or the "boiling water method." The pot is huge. And I found was too big to do 4 pints of green beans (won't do that again bc I had to fill the rest of the canner with jars full of water--pain!) A pressure canner is nice because it allows you to can less acidic veggies (ie green beans) in less time. This is on my wish list (I hope my mom reads this <--Christmas ;)

Last year I canned dilly beans and tomatoes. This year, so far, I have done both dilly beans, asparagus and tomatoes but am feeling much more adventurous so am definitely going to try more dilly beans, spaghetti sauce, and maybe some pickled okra.

Any one have any amazing recipes?