I love August, not only because it’s my birthday month (and yes I celebrate it for a full 31 days), but also because my vegetable garden starts producing ripe tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, cucumber and other home grown veggies on a daily basis. In years past, I’ve only planted enough to eat fresh veggies for the summer, but this year I went crazy and planted a much larger garden with the goal of doing some home-canning.
Although I’ve watched my mom can tomatoes, peaches, and freezer jam when I was a kid, I’ve never done it myself and I certainly don’t have any of the equipment on hand (aside from my garden harvest). After doing a bit of research I came across the idea of hosting a canning party where everyone brings their garden harvest together for a day of joint home-canning. I love this idea because you are able to share equipment, recipes, techniques, and have fun spending the day in the kitchen with friends or family. I plan to invite my canning-savy friends together for our own neighborhood canning party so that they can teach me the canning process and in return I’ve put together a jar-decorating station complete with labels, gift tags, ribbon and bakers twine so that we can all decorate our finished jars to give as future gifts.
How To Host A Canning Party
Choose A Location
Who’s got the biggest kitchen? Look for a kitchen large enough for two boiling-water bath canners and enough countertop space to prep your veggies. Be creative when thinking about kitchen spaces- check out your local community center, church basement, or apartment rec room.
Invite Friends and Family
If you’re like me and have friends who are already experienced canners, put them at the top of your guest list! It always helps to have a few people who can share their own methods and answer questions. But part of the fun can also come from learning (and making mistakes) together! The National Center for Home Food Preservation has loads of information and even a self-study course for beginners.
Decide On The Recipes
You can plan your recipes in advance and assign everyone a few ingredients to bring, or you have people just bring what they already have in their garden and create the recipes based on whatever combinations show up on the day of the party. Make sure you use well-researched and tested recipes to ensure food safety and prevent spoilage. My Own Ideas has lots of canning recipes for you to try. Check out this post on our favorite Canning & Preserve Recipes.
Gather The Equipment
First of all, make an inventory on what equipment you already have on hand (as a group). Then make a list of the things you may need to purchase. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for what kinds of equipment you should (and should not) use. Thrift stores are a great place to look for used canning equipment.
Time To Party!
Serve snacks or appetizers and share a bottle of wine while you listen for your jars to seal. Set up a jar decorating station complete with personalized labels, gift tags, ribbon, craft paper, and twine. I ordered two types of personalized canning labels – small mouth circle labels and large mouth circle labels along with a few different shaped gift tags. Living in Portland I decided to adopt my favorite quote from Portlandia as our motto, “We Can Pickle That!” I made sure to leave room on the label for people to write the contents of their jars.
I also used free Printable Recipe Cards for guests to write down their favorite recipes to use with their canned goods later. For example, share your favorite chili or casserole recipe that uses the stewed tomatoes you canned that day. Better yet, make your canning party an annual event and compile your own group cookbook!
Used In This Project:
- Printable Recipe Cards • Download and print for free.
- Large Circle Labels • I chose the “Library” style in Lime Green & Gold and Spice.
- Small Dot Labels • I chose the “Library” style in Lime Green & Gold and Spice.
- Scallop Tags • I chose the “Library” style in Lime Green & Gold.
- Oval Tags • I chose the “Library” style in Spice.
- Small Circle Labels • I chose the “Dottie” style in Lime & Gold and Tangerine & Gold.
- Diamond Tags • I chose the “Dottie” style in Lime & Gold.
More Canning Recipes:
Pickling Spice Blend Golden Pickled Beets Tomatillo Salsa Dilly Beans
Shop Our Canning Collection: