Home-canning party: Preserve summer’s bounty with friends

canningFarmers markets and farm stands are overflowing right now with awesome produce. Take advantage of the abundance by having a home canning party.

These tips from Country Woman magazine shows how to make a day of home canning enjoyable.

Pick out your produce and canning recipes. When you combine prep work and processing time, a canning recipe can take an hour or more to complete. Limit your party to three canning recipes. Plan to make a full batch, but don’t double it. Altering a recipe’s quantities and times may affect the quality and safety of the final product.

Gather your tools. Have these basics on hand (or assign guests to bring them): jars, lids and rings; heavy-bottomed cooking pots; a roomy stockpot to use as a water-bath canner; sharp knives and a grater; stirring spoons and ladles; measuring cups and spoons; jar grabbers; a funnel; clean towels; and hot pads.

Send invitations. E-mail invitations to guests and include how much and what type of produce, other ingredients or canning supplies to bring. Also tuck in the recipes you’ll use as a preview.

Plan some snacks. Give home canning party guests something to nibble and sip. Incorporate fruits you’ll be using into beverages, and pick up breads, meats and cheeses to serve.

Set up stations. Clear off counters and tabletops to make ample room for work stations to sanitize equipment, prep produce, fill jars and seal, boil and cool your finished batch. Assign guests to each station and have only one canning recipe going at a time.

Label your labors. “Mystery jars” collect dust in the pantry, so clearly label your goods with contents and canning date. With printed labels, pens, decorative ribbons and fabric on hand, guests can create personalized wrappings for cooled jars.

Try these 12 must canning and preserving contest-winning recipes to make your summer bounty last. There’s something for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert here.