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Hey Everyone!  I'm new to this stuff and would appreciate some wise advice.  I have puchased the Ball starter canning kit, and I am gradually acquiring some equipment to become a full fledged food preservationist.  Does anybody have any recommendations as to which food to start with...?  I'd like my virgin flight to be low maintenance.  Of course, I don't want to kill anyone either!  Any assistance is appreciated! 

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For me, jam was the easiest thing to start with. With all the fresh fruit coming on, it's a great way to preserve summer. Just follow the instructions on the box of pectin and you can't go wrong. I know some people like to spend a whole day and get all their canning done, but I like to do one or two batches at a time so I don't get overwhelmed. Good luck--it's addictive!
Jam and pickled vegetables are probably the easiest. Plain tomato sauce is also quite easy. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice per quart to ensure pH is low enough.

I'd like to address the fear factor: While it's wise to practice caution, follow tested recipes, and adhere to USDA-recommended canning methods, the likelihood of killing anyone is practically nil. In the US, there is an average of 4 home canning-related illnesses a year. That's just people getting sick, not dying. One thing that I always remind people is to remove the rings after the jars have cooled completely and before putting them in your pantry. Test the seals by actually lifting the lid--and test again when you get the jar out of your pantry. As long as you have enough acid (all fruits and tested pickle recipes have enough) and a good seal, your food will be fine.

Small batch canning is definitely the way to start. Prevents overwhelm as Bonnie says, and if you make something you don't like, you're not stuck with dozens of jars. (Ask me how I know...)
I just made rotell-like diced tomatoes with chilies". They're easy and quick. It's a great way to use an abundance of tomatoes and is way cheaper than buying similar product at the store. Just use any waterbathed tomato recepe and add some diced chillies or hot peppers.

With a resurgence in people canning many products have hit the market to aid first timers, to save the hastle of buying spices you might not use again try Mrs wages mixes if they are available in your area takes all the guesswork out anything from pickled beets to spaghetti sauce and pickles. I have canned for a long time and find the mixes helpful and the easiest way for new canners to start giving a certain kind of selfconfidence that opening a jar or can of commercial spaghetti sauce doesnt hold.I saw that this year my Walmart and lowcost grocers all carried them.




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