Every so often, there is a product that I just know is a brilliant idea that I want to try then tell everyone else about it. The Ball® Canning Discovery™ Kit is one of those things.
The idea behind it is simple, a compact, easy, inexpensive way for people to discover how easy canning can be. A plastic rack with a handle that will fit into a nice big stock pot for small batch canning. The rack will accommodate 3 jars at a time.
The kit comes with the rack, 3 1 pint jars and very basic, easy to understand instructions.
You supply your own stock pot, and it needs to be at least 7.5 inches deep and 9.5 inches in diameter. A canning funnel and a small non-metallic spatula are also helpful.
If you have the spatula and stock pot, as well as ingredients for the small batch recipe you want to try, you can start immediately. The canning funnel is very helpful for filling jars, but if you don't have one, you can ladle things in the jars carefully.
If you're worried about using a plastic rack, polypropylene is a thermoplastic that melts at around 300 degrees F. Water boils at 212 degrees F. I have a gas stove, and the first recipe I did needed boiling for 35 minutes. The plastic held up just fine.
Our experience with it:
I haven't done any canning since my mom passed away, and the Turnip Girl had never canned before. So if you've never canned before, trust me, you can follow the instructions in the booklet.
Since it was her first time canning and I wanted her to be enthused about it, I let her choose the recipe. She chose a very simple salsa recipe using Ball Fiesta Salsa Mix, 2 lbs of tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. We chopped and cooked, and followed the recipe and canning instructions. We decided to stick to the instructions for the salsa without adding pepper or cilantro. We had a lot of fun. Then we ladled it into the jars, and processed. The basket has a handle so you don't need a jar lifter. Since we did it in the afternoon, we couldn't check to make sure they sealed properly until morning but we heard the *pop* of the lids being vacuumed as the hot air in them cooled and contracted. When we checked them in the morning by pressing lightly on the lids to see if they seal, they had sealed perfectly.
So now we had two very pretty jars of homemade salsa ready to set in our pantry. Except Turnip Girl wanted to open one immediately to try it. So she did that.
She loves it. She loved the whole process, and it's something she wants to do again. She has been going through recipes and planning gifts for friends. Next time she wants to try the Salsa Verde recipe that's on FreshPreserving.com.
As far as the salsa mix goes? Half of that first jar is gone already, and I'm not going to complain about her eating lots of tomatoes. So it's a great way to add vegetables to your menu. She likes salsa in omelets.
If you haven't canned before, but you've considered it, looking at the wonderful availability of vegetables, fruits and berries at the farmer's markets or from your own garden, this is a nice way to get into small batch canning. It's doesn't take up much space if space is a consideration.
You can get the kit, the salsa mix and lots of information and recipes from FreshPreserving.com. The kit is 11.99, and the Fiesta Salsa mix is 5.99 for enough for 8 pints, or 1.49 for a packet that will make 2 pints.
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