You’ve heard of once-a-month meals, right? Well, here’s a schedule for once-a-month meals – the home canning version! With this schedule, you will can components for quick meal assembly throughout the year. These foods represent twelve types of store-bought items that you will water bath and pressure can at home. No need to purchase these items at the store anymore because you will can them yourself!
By the way, this article is very thorough, so you may want to grab a milkshake and a pad of paper for notes.
Solving the Healthy, Home-Cooked Meal Dilemma
There’s no question that eating from home with fresh ingredients is better for your health and well-being. It can also bring you closer together as a family. Then why do we struggle to create healthy, home-cooked dinners?
Here are some common roadblocks to getting the family together for dinner:
- It’s rare that we’re all home at the same time.
- We don’t have time to prepare home-cooked meals.
Let’s deal with these obstacles together:
- Ok, so you don’t have everyone all together every night. Just work with what you have and allow schedules to adjust as everyone sees that eating at home is important. Believe me, if you stay diligent about the family dinner hour, they’ll come around.
- Re-define how you think of the phrase “home-cooked” and be flexible. Some nights you might be in your kitchen two hours before dinner preparing beautiful meals from fresh ingredients. Other days you may be filling a slow cooker or solar oven in the morning and not thinking about dinner until two minutes before you serve it.
- On even busier days, you’ll be grabbing home-canned foods from your shelves and creating instant meals in a matter of minutes. These are your once-a-month meals! These are the meals that will make this canning schedule worth the effort.
Start a once-a-month canning plan and you will be able to eat healthy meals every day of the week with your family whether they’re cooked fresh from the garden or assembled from ingredients taken from your shelves.
–>>Improve the Family Dinner Hour with These Fun Tips<<–
Getting Started with Canning for Once a Month Meals
Now, this suggested schedule is simple on purpose. If you are an experienced canner and look at this list and think, “Bah, I can do this stuff in my sleep,” go right ahead and customize the schedule for your year and your family. You are a smart person and know what you can do.
For beginner-canners, this list is meant to do two things:
- Empower, not overwhelm you.
- Inspire you to can continually throughout the year.
These twelve items, one for every month of the year, will give you the components for healthy, home-cooked meals. No running to the store, no scrambling to get it all made in time. Just reheat and serve!
This schedule is completely adaptable to your region, farmers market, backyard garden, personal schedule, and personal tastes. If you’re a gardener or you’re accustomed to purchasing seasonal foods from local markets, it will be easy to see that this canning schedule follows the harvests in most temperate climates.
Have picky eaters? It happens, even in families where children are exposed to healthy foods at a young age. The best advice I have is to just keep trying lots of variety in your meal planning. AND, very important, ask your family’s opinion on recipes and meals. Find out what they like and then find ways to make those recipes healthier. It takes practice and hard work.
In your once a month meals canning schedule, be sure to include the children in the kitchen. Have every family member help with some part of the canning process.
–>>Learn How to Safely Include Kids in the Canning Kitchen<<–
You’re Doing OK!
You can’t do all the things every day. Is that really news to you? You’re one person and you’re doing the best you can. Roll your shoulders, lighten up and give yourself some room in your schedule to plan and prepare.
This once a month meals canning schedule is going to help you stay focused – each month you just do one thing. If you want to do more, go right ahead! Otherwise, just stick to this once a month meals canning schedule and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Once a Month Meals Canning Schedule
Here are 12 store bought foods to can at home. If you don’t know how to can any of these items, we’ve included links to tutorials and recipes.
January – Dried Beans
The gardens and farms are taking a long winter nap during the winter in many regions, so January is a great time to can items other than fresh veggies and fruits. Beans fit nicely into this category, especially because they are a protein-rich addition to any meal.
You can purchase dry beans in bulk and keep them in your food stores. However, when you want to prepare them for eating, dry beans require a long pre-soak and cook time. It’s much more convenient to have cooked beans canned up for quick use.
How to Can: Beans will require a pressure canner to preserve safely.
How to Use: Our favorite thing to do with canned beans is to make quick refried beans to supplement taco night. They can also be used in soups, stews, casseroles, curries, and even brownies!
Further Info on Home-Canned Beans:
- Grow a Good Life can teach you how to can dried beans here.
- Our favorite thing to do with canned beans is to make a quick refried bean recipe like this one from Attainable Sustainable.
- Or, this brownie recipe from Small Footprint Family – just replace the store-bought can in the recipe with your home-canned beans.
- Here’s a great collection of home-canned bean recipes from Rootsy Network.
A Word on Dietary Restrictions
If your eating plan (like Paleo or Keto) prohibits the consumption of beans, can some extra batches of the things you are able to eat like broths and meats. Don’t procrastinate this once-a-month canning just because your schedule will be different from mine.
Simply adjust all these months to fit your dietary needs, keeping in mind what’s fresh in your area at any time of year.
February – Meats & More Beans for Vegetarians
Winter is a great time to can meats because small-farm meat growers near you will be doing their yearly harvests in late fall/early winter. Take advantage of nutrient-dense, local, ethically raised meat and preserve it this month.
Home-canned meats can include chicken, beef cuts, hamburger, pork cuts, sausage, fish, and venison. However, you might also try corned beef or moose!
How to Can: Meat requires a pressure canner to safely preserve.
How to Use: Combine home-canned meats with broths and veggies for a tasty stew. You can also try mixing meats and beans with rice, quinoa, or pasta and your favorite sauce. Don’t forget to make a delicious base for chili with home-canned beans and tomatoes.
Canned meat is highly versatile!
Further Info on Home-Canned Meats:
- The National Center for Home Food Preservation can help you learn to can just about any meat.
- Here’s how to can home-grown or store bought chicken from us here at Homestead Lady.
- Can corned beef – yum, yum – with A Farm Girl in the Making here.
- Can moose meat with my friend Amanda from Idlewild Alaska.
- If you want to combine the best of beans and beef, follow Angi at Schneider Peeps as she make a one-can meal of chili con carne.
If you are vegetarian, use this time to put up more beans. The variety of beans available to home-canners is diverse and delicious. White beans can be included in soups and pasta dishes. Black beans make the most delicious “burgers.” Chickpeas shine in homemade hummus recipes.
Put up a rainbow of bean selections for this year’s meals!
March – Soups and Bone Broths
Having broths on hand makes cooking so much easier. If you have spent any amount of time in the kitchen preparing meals, you know that broth is often included in main dishes. Even if it’s only added in small amounts, hearty bone broths can be a flavor enhancer, as well as the base for hearty soups.
It may go without saying that having pre-made soups on the pantry shelves will speed up dinnertime without any further effort on your part. Nearly every soup you might see on the store shelves can be produced at home. These include:
- Beef Barley
How to Can: Soups and broths will require a pressure canner to preserve safely.
How to Use: Broth can be added to any casserole, soup, sauce or even just a basic rice pot for added protein.
Remember, with meals made from home-canned products, you will probably need to do a little mixing, unlike many freezer meal recipes. Think about which meal components you’d prefer to have on hand.
- Is it meat?
- Maybe condiments like ketchup or pickles?
Pick your priorities for this year. The more you follow a once-a-month canning schedule, the more you’ll see the versatility of these products and be able to make a quality plan to fit your family’s needs every year.
Further Info on Home-Canned Soups:
- My friend Kathie at Homespun Seasonal Living is a soup canning guru – click here to read a great article on how to can soups. She even has a book on how to turn these home-canned foods into gifts throughout the year – I love this book!! You can read about it here.
- Here are two on canning meat broth, or stock. One from Reformation Acres, plus another from her on explaining how to peel chicken feet for canning (especially helpful if you’re growing your own meat birds on the homestead). Another article from Fewell Homestead that has a video with it.
- A favorite home-canned soup in my kitchen is cream of mushroom but the key is finding a really good recipe. No worries; Susan, from Learning and Yearning, easily teaches us how to make and pressure can cream of mushroom soup.
Notable Safety Exceptions
There are a few exceptions to replicating store-bought soups at home that should be noted.
Rice and noodles are omitted from home-canned soups because the starch in these ingredients interferes with the balance of the heat transfer during canning. Even if they were safe, these starchy items would turn to mush during the canning process and taste nasty.
It’s safer and far more palatable to separately prepare several cups of rice or pasta per gallon of broth or soup base. Go ahead and can up your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe but simply omit the noodles. Prepare pasta the night you serve the soup and toss it in!
Another ingredient to be wary of when canning food at home is dairy. This is because dairy foods are low acid and support the growth of Clostridium botulinum (botulism) spores when stored at room temperature. Cream based soups like cream of mushroom, bisque, or even potato chowder must all be canned in a broth, not dairy base for safety.
All is not lost, however! As with pasta or rice, once you heat up these “base” soups to serve them for dinner, you can add any amount of milk, cream, or cheese that you’d like. You may also add thickeners like corn or potato starch at that time.
Can I use Half Gallon Jars for Foods?
If your family is smaller, go ahead and can up soups in quart jars with both meat and veggies combined. My family is rather large, so I usually can the various components of soup in quart jars – meat, veggies, broth. Then, when we’re ready to eat, I toss them altogether to make one meal.
If I could use half gallon jars successfully in my pressure canner, I would because of the space and time savings. However, they tend to break and are not recommended for anything but high acid apple and grape juice. Darn it.
Eh, that’s ok, the quart jars are sturdy and easy to store.
April – Carrots, Potatoes or Beets
Many root crops are ripening in the spring and canning is a useful way to preserve them. Carrots and beets are spring crops so can them fresh from the garden. Kohlrabi and rutabaga aren’t far behind in the early summer, depending on your growing zone. You can also search the farmer’s markets, produce auctions, and local CSAs for these items.
At this time of year, to can home-grown potatoes (which ripen mid to late summer or into the fall depending on your zone), you’ll be preserving the last of the previous year’s harvest that might be leftover in your root cellar or pantry.
As long as the produce is free of mold or other imperfections, canning is a great way to save a product that is still good but fading fast. Check out the root cellar and see what else can be preserved. Although this article focuses on canning, there are many ways to preserve foods, like dehydrating.
If you don’t grow your own root crops, remember to check your spring farmer’s markets. Potatoes can be purchased in season and locally at the end of summer. Of course, you may see good deals on potatoes appear at any time of year in the grocery store. Capitalize on the savings and make room in your schedule to can items you find on sale.
How to Can: You will need a pressure canner for vegetables. The exception to this is pickled vegetables which can be preserved in a water bath canner.
How to Use: Root vegetables can be served as a side dish once warmed. They can also be included in soups and casseroles. They can even be mashed, whipped with butter, and served on the side.
Further Info on Home-Canned Root Veggies:
- Here’s a printable from Timber Creek Farm on how to can root vegetables – FYI, this link will take you to a free PDF to print.
- Here’s a good pickled beet recipe from Small Footprint Family.
- If you have golden beets, check out this unique recipe from Ann at A Farm Girl in the Making.
May – Berry Jams and Jellies
Jam is part art and part science. The more you make, the more varieties you’ll discover. The first fruits of the season are the berries, followed by tree fruits like peaches, and then apples in the fall. For May, simply focus on making berry jams from berries that are local to you. Most berry fruit is highly perishable so making jam is the perfect way to preserve this fleeting harvest.
If you grow your own berries and discover that you don’t have enough of one berry to make a single berry jam, don’t be afraid to mix them up! Simply follow tested recipes from reputable sources to ensure you have enough sugar/acid to safely preserve your jams in a water bath canner.
You may also want to try your hand at making chutney. Chutney is a condiment made from chopped fruits, sugar, vinegar, and various spices. The resulting product is a sweet/savory, chunky spread used in a wide variety of dishes. Traditional Indian chutneys are usually quite spicy, but home canners can adapt recipes to taste.
How to Can: Fruit jams and chutneys are preserved in a water bath canner.
How to Use: Jam gives life to toast, pancakes, ice cream, and cakes. Jam is a way to experience summer in the dead of winter.
Further Info on Home-Canned Jams:
- Here’s my current favorite – Dark Cherry Mulberry Jam (you can also make it with just mulberries).
- Mixed berry jam with raspberries, strawberries and blueberries from 104 Homestead is a great way to use up random berries leftover from pies and fruit salad.
- Want to know the difference between jam and jelly (plus lots of recipes)? Here’s a post from Attainable Sustainable.
- Peppered Balsamic Berry Jelly is another of Kathie’s, from Homespun Seasonal Living, unique jams and jellies. This recipe is in her book that I highly recommend and use myself. See below:
June – Whole Fruits
You may need to adjust canning whole fruit to a month further along in the summer if your growing zone doesn’t provide you with ripe fruit in June. Some northern gardeners are putting in their spring gardens in June because their frost has barely receded! No worries, this schedule can be adjusted by you at any point.
How to Can: A water bath canner is usually sufficient for fruits but be sure to check each recipe for instructions. If you have bits of fruit that are leftover, don’t hesitate to turn them into jam. Sometimes you end up with fruit that is too soft can whole. You can turn those into jam, as well! (This happens with peaches and apricots a lot.)
Here are instructions for peach jam from Practical Self Reliance if you find yourself in the same pickle. No pun intended.
How to Use: The joy of having whole fruits on hand is that they make fantastic snacks and treats when you don’t really want something full of processed sugars. They’re especially good on morning yogurt and granola. If you need a quick topping for pancakes, filling for crisps and cobblers, or an impromptu winter fruit salad, these whole fruits will come in handy.
Further Info on Home-Canned Fruits:
- Canning Peaches or Nectarines in honey or sugar from Family Food Garden.
- Canning apple slices from Reformation Acres.
- Spiced plums from Back to Our Roots – I’ve made this with and without the orange and its good both ways.
- Here are some canned peaches with chai spice, which sounds really tasty to me – from Attainable Sustainable.
- Canning pears with honey and vanilla from Simply Canning
Honey or Sugar?
A quick note on using honey in place of sugar in canning recipes: always check your recipe! You are able to use alternative sugars in place of table sugar but you must still achieve the correct level of acid to safely can your foods.
Simply Canning has this article on Substituting Honey for Sugar in your recipes which may be helpful to you.
July – Pickles and Pickle Relish
If your cucumber harvest is taking off, don’t waste a single one! Make a year’s worth of pickles and relish this month. The best thing about making pickles is that it’s a relatively easy process.
Besides cucumbers, there are several different vegetables that can be pickled and preserved.
- Watermelon Rinds
- Garlic Scapes
- Green Beans
Just to name a few!
This can be a good month to make chutney again because more fruits will be ripe. The main difference between chutney and relish is that relish is made from veggies and chutney is made from fruit. If you’re not a huge fan of pickles, chutney makes a good replacement for this month. Either one makes an excellent meal enhancer!
In fact, if you see something on this schedule that you really don’t like to can and eat, replace it immediately with something you do. Remember, it’s your canning year, so do it your way.
How to Can: Pickles and relishes can usually be preserved in a water bath canner because of the vinegar that’s included in the recipe. Always check your recipe for details.
How to Use: Pickles and relishes are a wonderful addition to tuna mixes, grilled burgers, and summer potato salad. All these meals whip up quickly and benefit from having relish on hand to add spice and flavor.
During the winter, these items can be added to heavy meat dishes to add a zest of flavor. Pickles also make an easy appetizer for holiday meals.
Further Info on Home-Canned Pickles and Relish:
- A Farm Girl in the Making can show you how to get crisp canned pickles every time!
- Dill pickle relish with a secret ingredient for crispness from the 104 Homestead.
- Kosher dill pickles from Joybilee Farm.
- Bread and butter pickles from Grow a Good Life; also from Rachel is a great pickled garlic scapes recipe (especially good if you grow hard neck garlic in your garden).
- Dilly green beans from Attainable Sustainable.
- Also chow chow (a green tomato relish) from Attainable Sustainable.
- Zucchini bread and butter pickles from Family Food Garden.
- Pickled purslane from Homespun Seasonal Living.
- Pickled jalapeno relish from Reformation Acres.
- Watermelon rind pickles from Small Footprint Family
So, a pickle does not a meal make – unless you’re a college student. However, having homemade condiments on hand will help your meals come together quicker. Pickles, sauces, and relishes are part of the spice that makes a meal a rich experience.
They’re like that cha-cha pair of shoes in your closet. You may not wear them all the time but, honey, when you do wear those shoes, you look smokin’! Take the time to preserve condiments and your dinner table will be fully dressed.
August – Spaghetti Sauce and More
Once tomatoes ripen in the garden you can start to drown in them! I dehydrate a fair amount of my tomato harvest because I like the ease of blending them to powder for sauces and paste. Besides, canning tomatoes is sticky, itchy work and I invariably end up wet at the end of the process.
Still, it’s nice to have spaghetti sauce and other tomato-based sauces (like barbecue sauce) on hand. I’m selective about which tomato products I can but it’s a sure bet that we’ll go through them by the end of the year. We use them a lot!
How to Can: Typically, a water bath canner is sufficient, but be sure to check each recipe for recommendations.
How to Use: For some families, canned tomatoes are the number one canned vegetable they use weekly in meal preparation. Of course, we use diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in classic Italian dishes like spaghetti. Either we use cans of each to create spaghetti sauce, or we can preserve spaghetti sauce prepared and ready to use.
I should note that it’s wise to be very sparing with herbs in recipes for canning. Herbs, including garlic, might sit in canned sauces for extended periods of time on the shelves, which can significantly increase their potency. Include herbs but be careful not to go overboard.
One last thing to mention about tomato canning is to encourage you to consider canning tomato-based products like ketchup, tomato jam, and barbeque sauce. These are condiments and not meal components, but they can be the perfect complement to any meal.
Also, when you make these items yourself, you control how much and what kind of sweeteners are added. If you’re trying to avoid the various versions of corn syrup that often show up in tomato-based condiments, canning your own is a must!
Further Info on Home-Canned Tomatoes and Tomato Products:
- First of all, you’ll need to read this from 104 Homestead on how to peel tomatoes easily in case you need to do that for any tomato canning recipe.
- Canning whole tomatoes with basil and garlic from A Farm Girl in the Making.
- Seasoned tomato sauce from Grow a Good Life.
- Smoke barbecue sauce without the liquid smoke from Reformation Acres.
- Homemade V-8 from Urban Overalls – this stuff is better than store bought by a long shot.
- Cherry chipotle barbecue sauce from Nitty Gritty Life.
- Black bean and corn salsa with tomatoes from Schneider Peeps.
- Here’s one with a cousin of the tomato, the tomatillo – a recipe for roasted tomatillo green salsa from Grow a Good Life.
Can More Than Once?
You may discover that you must work in more days for canning tomatoes on your once-a-month canning schedule if you need a lot of jars in your pantry for the year. The tomato harvest lasts clear into fall in temperate areas, so you can easily preserve them as often as you’re able.
Canning tomatoes can be labor intensive depending on how you do it. Be prepared to split up this job over days, weeks or even months if you discover you can’t get it all done at one time.
Keep notes on how many quarts you go through each year. Adjust your “once-a-month meals” canning schedule when you need to and turn it into a “three-times-a-month” canning schedule. It’s all good.
September – Culinary Relishes like Caponata
September is a great month to play catch up with any jams, fruits, and veggies that are piled up waiting to be canned. While you’re catching up, you may end up with random amounts of leftover vegetables. These are perfect for culinary relishes that aren’t pickled.
Italian caponata, or gvetch if you’re from Russia, is a mixture of tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini and even eggplant. It’s a “garden sink” recipe for the end of the season. This fits perfectly into your once-a-month canning schedule!
How to Can: If the acid level is high enough in these recipes, you can use a water bath canner. If you want to be safe without measuring your acid, use a pressure canner. Be sure to check recommendations on recipes.
How to Use: These relishes are wonderful on sandwiches, topping baked potatoes, and even as a pasta sauce. I also dump a pint or two into spaghetti sauce to add some dimension of flavor and vegetables. Try a tablespoon on toast with a little feta cheese.
Further Info on Home-Canned Culinary Relishes:
- A recipe for gvetch – a great way to preserve the eggplant harvest.
- Zucchini relish from The Spruce Eats
- Zacusa relish from Homestead Honey
- Caponata from No Recipes
October – Apple Sauce
Nothing says October like apples simmering on the stove! There are several ways to can apples: whole apples, sliced apple pie filling, apple chunks, apple sauce, apple butter, and apple cider. Applesauce is an excellent thing to preserve for new canners. Pear preserving is very similar to apple preserving, FYI.
How to Can: Apples and various apple products are preserved in a water bath canner.
How to Use: Halved apples on granola, apple pie filling, applesauce, apple jam & butter, juice & cider. Applesauce can be used in place of oil in some baked goods to cut down on fat or simply to add moisture. FYI, apple juice comes from “table” or “dessert” apples; cider comes from cider apples.
Further Info on Home-Canned Apples:
- Caramel applesauce is a sweet twist on a classic taste; if you prefer a plain applesauce, simply use raw, granulated sugar alone in this recipe (as opposed to the coconut sugar it calls for). Seriously though, this caramel apple flavor is amazing!
- Spiced apple jelly from Grow a Good Life.
- Apple Butter from A Farm Girl in the Making.
- Apple pie filling from Nitty Gritty Life.
- Pear and apple jam from Timber Creek Farm.
- Here’s how to make Crabapple Jelly AND then how to Make Your Own Apple Sugar, both from Learning and Yearning.
Don’t Skip Breakfast or Dessert!
Apples are worth making space for on your once-a-month meals canning schedule because they’re very easy to integrate into breakfasts and desserts. These two courses often get skipped because of time constraints. We all know that skipping breakfast is unhealthy, but what’s so bad about skipping dessert?
Well, because we don’t skip it! Instead of eating home-baked treats from healthier ingredients, we grab something packaged while we’re out. Packaged treats are a nutritional wasteland. Without lecturing, let’s just say that we shouldn’t discount the importance of home preserves to round out desserts in your once-a-month canning schedule.
November – Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries are usually only for sale in the fall where I live, so I make sure to work them into my once-a-month canning schedule by November.
How to Can: A water bath canner is sufficient for most cranberry recipes.
How to Use: Cranberries are often canned whole to create a chunky sauce to add to speedy breakfasts and turkey dinners. You can also integrate them into salad dressings, jellies, and relishes. You can even learn to make cranberry juice!
I also keep some cranberries in the freezer for smoothies throughout the year and for various recipes. However, weather-induced power outages occur throughout the year where I live, so I don’t like to rely solely on my freezer for food preservation.
Further Info on Home-Canned Cranberries:
- Whole cranberry sauce from Fresh Preserving.
- Cranberry honey mustard from Homespun Seasonal Living.
- Jalepeno red pepper jelly with cranberries from Family Food Garden.
- Cranberry Jam from The Self-Sufficient Homeacre.
- SBC Canning’s method for canning cranberry juice – this is really so simple and tasty.
- Cranberry orange relish from The Inspired Home
December – Pumpkin
Pumpkins are one of my favorite things to grow in the garden – just seeing them brings me joy! If you run out of time to deal with the pumpkin harvest because of the holidays, simply keep them at room temperature and out of the way until you can get them canned up. Hard-skinned squashes like pumpkin will last for several months in a pantry closet. Do NOT put them in cold, cold storage or they’ll rot.
How to Can: When you’re ready to can pumpkin, follow the instructions exactly and use a pressure canner to put up chunks of pumpkin, not pumpkin puree. According to testing, pumpkin is not safe to can as a puree.
How to Use: The canning process results in a very soft pumpkin chunk, so it’s customary to drain the water off the pumpkin and smash or puree it. In this form it’s easy to make pasta sauce, smoothies, cheesecake and other baked goods. You can even add pumpkin to soap (not edible, of course)!
Further Info on Home-Canned Pumpkin:
- Canning pumpkin from Simply Canning.
- Pumpkin cheesecake muffins from Attainable Sustainable.
- Pumpkin coconut almond granola from Grow, Forage, Cook, Ferment.
- Winter squash pie from Learning and Yearning.
- Gluten free pumpkin cheesecake from Joybilee Farm.
- Just for kicks, a simple handmade pumpkin soap recipe from Nerdy Farm Wife.
- 5 Recipes to Add Healthy Pumpkin to your Breakfast from Rockin W Homestead.
To Make Puree from Canned Pumpkin
The video below will show you the basics of making pumpkin puree from home-canned diced pumpkin. See further down for a few more instructions and tips.Here are some quick steps to draining home-canned pumpkin and making puree:
- Carefully use a spoon or butter knife to pop the seal of a jar of home-canned, chopped pumpkin.
- Set up a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and dump the contents of the can into the strainer.
- Let the contents drain for a few minutes.
- Pick up the strainer and gently flip the pumpkin inside, using a circular motion to move the pumpkin around the sieve. It hops around as you flip it and the excess water fall through the sieve.
- If you still feel like the pumpkin pieces are hiding more water than you’d like to have in your puree, you can place a light weight (something like a ceramic bowl or a heavy plate) over the surface of the pumpkin to gently press out a little more water. Don’t apply so much pressure that the pumpkin starts pushing through the sieve, though. Leave this as long as the pumpkin is still weeping fluid.
- Remove the pumpkin from the sieve and place it in your blender body to blend into a puree. If you discover that your pumpkin is now too dry to blend well, add a teaspoon of your reserved fluid to blender body at time to loosen the mixture.
- As an alternative, if you like a chunky puree, you can simply use a stick blender or even your stand mixer to puree the pumpkin to suit your tastes. For something like a pumpkin pie, I keep my puree as dry as possible. For a pumpkin bread I leave it just a bit damp. Sometimes I’ll even add pumpkin puree to the dough of our traditional Christmas Tea Ring. Pumpkin goes with nearly everything – it’s a delightful vegetable.
Learn About Home Canning
If you’re new to home canning, be sure to read this article on knowing when to use a water bath canner and when to use a pressure canner. Here are a few other posts for information sake:
- Water Bath Canning from They’re Not Our Goats
- Pressure Canning from Attainable Sustainable
Home canning is NOT too hard for you. You CAN learn to do it – pun totally intended. To make it easier on yourself, though, start with water bath canning. The equipment is cheaper and the canning (or processing) times are generally quicker.
What Equipment Do I Need?
To water bath can high acid foods like jams, you’ll need a water bath canner.
When you’re ready, move on to pressure canning low acid foods like meats. You don’t have to be afraid of pressure canning. Like anything else, it just takes a little practice.
Next Steps for Your Once a Month Meals Canning Schedule
The most important thing to do after you read this article is to write down your own plan. Write it on your calendar, in your homestead journal, on the back of your hand – whatever! Just write it down and tick off every item on your once a month meals canning schedule.
If you need to brush up on your canning skills, look for the most recent edition of The Ball Book of Canning. This will include tested procedures and instructions, as well as basic recipes.
To further round out your scheduling, I suggest you read Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation. It’s one of the best books I’ve read on how to make preservation a natural part of the year. Plus, it’s real – she’s a real gardener, with a real life, and real failures that go hand in hand with her successes.
To learn all you need to know about pressure canning foods at home, especially if you grow some of those foods, I recommend Angi Schneider’s book, Pressure Canning for Beginners and Beyond. This book has quality teaching text, as well as delicious, tested, and unique recipes. Angi actually grows, preserves, and eats the foods she writes about.
In the end, the most important thing is to make a plan that includes achievable goals. Think about your local harvests and what your family eats throughout the year. Consider your current skill level and challenge yourself a little. Then, gather your equipment, read up on your method, and get canning today by following your schedule!
This is a great list and fresh ideas. Thanks for the suggestions. I better get busy!
Homestead Lady says
Thanks, LeeAnn! Have a great time making your gifts!
This is such a fantastic resource! My garden is doubling in size this year so I really need to up my canning game!
Homestead Lady says
So glad it was useful, Laina! I find it’s so much less stressful if I have a plan and a schedule. Good luck with your garden this year!
Homeschool Mom says
There seem to be some links missing under the “What Equipment Do I Need?” section. It says, “To water bath can high acid foods like jams, you’ll need one of these:” and then it’s just blank.
And also, “See below for an example of what I mean:” —- I am not sure what this is referencing as it is again blank afterward.
And also, “I’m saving up to buy this pressure canner, which doesn’t require a seal and is so reliable:” which doesn’t have a link. I’m super interested in what these products are as I only have a water bath canner right now.
I’d love if you could correct this. Thank you for the great write-up! Spreading canning all throughout the year sounds much less overwhelming than cramming most of it in from mid-summer to fall.
Homestead Lady says
Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to point that out! I suspect you’ve fallen victim to slow bandwidth; something I’m a victim of all. the. time. There are Amazon link images beneath the text you mentioned, but it can take some time to load if your connection is slow or spotty. I live out in the sticks and sympathize!
I’ll include text links so that you don’t need the pictures to see what I’m talking about. Thank you for pointing that out!
Have fun with your canning year!
Thank you for all the great information you shared. I’ve always wanted to start canning but honestly been a bit overwhelmed by it. The recipes you’ve provided all sound delicious and I think I might have to finally start my canning journey!
Homestead Lady says
So glad it was helpful, Nicole! You CAN do it, no pun intended. Start small, with one thing and get really good at that. No rush. Start with water bath canning – cheaper equipment and jams. Yay!
Allison | Healthy Living in Colorado says
Wow! This article covers so many things. I have never canned before because we’ve moved annually. But now that we are settling down, I’d love to start canning! I will keep this to remind me about when to can what! That’s super helpful for us newbies! Thanks so much!
Homestead Lady says
So glad you found it useful, Allison! We’ve moved quite a bit, too, and it can be daunting when thinking of starting new projects. It usually takes me a full year to recover from a move. Good luck with your efforts this year!!
Kelly Levesque says
Thank you for this list!
Homestead Lady says
You’re quite welcome! I couldn’t survive without my lists. 🙂
This is a great idea! Its a very manageable way to approach meal planning!
Homestead Lady says
Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne – I’m glad it was helpful!
Hey! I just stumbled on this and was wondering what kind of jar opener you are using. I love the look of it!
Homestead Lady says
Hey, Chelsi – I love that picture, too! That’s actually a stock photo I purchased to use for the article so I can’t be 100% sure but I think it’s actually a jar sealer. There were various kinds in the 1920’s and 30’s for sealing zinc lids over canning jars. I’m not an expert, though, and if someone wants to set me straight, I’d be super happy to learn more!
Harold Strube says
What is the blue tool in the picture. Never seen one.
Homestead Lady says
It’s a Depression-era zinc lid sealer, if I’m not mistaken. Pretty nifty looking, right?
Nancy Winningham says
So very helpful. I’m just trying to get my head around food preservation and it’s hard to know where to start. It’s good to have a plan that follows what’s in season. Thank you!
Homestead Lady says
So glad it was helpful! We’ve had a lot of requests for an expansion on this article, so look for a short e-book soon that will provide a little more information.
So, whatchya preserving this month?
Carol L says
I concur with Homestead mom: there are no links for the book recommended, Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation.
Some links are imbedded in the bold blue print, but others are not there at all.
Homestead Lady says
Thank you taking time to comment. When Homeschool Mom commented, her problem was, indeed, bandwidth issues. The Amazon ads were image-heavy pieces of code that had a lot going on behind the scenes on a technical level that made them hard to load.
As of 2022, we no longer support Amazon ads or advertise for them in any way – even for our own book! Our ethics diverged from theirs and we found we could no longer do business with them. Each of the mentioned print books are available online at sellers like Barnes and Noble, as well as used (and cheaper!) at sites like Thriftbooks.com. Abe books is owned by Amazon and is not recommended by Homestead Lady.
Have a lovely day!
What a fantastic schedule! Fun fact, before we met, my husband used the Once a Month Cooking Cookbook. Once we met, I remember being so impressed that he had frozen homemade spaghetti sauce in his freezer!
Homestead Lady says
That man is a keeper, for sure!
This is super helpful! I love breaking it down month by month. THank you!
Homestead Lady says
You bet – thanks for stopping by!
What a helpful article! I can’t wait to put this to use! I’m always looking for ways to feed my family healthy meals with all the work going on on the homestead. Thanks for sharing this!
Homestead Lady says
So glad it was useful! I have to schedule blessed everything or it just. doesn’t. get. done.
This list is great! Thank you so much!
Homestead Lady says
Glad you found it helpful – thank you for stopping by!
Great information. I love canning, I just have to are more time for it. I hope to do it soon.
Homestead Lady says
Thanks for stopping by! This might help you find more time – that’s my hope!
Brilliant idea! You can plan a whole month ahead to know what you’ll need, and plan the day(s) you’ll can. It’s 100% empowering to the point it should remove any and all feeling of overwhelm! Thank you! 🙂
Homestead Lady says
That’s the goal and I hope it helps! I had to do it for me because I get so scatterbrained during the year with food preservation.