When the first hints of fall make their appearance I'm torn between baking, gardening, canning, and sitting down with a good book and a cup of hot tea. The hot tea thing, that doesn't actually happen. That is just one of the things I would like to do. We are far too busy come harvest for any of that. I bet you are in the same boat so let me introduce you to canning parties.
Harvest time is a busy time for all gardeners. We know that well. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and sometimes it seems we can't leave the house because there is so much to do! Let's solve both of these by having a canning party. Not only are you sharing the workload and hang out with friends, when you have finished canning for the day you have have a variety of goodies to fill your belly through the winter!
1. Share the Workload and Enjoy the Company
As gardeners we are well aware that harvest time is busy. And I consider that an understaement. You too. I thought so. All that business leaves us with less time. Uhg, but oh so worth it!
Having a canning party is a good way to get the work accomplished and enjoy spending time with our friends. There is strength in numbers and when those "numbers" are you friends, well, that's a party!
Maybe you have some friends that aren't gardeners. That's ok, invite them anyways. They can still be a big help and chances are they would like to learn about canning. I'm positive they will like going home with multiple jars of freshly canned goods!
2. Variety and New Ideas
You can plan the party to accomplish just one item on the canning list or have everyone bring the ingredients for their own recipe. Once the party is over exchange jars so that everyone goes home with a variety of canned goods.
It is easy to get stuck in a rut of the same recipes every year. Thats not fun.
Almost every year I buy a new canning book to get some fresh ideas. Sometimes this works and sometimes not so much. There is so much that needs to be processed and sometimes it is easier and quicker to fall back on the recipes I've done so many times. No surpirses, just get in there and get stuff done. That's good and all but when winter comes I do think "next year we are trying some new canning recipes!" Variety is good.
When your friends come they are going to be bringing there own reicpes (the ones they have been using forever and fall back on time and time again. Ha!). They will be fresh and new to you and yours fresh and new to them! Everyone goes home with new recipes and new ideas!
3. One Mess, Lots of Hands to Help Clean Up
Maybe you are that person who is super tidy when they cook and can, or maybe you are like me and although you clean up as you go it almost always looks like there was an explosion in your kitchen when you are done.
I spend many hours in the kitchen and it is so nice when my husband comes and keeps me company as I work. A kitchen full of friends obviously does the same thing. Cleaning is nothing in these circumstances and can actually be fun. And let's not forget, it is completed in a fraction of the time.
4. Sharing all the Good
When you really like or enjoy something it is only natural to want to share it. We want the people around us to experience the goodness too. Canning parties do that in so many ways! Sharing the fruits of our labor with produce, sharing our homes, our company, our time. And your friends get to do the same. Everyone gets to share, everyone is happy. The end. Actually not the end. Take a look at my tips and ideas first. More fun, more sharing.
Tips and Ideas for the Big Event
Copies of recipes
Have everyone bring enough copies of the recipe they will be canning for everyone. This makes it nice and easy for alll guests to get copies of all the recipes from the party. Not only will they have the recipes but they will have one or more jar for themselves to see if they really like it plus fun memories of making it with friends.
Setup Extra Work Stations
Set up extra work stations in your kitchen or dinning room. Chances are your counter space is not going to be enough for a party of people to prepare food on. Bring in folding tables or utilize your dinning table, or both. Throwing a simple waterproof table cloth over the tables helps make clean up easy and makes that folding table look a little nicer. Tell your guests to bring their own cutting boards, knives and tools along with their produce so that no one is without.
As an alternative you can plan to can one thing. For example tomatoe sauce. Everyone can bring their tomatoes and you can make several batches splitting them up appropriately at the end. Next time another friend can host and you can tackle a new recipe. Everyone still gets a variety and to try new things but the logisitcs are a bit simpler.
Even having one canning party canning only one thing is fun and a great way to break up all that time you spend canning in the fall.
Ok, even though you are going to be busy canning away and socializing with your friends you still gotta eat. Everyone can bring a simple dish or snack. No need for anything elaborate here just something to fill in the holes around all those samples.
Not Everything Needs to be Canned
There are other ways that we preserve food besides canning. Preparing our produce for freezing can be a lot of work as well. To free up some space at the stove how about shredding zucchini, preparing corn, or chopping peppers for the freezer? Going home with ziplock bags full of veggies for the freezer is equaly as good as jars of veggies for the pantry.
Add a Theme?
For a little extra fun add a theme. The theme can be one the type of food you are going to can such as pickles: dilly beans, kosher dills, pickled garlic, jardiniere, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets... What about sauces, or relish, or condiments, or jams, or apples? There are so many themes that you could use!
Make It an Annual Event
Once you have experienced how fun it is to have a canning party you are going to want to do it again. Why not make it an anual event? I'm sure you will look forward to it every year.
FREE CANNING PARTY INVITATION AND RECIPE CARDS
You will be prompted to work through the checkout process but YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ENTER ANY PAYMENT INFORMATION.
What do you think friends? Are you ready to host a canning party? Share you thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
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