Canning.  A marvelous invention.  Would you believe this is the first year I've given it a go?  I've always been a freezer.  Blanch, pop in a freezer bag and into the chest freezer.  Always worked like a charm.  That's what my mom always did and it's what I used to do to help her.  The problem is over the years, the volume which I have preserved has increased markedly. I just don't have freezer space.  So...I decided to invest in canning supplies.  I have helped my grandmother in the past with canning, but I'd still consider myself a beginner.  I looked and looked online for the $50+ starter kits.  I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much $$$ on just the supplies for canning.  Plus the books, I wanted a good one.  I ended up doing a bit of a mix and max and ended up with everything I need and only spent $16.  

How?  I bought a large lobster pot at a thrift store (which is easy to come by living in Maine).  I bought  the jar lifter and the canning rack from amazon, they were on sale for $10 combined.  I found a canning funnel, similar to this, used.  I found in lieu of a book. It's a fantastic resource to tell you everything you need about canning.  

Now how to get stuff to can?  Well, you can grow it, go to a pick your own farm or farmer's markets.  Those are the obvious choices.  Or you can be like me, and ask your neighbors.  I have some wonderful neighbors who have some fruit trees.  I've noticed that the years we live here that not all the fruit was used.  I asked if they would be willing to share.  And you know what?  They're thrilled that someone can use it and it's not going to waste. Look around old farmhouses in particular.  Sometimes there's a half of a dozen old apple trees with apples not being used.  Ask!  The worst someone can say is no.  They may be thrilled that it won't go to waste too.

These are from our good neighbors who have become our friends.  I picked a laundry basket full and barely touched the mass amount on the pear tree.  I maybe took 1/10th...and look at the crop!
All I do is cut the tops and bottoms off, cut them in half and boil until fork tender.  These are hard so it takes about an hour.  Then I pop them in whole in my kitchen aid using the fruit strainer attachment (which is worth it's weight in gold when making this stuff). Then I can according to the directions on the website referenced above.

And I receive constant supervision from my sous chef.  He spends a lot of time sitting in the canning boxes.  And stepping in and out of them (as he is here).

All in a days work.  
Little helper approved.
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