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The surprisingly easy way to become a canning goddess

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Photos: Oxmoor House

If summer is your favorite time of year because of the overflowing tables at the farmers’ market, the arrival of fall can lead to some serious withdrawal. (Cue cruel fantasies of biting into juicy peaches, technicolor heirloom tomatoes, and sweet corn as you yank on a sweater.) But you can enjoy the (literal) fruits of the season way after your favorite farmer goes into hibernation if you plan properly—and put in a little bit of work.

Though the idea of canning may sound über complicated or like something only your grandmother knows how to do, you’re probably already familiar with the main equipment. Those stylish mason jars you’ve stocked up on are meant for more than just making cocktails extra-Instagrammable and facilitating your al fresco dining habit; they also help to keep fruits and veggies from going bad, even when kept on the shelf for awhile.

All New Ball Book of Canning & Preserving - Cover FINAL (1)If you’re a first-time canner, The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving makes for a trusty companion. The new cookbook walks readers through all the key preserving processes (with helpful photos), from canning and freezing to dehydrating and smoking.

One of the more simple ways to save your produce? Water bath canning. Once you’ve turned your cucumbers into pickles, your blackberries into jam, and your peppers and tomatoes into salsa, a deep stockpot full of boiling water will seal your jars so that the insides last. The time in boiling water depends on the recipe, but the process is the same. Just make sure you stock up on fresh jars and lids, since old ones won’t seal properly.

And if you’re making your own marmalades, relishes, fermented and pickeled veggies, and sauces, you know exactly what’s going in (as well as what’s not—cough, sugar or chemical preservatives, cough).

Ready to capture summer in a jar?

Stock up at the farmers’ market, then get canning! Keep reading for three surprisingly easy recipes to make it happen.

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Pickled Asparagus

Pickled Asparagus

Yields about six 750mL jars

When asparagus is in season, pickling is the best way to extend it throughout the year. Delicate spears enhanced with garlic and dill will remain flavorful and crisp. Asparagus comes in three colors that range in thickness depending on when they are harvested and the age of the plant. Choose very fresh medium-thickness spears and mix the colors up for interest.

5 cups white vinegar (5 percent acidity)
1 qt water
2⁄3 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup Ball Salt for Pickling & Preserving
4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 tsp pickling spice
7 lb fresh asparagus
12 dill sprigs
6 garlic cloves, crushed
Ball Pickle Crisp (optional)

1. Bring the first 6 ingredients to a boil in a 3-qt. stainless steel or enameled saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve.

2. Rinse asparagus. Cut spears into 5-inch lengths to fit jars, discarding tough ends. Place 2 dill sprigs and 1 garlic clove into a hot jar. Tightly pack asparagus, cut ends down, in jar, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Add 1⁄8 tsp. Ball Pickle Crisp to jar, if desired. Ladle hot pickling liquid over asparagus, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place jar in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

3. Process jars 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

Honeyed Apricots

Honeyed Apricots

Yields about five 500mL jars

Light and easy canned apricot halves burst with flavor with a little help from honey.

3 1/2 cups water
1 cup honey
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
5 lbs firm ripe apricots, halved and pitted

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a 6-qt stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Add seeds and vanilla bean to honey mixture. Bring to a boil and add apricot halves. Return to a boil and reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.

2. Pack hot apricot halves, cut side down, in a hot jar, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup over apricots, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place jar in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

3. Process jars 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

Summer Corn and Peach Salsa

Summer Corn and Peach Salsa

Yields about six 250mL jars 

Chipotle peppers, malt vinegar, and a splash of maple syrup round out the smoky flavor in this sweet peach and corn salsa.

1/4 cup malt vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
3 Tbsp chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp salt
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped
3 1/3 fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a 6-qt. stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

2. Ladle hot salsa into a hot jar, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. Place jar in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

3. Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.

Looking for more ways to use your in-season produce? These veggie-heavy side dishes are perfect for summer cookouts. Or if you’re just prepping lunch for one, this portable summer salad will keep your taste buds very happy!