Tag Archives: food preservation

Great Varieties for Canning

Last week on the blog, we discussed ten tips for canning stress-free canning. Food preservation is an essential part of gardening, and canning is a popular way to put up extra food without needing to keep a large freezer running. When I’m not busy preserving food, I also like to take some time each fall to think about how different varieties performed and what I can do differently next year. This fall, I’m considering great varieties for canning.

While you can pressure can many vegetables, including green beans, peas, corn, squash, and potatoes. You can only water bath can certain vegetables and fruits that are highly acidic or are tasty when pickled or otherwise made highly acidic using vinegar. Water bath canning is easy and great for beginners because it requires little start-up cost. Below we’ll discuss some great varieties you can grow for water bath canning tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, cucumber pickles, salsa, and pickled peppers


Canned tomatoes or sauce is one of the most versatile products in the pantry. I make pizza, pasta dishes, soups, chili, burritos, and more using home canned tomatoes. While any variety can be preserved, certain varieties produce less juice and more flesh making them more suited to cooking.

Indeterminate vs. Determinate

Tomatoes are divided into two categories, determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes reach their mature size and yield a large quantity of tomatoes in a relatively short time. Determinate tomatoes can be convenient for preserving.

Indeterminate tomatoes are more vining and continue to grow upward and produce throughout the season. These can be a better option if you want tomatoes for fresh eating over a longer period, but you can also preserve them.

Here are five great options for canning tomatoes:

Amish Paste (Indeterminate)

You’ve probably run across Amish paste if you’ve looked into canning tomatoes. These tall plants produce heavy yields of large, coreless tomatoes with excellent flavor. Despite the name ‘Amish Paste,’ the juicy fruits are best suited to making sauce.

San Marzano (Indeterminate)

This Italian heirloom is famous for its use in Neapolitan pizza and other Italian dishes. San Marzano tomatoes are very productive, 6-foot-tall plants with good disease resistance. The long Roma-type tomatoes have thick, dry, low acid flesh and few seeds. They are ideal for canning in recipes with enough acidity. 

Heinz 1350 VF Processing Tomato (Determinate)

Developed in 1963 by the H. J. Heinz Company, Heinz 1350 is an excellent processing tomato for canning and cooking. It’s widely adapted, has a concentrated fruit set, and produces round 4-6 oz fruits with good crack resistance.

Yellow Bell Paste Tomato (Indeterminate)

Southern Exposure introduced this Tennessee family heirloom in 1986. These heavy-yielding plants produce 5-12 fruits per cluster. They survive better in cool, wet conditions than other sauce tomatoes and bear heavily until frost. Yellow bells are great for salads or making lovely tomato paste, juice, preserves, salsa, and yellow catsup!

Roma VF, Virginia Select Paste Tomato (Determinate)

Our neighboring farmer and Growing for Market writer Pam Dawling has been saving this locally adapted strain since 2001, selecting for high, early yields and tolerance to Septoria Leaf Spot. It was introduced in 2009 by Southern Exposure and produces 4-5 ounce fruits.


One of the first recipes I learned to can was basic dill pickles. Cucumber pickles are easy to make and a great way to enjoy your garden produce even in the winter.

Arkansas Little Leaf Pickling Cucumber

The University of Arkansas developed this popular, reliable variety in 1991. It produces compact vines with multiple branch points that will climb a fence or trellis easily and are resistant to multiple diseases. Arkansas Little Leaf has small leaves that make finding fruit easier and parthenocarpic flowers which produce fruit under stress and without pollinators. It produces 5-inch long fruits that are good for slicing and pickling. 

Boston Pickling Cucumber 

A classic old pickler, this variety dates back to 1880. While not as rampant as some, it’s still productive, and the blunt-shaped fruits are crisp and mild, ideally sized for pickling.

Roseland Small White Pickling CucumberRoseland Small White Pickling Cucumber

In the early ’70s, Gordon Shronce’s sister Evelyn Allran received seed from a neighbor in the Roseland community near Lincolnton, North Carolina. Southern Exposure introduced Roseland Small White Pickling Cucumbers in 2016. It produces loads of early, blocky white cukes that are excellent sliced or pickled. Gordon likes to pick them at 3 inches or less, but they’re still mild and tender to 7 inches long.

Homemade Pickles Pickling Cucumber

Homemade Pickles produces medium green fruits with small white spines that are solid and crisp. These vigorous plants were specifically developed for home gardeners and have good disease resistance, including Downy Mildew resistance. They make delicious, robust bite-sized pickles, slices, or large spears.

Mexican Sour Gherkin (Mouse Melon, Sandita) 

These tenacious vines bear many 5⁄8 in. x 7⁄8 in. fruits with skin like tiny watermelons. They bear until frost and can be pickled whole for a fund snack or conversation-starting garnish! Immature, they taste like cucumbers; when fully mature, they taste like pickled cucumbers.


When growing a lot of your food, peppers are essential. They preserve well and add great flavor to many dishes. I love pickling peppers and adding them to salsa. My father-in-law also taught me to add hot pepper to some of my jars of pickles and spaghetti sauce.

Hungarian Hot Wax Banana Pepper

This very productive variety produces banana-shaped peppers with medium heat. They adapt well to the deep south and cool north and can be used fresh, canned, or pickled. 

Red Cherry (Cherry Sweet) Sweet Pepper

This pre-1860 variety is excellent for pickling, canning, stuffing, or snacking! The little bonbon-shaped fruits are thick-walled, sweet, and flavorful. Red cherries bear heavily and are disease resistant. 

Serrano Tampiqueño Hot Pepper

If you like your food a bit spicy, Serrano Tampiqueño is a great multi-purpose pepper. Plants reach about 4 feet tall and produce pendant-shaped, thin-walled fruit. They’re very hot, whether picked green or red, and are excellent for drying, salsa, pickling, hot pepper vinegar, and flavoring spicy dishes like chili. 

Sweet Banana (Long Sweet Hungarian) Sweet Pepper

Sweet bananas are excellent for fresh eating, frying, freezing, and pickling. I love using pickled sweet banana peppers on salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and nachos. This variety produces heavy yields and is a great choice for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Jalapeño Hot Pepper

These classic salsa chiles had to make the list. These thick-walled peppers are great for pickling, adding excellent flavor to salsa, smoked, or making Jalapeño vinegar. Jalapeños filled with cream cheese and fried are a Southern specialty. They’re often harvested green but can be harvested red or left to mature to red off the plant.

As you’re planning next season’s garden, it’s a good idea to consider how and if you want to put up excess produce. Planting a few canning varieties is a great way to stock your pantry beyond the summer months.

10 Canning Tips

Late summer and early fall is harvest season. As vegetable gardeners, we’re busy sowing fall crops, pickling peppers, curing winter squash, and processing flour corn. Food preservation is a time-consuming part of this season. While there are many ways to preserve food, those with large home gardens often turn to canning to put up at least part of their harvest. Maybe you’re trying to eat more affordable, organic food, perhaps you’re trying to connect with your heritage or become more self-reliant, or maybe you’re just a foodie who knows that homegrown salsa tastes best. Here are ten canning tips to help your preservation run smoothly.

Don’t be afraid.

I’ll admit that when I started canning, it made me nervous. The threat of botulism loomed heavy in my mind. I was horrified when my dad gave my grandfather some pickles I had made. What if I poisoned him?

Years later, canning seems like cooking. Yes, there are certain things you need to do to be safe, but they’re no different than making sure your roast reaches a specific temperature.

Make sure you understand the basics of canning.

Getting familiar with the basics of canning is a good idea for safety and ease of processing. Once you understand the basics, you won’t have to check the directions constantly or worry about contaminated food.


Begin with a clean kitchen.

Starting with a clean kitchen will help ensure your food is sanitary and reduce your stress. You don’t want to have to work around other projects or have to wash utensils to sue them while you’re in the middle of canning.

Double-check your recipe and buy extra.

Make sure you have all the ingredients you need on hand before you begin canning. From personal experience, it’s horrible to realize you don’t have enough pectin for your batch of jam, or you’re missing a spice from your awesome marinara sauce recipe. Double-check ahead of time!

Canning Jars in Rack (Canning Tips)Consider smaller jars and amounts.

Getting a bit carried away can be easy when you first begin preserving food. Maybe you have a lot of vegetables to put up, or perhaps you remember your grandparents putting up tons of beans. As many of us don’t have the large families of previous generations, I recommend people consider using smaller jars. If it’s just you or you have a small family, you may want to consider using pints or even half pints for some foods.

You should also consider how much you’ll go through in a year. Crops like cucumbers can be incredibly prolific, and while it’s easy to think that canning may seem like a great solution, you don’t want to end up with unused jars. According to the USDA, you want to use your canned food in one year to get the best nutritional value. Will you eat a pint of pickles per week? If not, you may not want to can 52 jars. Consider donating extra fresh produce to food banks, family, neighbors, or anyone you know in need.

Prepare extra jars.

Most canning recipes, like those available on the Ball Mason Jar website, will tell you about how many jars a batch will make. It’s still a good idea to have an extra couple of jars on hand and ready to go if you have enough to fill more.

Have snacks and easy meals on hand.

Canning is hard and hungry work. Working hungry and convincing yourself to cook a complicated meal after spending hours processing food is tough. I like having easy snacks and meals on hand for big canning days.

Can in the morning.

You may have other preferences, but I generally like to get my canning done in the morning. This works well for me because the temperature is usually a bit cooler, and it gives me plenty of time to clean up the kitchen in the afternoon and still have a relaxing evening.

Clean as you go.

Another tactic that keeps canning from becoming too stressful is cleaning as you go. While I have a batch of food in the canner, I like to do up what dishes I can or wipe counters, so I don’t leave it all until the very end.

Use fresh, high-quality produce.

Canning is a lot of work. Make sure the food you’re putting up will be delicious and worth the effort by canning your harvests when fresh or selecting good quality produce from the farmers’ market when supplementing your own crop.

Canning is a great way to preserve a lot of food, but it can be intimidating to new canners and is a lot of work. Follow these canning tips to keep your food preservation simple and stress-free this harvest season.

How to Freeze Green Beans

Green beans are one of the more prolific crops in the summer garden. Thankfully, there are several ways that you can preserve them for later use, such as pressure canning, water bath canning them (pickling) as dilly beans, or drying them as leather britches, as we discussed in a previous post. Freezing them is another option for quickly preserving them. In this post we’ll cover how to properly freeze green beans.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as tossing them in the freezer. There are a few steps you need to take first. 

Gather Supplies

Here’s what you’ll need to freeze green beans.

  • Green Beans
  • 1 Large Pot (for boiling)
  • 1 Large Bowl, Pot, or a Clean Sink (for Shocking)
  • Ice
  • Salt 
  • Freezer Safe Containers or Bags
  • Clean Kitchen Towels
  • *Optional: Cookie Sheets or Baking Trays that Fit in Your Freezer

Preparing Your Green Beans

The first step is to wash and go through your green bean harvest. Trim off the stems, remove or trim any bad spots, string them if necessary, and cut them to your desired size.

Before freezing green beans and most other vegetables, it’s important to blanch them. While washing and cutting your green beans, you’ll want to set a large pot of water on to boil. You’ll also want to fill a large pot, bowl, or clean sink with ice water.

Why Blanch Green Beans?

Blanching is the process of briefly boiling vegetables and then dunking them in ice water before freezing them. This essential step stops enzyme action in your green beans and other vegetables. Without blanching, enzyme action will cause a loss of flavor, color, texture, and nutrients while your vegetables are frozen.

How to Blanch Green Beans

To blanch your green beans, bring water to a full rolling boil and boil them for 3 minutes. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends this time, and you can find times for blanching other vegetables at that site. 

After 3 minutes, remove your beans from the boiling water and immediately place them in your ice water bath to stop the cooking. They should be a nice bright green at this time.

Once your beans are cool, you can scoop them out of the ice water with your hands or a strainer. Lay your green beans in a single layer on clean kitchen towels to remove any excess moisture.Freeze Green Beans

How to Freeze Green Beans

After you’ve let your beans dry for a couple of minutes, it’s time to freeze them. There are two ways to do this. You may decide to pack them as is into containers or bags and pop them in the freezer. 

I prefer to complete an additional step. Here’s where the cookie sheets come in. I lay my green beans out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and set the cookie sheet in the freezer.

When the beans are completely frozen, I remove the cookie sheets from the freezer and pack the beans into bags or containers. I find that pre-freezing them in a single layer prevents them from freezing together, making it easy to grab however many I want from a package to toss into a meal. 

Freezing green beans is a quick and simple process that will allow you to enjoy your homegrown produce all winter! I love using my frozen green beans to make comforting winter meals like Shepard’s pie, garlic tofu stir fry, and minestrone. Follow these simple steps and have green beans on hand for your recipes.