Get ready for canning season

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By Emily Paster

It's almost April, so according to the calendar, it must be spring, even if the weather tells us otherwise. We spent part of our spring break in upstate New York visiting family and going from Chicago to Ithaca, NY in late March is like The Journey in Search of Even Crappier Weather. And, believe me, we found what we were looking for: even crappier weather.

For cooks, this time of year is the doldrums: the time between the gorgeous winter citrus and the first few crops of spring. I'm waiting with baited breath for my local market to start displaying asparagus and rhubarb and ramps and fava beans. In the meantime, I am thinking about all the canning I am going to do once the warm weather finally hits and my beloved Oak Park Farmers' Market opens for business in May.

I have been receiving lots of requests lately for canning lessons, so I am plainly not the only one dreaming of summer. If you are interested in booking a private canning lesson for yourself — or to give to someone as a gift, which lots of people do — you can find all the details here. I am also available for group lessons or demonstrations at local businesses. If you have always wanted to learn the ins and outs of water-bath canning, but were intimidated to give it a try, please contact me! I love to show people how easy it is to preserve your favorite fruits and vegetables and spread the love of canning.

My desire to start canning has only been increased by the release of Ball's new blue glass canning jars, the limited-edition Heritage Collection Pint Jars. The jars commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Ball brothers' Perfect Mason Jar. Introduced in 1913 — which is the same year that my house was built — the "Perfect Mason" revolutionized the home canning process by providing canners with matching jars, lids and bands in a single unit. The Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars feature a vintage-inspired blue tint, period-correct logo and anniversary embossment. They can be used as you would any pint-sized jar, but trust me, you're going to want to save these beauties for your best pickles.

I just love the vintage look of these jars and they are extremely collectible. The limited-edition jars will be available this year only and will not be reproduced. They're available for purchase at www.FreshPreservingStore.comAnd, I have one case of these gorgeous jars to give away to a West of the Loop reader. Not just any case, I should add: one of the first 100 cases manufactured — complete with certificate of authenticity.

To enter the giveaway for one of the first 100 cases of Ball's new blue Heritage Collection pint jars, leave a comment to this post telling me what you would use the jars for — and it does not have to be canning! I love it when people use Mason jars to drink from, as vases, to store food and in all kinds of other creative ways. So don't be discouraged if you are not a canner.

Comments and entries must be received by midnight CDT on April 4. I will select a winner at random. Good luck! 

Full disclosure time: I received one case of the Heritage Collection jars (a $10 value) at no cost and was offered an additional case to give away. I have not received any additional compensation and all opinions expressed are my own.

Reader Comments

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Nora from Oak Park  

Posted: April 3rd, 2013 9:04 AM

I'd try canning strawberry jam for the first time -- would it look purple in the blue jar?!?

Shannon from Bentonville  

Posted: March 28th, 2013 3:02 PM

These are too beautiful to can with! Certainly gifts!

Stephanie from Richfield  

Posted: March 28th, 2013 10:11 AM

I'd use them for my refrigerator pickles and cali mixed veggies I make. I also use them for organizing containers, and lunch-on-the-go for work.

Jessica D.  

Posted: March 28th, 2013 9:48 AM

I would use these gorgeous jars in my kitchen on open shelving to display dry good such as rice, beans, cereals, nuts, etc. What a lovely look!

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