Can-o-Rama 2013

This past weekend was pretty much dedicated to canning. Homebrew Husband and I did this last year (see: Can-o-Rama 2012). Dedicating a solid weekend to putting up staple foods like pickles and tomatoes can be a bit of a whirlwind, but it feels fantastic to take the pantry from nearly-bare to nearly-full in 48 hours.

This year worked out even better than last year. We tackled a slightly smaller, more focused work-load and happened to line Can-o-Rama weekend up with a our-daughter-visits-her-auntie weekend. Our focus was on tomato and pickle products, plus a few other things from the garden that just needed to be dealt with. Last year we did more jams and sweet fruit preserves but this year I am seriously limiting my jam making. No for real, don’t laugh. I can resist the siren call of jam-making. Mostly.


Here’s the total tally of canning completed this past weekend:

Roma Tomatoes (halves) – 25 quarts
Roma Tomatoes (crushed) – 16 quarts
Tomato Sauce – 30 pints (See my method for making Nearly Free Tomato Sauce)
Assorted Dill Pickles – 24 quarts
Sweet Pickle Relish – 18 half-pints
Dill Pickle Relish – 20 half-pints
Roasted Corn Salsa – 15 pints
Fig Preserve with Balsamic, Mandarin and Thyme – 7 half-pints
Roasted Corn – 4 quarts, frozen (not pictured)


If you are new to canning tomato products, you can learn everything you need to know from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Those guys will not steer you wrong.


The Sweet Pickle Relish recipe came from Canning For A New Generation. I really like this canning cookbook, but this particular relish recipe was a touch sweet for my taste. I added additional vinegar to balance the flavors. When canning pickled items, it is always ok to add additional acid to your recipe but it is never ok to reduce the acidifying ingredients in a recipe. To learn why, check out my post on how not to die from botulism.

The Dill Pickle Relish Recipe was from NCHFP. I substituted a few spicy jalapeno peppers for an equivalent amount of some of the sweet pepper to give it a bit more kick.


The tomato sauce was, as usual, my Nearly Free Thick Tomato Sauce. If you are still composting skins and cores from your peeled tomato products, read this post to learn how I stopped throwing away free tomato sauce.


This year, the peels and clean trimmings from my nearly 120 pounds of canning tomatoes gave me 30 pints of nearly free tomato sauce in addition to the 41 quarts of “intended” canned tomato products. Waste not, want not!


Of the two dozen quarts of pickles we processed, six are Indian Spiced (this is an experiment – hope they are good!), six are Classic Dills from the Food In Jars cookbook, and a dozen are Garlic Dills.


In the midst of canning all these tomatoes and pickles my figs started screaming at me that they, too, were ready to be preserved and had no interest in waiting for a more convenient time. I had about 2-and-a-half pounds of figs and simmered them down with sugar, lemon juice, mandarin orange peel, fresh thyme and a bunch of balsamic vinegar. The result is a sweet, tangy sauce that is fantastic with chevre or blue cheeses, and is going to make saucing up chicken or pork dead-simple in the year ahead.


The runaway favorite from this Can-o-Rama has got to be the Roasted Corn Salsa, from the Food In Jars Cookbook. It’s fantastic! Kinda sweet, kinda tangy, a teeny bit spicy. I substituted ground chipotle pepper for the chili flakes called for in the recipe, so my variant has a slight smokey quality too. It’s awesome.


I’ve already eaten two jars of this salsa. It’s getting ridiculous. The first jar full I ate with a spoon and I kept thinking, “wow, this would be great with seafood.” So last night, I seared up some salmon, topped it with some more Roasted Corn Salsa, and called that dinner.


I was right. It’s great with seafood. If you don’t have the Food In Jars cookbook, it’s worth buying for this recipe alone.

So, happy to say the pantry is approaching that “fully stocked” point. I still have peaches, pears and apples to tackle and I may try to sneak in another dozen jars of crushed tomatoes if the mood and produce strikes. But I feel like I’m in a good spot going forward.

How is your preserving going? Do you go for the Can-o-Rama method, or are you taking a more slow-and-steady approach to your preserving this year?


  1. says

    I ended up freezing most of my tomatoes just because I would only get about 6 at a time so I never had enough to can all at once. I canned in spurts as things got ripe and didn’t put up nearly the amount you did. I tend to freeze a lot more than I can. I think I have enough jam for at least 40 people! Not sure what I will do with it all.

  2. says

    WOW! We can as we go. As things ripen I am canning… it would be so much easier if it all went at once and we could do it in a weekend, but rarely is there a day that I am not some how harvesting, freezing, canning or cleaning up from it! We try to can as much as possible because we also raise a lot of our own meats so they take up the freezer room. Oh and frozen blueberries… must have those! Squash seems to be the only thing that gets frozen (and snap peas). I will look into some of those books~ they sound amazing! I have a sweet relish that I did this year (another great place to use up some crocked neck squash, it adds some great color!) and added some spicy red peppers to add a kick to half our batch.

    Thank you for the tomato sauce idea! Most our ends, skins, ect. go to our pigs/chickens so I feel like we aren’t totally wasting, but making more canned goods would be even better!

    Our goal is 52 quarts of everything… one a week (although with baby #4 due next month {oh canning pregnant is exciting sometimes} doesn’t seem like it will be enough very quickly!

    • Lindsey says

      I dehydrate my zucchini/summer squash and we eat it as chips and save most of it for winter to use in crock pot soups. This year I got carried away with zucchini plants and so far have dehydrated 111 pounds (yup, 111). We use it in latkes and stir fries and breads, but can’t keep in front of it (even with giving it to neighbors) so I decided to dehydrate most of it as it ripens. It is very easy and we do use it all up by spring.

      • says

        I would love some recipes for foods using dehydrated zucchini. The dryer has been going a lot, mainly with leafy greens. In winter tofu-miso soup is a favourite lunch. A spoonful of kale/chard powder works great in that. It can also be used in any recipe asking for frozen spinach. Think lasagna.

  3. sarah h. says

    Great job! I don’t can much but spend long summer days as a child helping my mother to can tomatoes, so I feel a pleasing glow of satisfaction on your behalf looking at your photo of all the finished products on a table. Keep up the good work.

  4. says

    Awesome!! All I’ve canned so far this year is gooseberry jam. Tomatoes aren’t ready yet, my husband is working off the farm for a spell, and I have a one-year-old. Enough said. I have however frozen lots of cherries, several kinds of berries, three different pestos, and (in a giant food preservation win …) 6 gallons of apple juice from our neighbour’s apples, using our own gigantic fruit press that we bought used for a song. Well, OK. Five gallons of juice and one gallon of hard cider. The neighbour got six gallons as well from the same pressing. Did you do any lacto-fermented stuff this year? So far I have one jar of lf cukes on the shelf that I started a few days ago.

  5. says

    That’s fantastic. We could never manage that here currently. We also can as stuff ripens which seems to be dribbles and drabbles with an occasional boom! Tomatoes and corn getting ripe so I’ll be making corn salsa tomorrow! It looks wonderful and I manage to find the recipe on line. Thanks.

  6. Erin says

    Is all this from your garden?! I was a bit late this year with corn and cukes so those are just starting to come on and though I have a ton of tomatoes, they are ripening in fits and starts, not enough to can.
    So far it’s just been freezing berries, a bit of jam but like you, trying to reduce the jams this year. I have the food in jars cookbook, love it. I’ll try out that corn salsa recipe when the corn is ready.

  7. says

    I bow deeply to your awesomeness and once again admire your talent for organization. Repeat question: do you have a book deal yet? Get on it, your fans will cheer and buy!
    As for me, I used to do this, in a log cabin without running water or electricity for good measure. These days my tomato canning has been outsourced to whichever brand happens to be on special in the regular supermarket. If I were still raising small children that might be different. But at 70 I worry a bit less about ingesting hormone disruptors that take a few decades to do their evil work. Did anyone ever tell you there is a delicious lightness in aging?

  8. Courtney says

    Food in Jars is my “go to” when looking for good recipes, Marissa really knows what she is doing! Every other week I taka a Saturday or Sunday to can whatever is available at the Farmer’s Market. My thought was to get what was in season at the moment. I spent one weekend doing several kinds of jam. Another weekend pickling cukes, dilly beans, carrots and cauliflower (Food in Jars, Lemon Cauliflower recipe). I think next year, I might try to put aside a 48 hour block for a Can-O-Rama, so I can be more thoughtful about what we are actually going to use and not over can (which I have done this year).

  9. says

    Impressive as usual! I have done the canorama method several times before with my mother in law quite successfully and it always feels great, but hubby & I just moved to Portland, OR so now that’s no longer possible. I’ve done a few small batches this year (have the Food in Jars cookbook-will have to try that salsa!) but mostly freezing all the fresh berries we’re picking. YUM!

  10. says

    I’ve been there, and I totally understand the feeling of sweaty satisfaction after laboring over a canner for so long! It seems like my Mom canned every day in the summer (with a lot of help from the kids) , and watching the pretty jars fill up the shelves was always kind magical.

    I don’t can much anymore, since no one will eat any of it but me. Instead, I focus on year-round fresh produce, or the few things we can store in our not-so-cold basements here. I do still can a few things — stew meat goes from tough to butter in a jar and I always do some canning gifts for Christmas.

  11. says

    What an amazing haul! I’ve been planning to make tomato sauce and that very same roasted corn salsa for a few weeks, but it looks like I’m going to have to wait until labor day weekend to really go for it. Stupid summer weddings halfway across the state… :)

  12. cptacek says

    I’ve been canning non stop it seems for a few weeks. My goodness, though, it takes soooooo looooooong to get the water boiling/pressure up. Maybe because I’m doing it on a hot plate instead of a regular stove? I also need to grab a weight instead of relying on the gauge, because though I get some good reading time watching that thing, I could get other things done if I just had to hear it rocking.

    • Bob says

      A hot plate is very slow because they are limited to 1800 watts due to having to be plugged into a wall outlet. A propane camp stove would be much faster if you cant use your home stove for some reason.

      • cptacek says

        I am getting a new cooktop as soon as I drive 60 miles to Sears, since the old one pooped out on me :) Thanks for the answer! I just couldn’t see how anyone could get that much done in two days since my water took so long to boil!

        • Bob says

          Yes, a propane stove is pretty much just as safe as a gas stove. It wont give you carbon monoxide poisoning or anything like that unless your house is super tiny and well sealed.

      • Maiya says

        We have an induction stove-top so use the a propane camp stove outside. It’s not the most streamlined method but it works!

  13. Teresa says

    That’s impressive. You must have a better system going than I do. I can in spurts, as a rule, a canner load here and a canner load there. And oh lordy, have I frozen green beans and dried small tomatoes this year! I also have a bag of tomato skins and cores in the freezer waiting until my next tomato-palooza so I’ll have enough to try your sauce.

  14. MichelleB says

    Erica, I have been putting whole tomatoes into the freezer as they ripen. I would love to make canned salsa and sauce. Can I defrost my tomatoes and use them in the canning recipes?

  15. Micah Sabey says

    Great job. That is a ton of work. And it looks amazing.
    And I LOVE Canning for a New Generation. Has anyone tried the ginger and honey apricots from that book? They are totally amazing.
    I’ve been mostly canning in smaller batches all summer. But about now I get a few boxes of tomatoes, peaches, and pears and can a bunch all at once. I seem to be either water bath or pressure canning 2-3 times a week for the last couple of months. I get a bunch of tomatoes (not from my garden alas…except for cherry tomatoes)…and do maybe 2-3 quarts…then 2-3 quarts of pears…plums, apples, salsa, chutney, chili, chicken stock…and TONS of jam. I’ve been going blueberry picking like nobody’s business this summer, and ravaging the local blackberry population.

  16. says

    I spent last week canning peaches- 84 qts in total. I have about 10 qts of sauce canned, but the rest is frozen- I think at least 35 qts worth. It’s a big process, your jars are so organized!

  17. Christie says

    W.O.W. You busy. Have you done tomato soup? I want to can my own this year, but can’t find a consensus on how long to can it! Do you have any good links on that?

  18. Kris M says

    I have gotten into the habit of dehydrating my figs. The Ball Complete Book of Canning has a delicious fig jam that uses dried figs, orange juice, and grand marnier. I’ve also come across a jam recipe from BHG that uses dried figs and dried apricots.

  19. Kris M says

    Forgot to add my canning ventures of the year. I tend to can as things ripen. New things I’ve tried this year include honey pickled radishes, honey pilsner pickles, hot chili-tomato sauce, zucchini relish, and tomatillo apple salsa. There is also a 6 gal carboy of strawberry wine that’s waiting to be bottled.

    My family also had a mini crab apple can-o-rama since my dad discovered a couple of crabapple trees where he works. The result was a plethora of crab apple jelly, crab apple butter, and crab apple sauce.

    There are the usual suspects – cinnamon cucumber rings, blackberry jelly, concord jelly. All of our berries and blanched greens and squashes went into the freezer along with a bag of skins and cores waiting to be sauced. I have a few tomato plants and hot peppers that are still producing up a storm. I have plans of marinara sauce and hot pepper jellies dancing in my head!

  20. says

    Wow, I’m so impressed. We have only manage to can a bit of peach jam (not too much, but I must have it for crepes :-) and some refrigerator pickles using a to die for recipee from Tassajara Cookbook. I’ve also frozen a few bags of snap beans and okra, but you are inspiring me to do more.

  21. says

    Man, this is so the inspiration I need for the coming weeks. Oh my gosh do I need to can. We’re down to our last jar of tomato sauce from last year, so now’s the time. I’m also looking forward to fermenting more stuff and making ketchup and salsa.

  22. Lauri says

    I just had to stop in and say thank you for your jam recipe and combination table. It’s my first ever canning effort, and I ended up with two dozen 8 oz jars and 3 pint jars with 6 different kinds of jam out of it. Your suggestions turned out fabulous! And wow. That’s a ton of food! You’ve inspired me to continue the canning adventures. :)

  23. Crazy tomato lady says

    Hi Erica! These types of entries are my favorites of yours! You are an inspiration. I also love anything you write about your larder/pantry. Thanks for your overall awesomeness!

    I would be thrilled if you had the chance to answer a few questions for your readers about your can-o-rama process. Even if I had help and no kids running around the kitchen, I do not think I could accomplish what you and your hubby did in a weekend! Can you tell us a little about your plan and organization? Do you have a 5 burner stove, as most stoves can only accommodate one boiling water canner at a time? Is one person peeling tomatoes and another one processing, etc? I’d love to know what order you do your recipes in and if you have any time saving tips. What time did you start and end each day?

    As for me, I can as my garden produces. I’ve canned a ton of salsa this year, plus one batch of tomato basil simmer sauce & one batch of smoky chipotle tomato chutney. This was my first year making jam and I regularly referred to your flavor chart! I made strawberry cardamom, blackberry anise, strawberry rhubarb, strawberry ginger, blackberry peach with orange rind, and plain blackberry. I also canned peach chutney and dilly beans, plus froze a ton of tomatoes and berries.

  24. Maiya says

    I started in on making the basically free tomato sauce but was too plumb tuckered to finish it after the initial cooking so I put it in the fridge overnight. I am wondering if it’s too late to continue with the canning process because of this. Anyone have an idea?

        • says

          Maiya, anyone who participates in Can-a-paloozas have done this…usually because we’re also drinking some good homebrews to stay cool in the kitchen, and may need to sleep a few of those beers off in a nap while tomatoes process. ;) I do this often, and I’ve never had a bad result from it.

  25. says

    Please, a post on efficiency in scaling up the process. How many canners are you running at one time? Pressure or boiling bath? I’m running out of burners and I only do one batch at a time!

  26. says

    I’m in the midst of my own Canapalooza over here. Got the gift of a harvest day (someone else’s garden – they were out of town and needed someone to come and cart away the ripe produce) yesterday, so today has been wall-to-wall tomato.
    Not literally.
    But it’s a near thing.
    I’ve got cores and skins and seeds and juices (and cracked baby tomatoes) stewing in the slow cooker, sliced jaune flames (I think) roasting in the oven, and half-pint jars sterilizing for my last round of crushed tomatoes. There’s still peaches and pears and frozen beans and greens to go, but I’m feeling like today has been well-spent. :-)


  27. says

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and
    was curious what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blokg like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks

  28. says

    This, and your post last year on nearly-free thick tomato sauce, inspired me to double my tomato purchase this year to 30 pounds–still pretty small compared to your ‘palooza, but it’s only my second year and I have far fewer mouths to feed!

    I ended up getting 22 assorted jars (mostly pints, which work best for me, but also a few 1/2 pints and 1.5 pints) done in one Sunday, with even some time to watch a little football. Last year I only did whole tomatoes, but this year I also did crushed and sauce. I did a pros and cons list about my experiences with putting up each:

    I’m going back for one more peck at the farmers market tomorrow and then I’m done, I swear!

  29. Desiree Gabel says

    I got a late start canning this year because we bought a house that came with a glass top stove. This meant no canning until my wonderful husband purchased a restaurant-quality cast iron cook top. We still have the glass-top, which I am hoping to replace next year, but this has helped us actually can this year. We have canned a bit almost every weekend since the beginning of September, and I haven’t taken an official inventory, but I think we have 8 half-pints of Strawberry-Habanero Jam, at least 40 half-pints of sticky-fig jam (I found a public fig tree that no one seems to know about), 3 pints kosher dill carrots, 3 pints kosher dilly beans, 6 pints pickled zucchini, 6 pints marinara, 4 whole plum tomatoes, at least 12 salsa, and 14 quarts halved plums in water. I also still have a ton of frozen fruit that I am debating canning as well.

      • Christie says

        Beats me, I have one that I’ve been using for several years for canning! But I’d be interested in know if there’s a reason this shouldn’t be done…

          • Maiya says

            With the canners that you buy at the store (for water bath canning) typically have a rippled bottom that doesn’t allow for full contact with the burners of a glass top. Because of this, the water isn’t able to maintain the constant temp needed for water processing. I bought a giant copper-bottomed stockpot that I use to can, which works the a dream.

  30. Kylie says

    Hi there,

    I like the idea of canning, but end up never starting as my brain starts screaming about it being unhealthy. Could someone point me in the direction of some knowledge? :) I assume I think this way because of canned corn & peas in the grocery store being laden with salt and sugar. Is home canning much different?

    Thanks so much for your time :)

  31. says

    Wow, what an impressive bunch of canning you got done in one weekend! I just spent two afternoons making about 40 jars of olallieberry jam and I am beat. Love all that you put up :)

  32. Kate says

    I made the roasted corn salsa from Food In Jars for the first time and I found it insanely sweet. Has anyone figured out if it’s safe to reduce the sugar? thanks!


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