Here are a few canning party ideas for fun afternoon or evening of canning, as well as a free canning label printable!
Canning is one of those things I always want to do, but it’s hard to find the time to do it. There’s really a lot of effort that goes into it, and I like to be as prepared as possible. There’s so many awesome ways to can and preserve food, and it can really pay off if you do it strategically.
A few weeks ago, I had a little canning party with my mom and sister-in-law. I had only ever canned things by myself, so I thought it would be fun to have a little company this time. I’m not sure why I was feeling so ambitious, considering I was 30 weeks pregnant at the time and so tired…but whenever I have an idea, I just can’t get it out until I do it! So, we planned to do it at my sister-in-law’s house and have some fun.
The day came, and, as to be expected, I was exhausted preparing for it, so by the time we got there, I was practically falling asleep! Fortunately, I pushed through, and it was a fun afternoon. We had a few hiccups along the way, but overall, I felt it was successful.
I think a canning party would be a great activity for a church group, a wedding shower, or just if you wanted to get together with a few friends for a fun afternoon. We have a monthly enrichment meeting activity for the women at my church, and I think this would be a great idea for it.
Here are a few tips for having a successful canning party – hopefully you can learn from some of my mistakes, and it will go off without a hitch!
Don’t forget to grab the best basic canning supplies before you get started!
Even if you *think* you’ll remember when you canned something, or what it was, it’s important to make sure you still label the items! You don’t want to have a couple cans get pushed to the back of the pantry, and try to guess if they are still okay when you rediscover them. You can print off cute printable canning labels (I’m sure there are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest), use a label maker, or just write on the jars lid with a permanent marker! Here is a free set of canning labels that you can download and print off. They have been sized for Avery Print-to-Edge Oval Labels, but you could just get full sheet labels and cut them out yourself. Please download the file below, as the picture above won’t be high enough quality if you just save it to your computer 🙂
Plan to can the same things
I think this is what our big mistake was – everyone just brought what they wanted to can. While it’s nice to have a variety, there wasn’t a lot of order, and we all just ended up working on our separate projects. I think the best part about canning with other people is that you can get all the steps done a lot quicker. For instance, I ended up peeling and slicing almost all the apples by myself, and everyone else ended up doing most of the tasks for their.
It’s fine to can multiple items, but I think it’s important to focus on one item at a time! We ended up all needing the canning machine at the same time, which made everything go slower.
Use different methods of canning
This tips bounces off the other one – if you are planning to do more than one item, consider using a different canning method for each one. You could do freezer jam – which doesn’t require a water bath or anything of the sort – and salsa or spaghetti sauce, which does. That way, you don’t have to worry about taking forever waiting for one batch to be done. Once you put the jars in a water bath, you can go ahead and start on the freezer jam!
Can What’s on Sale and in Season
My sister-in-law mentioned how the week previous to our party, tomatoes had been on sale, which is why she thought it would be a good idea to can some tomato sauce. Well, the week of our party, the tomatoes were no longer on sale! Canning can end up being somewhat expensive if you aren’t careful
Multiple Machines/Water Baths
The main failure of our party was the lack of materials to actually seal the jars. I came with my FreshTech Auto-Canner, as well as my new Ball FreshTech Electric Water Bath Canner, so I thought that it would be pretty easy for us to have multiple things being sealed at once. Well, for whatever reason, I forgot to double check that I had the plugs for both machines, and I forgot one of them at home! So, we only had one way can some of our items (though we ended up switching to do freezer jam just to make things go faster.) It was really sad! We didn’t have the means to make a traditional water bath either, so that was not an option.
If you will have a lot of things to can – even if it’s all the same food – having multiple machines or water baths is important. For instance, the FreshTech Auto Canner only could can 4-6 jars at a time, and the Electric Water Bath could can about 8 jars at once. If you have both of these machines (or multiple traditional water baths) running, it goes a lot faster!
Prep Jars Beforehand
I think that you definitely want to spend as much time preparing the food for the canning as possible on the day of the party. The night before or morning of, just take some time to wash the jars and let them dry.
Where to find Materials
As I already mentioned, canning can be expensive! While I highly recommend both of the canning machines I have, I also recognize that they might be a little out of people’s price range (but if you can make the investment, I highly recommend it.)
You can find used canning jars at second hand stores like Goodwill for a very cheap price. Of course, you always should buy new lids when you can, but using old jars works just great. You can probably ask around to friends and family to see if anyone has any extra jars they don’t need anymore.
You can get a water bath canner on Amazon or at many different stores, as well as other supplies. Basic canning supplies aren’t too expensive if you just shop around. You may even find one at a garage sale or second hand store!
Split the cost
There is no need to take the cost all on yourself! If you are planning a get together, just let people know that if they want to participate and take items home, there will be a fee. You could either just ask people to contribute $15 or so beforehand, or you could split the cost after all the materials are purchased. If you do that, just make sure to let people know the maximum cost it could be – and stay under it! If someone just wants to come and help/mingle, they don’t have to pay, but I think it’s reasonable to pay for what you take home!
Use tried and true recipes
One thing about canning is that it’s important to use recipes that have been specifically tested for canning. While canning can help preserve foods for future use, if it is done incorrectly, it can be harmful.
FreshPreserving.com is my go-to resource for canning because all of the recipes and instructions have been tested to be safe, and there are SO many recipes for just about everything you could possibly think of. Forrest and I can’t wait until we have enough cucumbers from our garden to can!
I think it’s important to stay fueled, so try and have something for everyone to eat at the beginning of the day. I made a slow cooker french toast casserole (that I will be sharing next week) that we all ate before we got started.
Throughout the day, it might be good to have some pitchers of water or lemonade set up for everyone to stay hydrated with. I don’t really recommend eating while you can though. You want to keep everything as sanitary as possible!
Afterwards, it might be fun to sample some of the food you made, so consider setting aside some of it not to be canned. You could do chips with freshly made salsa (and maybe make some guacamole as well), homemade biscuits or crackers with freshly made jam, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Overall, just have fun! I think if I hadn’t been so exhausted, I would have enjoyed the day a little bit more, but it was still fun, and I can’t wait to plan our next canning party!
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.