Having a friend or loved one who makes a hobby of preserving is great because you will very likely be the lucky recipient of some of those jars of jams, pickles, chutneys and preserves this holiday season. Putting up preserves is hard work, but a thoughtful gift will sweeten any home canner's holiday.
I blame my food-swapping and gift-giving tendencies because every year, despite having filled and emptied a stockpile of jars the year before, I buy more jars. When planning big projects and buying jars by the dozen, I go for the less expensive ones by Kerr or Ball, but I always admire the smooth-sided glass jars by Weck, which seal with a rubber gasket. Pick up a few of these sweet little babies to remain at the home of the homesteader in your life.
Buy Now: Available online ($4.99 each).
Ideal for busy canners on the road to their next pick-your-own adventure, Cuppow inserts transform a canning jar and ring into a travel mug or a lunch box. If you know somebody who takes pride in his or her home-canned applesauce and who likes to road trip, this a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.
Buy Now: Cuppow ($7.99)
Food in Jars & Put 'em Up!
Every year there's a new canning book out with another collection of jam recipes, but I love Marissa McClellan's Food In Jars and Sherri Brooks VInton's Put 'em Up! because they go beyond jam. They each feature a range of delicious and thorough recipes to help provide any canner, from beginner to seasoned professional, with comprehensive instruction, ideas, and inspiration for a range of pantry staples beyond the realm of the sweet.
Ball jars have become all the rage in recent years, but John Landis Mason was the OG. Pick up a few of the blue vintage ball jars at an antique store, or show your favorite canner some schwag with this lovely mason jar tea towel.
Buy Now: Mason Jar Tea Towel on Etsy ($6.95)
If your boyfriend has been perfecting his water bath canned pickles, consider upping his game with a pressure canner instead. Pressure canning is nowhere near as scary as it seems, and it's the only safe way to can low-acid foods like vegetables or meats. Plus, using one instead of a boiling-water canner for things like tomatoes can cut processing time in half.
Buy Now: Available online. ($99.99)
A Food Mill
I bought mine at a thrift shop for four dollars and it is easily one of my most-beloved canning tools. Why? Because instead of peeling and seeding tomatoes for preserving I can simply cook them whole and the food mill removes skins and seeds while forcing pulp and juice through. Keep your eyes open on your next thrift trip, or buy one new one online. Either way, just make sure you get one with multiple milling disc sizes that can be taken apart for easy cleaning. Fold out legs to brace it atop a bowl or a saucepan are also nice.
Custom Jar Labels
Any seasoned canner will tell you that while you can reuse jars year after year, the lids are only good for one round of tomatoes, meaning that even when you've got a considerable stockpile of jars you'll be buying lids forever. While there's nothing wrong with the classic brass or aluminum lids, the colorful, single piece ones are a distinctive twist on the original, just make sure that you buy the ones that are heat safe for boiling-water canning!
Buy Now: Fillmore Container (prices vary)