I want to share with you one way we can minimize stress in our kitchens, how to create a minimalist pantry, and that is in minimalism through canning. This post will help you create a minimalist pantry plus there’s a bonus, super versatile tomato sauce recipe included. Read on for the full post!
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Hear me out: I know you probably are remembering canning from when you were a kid, and are thinking that canning took a ton of stuff. I’ve minimized the canning equipment list to reduce the amount of gear you need so you can use what you already have. My favorite pro tip to share is that you don’t need those huge, black and white pots; you can use a large stock pot (the one you use make stew or soup or boil artichokes) and a silicone trivet. Wide mouth pint jars are my go-to canning jar because they double as inexpensive and classic drinking glasses. Whenever I empty a jar that held jam or applesauce, it is washed and reused as a drinking glass or storage container. Bye bye messy and wasteful plastic containers!
I am a total canning nerd, and I share beginner tutorials and recipes all season long because I love canning and I think you will too. Before I share with you the “how” I want to give you the “why” behind canning.
I have found, as a working mom of 2, that canning gives you CHOICE. It sounds contrary to what you think you are getting when you grab groceries off the store shelves. You seem to have tons of choices in the market, right? There are so many choices that the kids in the cart can’t decide on what flavor they want, which color box to get, or which processed food you really don’t want to buy them anyway gets brought home. If you are part of a tribe of strong, purpose-driven women, you want to make smarter choices to make your lives easier and better. How we think about cooking can be one way that is contributing to mental clutter that canning can help you cut.
How to Create a Minimalist Pantry
Canning can simplify our pantry shelves: Tomato sauce preserved in jars can be used as spaghetti sauce, spread on stromboli, spiced up and used in enchiladas, pureed with a little cream for tomato soup, thinned out in a Bloody Mary, or added to beef stew. A store-bought can of faux Italian, super-processed, and full of added sugar spaghetti sauce is probably destined to only be spaghetti sauce. That doesn’t help when your littles are asking for enchiladas, right? Canning gives you choice.
In addition to adding great flexibility to your pantry, canning gives you control in a very real way. As moms, we cannot control everything in our children’s lives, nor should we. Yet, controlling what they eat to a certain extent is an important job from day one, to the “don’t eat the dog food!” stage, through the “don’t eat your cookies on the bus to school!” and beyond. I’d never tell you to try to manage every bite that passes your baby’s lips but I can tell you that it feels pretty darn good to know that when I open a jar of peaches when my kids are starving that I preserved them myself. I know that I chose each particular peach, washed it, decided which recipe to use based on how much sugar I wanted to include, and I don’t have to worry about what the jar or lid is lined with or if it was clean. That control is a really empowering thing.
I encourage you to try canning as a powerful way of simplifying your pantry and meal preparation. And that versatile tomato sauce recipe I mentioned above? Here it is and don’t worry; I explain in detail exactly what to do. You can totally do this!
Here’s the recipe that I use to work up 12-pound batches of Roma tomatoes, that usually yields 4-5 pints (1 pint =2 measuring cups).
12 pounds peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces onion, diced (about 2 small or 1 large)
2 large cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
about 2 teaspoons citric acid (a white powder sold in stores, usually near the new canning lids)
Prepare your largest cooking pot with either a metal canning rack or a silicone trivet inside, on the bottom of the pot. Put the canning jars inside (I like largemouth pints for tomato sauce personally), fill the jars with hot water, then the rest of the pot with hot tap water. Bring to a boil.
In a wide preserving pan, heat the oil and saute the onions on medium high for about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another five. Combine the peeled tomatoes with the garlic and onions and cook on medium high for about 45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and darkened in color. Add salt to taste. Stir occasionally and beware of the sauce boiling over the edge or burning on the bottom.
Use a jar lifter (often sold in a kit with a funnel & lid lifter, and readily available at thrift stores and community tool libraries) to remove one canning jar from the boiling water bath at a time. Pour the hot water within back into the pot or into the sink. Set the hot jar gently on a towel-covered countertop.
Add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (a white powder you get from the grocery store) to each hot jar that is removed from the water bath. Ladle boiling sauce into sterilized jars. Add lids and rings, tightened about as tight as you’d like a bathroom faucet, and return the jars to the boiling water bath. Bring the water back up to boil if need be, and add water from the tap to cover the tops of the jars with 3 inches of water if necessary. Process in a water bath for 35 minutes, adding 5 additional minutes of processing time for every 1000 feet you live above sea level.
When the time is up, you can carefully remove the jars one by one, using the jar lifter, to the towel covered countertop. You will likely hear the lids seal with their tell-tale “ping” sound. The lid will become concave and firm to the touch. If you have a lid fail to seal, never fear. That means there was probably a tiny bit of sauce on the edge of the jar and you should refrigerate that jar and eat it within a week. Label sealed jars with a marker and store.
That’s it! I have a rad little canning basics course that will walk you through the primary lessons in canning so you can complete the recipe above and countless other recipes to minimize your cooking routine. You can enroll right here, for free, in the course that will help you create a minimalist pantry one jar at a time.
I hope that canning helps you streamline and de-stress your mealtimes so you can really focus on what’s important so you are living the purposeful life you are destined to live.