Have a ball while out on the town — with no next-day regrets
A beginner's guide to staying safe and having a blast.
Spring break has arrived and summer is right on its heels. The possibilities for a glorious vacation are nearly endless. Maybe, for you, the warmer weather means rounding up a gang of close friends and venturing forth in search of adventure, or maybe your plans revolve around one epic event. After all, summertime is the season of weddings and bachelor/ette parties, reunions with old friends, and road trips with new ones. If the warmer season finds you in party mode surrounded by your favorite crew, why not plan a night of serious barhopping to explore your vacation spot and create some memories to keep your group giggling in tandem at inside jokes until the next big get together?
A Beginner’s Guide to Barhopping (Slideshow)
Planning a big night out in a city known as a party destination (think New Orleans, Austin, even New York) can require multiple stops at many different bars and clubs to make the most of your time there.
It would be a real drag to hit Bourbon or Sixth Street and stay glued to one location all night when the cities have so much nightlife to offer. If this summer finds you headed to new hot spot, make sure your crew agrees to one night of pure, no-holds-barred revelry.
But before you grab your friends and head down the strip in a race against last call, take some time to consider a few simple precautions to avoid a majorly debauched disaster. Many a pink-veiled bachelorette party has been ruined by the bridesmaid who begged out early, blaming her uncomfortable shoe.
Woe be to the college frat buddy who forgets cash for door covers and has to abandon his bros in search of an ATM. Coming unprepared for a night of barhopping can often mean the difference between spending the night trying to have a good time and actually having a blast.
If you’re new to barhopping, beware: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re talking hours of nonstop fun here, so you’ve got to come ready. But not to worry, the following slideshow is packed with tips and tricks to ensure that your first foray into the dazzling world of competitive partying comes off a great success.
A Beginner’s Guide to Loving Mithai, Indian Milk Desserts
In India, there is no occasion too inconsequential for mithai—small, portable, and (often) milk-based sweets. Just had a baby? Graduated from school? Bought a new TV? Recently recovered from a cold? Undoubtedly, mithai will be involved.
Since most Indian restaurants don’t offer robust selections of mithai, the best way to explore the world of these sweets is to go to a dedicated mithai shop. Like Levain in New York or Gjusta in Los Angeles, certain mithai shops in India have cult-like followings across the country. And while cooking in India is intensely regional, mithai—and the Indian sweet tooth for them—are far more universal.
The sweet highs and bitter lows of the ingredient that rules the world
I am lucky enough to have family in India who lives within walking distance of one of the most celebrated sweet shops in the country: Evergreen Sweet House, an ever-bustling storefront in New Delhi where the mithai are so fresh that there is a guy frying glistening pieces of jalebi (like a syrupy funnel cake) to order right outside the shop at all hours of the day.
If you’re fortunate to find yourself at Evergreen, or any of the excellent mithai shops here in the U.S. (My personal favorite is Raja Sweets in Houston), you’re going to want to know your rasmalai from your rasgulla. So, I present here your introductory mithai cheat sheet, which is by no means exhaustive and certainly biased towards my favorite varieties. Let it help to steer you toward the treat that is right for you, whether it’s a silver-coated diamond of kaju katli or a ghee-laden sphere of laddu.
Coconut Burfi Soniya Goyal
Burfi is the most basic variety of mithai—a blank canvas of condensed milk and sugar molded into countless variations. Burfi is usually decorative, and will come in interesting shapes and colors, often finished with a tissue-paper-thin sheet of silver (totally edible, in case you were wondering).
Other versions will incorporate almonds, carrots, pistachios, coconut, and even milk chocolate—but they’ll almost always be finished with a hint of rosewater, a fragrant, delicate flavor that nicely balances out the richness of the burfi.
Kaju Katli Meal Makeover Moms
Though it’s technically just a type of burfi, kaju katli is so popular and so delicious that it deserves a description of its own. The dominant ingredient is ground cashews, which make kaju katli taste less like a milk ball and more like a solidified nut butter—if you’ve ever had a Lara Bar, you’ve had a less sweetened version of kaju katli.
Another key feature: while a lot of Indian sweets will look (and sometimes taste) very similar, kaju katli stands out for its distinct diamond shape, coupled with the standard silver foil coating (though some shops will omit the silver to save money, as cashews are already expensive).
Laddu Soniya Goyal
There’s no getting around the fact that laddus are essentially just round vehicles for ghee, or clarified butter. The base for laddu is chickpea flour—either in its regular form, producing something similar in appearance to a cake ball, or as boondhi, a conglomeration of little fried balls of flour that make for a decadent, texturally rich treat.
I dream of a tower of laddus arranged Christmas-tree style, like a croquembouche—which you’ll sometimes see at particularly fancy Indians weddings, if you’re lucky.
Gulab Jamun Kelly Campbell
Probably the best known of all varieties of mithai, gulab jamun are spherical, syrup-soaked balls made of milk and flour whose flavor and texture closely approximates that of a thoroughly buttered-and-syruped pancake. Though the predominant flavor in the syrup is rosewater, gulab jamun manages to taste more like a dark caramel, with a slightly roasty depth, making it a perennial favorite of children (and me).
Rasmalai Divya Kudua
Think of rasmalai like ile flottante, but cooler and with more milk. It’s a classic dinner party dessert whose floating pillows are made out of fresh cheese curds that get dunked in sugar syrup, then set afloat in a cardamom- and saffron-flavored cream.
The soft and sponge-like texture the curds take on is not for everyone, but on a hot, summer day in New Delhi, a chilled bowl of rasmalai can really hit the spot.
Rasgulla Nissan Haque
If the texture of rasmalai is not your cup of tea, go for rasgulla: firmer, denser balls of cheese that only get the sugar water treatment (no cream bath). There are a lot of ways to serve rasgulla: You can enjoy it hot, cold, or room temperature you can top it with a pool of syrup (to keep it moist) or just leave it by itself. Out of all the varieties of mithai, rasgulla tastes the most like pure sugar—but in a pleasant, not overbearing way.
Cham cham is like a more dressed-up version of rasgulla. They two sweets involve roughly the same preparation but the difference, with cham cham, is that you’ll often see it dyed bright colors and split in half, stuffed with shredded coconut or crushed pistachios.
As a result, cham cham is always a popular party or wedding treat. Even without the color or stuffing, you can always differentiate cham cham by its egg-like shape — probably a trick invented by mithai shops to distinguish between cham cham and rasgulla in the preparation process.
Jalebi Koshy Koshy
If you’re at a mithai shop, you’ll have a hard time missing the jalebi: bright golden squiggles of deep-fried dough that sit in a pool of syrup until their insides turn sticky and gooey. The end result is crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside, with each bite revealing a pocket of syrup. Like at Evergreen, it’s not uncommon in India to see jalebi being prepared by street vendors in portable fryers, the lingering smell of just-fried dough permeating the roadways.
A thumbprint cookie in appearance and fudge-like in texture, peda are little coins that start with the same base as burfi. But instead of stopping at burfi, the base then gets mixed with saffron and cardamom, and flattened into a small circle. Most pieces will have a little crater in the middle where a sliver of pistachio or an almond will be pressed in, for crunch. For Indians, peda is a very popular way to break fasts, as it’s easy to prepare, and with the combination of milk, nuts, and spices, it’s said to provide a burst of energy.
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Ultimate Guide to Grilling
Follow our recipes, top-tested picks and great grill tips to ace al fresco cooking, all season long.
There&rsquos nothing more quintessential to summer cooking than firing up the grill. When done right, this top technique results in easy dinners that can be on the table in minutes, with minimal cleanup &mdash ideal for busy weeknights. The almighty grill can also turn out show-stopping main dishes for holidays (4 th of July, anyone?) and special occasions, all while keeping your oven off and your house cool. And once you perfect how to grill, it&rsquos easy to rely on for serving up everything from pizza and chicken to salads and even desserts.
Because grilling is key to every summer celebration, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the experts at Good Housekeeping curated this in-depth grilling guide which collects all the info you'd ever need to ace cooking on the barbecue. Whether you're planning to prep simple and delicious burgers or an elaborate (but easy!) butterflied and grilled chicken, you'll never be second-guessing your timings or worrying about charring your dinners ever again. From the top tips to delicious and flavor-packed recipes, our knowledgeable editors have tested and tasted hundreds of products to bring you the absolute best.
No matter your level of expertise at the grill, it&rsquos always important to start with the right equipment. The market is saturated with companies touting the best grills, from gas to pellet, charcoal to kamados, and each provides the user with a unique experience and delicious results. Our Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab experts tested dozens of barbecues to bring you the absolute best you can buy, along with the most helpful accessories to support you along the way. Also key: learning how to clean your grill to start the season off right and ensure easy cooking every time.
Once you&rsquore equipped with the right tools, dive into our top recipes and flavor boosters that turn an average meal into an extraordinary one. From burgers and dogs to grilled veggies and sides, The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen gathered their favorite barbecue recipes, marinades, store-bought sauces and more so you can serve up dinner with flavor and flair, any night of the week.
So whether you&rsquore a beginner griller looking to buy the perfect grill and hoping to learn how to grill everything, from burgers to veggies, or a seasoned pitmaster determined to step up your flavor game one spice rub at a time, we have the tips, tools and recipes you need to make the most of the season.
What to Do In Your First Days
After you’re set up with the first introductory “day,” by going to sleep after the welcome party, the island is (mostly) your oyster. Tom Nook will have more specific activities for you to do that will teach you how to slowly improve your island. You may have a simple place now, but it can eventually grow into a bustling little village. Keep checking in with Tom Nook after you complete tasks to progress. You can also check in with him if you’re unsure of what to do.
Be sure to talk to the other villagers to improve your friendship with them. You can’t actively track your progress with them, but once you get the option to give them presents after a few days, you’ll know you’re on the right track. They’ll often give you things in return too!
A Beginner’s Guide to Barrel-Aged Cocktails
If you want a truly exceptional cocktail at home, you might need some patience.
How does 2-3 months sound? If you’re barrel-aging your cocktails, the extra time might be worth it.
You’ve probably seen (or ordered) a barrel-aged drink at one of your city’s finer cocktail establishments. These aren’t just drinks thrown into the same casks that will up a distillery’s warehouse these are tinier, often countertop-sized vessels that can imbue your drinks with a unique character.
“In a barrel, the cocktail tends to round itself out over time, creating something more cohesive,” says Benjamin “Banjo” Amberg, the head bartender at Clyde Common in Portland, OR (home to a fantastic barrel-aged cocktail program). “You’re left with something quite lovely and elegant.”
To learn more about barrel-aging cocktails — and to get some tips on doing ‘em at home, we spoke with Amberg, Craig Joseph (bar manager of Ty Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel New York) and Joe Heron, founder of Copper & Kings, a craft distillery for brandy, gin and and absinthe in Louisville, KY.
What barrels should you use?
At Clyde Common in Portland, for example, they use barrels ranging from two and a half gallons up to ten gallons, sourced from Tuthilltown Spirits (where you can also order your own) in New York. “All the barrels we get are former whiskey barrels, so they already have a nice level of char and toast to them,” says Amberg.
To use your mini barrels, fill with hot water for 24 hours until watertight. Then empty and let dry out for two days. Avoid heat and light, and don’t let the barrel dry out following use — you can re-use most barrels around three times “to imbue singular style cocktails,” as Heron from Copper & Kings says.
If you want to source your own mini barrels, a quick Internet search will turn up several sources RedHead and Bluegrass are two good places to start.
What does barrel-aging add to your cocktail?
Essentially, barrel aging a cocktail does the same thing as aging a spirit — it tames the harsher aspects and rounds it out, creating a “more cohesive drink,” as Amberg notes. In the case of something that has bitter elements (Campari, Cynar, Fernet, etc), the barrel helps soften out those bitter notes. Since the barrel is porous itself, there’s also oxidation that happens with the cocktail this adds another layer of flavor to anything that has a wine base (vermouth, aperitifs, etc).
The barrel itself will imbue a lot of character. “If a barrel is heavily charred, it will impart more elements of toast,” says Joseph. “If the contents rest for an extended period, the heavy char will impart bitter caramel notes and add more weight to the cocktail.”
What kind of cocktails and spirits work well with barrel-aging?
You’ll want to try something “spirit forward and generally containing spirits that haven’t already seen much time in a barrel,” says Amberg (though there are exceptions). At Clyde Common, the Negroni is the flagship barrel-aged drink, along with a coffee Manhattan, where a barrel is pre-seasoned with coffee beans before the cocktail is aged.
At Copper & Kings, Heron’s had success with a lot of classics, including the Negroni, Sazerac, Boulevardier, Manhattan, gin martini and Old Fashioned. “All of these are easy to make at home with quite simple batching calculations,” he says.
And which ones do not?
“Aging anything that can spoil, mold or mildew is just a bad idea,” says Amberg. So avoid juices, dairy, eggs, and syrups that have a low shelf-life. Worst part: Not only will your drink be bad, but you’ll have to throw out the barrel, too.
At the Ty Bar, Joseph has found creative ways to alter classic cocktails to work with the barrels. “When we barrel-age our Sidecar, rather than add fresh lemon juice to the barrel, we add fresh lemon zest to impart the citrus notes,” he says, noting a small amount of fresh lemon juice is added just before serving.
How long should you barrel-age the cocktails?
The consensus seems to be around two to three months. “You can age anything up to a year, but you get good results quite quickly that don’t lose any freshness and still add complexity and depth,” says Heron.
What’s a good recipe for a barrel-aged cocktail to make at home?
“If you’re attempting barrel-aging at home, I’d recommend starting with a cocktail you know and have experienced before in various ways,” says Joseph. “If it’s your first time, choose an original recipe and a light char. After your first time, you can start substituting ingredients to achieve the profile you prefer. A Vesper would be an excellent choice for aging its main spirits are never aged in wood, so even the lightest char will bring noticeable wood and spice notes to the cocktail.
3 parts Gin
1 part Vodka
1/2 part Lillet Blanc
And few places to try barrel-aged cocktails:
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A Beginner’s Guide to Bitters, Every Bartender’s Not-So-Secret Weapon
Bitters are the duct tape of cocktails: They’ll fix pretty much anything.
So for our drinking edification and yours, we spoke with three mixology experts to better understand what they are, where to buy ‘em, and how to fix a drink that’ll really make ‘em sing.
- Max Green, Head Bartender of the bitters-forward bar Amor y Amargo (NYC)
- Sother Teague, Beverage Director at Amor y Amargo, 2017 Wine Enthusiast “Mixologist of the Year” and author of the upcoming I’m Just Here for the Drinks
- Robin Kirk Wolf, Owner/Bitters Master of SLO Bitter Co., Cocktail Czar of The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar (Paso Robles, CA)
“The quick and dirty answer is that bitters are a potent, alcohol-based flavor concentrate extracting flavor from fruits, berries, roots, barks, flowers, herbs,” says Wolf. “Anything, really, with a focus on improving the balance of your cocktail.”
While the concept of bitters dates back to ancient Egypt, bitters came in vogue during the 19th century (as both a bar ingredient and as a medicinal “cure-all”), saw a steady decline and then, unsurprisingly, made a big comeback in recent years thanks to the craft cocktail movement.
Why should you use bitters in your drinks?
“Bitters are the spices of cocktails,” says Green. “Like spices in cooking, they bring depth of flavor and round sharp edges in cocktails.
Teague concurs: “You wouldn’t eat unseasoned soup, right? Stop drinking unseasoned cocktails.”
What are some bitters to consider for your home bar?
Angostura: “Building in the seasoning analogy, Angostura — with potent notes of cinnamon and cardamom, is the salt. It’s an essential ingredient in many classic cocktails.” – Teague
Peychaud’s: “Peychaud’s has hints of anise and citrus.” If Angostura is the salt, “This is the pepper.” – Teague
Regan’s Orange Bitters: Along with Angostura and Peychaud’s, “These are the bitters that will be called for the vast majority of cocktail recipes. Therefore you will find them the most useful, when trying to recreate your favorite bartenders drink at home.” – Green
Bittermens Scarborough Herbal Savory Bitters: “Magical with gin and brings amazing complexity.” –Wolf
SLO Bitter Co.’s Charred Cedar and Blackstrap Bitters: “They bring a luxurious smoke and piney quality to whiskey drinks and provide great depth and character.” (Your editor sampled them and agrees.) –Wolf
Scrappy’s Lime Bitters and Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla: “They’re all incredibly versatile between light and dark spirits.” –Green
Cocktail Punk Alpino Bitters : “Alpino, as its name suggests, has flavors of the alpine mountains. Pine, in conjunction with herbs like mint and sage are commingled with a light balance of citrus. I like it in a gin and tonic.” –Teague
1821 Havana and Hyde : “Aged in a barrel, it has rich notes of leather and tobacco that remind you of old books. I’ve found great success using them in a brandy sour as they add a heady aroma when dashed on the foamy egg white. Or, simply add a dash to an aged rum old fashioned for deeper complexity.” –Teague
Bitter End Memphis Barbeque: “Smokey chipotle blends with back notes of coffee and cumin to create an authentic savory barbeque flavor. My cocktail New Boots combines them with bourbon and Cio Ciaro (a cola nut amaro) to create a ‘bourbon and Coke at a backyard barbeque’ experience. It’s also easy enough to mix these into your next Bloody Mary for a spicy/savory burst of flavor.” –Teague
Where can I buy bitters?
While bitters are alcoholic, they’re considered non-potable and a grocery item, says Green. “You can often find them in high-end grocery stores. But I would also ask your bartender where to get them. Most major cities have a store that carries bar supplies and bitters.”
A few physical stores (and bitters-centric bars) to check out: Bitters and Bottles (San Francisco), Amor y Amargo (NYC), The Meadow (NYC) and Bar Keeper (Los Angeles).
What are some good recipes that showcase bitters?
The Old Fashioned
By Robin Wolf
2 oz bourbon (I like Old Forester)
.5 oz Turbinado syrup (equal parts Turbinado/unrefined syrup and hot water, dissolved and cooled)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters
Stir all with ice, strain over large cube and garnish with orange peel express and Luxardo cherry. Says Wolf: “The definition of a cocktail is a libation containing a spirit, water, sugar and bitters, and nothing exemplifies that better than an Old Fashioned.”
The Winters Apple
By Max Green
1.5 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy
1.5 oz Carpano Antica Formula
4 dashes Scrappy’s Lime Bitters
Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lime twist
The Baltic Trading
By Max Green
1.5 oz Bourbon (I use Wild Turkey)
.75 oz Riga Black Balsam
.75 oz Cocchi Rosa
2 dashes Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
Stir over ice, serve over ice in a rocks glass, garnish with an orange twist and a brandied cherry.
The Diamond District
By Max Green
1 oz Sancho Infused Wild Turkey 101 Rye
2 oz Carpano Antica Formula
2 dashes Scrappy’s Lime Bitters
Add all ingredients to the mixing glass, stir and strain into a chilled coupe, garnish with a lemon twist. Says Green: “The spice and bright citrus note from the sancho pepper drives those flavors that we all love in a classic Manhattan while remaining lower in ABV than the original. The lime bitters add to the drink and challenge your pallet without overwhelming your senses.”
The Waterproof Watch
By Sother Teague
1.5 oz London Dry Gin
.75 oz Amaro Montenegro
.75 oz Aperol
2 dashes Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Aromatic Bitters
Stirred and served over ice with an orange twist. Says Teague: “Dale launched his signature bitters in 2012 in collaboration with Ted Breaux of Combier. Big full flavors of baking spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger are reinforced by allspice berries and lingering citrus from dried orange peels. You can also use this bitters as a substitute for Angostura in any classic cocktail to noticeably turn up the dial. I love it in a Manhattan with a spicy rye like Rittenhouse.”
By Sother Teague
1 oz Mancino Rosso sweet Vermouth
.75 oz J. Rieger Cafe Amaro
.5 oz El Dorado 8yr
2 dashes Bittercube Blackstrap
Combine in a double Old Fashioned glass and serve unadorned and neat. “The Blackstrap has fragrant hits of molasses, sassafras and sarsaparilla,” says Teague. “It gives these bitters a broody backbone and thick aroma. It’s tailormade for dark rum cocktails.”
Gin and Tonic
By Sother Teague
2 oz Plymouth Gin
.5 oz Tomr’s Tonic
2 dash Pocket Square bitters
Build in a Collins glass over ice. Top up with seltzer and garnish with a lemon wedge for squeezing. “Pocket Square has a floral and dry hibiscus flavor, with hints of anise and citrus all wrapped up neatly by the bitterness of wormwood,” says Teague. “You can also try it in a classic like the Sazerac or a margarita.”
This article was featured in theInsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.
4. The Katherine
The Katherine is your spot if you're looking to have a boujee night out. It is located in the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, which has hotels all around the country, so you instantly feel like you're in a big city. They have an extensive cocktail and bar food menu, so you should be sure to find something you like, though it is on the pricier side. The Katherine will suck you out of the college scene and plop you into an upscale bar. It is always crowded and sometimes they have live music!
The Two Canning Methods: Water-Bath and Pressure Canning
To can your produce properly and safely, follow one of these methods: water-bath canning or pressure canning.
Which method to use? This depends on the acidity of the food you are canning: Is the food you are canning high or low in acid? In other words, does the food have a high pH or a low pH? A pH of 4.6 is the dividing line a pH higher than 4.6 means less acidity (“low-acid foods”) and a pH lower than 4.6 means more acidity (“high-acid foods”).
We don’t expect you to know the acidity level of every food so we’ll list this information below.
All you need to know is: Low-acid foods must be processed using pressure canning, while high-acid foods may be processed using either water-bath canning or pressure canning. You must use pressure canning for low-acid foods to prevent bacteria and toxins—which thrive in a low-acid environment—from surviving. Safety first!
Note: This pH scale from Clemson University Extension publication provides a good representation of common foods and where they fall with regard to pH. (The pH scale is not an endorsement of foods to preserve by water bath and pressure canning.)
1. Water-Bath Canning
Water-bath canning is the simpler of the two canning methods, as it involves boiling your food in glass jars in a big pot of water. There are pots specifically designed for this—called water-bath canners or boiling water canners—that consist of a large pot, a rack insert, and a lid. However, large, deep pot will do, as long as you have a rack that fits inside it and a lid.
Water-bath canning is a lower-temperature canning process (212°F), which makes it safe ONLY for high-acid vegetables and fruits. (Remember that low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner.)
- High-acid foods include fruits, pickles, tomatoes, sauerkraut, relishes, jams, jellies, salsas, marmalades, and fruit butters. It’s the acidity of these foods—in addition to time in a boiling water bath—which helps preserve them safely without the use of high pressure.
- If it’s your first time canning, start with the boiling water bath method! Make some pickles or a yummy berry jam!
Water-bath canning is not as big of an investment as pressure canning—and is more straightforward. Let’s call this “no pressure” canning!
2. Pressure Canning
Pressure canning involves the use of a pressure canner, which is a device that consists of a large pot, a rack insert, and a fitted lid with a dial or pressure valve. The high pressure created inside the canner when it is heated allows the temperature inside to get much hotter (240°F) than it could in a water-bath canner. This kills off any harmful bacteria, toxins, molds and yeasts.
Low-acid vegetables such as green beans or corn MUST be processed at a higher temperature—240°F at sea level—to prevent the growth of bacteria, especially Clostridium botulinum. To maintain the higher temperatures for the proper length of time, you need to invest in a pressure canner which will get the job done.
- Vegetables that are low-acid include: artichokes, asparagus, carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, mushrooms, okra, onions, peas, potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash (in chunks).
- Fruits that is low-acid includes: cantaloupe and watermelon. (All other fruit is high-acid including berries and cherries, grapes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, and plums.)
Pressure canning is also used to preserve low-acid foods such as meats, poultry, seafood, chili which also require a higher temperature to raise the heat inside the jars above boiling and long enough to kill harmful bacteria. Pressure canning can be fun and satisfying, but it does require a “canner” to get started and you need to follow direction—no ad-libbing!
If you’d like to preserve low-acid foods but don’t have access to a pressure canner, consider preserving them in other ways. Broccoli, corn, and green beans taste much better when frozen, and they will have better texture when prepared using your favorite recipes. For best results when freezing, blanch the produce briefly in boiling water, remove and cool down quickly in ice water, drain, and pack the produce in freezer bags or containers.
There are a few basic supplies which you’ll need in order to can at home:
- Canning jars, lids, and screw bands: Only use clean jars without cracks or nicks in them. We recommend using the tried-and-true Ball brand mason or Kerr brand jars.
- Water-bath canner or pressure canner:
- For water-bath canning, it isn’t necessary to purchase a special water-bath canner as long as you have a pot that has a fitted lid and is large enough to fully immerse the jars in water by 2 inches—and that will allow the water to boil when covered. You’ll also need a rack that fits inside the pot or canner—a cake cooling rack would do.
- For pressure canning, only use a pressure canner made specifically for canning (Presto or All American) and not a pressure cooker.
- Jar lifter: Large “tongs” that help to pick up hot jars and place safely in the pot with hot water and take them out of hot water after processing.
- Ladle: A ladle helps to spoon food into canning jars.
- Funnel: A wide-mouth canning funnel make it easier to fill your jars without spilling.
Image: Ball brand Mason jars at grocery store. Credit: David Tonelson/Shutterstock.
Where to Find Canning Supplies
Many websites, hardware stores, craft stores, and other retail outlets sell kits that incorporate most of these canning essentials, sometimes along with other handy tools such as magnetic lid lifters, headspace-measuring tools, plastic bubble removers, and jar scrubbers—all the equipment needed to be successful.
Except for single-use lids, which you must buy new every year, you can reuse mason jars, screw brands, the water-bath canner, food mill, and stockpot for many years. You’ll often find these items in good condition at thrift stores, yard sales, or in the basement of a friend or relative who’s given up on canning. If you find a nice canner with a domed cover but no rack, you can probably find one that fits your kettle in a local hardware store, farm store, or online.
Make sure you check each jar, especially the rim, for small cracks or chips each time you use it. Also, don’t attempt to use a rusty canner. I’ve learned the hard way that rust spots may spring leaks during processing, causing the flame on my gas burner to flicker or dousing it entirely, and leaving me scrambling to find a substitute canning pot.
10 Tips to Know Before You Start Canning:
- Always use fresh produce that’s in peak condition. Canning is not for overripe fruits or vegetables because they are on their way to spoiling!
- Gather all your ingredients and equipment and make sure you have everything you need before you start. Halfway through the process is no time to be running to the store.
- Follow recipes and directions exactly. No improvising because your family’s safety depends on doing this correctly.
- Sterilize the jars by washing and then keeping them hot in a pot of boiling water until you are ready to fill them. Using the dishwasher will also get the job done without the pot of boiling water!
- Use real canning jars (Ball or Kerr), screw bands, and new lids when you can. Lids on the market today do not need to be heated to activate the sealing compound before placing on the jar top.
- When you fill the jars, do not fill to the very top. This is called “head space” and can vary depending on your recipe (¼ inch or ½ inch). If you overfill the jars, the food may interfere with the lid’s sealing compound and your jars will not seal properly.
- Also, important is to wipe the jar rim and threads clean before putting on the lid and screw band. The band is tightened but only finger tight.
- Using the jar lifter, place each jar on the rack in the boiling water. Make sure that the jars are covered by at least 1 to 2 inches of water, cover with lid, and bring the pot to the boil. Start counting processing time once the water has returning to a boil.
- When processing time is done, turn off the heat and remove the lid venting the steam away from yourself. Remove each jar with the jar lifter and place upright and 1 to 2 inches apart on a cloth towel to cool. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.
- One sign that your jars have sealed properly is a “popping” or “pinging” sound” you hear as the jars cool. Jars that don’t seal can NOT be stored but rather place in the fridge and use within a few days.
- In general, your canned foods should last all year long, as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place. A broken seal is a sign air has gotten in. A bulging lid or a lid that seems corroded or rusty is also is a sign of spoilage.
- When you do open your cans, if you ever see mold or bubbles or a cloudiness, that is a sign that the seal popped and it’s spoiled. Do not eat!
Note: Guidelines for safe canning are always being updated. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is the trusted resource for canning regulations and more information.
It’s important to know the food you’re planning on canning. More specifically, you need to know whether it is a low- or high-acid food, which dictates which canning method to use: water-bath or pressure canning.
The biggest concern is botulism poisoning. Botulism is an illness caused by the botulinum toxin, which is produced by Clostridium bacteria. These bacteria occur naturally in soil and don’t usually present a threat to people. However, they are a very hardy type of bacteria and thrive in low-acid, low-oxygen environments, like those created when we can foods. When food is canned improperly, the bacteria grow and produce their deadly toxin, botulin, making the food unfit for consumption. It’s critical that the environment inside the canned goods is inhospitable to the bacteria by using high heat (240° F) for low-acid foods or by high acidity to inactivate any toxin present.
If you are planning to pressure can, we also suggest that you have your pressure canner checked. Call your county extension office as many will check your pressure canner for a small fee.
Let’s Get Canning!
To avoid canning burnout, start with a small project at first. I love to can pickles. Most pickles need only 5 minutes processing in boiling water. Lift jars out, removing one jar at a time! Spread them out on a cloth towel or wooden countertop to cool. If you hear popping noises, it is the jars sealing. Once the jars are cool check the seal the center of the lid should be depressed. If a jar doesn’t seal put it in the fridge to eat right away. The sealed jars can be labeled and stored in the pantry for winter.
The sight of those gleaming jars full of delicious food is very satisfying!
Ready to get started? See our beginner guides:
For more information about food preservation, please check out the following resources:
This Canning Guide was updated and fact-checked as of July 2020, by Christina Ferroli, PhD, RDN , FAND . If interested in nutrition counseling and education practice to make healthier choices—or, simply stay up-to-date on the latest food, nutrition, and health topics—visit Christina’s Facebook page here.
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Salt and acid are both used to balance heat in a dish, but Mexican food isn’t all about heat.
“I believe in general there is the misconception that Mexican food has to be spicy to be authentic, and that is not the case, actually,” Gabriela says. “Even heat needs to be used in moderation so it does not overpower all other ingredients in a dish or sauce unless you are wanting to make a super special spicy sauce for a particular dish that can hold it and benefits from it.”
Chilies, salsas, herbs, spices, and salt are all used to create a balance of flavors in Mexican cooking. A single bite can be bright, acidic, smoky, and spicy.
When it comes to the fundamentals of good food, Mexican dishes require balance just like anything else.
“As in any great cuisine, and as my dear Samin Nosrat would put it: Salt, fat, acid, heat. And I add smoke.”