Preserving season runs all year long, but summer and autumn are when canning enthusiasts really ramp up production. Fresh produce is readily available, lower in price, and best of all; at its prime.

Chances are if you’ve been to any farmer’s markets lately, you have also gone home with a case of perfectly ripened fruit or vegetables. Maybe your internal dialogue went something like this: “What the hell was I thinking… what am I going to do with all of these (insert name of fruit or vegetable here?!)”

If you’re a seasoned canner, you’ll already have a recipe in mind and be prepared ahead of time. But if you’ve never preserved before, the process can be daunting. It’s valid to be concerned about flavour, food waste and food safety. After all, the guidelines for canning have changed within the last few generations.

Along with every canning recipe on my blog, I always include a safety disclaimer: Properly preserved fruits and vegetables should be sealed (and remain so for a year or slightly more). If the contents appear to have drastically changed colour, contain mold, become cloudy, or have an offensive odour; bin them. My motto (and that of many preservers) is: When in doubt, throw it out.

Despite these dire warnings, dear friends; please do not panic. You’ve got this.

Home preserving is a wonderful and rewarding hobby. Purchasing canning equipment is a small investment when compared to the price tag of other hobbies, and having the proper gear makes the process easier and produces more consistent results.

Begin by investing in a good-sized hot water bath canner with a rack or silicone mesh liner. Then purchase jars and lids. You can buy all three of these at any grocery or hardware store. The 250 ml jar is a great size for jams, jellies, and sauces. For larger fruits and vegetables, choose the 500 ml jar, preferably the ‘wide mouth’ style. This makes it much easier to pack ingredients as tightly as possible.

Other tools that aren’t necessary but make the process easier are jar tongs (for grabbing hot jars), a magnetic wand (for retrieving hot lids and metal rings), and a jar funnel (for filling jars cleanly.)

Let’s start simple with garlic and dill pickled carrots. Begin by breaking down the process into three parts: food prep, canning prep, and processing. Dividing up the tasks makes the entire process less daunting and can be used for most canning recipes.

Pickled Carrots

Author Bernice Hill



  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups white pickling vinegar
  • 1/2 cup salt (pickling salt or sea salt)
  • 1 tbsp dill seed


  • 6 lbs baby carrots, scrubbed or regular carrots peeled
  • 5 heads of flowering dill
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise


  • Food preparation begins with peeling, slicing, and trimming the carrots to a length two centimeters below the rim of a 500 ml (pint size) jar. Next, wash the dill blooms, then peel and slice the garlic cloves in half. Finally add the brine together in a saucepan and heat it to a slow simmer.
  • Canning preparation always starts with filling the hot water bath canner 2/3 full of hot water. Set it to boil while washing and inspecting the jars, lids, and rings. Position the jars upside down in a baking pan and fill it to the half way point with hot water. Leave the pan in a 250 F (121 C) oven for ten minutes to sterilize the jars. Next, submerge the lids and rings in a saucepan filled with hot water. Bring it to a boil and keep warm.
  • Once the jars are sterilized, use jar tongs to remove two jars from the oven. Working quickly, deposit two garlic clove halves and a dill head in each of the jars. Pack the carrots in as tightly as they will go then pour in the hot brine to just cover the carrots (1-2 cm below jar rim). Wipe jar rim with a clean cloth and cover with a jar lid and fasten the metal lid just slightly (not too tightly).
  • Hot water processing is the easiest step! Use the tongs to lower the jars into the boiling water of the hot water bath canner, then process accordingly. Processing time varies, by altitude. Here in Calgary, 25 minutes at a rolling boil is recommended.
  • When processing is finished, remove the jars from the hot water bath and allow them to cool undisturbed for 8-12 hours. Listen for the tell tale ‘pop’ indicating the jars have sealed.


Note: This recipe can be used as a basic pickling recipe for beans, cucumbers, beets, and asparagus.
Makes 5 - 500 ml (pint) Jars