The time-honored practice of canning is a wonderful way to preserve delicious, seasonal foods at their peak. Whether you’re a seasoned canner or a newbie in training, a great way to inspire your friends and motivate yourself to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy all year is to host a canning party. Rather than canning during the party, have guests bring something they have already canned. This helps to create a beautiful spread of a variety of seasonal foods any time of year. The key is to plan far enough in advance that everyone has time to prepare. Follow the tips and timeline below to throw a successful canning party to bring a little breath of summer any time of year.
In order for your party to be successful, it is important to start planning ahead of time. Start by contacting anyone you think is interested in canning. An easy and convenient way to plan is by creating a GoogleDoc that your friends can add to and edit as needed. Include a sign-up form so guests can record what they would like to contribute to avoid doubles. Guests will need to make enough to send a jar home with other guests, so finalizing the guest list early is important. Here are some seasonal canning ideas to share if your guests need a little inspiration:
Buy canvas bags for guests to use for transporting their jarred goodies home after the party (these are perfect). Buying them early will give you time to make or buy tags with guests’ names on them. If you don’t want to make your own, you can find really cute options on Etsy.com, as well as templates on MarthaStewart.com.
Now, get canning!
About a week before your event, check in with your guests to make sure things are progressing with their canning. Checking in advance will make it possible to either purchase or make extra cans so everyone is able to take something home. Now is also a great time to plan your sides/accompaniments. Serve food that is hearty enough to fill your guests’ tummies, but in small enough portions that make it easy to sample each combination. Here are a few suggestions that are easy to make and serve in small servings:
Create and print a menu describing what everyone is sampling and who made what. This is definitely optional but can be very helpful when you are tasting a number of foods. Another idea is to allow each guests to describe what they canned and how well or not-so-well their experience was. Prepare your canvas bags with name tags so they are ready to fill and send home at the end of your party. Also, as with all parties, make and do all you can in advance. Cookie dough, for example, can be made ahead and baked off the morning of your party. Opt for slow cooker recipes, like this short rib recipe, that you can make the night before.
What are your favorite things to can this time of year? No matter what you like to can, putting the flavors of the season in a jar to brighten up your day later in the year is a wonderful practice. And just think of how much fun it would be to get your friends involved in canning! A party like this takes some advance planning, but overall is very low maintenance. Plus, it gives you and your guests something to look forward to when chilly days of fall and winter arrive. Get planning and canning!
Rachael White is the author of the blogs Set the Table and Tokyo Terrace. After four years of living, eating, and entertaining in Tokyo, Japan, she and her family have relocated to Denver, Colorado. Rachael is constantly searching for new ways to make entertaining easier and more interesting for guests in a variety of environments and situations. In addition to food blogging, her recipes have been published in cookbooks including Foodista Best of Food Blogs and Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan and in Japan’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper. Originally from Minnesota, Rachael strives to recreate recipes and settings that reflect Midwestern comfort with a modern twist.