Have you ever prepared jam, chutney, or a relish and the cooked-down yield is only going to be a few half pints or so? Next time, try small scale canning with a smaller pot.
I call this process small scale canning because everything about this type of canning is on a smaller scale. I got the idea from my husband who said his grandmother, Mamsey, never let any food go to waste. Back when Mamsey was tending her homestead, she would get the canner out and process one or two jars of something rather than waste it. Mamsy cooked on a wood-fired iron stove in a home with no running water, yet despite the heat of that stove in summer, Mamsey canned all of the family’s food in that kitchen. Mamsey was a smart and frugal country woman who knew what going hungry was all about and she wanted none of that for her family. Mamsey would can just a few jars of hand picked berries when she had them, or she’d mix together a small batch of relish with corn, peppers, and cucumber most any day there was extra produce. A few extra cans processed in between the high yield canning days gave Mamsey and her family a nice variety and extra food for those cold, winter months.
A few years ago, I realized that you don’t need to use the big canning kettle if you’ve only got a few pints or half-pints of some fruits or acidic foods to process. Canning with smaller jars means that you have the option of scaling down with a smaller pot that uses less water and less heat. This idea sounded logical to me, so I gave it a try. That’s when I became convinced that small scale canning works well with small batches of acidic foods.
The below photo shows my pasta pot in the process of canning 2 half-pints of an onion relish for 10 minutes. The lid is on and the water is boiling away.
While canning on a small scale using a smaller pot, the water must still reach the boiling point. Also, the processing time must remain the same. And the small scale canning only applies to boiling water bath canning, not pressure canning.
Similar to regular water-bath canning, the boiling water must cover the tops of the canning lids. And the glass jars should not be placed directly on the base of the smaller pot, but on a wire rack or metal disk. I’ve used both but like the metal disk better because it is more stable.
The metal disk at the bottom of the pot is needed so that the jars are not sitting directly on the base of the canning pot. There are holes in the disk and a 1/4-inch raised rim around the disk, perfect for canning in a small pot. The size of this metal disk is about 2-inches less in diameter than the pot I use for small scale canning.
The first time I did this, I loved everything about small scale canning. The entire process is faster because less water is required to reach the boiling stage.
Small scale canning opened up a whole new world of canning for me. With small scale canning, I could make small batches of foods. I could also experiment or sample a number of recipes, including original recipes, and not commit to large quantities of vegetables. And I could also make small batches of acidic vinegars or dressings, then can them for winter use.
Try canning on a small batch with a smaller pot and see if you are also convinced that this method is fantastic for little batches of acidic foods!