The Tastiest Way to Enjoy Summer Produce All Year Long

Get ready to have some fun with your favorite fruits and veggies.

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Every season's got its fair share of fabulous produce, but nothing compares to summer's selection of juicy corn, tomatoes, peaches, strawberries, watermelon, cherries… it's basically a never-ending list of deliciousness. And while summer vacation inevitably comes to a devastating end, the season's fruits and veggies don't have to suffer that same fate.

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You can savor summer flavors any time of year — even in the dead of winter when you can't feel your toes — by making and storing small batches of jams, jellies, and pickled produce. The professionals call it canning or preserving, and we call it brilliant.

All you need are a few essential cooking tools, a heaping tablespoon of precision, and a copy of Foolproof Preserving, brought to you by the pros at America's Test Kitchen (ATK). Why not just buy a jar of jam, you ask? Because the recipes in this book use way less sugar than the stuff at your grocery store. And isn't the idea of making, shelving, and eating something several months later exciting?

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It's a culinary science experiment that, if done right, is super tasty and satisfying. Plus, if you're not into the "let's wait and see" method, you can enjoy any of these recipes as soon as they're finished by following ATK's short-term storage instructions included in each of the following recipes from the book (warning: drool-worthy photos ahead). But first, a little canning 411:

How Does Canning Work?

There are two USDA-approved methods of home canning: boiling water canning and pressure canning. The former (and what all of the recipes in Foolproof Preserving call for) is used for preserving highly acidic foods, so that includes most fruits and pickled veggies. In this method you immerse hot, filled jars in boiling water for a set amount of time and then let them cool.

As they cool, the lids automatically vacuum-seal the jars for long-term storage. The second method, pressure canning, is used on low-acid foods including most non-pickled vegetables, dairy, meat, and seafood. Such produce needs to be processed to 240 degrees Fahrenheit through pressurized steam that circulates around the jars.

What Do I Need to Buy Before I Get Started?

As long as your kitchen is already stocked with standard supplies like ladles and a timer, you'll just need a few canning-specific gadgets. ATK suggests investing in four items:

  • a large canning pot with a rack insert
  • a jar lifter
  • a funnel
  • mason jars

An important note regarding processing the jam and chutney for long-term storage:

Each jar needs 1/4 inch headspace (the space between the top of the food and the rim of the jar) and the processing times vary depending on your altitude. Use the information below to determine how long to process, then click here for a step-by-step guide:

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  • 0-1,000 feet above sea level = 10 minutes
  • 1,001-3,000 feet above sea level = 15 minutes
  • 3,001-6,000 feet above sea level = 20 minutes
  • 6,001-8,000 feet above sea level = 25 minutes
  • 8,001-10,000 feet above sea level = 30 minutes

Don't know your altitude? You can Google it or visit

Now that you're armed with the basics, it's time to check out a few recipes from the book and choose one to make at your very first pickling and preserving party!

Strawberry-Basil Jam

Impress breakfast guests with this slightly savory and totally sophisticated take on toast's go-to condiment.

Grab the recipe here.

Tomato Chutney

Step aside ripe, red tomatoes — this recipe gives those green young'uns a chance to show off their sweet-and-sour flavors before they're too old. But it's not a chutney without some heat, and the red pepper flakes deliver just the right amount. Try it on cheese and crackers, grilled chicken, or any other meal that could use a little zip.

Grab the recipe here.

Tangy Corn Relish

Year-round grilling's got serious appeal when you're armed with this special relish. It's the perfect topper for hotdogs, hamburgers, and salmon, but there's also no shame in just gobbling it up by the spoonful!

Grab the recipe here.

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