Canning outdoors allows you to put up the summer’s bounty without heating the house! A properly setup outdoor canning kitchen is easy to use, and keeps the whole family comfortable during peak canning season.
I’ll admit it, I’m a canning addict. Seeing all my homegrown produce put up neatly in jars just makes my day, and anytime I’m having a bad day, a quick batch of jam turns it all around. Even though I love it, the truth is canning is hot, steamy work. When all the fruits of summer come ripe, I’m doing everything I can to keep the house cool. An outdoor canning kitchen is the obvious solution, and it keeps all the heat outdoors where it belongs.
I’d dabbled in canning outdoors before, using a large turkey fryer propane burner to power a water bath canner. It worked great for pickles, which can be raw packed without much fuss. This year was the first year I went all in and set up a purpose-built outdoor canning kitchen, and I tell you I’ll never go back to summer canning indoors.
Lehmans sent me an Amish Made Canner to review, and that was all the push I needed to make the leap. It’s a beauty, and can hold 36-pint jars at once!
Honestly, I was worried that it’d take forever to heat up, but it’s designed to go across two burners which helps it come up to temperature fast. Combine that with a high output 3 burner outdoor stove and it was boiling in about 20 minutes.
Normally when I’m canning I start the water boiling before I even think about chopping the fruit, and this time I was caught off guard. The canner was up to temperature and I hadn’t even started the jam yet. Such a pleasant surprise.
The first batch I made in my new canning kitchen was my low sugar strawberry jam. Our berries come in heavy in early July, just as temperatures really spiking for the first time.
With a high output burner, I had some concerns that the jam might scorch, but the stove actually adjusted down quite low and I was able to simmer the jam on medium-low the whole time without any issues.
Still, I prefer to use an enameled cast iron dutch oven to help distribute the heat during jam making. It seems to cook more evenly that way, and a 6-quart enameled dutch oven holds just the right amount of berries for a batch.
As a prep station, I set up the same 6-foot folding table that I use for seed starting in the spring. By canning season, my seedlings are already out of our attached greenhouse and this table can work double duty.
We have a small kitchen in the house, and 6 feet of counter space seems downright luxurious. It’s more than enough space to hold jars, ingredients and a big cutting board for prep. Slip on a cute outdoor table cloth with canning friendly designs and I’m good to go.
The only thing that’s really missing is a sink, but that’s not a deal breaker. I can wash the produce in the sink indoors before bringing it out, which doesn’t heat up the house anyway. Someday perhaps I’ll set up a shop sink fed by a hose with a bucket underneath, but for now, this simple setup is more than adequate.
The Amish Made Canner has a metal trivet at the bottom that keeps the jars raised up so they’re not in direct contact with the bottom of the canner. It also has a divider that allows you to stack two layers of jars, in the same way that I’m able to stack two layers of jars in my 30-quart pressure canner.
When canning jam, the second layer isn’t really necessary because batch sizes aren’t that large. This is really going to come in handy when it comes to processing my tomato sauce, which I make in 40-50 jar batches…
For now, I’m just happy to be able to put it across two burners so that it heats up super fast.
Our canning kitchen is set up in the shade on the north side of our shop, under an overhang where we store our tractor in the winter. It’s basically our summertime covered porch, and it’s ideal for an outdoor kitchen.
Canning aside, we just cooked our lunch out there today too. Later this week, we’re planning a big home brewing binge, and it’s the perfect place for brewing homemade beer.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier, and now I have the perfect place to test out all these creative canning recipes I’ve been accumulating!