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Garden Lifestyle

Get a Can Do Attitude

Too many tomatoes? Can’t keep up with the cukes? Well, now’s the time to get busy canning, freezing, drying, pickling, and fermenting. Oh yes, you can!

Daniel Gasteiger’s can-do attitude is contagious in his new book, “Yes You Can!”
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

Looking back on my first attempt to can tomatoes, I have to admire how ambitious I was. Even though I had never tried something like that on my own, I bought a box of canning jars, picked a bushel of tomatoes at a nearby “u-pick” farm, and set to work in my kitchen.

Several long hours later, I realized I had more tomatoes than jars which meant jumping in the car to go buy a dozen more.

Then I realized I had too many jars and needed more tomatoes.

All of that extra effort could have been avoided if I would have had a copy of “Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry it, too” by Daniel Gasteiger (Cool Springs Press, $19.95). His new book is a step-by-step guide to help anyone succeed at canning, freezing, drying, sugaring, and pickling.

I received a review copy from the publisher and I immediately turned to the chapter on Canning High-Acid Foods to read about canning tomatoes. It turns out I needed 3 pounds of tomatoes for each quart jar or about 21 pounds to fill 7 quarts. 

“Yes, You Can!” is an “everything you always wanted to know about canning” manual that’s filled with colorful images and a breezy writing style. His can-do attitude is contagious.

Daniel covers reasons why it’s important to preserve your produce. “Home food preservation can play an important role both in improving the quality of the food you eat and reducing your impact on the environment,” he writes.

Then he thoroughly explains all the different ways to preserve the fresh flavors of the garden from dehydrating to fermenting to quick pickling. Daniel is like other vegetable gardeners because he says home food preservation is a natural extension of his gardening activities.

I appreciate Daniel’s approach to his book. He believes canning is easy and that anyone can do it. “If you can follow instructions, then the hardest thing about canning is moving a large canning pot full of hot water. That’s it.”

The book is peppered with helpful suggestions on how to save money when food’s on sale, ideas from the “tip jar,” and Daniel’s “Didja-Know” ideas. For example, did you know you don’t need fancy equipment to dry your own herbs? Or why it’s better to can under-ripe grapes? (They’re more pleasant to eat.)

Daniel has also sprinkled in some interesting recipes throughout the book, like blanching and dehydrating corn for a crunchy healthful snack with fresh corn-on-the-cob flavor.

He also helps busy moms with ideas for making their own baby food and homemade frozen dinners.

Even if you’ve never tried your hand at canning before, Daniel’s book will help you understand there’s nothing you can’t can.

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