Around the country, millions of gardens are coming out of hibernation. In garden boxes, patios and backyard plots, gardeners are planting seeds and small plants in the soil and watching them grow. Some people are excited to eat the fresh cucumbers, tomatoes or whatever it is they have planted this year.

For canners, the most exciting part of the growing season is preserving what they've grown. Or for some, what they bring home from the market. What beginners might not realize is that canning starts early.

Of course, what you can depends on what’s in your garden, but if you see something on this list, it's also easy to find at your local farmers market or grocer.

Dilly Beans

A few of you out there might be asking: What are dilly beans?

Essentially, dilly beans are pickled green beans. Typically seasoned with garlic, pepper or dill, the beans stay crisp through the canning and pickling process. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make them:

  • 3 pounds of green beans
  • 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 5 teaspoons dill seed
  • 5 pint-sized canning jars
  1. Prepare a boiling water bath and 5 regular mouth pint jars.
  2. Put the lids to five regular mouth pint jars in a small saucepan and simmer in water, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Wash and trim beans so that they fit in the jars. Put them in and leave about a 1/2 inch of room on top. To each jar, add one clove of garlic and a teaspoon of dill seeds.
  4. If you want that classic bread-and-butter pickle flavor, try Mrs. Wages Dill Pickle Mix.
  5. Mix the vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  6. Carefully pour the hot brine over the beans, leaving 1/2 inch for headspace.
  7. Use the end of a wooden spoon to work out any air bubbles.
  8. Clean the rims, apply lids and rings.
  9. Process the cans in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

After the dilly beans sit for a week, they’ll be ready to eat.

Sweet Roma Tomato Pasta Sauce

In early summer, vines across the country become loaded with tomatoes. If you’re like a lot of people, you quickly have too many tomatoes. So naturally, the best thing to do is to stock your pantry with homemade marinara sauce.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  1. Wash and core all the tomatoes. Cut them into quarters.
  2. In a large pot, simmer the onion in the olive oil for five minutes.
  3. Add the quartered tomatoes. Bring them to a boil then let simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. Using a food mill or a food strainer, puree the tomatoes into a sauce. Be sure to strain out the skin and seeds!
  5. In a large pot, combine tomato sauce with the contents of the Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce Tomato Mix and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.

Now, all you have to do is fill your jars with the sauce, leaving about an inch of headspace in each one.

Because tomato sauce has vegetables in it, you'll need to use a pressure canner like the Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner/Cooker.

Amaretto Cherries

When cherries are in season, you know it. The fruit section at the store and the stalls at the farmers markets overflow with them. But as abundant as they are, they go away just as fast. This year, why not preserve some of the magic? We’re talking amaretto cherries. It’s surprisingly easy.

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 cups pitted cherries
  • 3 tablespoons Amaretto Liqueur (1 tablespoon per quart-sized jar)
  • 3 quart-sized jars
  1. Get jars, lids and your canner ready to go.
  2. First, prepare the syrup by zesting the lemon then juicing it. Measure 2 tablespoons of lemon juice from the lemon and combine it with the zest, the water and the sugar in a saucepan. Cook it over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. At this point let it boil for one more minute.
  3. Pack the cherries into hot, sterilized jars (a stuffing tube works great). Add 1 tablespoon of Amaretto to each jar. Ladle hot syrup into jars. Remove bubbles with the end of a wooden spoon. Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch headspace.
  4. Clean off the edge of the jars, screw on the lid and ring.
  5. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes and you’ll be set.

Discover even more exciting combinations and recipes

Once your garden starts producing fresh fruits and veggies, there’s no limit to what you’re able to can. Just like bakers and cooks love to discover new recipes, there are millions of different combinations for canners to try.

The only limit is your imagination, or rather, shelf space!