My Back Porch Is My Canning Kitchen!

.

IMG_2273-001

Fresh picked corn in my old washtub. 

.

One of my favorite things about having a big garden is putting up the produce for the winter.

.

Corn 6

An outdoor picnic table is perfect for a messy job like this!

.

The problem is that canning (for me, anyway) is a hot and messy job.  When my husband and I were building our house and living in our travel trailer I had no choice but to set up a little canning station outside on my picnic table.  And I discovered that I love it.

.

IMG_0826-001

Fresh canned pickles, cooling on the porch. 

.

So for the last couple of summers my back porch has become my outdoor canning kitchen!  And I absolutely love canning outdoors.

.

IMG_0944-001

My basket of tomatoes straight from the garden to the porch.

.

Even though my set-up is country simple at best, I thought I would share with you the few things that I have discovered that make it work!

.

IMG_9623

 

A good table.  I have a wooden picnic table on my porch that I keep covered with a nice vinyl tablecloth that I scrub down with soap and water.  I also spray down and clean the concrete floor too.  

.

IMG_9548-001

.

A two-burner propane camp stove.  Mine is not an expensive one but it has a very high BTU output so water boils fast.  It has nice sturdy legs on it, but yet is easy to move back out of the way when I’m through.  A two burner is really handy since no matter what you are canning, you will almost always need two burners.  (And yep, it was raining today while I was canning on my porch!)

.

IMG_0814-001

.

Large kettles.  I use the old original enamelware kettles.  They have great handles, they come with lids, they are huge, and honestly I love them because I can just store them outside right on my camp stove!  (Obviously, I scrub them down with soap and water before use!)

.

IMG_9574-001

.

Water.  You need to have water handy.  I would love to have an antique enamel sink on my porch all set up with running water.  But until then, I use the garden hose with a spray nozzle on it!  It works just fine!

.
IMG_9680-001

.

Enamelware bowls.  The reason I love enamelware so much is because I don’t have to worry about it breaking.  And the old enamelware bowls are huge, so they hold a lot of produce.  I use both large bowls and the huge platters.  (I use mine for picking veggies in the garden too.)

.
IMG_9553-001

.

Canning tools. I like to store mine in a container that I can bring from the house to the porch easily.  An old canister works great for this.  After I wash everything up when I am done, they go right in the top shelf of my pantry, ready for next time.

 

IMG_9598-001

.

Clean, sterile jars and lids.  I do not buy new jars.  I have jars I use year after year.  Some of my favorites are the vintage Ball Liberty jars!  However, more and more I am doing a lot of my canning in pint jars simply because it is handier for just the two of us.

.

IMG_9583-001

.

Now, I’m ready to go.  Because I’ve got everything ready at my fingertips, it hardly takes anytime to do my canning.

.

IMG_9616-001

.

And when I put the jars in for their 45 minute boiling hot water bath, I can carry my dishes inside to my clean and cool kitchen!  It only takes a few minutes to wash everything and put it away and there is no canning mess in the kitchen.

.

IMG_9628-001

.

Then I take the garden hose and spray down my table outside.

.

IMG_9671-001

.

A few reasons to have an outdoor canning kitchen:

I would far rather be outside listening to the birds and watching my cows than stuck in the kitchen any day!

Cleaning up the “kitchen” is a breeze.  Grab the hose and spray it down!

The high output propane burners boil water super fast and they accommodate very large kettles.  There is no time standing in front of a hot stove waiting for water to boil.  You can also adjust the legs so that the stove is the height you need.  Because I am short, dealing with those large kettles on the stove top is very difficult.

And it is just plain fun to turn your porch into a canning kitchen – even for just an hour or two!

.

IMG_9676

.

So…. I have to admit.  A couple years ago when I first started canning outside I really thought I had invented something.  Come to find out there are a lot of folks that can outside and some people have an amazing outdoor set up.  I’m dying to know if you do your canning and preserving outside?

.

And do you call it “canning”, “preserving”, or “putting up”?!    Here in the South I hear “putting up” the most!

.

Happy Summer!  We’re in the thick of it here in middle Tennessee and I love it.

.

Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

.

Dori

Leave a comment 47 Comments

  1. Binky Thorsson says:

    Dori, you are so inspiring! I can’t stand the heat, so this gives me a better way of canning. Outside the heat doesn’t collect in the house as you mentioned. I do a bit of dehydrating, and fortunately once it is set up all I have to do is rotate the shelves periodically. No heat :0)
    Our Master Sgt., Marine Corps daughter doesn’t have the time yet to do any canning, but she does a lot of dehydrating. She will be able to retire with 20 years in, next yr. and will only be 37. She looks forward to having the time to do some preserving at that time.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      I think it is interesting how an air conditioned house can get so hot when you are canning. I think it must be the large kettles boiling on the stove top and me hustling around the kitchen. And the mess… oh my goodness the mess is horrible. I tend to drip things down my cabinet door fronts and on the floor, etc. But outside on the porch, even in the hottest days of summer it’s not that hot when I’m canning.

      How exciting for your daughter to be able to retire at such a young age and have so much to look forward to. And what a wonderful service she has done for us so that WE have the freedom to do things like garden and can. Thank her for me.

      Happy summer,

      – Dori –

  2. Deb Bosworth says:

    You are just amazing and have such a way with country decorating! Love the enamelware bowls, outdoor canning kitchen, red and white check table cloth, the view, just ALL OF IT…This post just screams SUMMER!!! What time’s dinner?
    Hugs,
    Deb

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thanks Deb! Dinner is at my daughters tonight! :-)

      I don’t know about the country decorating… I think it’s just country living!

      Big hugs, Deb.

      – Dori –

  3. Lynn says:

    Thank you so so much for this tremendous idea! I am in a wheelchair now and canning my garden haul has been almost impossible. With a few adjustments, this idea is going to be perfect for me. Thank you for the huge impact to my life. I just read this to my husband and he is already working the set up out for me!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Lynn,

      I’m so excited to think of you being able to be outside canning your garden haul! I sure hadn’t thought about how this would help someone that was in a wheelchair but I can just picture it on my porch and it would be awesome! I’m so happy!!! You’ll have to email me some pictures the first time you get to can! redfeedsack@gmail.com

      Thanks for writing and letting me know!

      – Dori –

  4. bonnie ellis says:

    I’ll give you another reason for canning outdoors. I cry so hard I can’t see when I am peeling onions and the outdoors is the only place I can peel them. Thanks for your great pictures of your canning on your wonderful huge porch. Living where you do you also can can a lot earlier than we can. We usually can’t plant until late May or early June. Those tomatoes surely looked yummy.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Bonnie,

      Onions never seem to bother me much but wow… that would make a huge difference. Just having the bit of a breeze on the porch would really pull that onion smell away wouldn’t it?

      My cucumbers are on their way out already and I forgot to get a second set planted, so I’m going to do that this weekend and hope that they actually come up. I planted the first seeds about the end of April. That is actually a bit early for some things, but it seems to work fine for the cucumbers.

      My tomatoes have been very ugly this year – but the flavor is good. So that’s alright!

      Happy summer to you!

      – Dori –

  5. Linda Wigington says:

    Not to mention that the outdoor “canning” (I’m from VA) keeps from heating up your house, and that is more eco-friendly as well. I did my fair share of indoor canning in younger kids-at-home days and now miss the good, home canned veggies and knowing that they were more healthy. Maybe the back porch canning is a take-off of olden days when they had “summer kitchens”, although I think that was as much to prevent burning down the entire house if you had an “accident”! The “good old days”? Love your blogs.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Linda,

      I think it is interesting that I grew up with Ranching parents and grand-parents and we didn’t do any of our canning outside. We certainly snapped beans, shucked corn, etc outside but not the actual preserving part. Maybe they were so tired of the “good old days” of doing it outside they were thrilled to be inside! :-) And now, we are all wanting to get back to the “simpler” way of doing things (smile!).

      I hadn’t thought about the eco-friendly part of it but you are so right about that.

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

  6. Karen(old cowgirl) Montoya says:

    Hi Dori,
    Thought I would share some memories with you. We had a back porch that was screened in and my Mother used it for just about everything. First she put the ringer washer out there while the tubs (3) went in the kitchen. I use to help pull the close out of the ringer part, then put in the laundry basket to take out side and hang up. At 4-5 I was tall for my age and could reach the wire to hang some of the cloths. Then during canning she had to use the kitchen stove but did everything else that she could out on the porch including letting the jars cool and set up. All day we would hear the pop of the lids. Then the other side of the porch I either stacked the wood in the bins or would cut the wood (when I was over 8) into kindling or regular wood and stack in the bins inside. The porch was also used when my Father shot some kind of fowl or killed some chickens and plucked the feathers and also had buckets of hot water to rinse the fowl in after they were plucked. Such great memories. Thank you for reminding me of them.
    Love and hugs to you and your family,
    Kay

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Kay!

      You wrote that so well, I swear I was there! Such wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing!

      Big hugs to you friend,

      Dori

  7. Sabrina says:

    Great idea. My husband set up our canning kitchen on our screened in porch. Wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else. We’e done this the last couple of years.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Sabrina,

      I’d love to hear any suggestions you have learned from your canning kitchen!

      – Dori –

      • Sabrina says:

        Our kitchen is set up that it faces my side yard where I have flower beds. My husband put a double sink in an old table so we could use it for washing the veggies and such. But when the water drains out it goes directly to my flower beds. doing double duty. Now if I could just figure out a way to water my other flower beds and garden.

  8. Carol says:

    Dear friend,
    I sent the comment without completing it. Could I blame my new tablet? I helped my grandmother and mother “put up” for years. By the way I love that expression and remember Granny using it.
    It is rewarding for me to can and freeze. I feel such an accomplishment when everything goes well.
    A few years ago, I pressure canned sweet potatoes. My kitchen floor was so sticky. I mopped it three times before it was clean. Do you pressure outside? Also, I made watermelon jelly one year for Christmas gifts. I have canned pinto and great northern beans. These can be opened and warmed or used in soup.
    I cut corn off outside . We do not have a roof over the patio. The process of canning and freezing has become rewarding for me.
    Carol from middle TN

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Carol, I’m pretty sure my grand-mothers both used the term “putting up”! :-) Of course here in Middle Tennessee we hear “puttin’ up” don’t we?!

      I agree with the reward. I love to look in my pantry at all my canned goods lined up on the shelves. It gives me such a good feeling.

      I have never pressure canned sweet potatoes but oh wow I bet they are good. And yes, my entire kitchen would be sticky!!! ha Ha!

      Okay, on the instructions that come with the high output propane burners they don’t recommend using a pressure canner. However, I do. I just keep the burners turned down about half way so that it isn’t as high of output. And I’ve had no issues. I suppose that one time someone was using their pressure canner (probably incorrectly) with the high output burner and blew the top off of it, so they have to issue the warning with the instructions. I really think with caution and good sense it isn’t a problem.

      Watermelon jelly??? How awesome would that be. I’ve never even heard of it!!! What a fun gift!

      – Dori –

      • Pat says:

        Hi Dori…I love you blog & it brings back some memories, but not until I was in my 20’s did I get exposed to canning by way of my mother in law & I just love it the same as all of you.
        Now, here is the question of the day. Where do you get the high output propane burners? This looks like a better way to can & pressure cook & will save my burners, which I have had to replace because they burned out with the large canner & it is not recommended to use them on the smooth top stoves.
        Pat

        • Dori Troutman says:

          Hello Pat,

          Thank you for brining that up. I actually meant to mention that in my post and forgot.

          I purchased mine at a camping type store – Gander Mountain. However, you can get them at any hardware store, Tractor Supply and even Amazon. I think possibly Lowes and Home Depot carries them also.

          Here is a link to the one on Amazon that is like mine: http://www.amazon.com/Camp-Chef-Explorer-EX-280LW-Modular/dp/B0009N0PIA/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1438636573&sr=8-12&keywords=high+output+propane+burner

          They are not that expensive really, for what they can do. I think I paid about $150 for mine. That does not include the propane tank.

          I have a large gas range in my kitchen and could actually do canning with the large stock pots on my range top; however, it is so much easier on this propane burner… right at the height I need, etc.

          Thanks for writing!

          – Dori –

  9. Ruth says:

    Hi, Dorie,

    I always enjoy your posts. You mentioned that you would like a sink on your porch and I noticed you have two galvanized “sinks” sitting in their stand in the background of one of your pictures. I have a picture of those made into a beautiful, rustic sink area and can send it to you if you are interested.

    Love the idea of canning on the porch — especially in the rain!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Thank you Ruth.

      And YES I’d love to see a picture of the wash tubs made into a sink. I’ve seen a few pictures of it done but would like to see the picture you have. I have my hydrangeas planted in there right now because we are working on our landscaping on our hilltop (finally have our completed and time to get a yard in!) so I have them in the washtubs until I have my flower beds ready. But certainly by next spring my husband could turn those tubs into an awesome sink set up!

      My email is: redfeedsack@gmail.com

      Thanks!!!

      – Dori –

  10. Marvene says:

    Hey Dori,

    I too still do canning. My mother taught me too. She even canned chicken, pork and beef. We have a small garden (20 x 20). We have it completely sealed from the ground up with a net over the entire garden to keep all the desert critters from destroying it. Wayne gives most of our tomatoes away to friends but I did get a few jars of tomatoes canned this. But we have an abundance of fruit trees (about 25) and I put up peach, apricot, and fig jam. We have two fig trees and figs are wonderful. We also have orange, kumquat, lemon, lime and grapefruit trees. Your mom gave me her recipe for three fruit — orange, grapefruit and lemon marmalade. It is one of my favorites. My mother always made tomato jam with orange or lemon rind in it. It is an acquired taste, but is my very favorite marmalade. During the winter I just buy one of those small packs of small tomatoes and make me a jar of tomato marmalade. We are getting old or might think about getting Wayne to set up a canning area on our back porch. I have an electric stove and I worry having the big kettle full of jars and having the stove get too hot! So far so good and I have been doing it on this stove for 5+ years. Loved the blog, you are an inspiration.
    Love, Marvene

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Aunt Marvene,

      I love your and Uncle Wayne’s garden and I’m glad that when I went through there last year I saw the early stages of it – I think I was there in March? Or was it February? Anyway, I can at least picture it! :-)

      I love that marmalade that my Mom makes for Dad. Oh does he EVER love it. I need to get the recipe from her actually. Marmalade is definitely an acquired taste, but it is so good on home-made biscuits huh?!

      Hugs to Uncle Wayne… sorry I was out of town when you came to KY in July.

      – Dori –

  11. Marvene says:

    I forgot to tell you a really ‘old’ method of canning. When we were in the military in the 1950s (stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky) we wen’t home for Christmas when our son was two months old so all the family in AZ could see him. When we returned (driving) my mother had pork sausage and hamburger patties in crocks to take back to KY. The sausage and hamburger patties we cooked slightly and put into old-fashioned crocks covered in layers with the fat from the pork rendering. Today everyone would be horrified at all that fat, but it kept the sausage and the hamburger patties sealed and we are still alive today even after eating those.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Oh my word, Aunt Marvene. Can you just IMAGINE doing this in today’s world???!!! :-) I love thinking about it and thanks for sharing that memory!

      Hug,

      – Dori –

  12. Susana says:

    I just stArted to get produce from. My gArden , so I haven’t started to. …Can, but I put up for winter every year. I freeze and can. I try to stay aheAd of the sezsont, but. I. FIND I give a. It a way..be
    Cause. I overwhelmed if. I dont hzve help…..lost my helper
    …hubby. pAssed Way……dont.now how I will do my grapes without. Him.s

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Susana,

      I saw a comment you wrote to Alex, our Rural Farmgirl, about wondering of ways to cook okra. And I wanted to tell you that I grill it. If you don’t use an outdoor propane grill you can do it on the stop top in a skillet. This is what you do: cut the okra in half longways, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and cook on a high temp for just a few minutes. The key is not to overcook it… you want it a tiny bit crunchy still. You can add cherry tomatoes to the skillet too. My husband and I have grilled okra for lunch almost every day in the summer! :-)

      I know living without your husband must be so hard. All of us farm girls think about you a lot.

      – Dori –

  13. Ellen Gerard says:

    Good morning! I live in Kentucky and also love to can. I can in my kitchen but you make it sound so good, I may try it outside! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Denise Ross says:

    Wow, Dori, what a fabulous idea. I’m just learning to garden and only I. Pots for now as we are renting, but I’d love to can one day. I love this outside way of doing it. Very inspiring indeed :)

  15. Vivian Monroe says:

    Ok, Dori, this just may get me back into canning. I too do not like be confined inside. I love being on the back porch, so hmmmmm, think I will give it a try. Thanks for sharing a great idea and wonderful post. Be Blessed. (we say puttin up as well back home in La.) Neta

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Vivian,

      I would rather be outside any day and sometimes the thought of being stuck in a hot kitchen makes me want to cry! So, yeah… I think you’ll love it! Let me know!

      – Dori –

  16. Rachann says:

    I love canning outside. My grandma had a stove in the basement for canning for as long as I knew. I swiped her idea when we built our garage. I looked at pool house ideas and old time (out house was built 1772) summer kitchens. I love it. On hot days dinner is made out there. On humid mornings the tea kettle is boiled out there.

    The best part is we made it part of the garden. So produce is picked, washed and processed right there.

    Ironically I just rummaged up a board to make a sign from the last blog for my summer kitchen. Once I figure out photos I’ll post one.

    We used an explorer 3 camp stove (3 burner).

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Rachann,

      Can I come visit you?!! :-) Your place sounds like a dream and I want to see it! I’ll settle for pictures though! Seriously, I would love to see pictures of your 1772 house and summer kitchen. And the sign! email me pictures: redfeedsack@gmail.com

      Dreaming of an old 1772 farmhouse…. sigh.

      – Dori –

  17. Rowena Philbeck says:

    You have a wonderful setup. I would love a back porch to do that type of work. I have a small porch and would probably do. I do can inside and make jelly and it does get hot but I love canning. I also dehydrate a lot and I use my garage to do it especially onions that really stink up the house. I can’t wait till I retire in a few years and I want to can more for sure. Great idea about those camp burners. I have to try that. Also the beautiful enamel ware is awesome. I love vintage items. Thanks again!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Rowena,

      My vintage enamelware is one of my favorite things I have! Some of the pieces were my grand-mothers and then my Moms and now mine! :-)

      – Dori –

  18. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a great idea to can on your back porch! It just makes a ton of sense and you have a perfect setup for doing so. Plus the wide open space just feels cooler than the confines of walls where it gets hotter and hotter as the hours pass.

  19. I love canning on my porch also. I have a three burner stove and use it for more than just canning in the summer. I cook on my wood cook stove in the winter inside and on the porch on my camp stove in the summer. There is 12 of us, so lots of canning and cooking.
    Sharon

  20. Karen M says:

    I love the idea of outdoor canning (wish I had the view like you). I wonder if I could do it in the burbs? This year I have canned Pickles, Salsa, Tomatoes, Pasta Sauce, Carrots, Green Beans,Jalapenos, Okra,Peach, Strawberry/Kiwi, Fig and Pear preserves.
    Do you cook your tomatoes/fruit etc. outside or in your “house” kitchen? Could you can using a pressure canner outdoors also?
    Thanks for your advice
    Karen

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Karen,

      I cook my tomatoes, etc outside on the camp stove either in one of the smaller enamelware pots. As for using a pressure canner on the camp stove… the instructions say not to. And I’m sure the reason is because those stoves put out a really high BTU. BUT, that said – I’ve used my pressure canner on the camp stove many, many times with no problems. I’m just careful to keep the burners down to a lower flame. I’ve had no problems.

      I would think you could use the camp stove in the city – in some ways it isn’t really any different than using a gas grill.

      I haven’t ended up doing as much canning this year as I have in past years as my garden just did not produce like it usually does. Most everything that it produced (except tomatoes) we ate. :-(

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

    • Sabrina says:

      Hi Karen,
      Just wanted to let you know that I have two pressure canners I use in my outside kitchen. Never have had any trouble.

  21. Mickey says:

    Dori; My husband and I recently moved into our new home in outside of Union, West Virginia and it is situated on 3.9 acres. The previous owner planted a huge garden and we get to reap the rewards. I am new to gardening and canning so all I know I have learned from reading. I just canned my first tomatoes and made juice out of them. I have a camp stove like yours except it is a three burner and I bought it through Sportsman’s Guide catalogue. I read in the canning book not to use it because of the high BTU’s, but I think I will try it on a lower setting like you said. Also I have a covered breezeway that I think will make a great canning area once I get everything out of it from the move. Do you have any suggestions for “putting up” zucchini squash. I have more than I know what to do with. I hope to have my “summer kitchen” ready for next year. Thanks

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Mickey!

      Your new home sounds so lovely and I’m so excited for you! And how exciting that you got to move right in to a producing garden! :-) The best gift ever.

      A covered breezeway is a great idea for a canning kitchen. Totally perfect.

      I have never done any canning of zucchini; however, I have frozen it before. Because I’m not a huge zucchini fan, other than using it in baked goods, what I do is run it through my cheese grater and freeze it flat in a ziplok bag. Then it is ready for zucchini cake, bread, etc… It doesn’t even need to be thawed. And it works great. I know that my mother used to can all sorts of summer vegetable (squash included) all together in a jar for vegetable soup. And it was great. I’ve never done it though.

      Thanks for writing!

      – Dori –

  22. Nancy says:

    Thanks for this column. I Have done my canning on my deck for a few years now. It’s pretty hot out there this year (2018) but it’s still rewarding. My son says “that’s dedication”. I thought I might post a couple photos of my stove and “rewards”, butcould’nt make that happen. Any way thank you for writing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>