I've been canning for years but really only seriously for the past two. My recent "learning curve" has took me into canning ventures outside my normal jams and tomatoes.
What I Have Learned
- pressure canning is a treasure as you can preserve meats and non-acidic vegetables.
- can what you will eat. If you don't typically eat something, or a lot of it, why preserve it? For those rare occasions, just go to the store and buy the amount that you need.
- try a batch: you may not like it but you may also LOVE it. Take the chance. If you don't like it, just chalk up the expense and time as a learning curve.
- you need storage. Lots of it. If you are going to do serious canning (or even "not") you need a place to store the batches of preserved food. They need to be in a cool, dry, and dark location for optimal preserving and health of the jars.
- you need lots of jars … lots and lots of jars.
- and lids… when you re-use a jar you need a new lid (unless you are using the reusable Tattler lids). Stock up at the first of the year. Apparently the rubbers on the lids will disintegrate over time and you should start with fresh lids every year.
- use what you preserve. Don't forget that you have it. You really do want to grow through your stockpile in a year, refreshing it again when the food is in season (or on sale).