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How to Can and Ferment Vegetables and Fruits from Your Garden with Stephanie Thurow, Ep 202



When you grow an edible garden, you likely end up with a surplus of fresh produce at the peak of each growing season. Rather than letting those precious veggies and fruits go to waste, consider preserving them through time-tested techniques like canning and fermenting. These methods allow you to safely store your garden harvest so you can enjoy homemade jams, pickles, sauces, and more throughout the year! In this episode, you'll learn the basics of canning and fermenting from renowned homesteader, canning expert, and author Stephanie Thurow.


In this episode, we learn:

  • [06:06] How Stephanie got into canning and fermenting
  • [07:42] What's the strategy behind the timing of canning? 
  • [09:53] Difference between canning and fermenting
  • [11:53] Is fermentation a shelf-stable process like canning, or does it require refrigeration?
  • [13:37] Why is it advised to consume a spoonful of fermented food each day, such as sauerkraut?
  • [14:31] What is the storage setup for Stephanie's canned and fermented goods?
  • [15:22] Materials you need for water bath canning
  • [16:43] Why is a rack required when using your 4th burner pot for canning?
  • [19:00] Where can you find premium, handcrafted wind chimes that are perfect for gifting?
  • [20:32] Where can you find potting mixes, composts, and fertilizers for indoor and outdoor gardening?
  • [23:05] Steps to prepare for a canning session
  • [28:28] Common mistakes beginners make when canning
  • [31:11] What are the basic requirements for fermenting vegetables?
  • [32:16] Why “The Cottage Garden” is your ultimate resource for understanding the history, evolution, and stunning modern interpretations of cottage garden design
  • [33:47] Difference between dry salting and brining in fermentation
  • [35:44] Are there any precautions or cleanliness practices to follow during fermentation?
  • [36:25] What do you need to know about fermenting basics?
  • [38:31] What is the recommended timeline for fermenting different types of foods?
  • [39:36] Common troubleshooting tips for fermenting to avoid issues like mold?
  • [40:24] Should you follow recipes?
  • [41:01] Where can you find trusted online recipes for fermentation and canning recipes?
  • [42:15] What are Stephanie's favorite fermentation and canning recipes?
  • [46:12] Unique or unusual items Stephanie has tried pickling
  • [49:12] Where can you find Stephanie’s books online?
  • [51:30] How do you break the seal on the tightly sealed jars?
  • [52:35] Where can you find Stephanie on social media?


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Water Bath Canning Basics

Canning involves processing foods in sealed, sterile jars to make them shelf-stable. The most common at-home method is water bath canning. Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Canning pot – A tall stock pot or lobster boiling pot works well. You need enough height to fully submerge jars.
  • Rack –  To keep jars off direct contact with pot bottom. Can use a canning rack, jar rings, or even washcloths.
  • Jars – Go with mason jars and always use new lids.
  • Jar lifter – Helps remove hot jars safely. Canning tongs with silicone coating work great.
  • Tested recipes – Follow trusted recipes like those from National Center for Home Food Preservation

Always leave the proper headspace, clean jar rims, and finger-tighten lids before processing. Once done, don’t disturb the jars until completely cooled to allow the vacuum seal to set.

Stephanie warns beginners not to modify recipes or take shortcuts that seem to work but aren’t proven safe methods. Follow trusted guidelines and processing times to eliminate any food safety risks.

For successful home canning, follow these steps: Use a tall stock pot or canning pot to submerge filled jars, maintaining 1-2 inches of water above them. Pack clean jars with recipes, leaving 1⁄4-1⁄2 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean, seal lids finger-tight, and process in boiling water for the time in the recipe, usually 10+ minutes. After processing, let jars sit in hot water for 5 more minutes, then cool and seal for 12-24 hours. To store, remove rings, check seals, label, and store in a cool, dark place, using within 1 year.

Patience is key, plant friends!


Small Batch Canning

Go small when starting out – that way if you don't like a recipe, you haven't ended up with 50 jars of something you won't eat! Stephanie suggests small-batch recipes like:

  • Dill pickles – Enjoy on their own or in a Bloody Mary (one of Stephanie's favorites!).
  • Pickled jalapeños – Add spice to nachos, tacos, and more.
  • Jams – Strawberry or blueberry jams pair nicely with scones.
  • Tomatoes – Can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes for winter meals.


Fermenting Basics

In addition to canning, fermenting your harvest allows you to preserve veggies using beneficial bacteria. Lactic acid fermentation relies on natural bacteria present in the vegetables to convert sugars into lactic acid. This natural preservative inhibits harmful microorganisms.

  • Jars – Use mason jars or other food-safe containers.
  • Lids – Make sure you have lids to seal the jars.
  • Weights – Keep ingredients submerged under the brine.
  • Kitchen scale – Helps weigh out accurate salt percentages.

There are two main techniques:

  1. Dry salting chops or shreds the vegetables and adds salt to draw out their natural juices into a brine. This is used for sauerkraut and kimchi.
  2. Brining fully submerges prepared veggies into a saltwater solution. This works for whole cucumbers, peppers, and more.

The steps are simple: Pack prepared vegetables tightly in a clean quart jar. Add brine, leaving 2 inches of headspace. Ferment at room temperature for 1-4 weeks, achieving desired tanginess. Keep vegetables submerged under brine, pressing down only when you notice it’s not submerged. Seal the jar and refrigerate for prolonged freshness.

During fermentation, keep your vegetables weighted down below the liquid. Check them periodically and release trapped air bubbles. Taste frequently until it reaches your desired tanginess, then move to the fridge to slow fermentation.


Stephanie’s Go-To Recipes

Over years of preserving, Stephanie has honed her favorite canning and fermenting recipes. Here are a few she recommends for beginners:

  • Sauerkraut – Cabbage fermented with salt makes a tangy side dish.
  • Kimchi – Napa cabbage, spices like ginger, and brine makes a flavorful Korean staple.
  • Dill Pickles – For crunchy, tangy pickles just like you get from a deli
  • Pickled Jalapeños – Versatile flavor booster for tacos, nachos, and more
  • Eggs – For unique snacking, try fermenting eggs in spices and brine.


Start Preserving Today

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to put your new canning and fermenting skills to work, preserving the delicious harvest from your backyard or community garden. To learn more from Stephanie Thurow, check out her books and website listed below. What will you try preserving from your garden harvest this year?


Mentioned in our conversation:



Thank you to our episode sponsors:

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Espoma Organic

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Visit to find your local Espoma dealer or check my Amazon storefront.

Quarto: The Cottage Garden by Claus Dalby

Explore the history and draw inspiration from different cottage garden design-styles in this organically-written book filled with over 700 full-color photographs. Learn the fundamentals and the principles behind well-design cottage gardens as author Claus Dalby features famous and modern cottage gardeners and gardens from all over the world. This book is your ultimate resource for understanding and interpreting the cottage garden design, so you can create your own! Check out The Cottage Garden at your favorite local bookstore, quarto.comBarnes and Noble, or



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