In mid-winter, when your garden is buried in snow and all the farmers' market has to offer are potatoes and rutabagas, there's nothing quite like the feeling of having tasty, organic food you made yourself available in your pantry. I’ve been fascinated by preserving food in jars since I was a small child and helped pick the wild berries my mother turned into jars of jewel-toned jelly that we enjoyed all year. In high school when my friends were buying boy-band posters, I bought canning jars and a pressure canner and then built shelves in the basement to store my bounty.
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Whether you want a few jars of jam or aim to store a year’s worth of veggies and fruits—canning is a safe and easy way of creating foods that can be stored at room temperature. That said, you do need to follow some simple rules to keep it safe. Here are 27 of the most common canning mistakes—and how to avoid them.