There is no way around it; canning the harvest is hot work. Hot work that is usually done while the outside temperature is rising. But there are a few ways to stay cool in the kitchen while canning.
Two weeks ago, it was cold and rainy, and summer seemed a long way off. But today the thermometer is pushing triple digits. When that happens, canning season isn’t far behind!
Although standing over a pot of boiling jam in the heat appeals to some masochistic Puritan streak in me, I have learned how to reduce sweaty brows while putting up the harvest. Do you have any additional tips? Add a comment below!
Close the Windows: It’s counter intuitive, but when the temperature outside is higher than the temperature inside, it’s time to close the windows and keep the hot air out.
Open the Windows: Opening the windows when the temperature is lower, like through the night and early morning, lets cool air into the house. Don’t do this unless you live in a safe neighborhood or your windows have safety stops! Otherwise, keeping the windows open when it is cool lets the kitchen cool off too.
Close the Shades: If the sun is up and shining hot, it’s time to pull the blinds. A good rule of thumb; if the kitchen is on the east side of the house, keep the blinds pulled until mid-afternoon. If the kitchen is on the west side of the house, pull the blinds by mid-afternoon and leave them pulled until sunset.
Install Overhead Fans: Although a fan does not cool the air temperature, it makes you feel cooler. Therefore, whenever you are in the kitchen cooking, turn on the overhead fan.
Use a Box Fan: If you don’t have an overhead fan, or need addition air movement, set up a box fan near your work station.
Cover South and West Facing Windows: Sometimes you may have a window without a shade, or an odd shaped decorative window. Cover them with something during the summer heat! Blinds, curtains, even draping an old sheet over the window will reduce afternoon sun and keep the kitchen cooler.
Process in Early Morning or Late Evening: Make jam either first thing in the morning before the outside temperature is too warm, or late in the evening so it will cool down overnight.
Remove the Hot Water Bath from the Kitchen: Once processing is complete, carefully move the hot water bath outside. I usually place it on my metal patio table and let it cool. This isn’t safe if you have small children around of course, but removing the water bath also reduces the amount of heat in your kitchen.
Keep the Lights Off: As long as you can see (you know, with the pulled window shade and all), keep the lights and any unused electrical appliances turned off. Light bulbs, even the low-energy ones, give off a certain amount of heat. Since we want less heat, turn on fewer lights!
Freeze Fruit for Later: This is probably the best way to keep the kitchen cool during canning season – don’t can at all! If you have the space, sort fruit into recipe sized amounts and freeze. Make jam later this fall, once the air has cooled down. Sadly, this doesn’t work for canned fruit, cucumber pickles, or fresh vegetables. But it is a good alternative when making jam or salsa!