When you have all those extra vegetables, what do you plan on doing with them? Sure you could give them away, but what would be much better is if you canned and pickled them! In this post, we talk about the 20 best vegetables to can and pickle and the brief process in doing so.

You’ve been toiling away in your beautiful vegetable garden and come up with an abundance of vegies. There are so many ways you can preserve food, and canning is an excellent way to do it. My family is from the Balkans and using a ‘zimnica’ (aka cold storage) or canning was the norm. Particularly in my grandma’s era, there really wasn’t anything for refrigeration in the village she came from. The other very popular method of preserving food was making jams/preserves, and smoking meat, which a lot of my family members still do to this day!

The trick with canning is that you have to use absolutely the most freshest produce you can. Wilted, damaged or vegetables that are starting to turn will not be suitable to can. You have to remember that what and how you can the vegetable is how you’ll use it, and I doubt anyone wants to open a jar of something in 6 months time only to have it be completely rotten or spoiled as a result.

Here is a list of 20 vegetables that are useful for canning. My favourite is ‘tursija’ which is mixed vegetables, using green tomatoes, carrot, cabbage and cauliflower most times, but really can be whatever you like to eat. Tursija is slightly fermented and nice and sour and used as a salad option.

Remember, with all vegetables selected for canning, wash them thoroughly and clean them of any debris before starting the canning process.


  1. Cucumber – cucumber can be sliced or added whole and is best preserved pickled. If pickling, add ¼ vinegar to ¾ water mix. Fresh dill works best with cucumbers. As these are best pickled, you can do them in the same methods I provide for the Kiseli Kupus – Sauerkraut post. For smaller canning jars, you may even be able to buy lid sized fermenting lock systems, though I find it easier just to make it as is and fill a jar as needed.
  2. Mushrooms – trim stems and any discoloured segments. Soak the mushrooms in cold water to ensure all dirt has been removed. For medium sized mushrooms leave whole, but larger ones can be cut in half. Cover the mushrooms with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. For mushrooms, ½ tsp of salt per litre/kg is recommended. When filling the canning vessel add fresh hot water leaving 2cm headspace and for better colour, 1/8th tsp absorbic acid of a vitamin C tablet.
  3. Carrots – carrots go through the same process as asparagus with two methods. Option 1: cover carrots with boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes. Loosely fill canning jars leaving 2cm headspace. Option 2: fill jars with raw carrots, packing tightly as possible. Depending on the size of your jars, scale down salt as required. 1 tsp is recommended for 1 litre. Cover with boiling water, leaving 2cm headspace.
  4. Winter Squash – clean and deseed winter squash and cut into 2cm uniform pieces. Boil for 2 minutes in water and fill jars with cooking liquid and winter squash leaving 2cm headspace.
  5. Tomatoes – blanch and peel tomatoes and chop into desired size. Add lemon juice to each canning vessel. Citric acid can be used instead of lemon if preferred. Add tomatoes, pouring hot water over the top leaving 2cm headspace.
  6. Peas – most peas are ok, but sugar snap and Chinese style peas store better long term frozen. Option 1: cover peas with boiling water and bring them to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Fill peas in the canning vessel to 2cm off the top, including the peas and cooking liquid. Option 2: Fill canning jars with raw peas and add boiling water. Leave 2cm headspace.
  7. Onions – Wash and peel onions. Cover with boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Pack onions into hot jars, leaving 2cm headspace. Add 1 tsp per 1 litre/kg jar.
  8. Beets – these can be canned whole, sliced, or cubed. It really is your preference! Wash well, and trim off tops. If you want skin off: boil beets until skins slip off easily, which should be 15-25 mins according to size. Let cool, then hand strip the skin before placing into canning vessel. If you’re using baby beets, leave them whole. You can opt to not skin them and it won’t alter the process, it really is personal preference. Cut medium or large beets into cubes or slices. Adding 1 tsp salt per 1 litre is recommended. To can, fill jars with hot beets and fresh hot water that has been brought to the boil independently. Fill jars with 2cm headspace.
  9. Asparagus – these can be whole or cut into smaller pieces. Make sure to wash well and remove and tough scales. Option 1: cover asparagus with boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes. Loosely fill canning jars leaving 2cm headspace. Option 2: fill jars with raw asparagus, packing tightly as possible. Depending on the size of your jars, scale down salt as required. 1 tsp is recommended for 1 litre. Cover with boiling water, leaving 2cm headspace.
  10. Beans (Borlotti, etc) – Prior to canning, clean beans and remove and discoloured beans. Place into a tub covered with water for 12-18 hours in a cool, dry place. Drain water. If you need to rehydrate them, cover them with boiling water and boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and then add salt. 1 tsp per 1 litre is recommended so accommodate based on your jar size. With the cooking water, fill jars with beans leaving 2cm headspace.
  11. Corn – corn can be a little tricky but still worth it. Test a small batch prior to doing a bigger batch to ensure it doesn’t brown (sweet corn will tend to brown easier than regular). It’s best to use slightly unripened to almost “best to eat right now” levels of ripeness for best results. There are two ways to can corn. Option 1: For every 1kg of corn kernels, add 1 cup of hot water, heat to boiling and simmer for 5 minutes. 1tsp of salt of recommend per 1litre/kg. Fill jars to 2cm headspace with the corn and cooking water. Option 2: Using raw kernels fill the jars leaving 2cm headspace. Do not shake or press. Add 1 tsp of salt per 1 litre/kg and then add fresh boiling hot water.
  12. Capsicum – red capsicum work best, but any sweet pepper will do. Cut and de-seed peppers and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven on 180 degrees c until skins go black. Remove from the oven and place in a stainless steel bowl, covering with another bowl. This allows the capsicums to sweat and the skins to be peeled off easily. You can opt to blanch them in boiling water if preferred but I prefer this method. After the skins have sweated enough, remove them and place the cleaned capsicums into the canning vessel. You can add herbs at this point but they have to be dried herbs or whole pieces of garlic. From here, you can opt to add fresh boiling water mixed with vinegar (for longer storage) or cover it entirely in oil and fresh garlic (to be consumed within a couple of weeks).
  13. Chillis – for smaller sized fefferoni, jalapenos, etc, the best method is to wash well, leaving stems and cores intact. Add into canning vessel as best as possible, as tightly as possible. A sprig of thyme or rosemary works well. Add a ratio of ¾ water to ¼ vinegar and seal.
  14. Sweet Potato – wash the sweet potato well and boil or steam until partially soft. Remove skins and cut into uniform sized cubes. Do not mash or puree (but that is another method you can use if you want to freeze sweet potato and pumpkin, and have it available for pies and baking). Fill jars with fresh hot water and sweet potato leaving 2cm headspace and add 1 tsp per 1 litre/kg.
  15. Pumpkin – clean and deseed pumpkin and cut into 2cm uniform pieces. Boil for 2 minutes in water and fill jars with cooking liquid and pumpkin leaving 2cm headspace.
  16. Cauliflower – cut cauliflower into even sized florets. Boil for 2 minutes in water and fill jars with cooking liquid and pumpkin leaving 2cm headspace.
  17. Cabbage – use the method for Kiseli Kupus (Sauerkraut) in this post.
  18. Tursija (mixed vegetables) – this is usually a mixture of green tomato, carrot, round peppers, cauliflower and cabbage. Wash and prepare vegetables, cutting off stems/tops. Combine all the vegetables into a saucepan and add enough water just to cover the vegetables. Add 1 tsp of salt per 1 litre/kg jar to be filled. Boil this for 5 minutes and fill jars with the vegetables and cooking water leaving 2cm headspace. To ferment, add fermenting culture at the recommended amount like in the Kiseli Kupus (Sauerkraut) recipe.
  19. Squash – clean and deseed squash and cut into 2cm uniform pieces. Boil for 2 minutes in water and fill jars with cooking liquid and squash leaving 2cm headspace.
  20. Greens (including spinach) – Wash small amounts and drain well. Drain water and ensure there is no grit left over. Cut out tough stems and midribs. Place 500g of greens at a time in cheesecloth bag or blancher basket and steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until well wilted. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar. Fill jars loosely with greens and add fresh boiling water, leaving about 2cm headspace.

Overall, canning and pickling vegetables is the simplest way to preserve any extra vegetables you have. Start small if you’ve never done it before or invest in a cheap pickling vessel to help. You can often find second hand canning jars and other equipment on FB Marketplace or Gumtree, so be patient and don’t go and buy the super brand new stuff because that will set you back a pretty penny!

What are your go-to veggies when canning vegetables? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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