In our house, canned food saves a lot of money. Most of our produce is picked from our small garden in our front yard, and then we “put” as much as possible, which is pretty much everything we don’t eat fresh in the garden. Be able to produce enough product to sustain us all. In the fall and winter, we supplement our gardens with bushels of fruit and vegetables sourced from local farmers’ markets or from local farmers we trust.
Despite the workload, I love canning and preserving food for several reasons. Canning, first and foremost, lets me know what’s in our food and, most importantly, what’s not in it. I don’t have to worry about toxin-excessive sugar preservatives and other things our family would worry about. Rather avoid it in our diet. Canning also allows me to store and provide food at a fraction cost. We have better quality food for pennies than I get at the grocery store…even with coupons.
Canned food allows me to build an emergency food stockpile for my family. Whether it’s a minor emergency or something worse, I don’t have to worry about my family missing a meal. Even with a meager salary, we always have food on our shelves. It’s a very comforting feeling in an ever-changing world.
Canned food is not complicated. You can preserve food if you can follow the directions. It’s really easy. Contrary to popular belief, home canned food is not costly. Once you’ve collected the basic supplies, you’re set for many years.
People who are new to canning often feel overwhelmed. The best way to learn how to preserve and preserve food is to take baby steps and start.
Step 1: Buy a canning book.
Ball Blue Book is a great book. I’ve used the same Ball Blue Book for over 12 years, and my grandmother’s copy is probably 50 years old! This book contains tutorial recipes and information that will benefit both beginner and advanced canners. The best? Ball Blue Book is affordable; you’ll never need to buy another one unless you lose or give it away.
Prepare now for soaring food costs and empty grocery store shelves…
Step 2: Request to barter or purchase basic canning equipment.
There are only a few required tools for a water bath can. Most of them can be bought cheaply, and you can usually find everything in a nice set. Some of them you may already have. You need to:
- Canned water bath. It’s a large stock pot with a rack that fits snugly inside. Racks are necessary to prevent jars from breaking or exploding. (Don’t try to put jars in a stock pot without a rack at home. Jars without a rack may explode.) It can be purchased separately if you already have a stock pot rack. Just make sure it fits your pan.
- Canning jar lids and straps. You can use canning jars and straps but always use a new lid. Most canners want to choose half-pint or quart jars for their canning needs. Always use jars as they are sturdy glass jars made especially for canning. I object Use recycled glass jars from store-bought pasta sauces like mayonnaise as they are not as thick and durable.
- When canning, you’ll need plenty of rags and pot holders. Some pans measuring cups, spoons, and timers are also necessary. You may already have them in your kitchen.
The following equipment is nice but not required when canning food:
- Jar Lifter – This makes getting your jars in and out of hot water.
- Magnetic Lid Stick – Helps you to remove the lids from hot water one by one.
- A plastic knife or tool for removing air bubbles from jars.
- Large Mouth Canning Funnel – I almost list this as a “must have” because it’s so convenient! Makes packaging jars cleaner and easier.
Step 3: You can now try the water bath canning. Choose a recipe!
There are two basic types of foods you can process at home: high-acid foods and low-acid foods. Foods high in acid include tomatoes, jams and jellies, pickles, salsa, and most condiments. While pressure canning isn’t difficult to learn, it’s not recommended for first-time canning.
Pick a canning recipe to try. Tomato salsa applesauce and homemade jam are some of the easiest recipes for first-time canning eaters to try and master.
Step 4: Follow the instructions for canned food.
Even with my experience, I still follow the instructions when making canned goods. Food safety is too important not to mess around. It is especially important to pay attention to the steps in the canning recipe. You should not skip any steps. You might want to skip In the process of getting your jar or lid warm, but it’s very important and shouldn’t be missed. Pay attention to processing time. Don’t cut them short but don’t exceed the recommended processing time as this will “cook” your food and could cause the jar to burst or the food to spoil.
Sure there may be some downs along the way, but you’ll learn by making mistakes. I’ve been doing it for many years, and recently a jar exploded in my tub with no apparent. The reason (is it probably has a tiny crack that I can’t see). Things happen. You have to try it!