Canning foods at home has changed considerably during the nearly 200 years since it was introduced as a way to preserve food.
One thing hasn’t changed, though – many self-sufficient people still enjoy doing it. And they really enjoy eventually eating the foods they have canned.
Canning during the spring, summer and fall allows people to place many different kinds of chemical-free, tasty, ready-to-eat foods in jars that they can eat during the winter.
One of the best things about canning is that you don’t need to be concerned about a power outage spoiling the food you’ve canned.
Below I’ve created a brief crash course on not only the safety precautions one must take when it comes to canning, but also on the different types of processes you can try so that you can become more self-sufficient (and save some money too!)
Let’s get the safety thing out of the way first.
Proper food canning processes remove oxygen and destroy enzymes; prevent the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeasts and molds; and help form a high vacuum in jars.
Good vacuums form tight seals that keep liquid in, and air and microorganisms out. These canning processes include:
- Carefully selecting and washing fresh food
- Peeling some fresh foods
- Hot packing many foods
- Adding acids (lemon juice or vinegar) to some foods
- Using acceptable jars and self-sealing lids
- Processing jars in a pressure canner or boiling water for the correct period of time.
Do you know the 2 canning methods?
The first method is called Pressure Canning. Pressure canning is the way to go for canning meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. That’s because the bacterium Clostridium botulinum is destroyed in low-acid foods when they are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners.
If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Pressure canning uses higher temperatures than the boiling water method.
Then there is the Boiling Water method. The boiling water canner method is an easier way to get started if you’re a beginner. It’s good for acidic foods including fruit jams and jellies, salsas, tomatoes, and vegetables.
The two methods work approximately the same way. After the ingredients are prepared, they’re loaded into jars with special lids that allow steam to escape.
The jars are then heated. When the jars cool, the food contracts and creates an airtight seal that preserves the contents for up to one year.
Your canning equipment
Find a canning recipe for something you know you will enjoy. And follow the recipe precisely.
Next, gather the equipment you will need. This will include:
- Canning jars with two-part lids: a flat lid with a rubberized gasket and a ring to hold it in place.
- A stock pot at least three inches taller than the jars.
- Canning tongs for lifting jars out of the boiling water.
- A canning rack to raise jars off the bottom of the pot.
- A wide-mouth funnel to make filling jars easy.
- A bubble tool to release trapped air in the jars.
Make sure to label every jar with the contents and the date when they were made.
What can you can?
Since you can can just about any time of year, the possibilities on the types of food to can are nearly endless.
You can put aside vegetables, fruits, preserves, jams, jellies, pickles, chili, stews, sauces, meat, fish, and may other items into glass jars. Then enjoy them later as a meal or snack.
You can even can dried beans. You’ll want to use the pressure canning method for this task, and you can find sources online for how to conduct this activity.
Dried beans are a great source of protein. They also contain plenty of iron, fiber, calcium, and Vitamins B and C. Plus they’re less expensive than supermarket canned beans. And have much less sodium content.
Dried beans do take time to soak, pre-cook and can. But you can make them in large batches and then keep them in storage for meals.
This is only the beginning
There are plenty of books and articles you can find in the library and online to learn the best ways to do canning, so I won’t go into them here. But make sure you follow an approved recipe to assure proper acidity/salinity, mark the jar lids with the contents and the date, then store them in a cool, dark and dry place (without the rings).
When was the last time you did any canning? Readers of this blog could really use your insight into the kinds of foods that you can, the type of canner that you use, and the tips and tricks that you could share. I really hope to hear from you about this.