Are you reluctant to get started canning?
When it comes to food preservation, you might feel more comfortable freezing your vegetables and other meals. After all, for frozen veggies, you just toss fresh vegetables into a freezer bag and store them in your freezer. And with dehydrating, you simply throw your fruit, vegetables, or other food into a machine that slowly dries it out.
However, with canning, you need a canner, canning jars, and lids, and maybe even special tongs. Plus what happens if you make a mistake? You could even face the possibility of exploding jars. Yet canning can be easy. Here's what to know.
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Why Can Vegetables Anyways?
To some people, canning sounds like one of the scariest ways to preserve food. Honestly, though, canning food to preserve it isn't as scary as it sounds. Buy quality glass jars, follow safe canning practices to a "T" and you'll be just fine.
To really get prepared for canning, consider taking a free online canning webinar or course before you begin.
Canning lets you store large quantities of food for longer without using a freezer. You get to preserve your seasonal food.
Canning fresh vegetables and fruit also adds variety to your meals when you have an overabundance of one crop. For example, it's just one of many ways to preserve tomatoes and to preserve blueberries.
In fact, with canned vegetables, you could store your harvest without a root cellar. And if you have a large vegetable garden, it lets you preserve the foods you can't eat now for later. Plus it could give you peace of mind.
The post-pandemic world might see increasing challenges with long-distance food transportation. Learning how to secure your family's food supply helps make you and yours more self-sufficient.
Before You Start Canning
Before you start canning for the first time, buy or borrow the supplies you need. Of course, you'll need fruit or vegetables to can. And you should also have a Canning Supplies 101 list handy. Mason jars, lids, rings, a large pot or pressure canner, vinegar, spices or herbs, and a kitchen timer are all useful.
Get Started Canning With Jam
A fun place to start is by making jelly or jam.
Pick your favorite fruit, find a jam or jelly recipe, and give it a try. On our first try, we made no-cook jam with fruit from our everbearing raspberries bush. It only made it as far as the fridge though. It was DELICIOUS.
You need some half-pint glass jars and tongues that will allow you to grab hot jars out of boiling water. Dig around and see if you have a pot large enough to hold the jars and get started.
Make sure to follow *current* safe canning procedures. If you're in the United States, make sure to bookmark this site: National Center for Home Food Preservation. And if you live in Canada, check out the federal government's Home Canning Safety page.
I should point out that, as many of my European and Asian friends tell me, safe canning practices vary from country to country. So to keep it simple when you get started canning, stick with the rules for your own country.
Get Started Canning by Following Tried and True Recipes
As with most food preparation, if you follow instructions, you should succeed. So get a good book for beginner canners. I recommend the All-New Ball Book of Canning & Preserving.
Then just follow the recipes and directions and you'll do fine.
Tip: Got a jar that didn't seal properly? Put it in the fridge and use it before heading to your new pantry stash.
Try Vegetable Canning
A vegetable canning project could also help new canners get started canning.
For example, try canning green beans. Many gardeners find the green beans in their backyard vegetable gardens produce a ton of veggies. Canning green beans is very simple. And it's a great way to build up your winter food supplies.
How to Can Green Beans
Clean, cut, and blanch your green beans to get them ready for canning. Then follow canning instructions to make sure you cook them long enough at a high enough temperature to kill any bacteria and create a good seal.
As with any type of canned good you should store jars that didnít completely seal in the fridge and use them within the next couple of days.
Get Started With Pickles
Another simple starter canning project is pickled vegetables.
Did you make the newbie vegetable garden harvesting mistake of overplanting? If so, you may have too many cucumbers, cauliflower, or peppers in your garden.
So try pickling them! Make refrigerator pickles.
When you pickle vegetables, the vinegar solution works to preserve the food. And by canning the pickles, you extend their shelf-life even more. So this allows you to store vegetables that would otherwise go back quickly for longer.
Even better, enjoy pickling for beginners as a family weekend activity. You'll make memories, learn a new skill, and stock your pantry at the same time.
Tip: If you have leftover pumpkin puree, check out this post on 21 Canned Pumpkin Recipes for Leftover Puree.
Hold Off Canning Tomatoes and Meat
When you're a newbie at canning and preserving, start simply. Stay away from canning meats, canning fresh fish or high acid produce like tomatoes at the beginning of your canning career.
Canned chicken, beef, soups, and tomatoes can be a little trickier to can successfully. Get a few batches of canning under your belt first. If you like it, invest in some good canning gear, including thermometers and proper canning pots before trying these more advanced canning projects.
Canning for the first time this year? How's it going? Let us know in the comments below.
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This post is part of the Homestead Blog Hop #302.
Great look into canning. I just started preserving my garden harvests with freezing and fermenting. Before that I only eat fresh fruits and vegetables and fed the rest to the chickens and pigs. Looks like canning will be my next project to increase long term food security!
I see you are from Yellowknife. My husband and I visited there on flying camping trips before we moved to Powell River in BC. We live most of the year in a floating cabin. I know you have quite a few of those in the lake there. - Margy