We often use the word canning to loosely include anything we keep in a jar or a can. Although actual canning machines can still be purchased, most canning these days is done in jars.
Canning Pros and Cons:
Canned foods will be safe and wholesome during and after a power failure
Canning equipment is still normally cheaper than investing in a freezer or two
Once food is canned, it takes no electricity to keep it safely
If canned foods are not processed properly there is a real risk of serious food poisoning
The canning process is much more work than blanching and freezing
Cool dark dry space is necessary to safely store canned goods
- Reusable glass jars
- Packages of unused lids with seals
- Pressure canner must be used for sauces, meats, prepared foods and acidic vegetables
- Canning Kettle with racks can be used for pickling and non acidic vegetables
- Long handled tongs
- Cooling racks
- Paraffin Wax (optional unless you are recycling glass jars such as cheese whiz ones)
- ThermometerHaving a double sink in the kitchen is very useful
- Really good oven mitts
Many newer stoves have smooth porcelain tops which can easily be scratched by older canning kettles. Canning is energetic work and needs sturdy durable gear. If you do have a smooth top range, it would be worthwhile to invest in an outdoor propane cooker to save your stove top. Even though I don’t have a smooth top range, I use my outdoor cooker on hot humid days to keep the house temperature bearable. I’ve never thought air conditioners were terribly earth friendly and use only ceiling fans.
Follow All the Instructions in Canning and Preserves Recipes!!! Why?
- Food Safety of course. Improperly canned foods can cause serious, even fatal, food poisoning
- Seasonings behave differently in canned foods and preserves. The first year I made dilled beans, the recipe called for enough cayenne to cover a dime. I like fairly tangy food, and so i doubled that. The entire batch became so unbearably hot that not even rinsing them and boiling them for ten minutes could take away the heat. I experiment now with cooked pickles and sauces only.
This is a good place for the novice canner to start. What could be simpler than making dill pickles?
- Most pickle recipes do not require the investment of a pressure canner and can be safely processed in canning kettles.
- Here in Canada there is a lovely natural balance to things. Summer pickles are ready for use at Thanksgiving.
- Pickles and preserves make great gifts. I will always remember the enterprising bride that did jam in lovely little ornamental jars for favours at her Thanksgiving weekend wedding.
An Important note about Tomatoes
Many of the food poisonings that occur come from home canned tomatoes. It takes a pressure canner and precise following of all timings and directions to do this safely. It can be done, but this is no place for short cuts and half measures. There are a lot of wonderful food products that can be made at home, such as salsa, ketchup and chili sauce, as long as care is taken.
Given all the risks, you might wonder why its worthwhile to even learn how to can.
Like all homely skills, the ability to preserve food safely could be critically important in this ever changing world. It really is only since the Second World War that electricity has commonly been available to households in Canada. For decades electricity was viewed as a bottomless resource and we all squandered it like drunken sailors. Now we see a trend where people are trying to minimize their electrical use and, when they can afford it, go off the grid completely.
Even if you don’t grow a garden, it is well worthwhile to can locally bought produce. Food that is canned while it is fresh can provide a safe and economical source of food for the entire winter. It is healthier to eat locally grown food. It is better for the local economy. Freshly canned food has at least as much, if not more nutrition than the so called “fresh” food that is imported in from all over the world in the winter. It only takes looking at the health problems for animals with one batch of contaminated wheat gluten to see the sense in keeping it close to home.