Canning 101: Preserve the Fruits (and Veggies) of Your Garden
As the “going green” trend continues to gain popularity, many people are finding passion in plants. It’s not a new idea; people have long grown food in their yards, and in the 1940s, the government even encouraged them to keep “Victory Gardens” and buy local produce so that commercially grown food could go toward the troops overseas. Now, even though there’s no World War encouraging the trend, people are getting back to shopping local and growing their own produce in an effort to live more eco-friendly lives.
Home gardens are unique in size, growth, and fruitfulness. And, as the summer sun continues to shine, your crops may be rapidly growing out of control. Do you find yourself wondering, “Now, what am I going to do with all of these tomatoes?” As a solution, canning your harvest may be worthwhile.
Why Can Fruits and Veggies?
After the long months of growing and nurturing your garden, your crops are finally in full bloom. Here are some reasons why canning them could win you over.
- When you can your homegrown produce, you can enjoy delicious, eco-friendly foods year-round. Your garden does not have to come to an end as the season does.
- Home gardens allow you to control what goes into your crops. You choose the variables, such as soil and fertilizer type. As a result, you can help ensure that your fresh — and canned — fruits and veggies are free from any pesticides or fertilizers you want to avoid.
- Because canned goods can stay safe to eat for at least one year, according to The National Center for Home Food Preservation, that makes a good addition to the food supply you keep on hand in case of a storm or other emergency.
- Canning the surplus produce from your garden can help you avoid wasting it.
Canning takes a little more than just a few jars and lids. Here are a few other pieces of equipment you might not have thought you would need. (Also, be sure to follow canning safety tips.)
- Boiling-water or pressure canner: The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends either a boiling-water canner made of aluminum or porcelain-covered steel or a pressure canner for safety reasons. Boiling-water canners come with a wire rack to set your jars onto. These pieces of equipment range in size, so buy appropriately for the amount of canning you plan to do at once.
- Containers: You should buy containers — either metal or glass — with lids that fit appropriately. Though, if you plan to reuse your containers you may want to opt for glass because the NCHFP says metal containers can only be used once since they won’t seal properly after the first use.
- Ladle and funnel: A ladle and a wide-mouth funnel are great for easier pouring of produce into jars.
- Tongs: Jar lifter tongs are useful for easier removal of canned jars from the pressure canner or boiling-water canner.
- Clean rags: You’ll need rags to wipe off cans after removing them from the pressure canner or boiling-water canner.
The Canning Process
Although every canning recipe is different, here are some general tips on canning food.
- Ingredients: When you can, expect the portions of ingredients to be rather large. For example, you may find that the recipe calls for 5 pounds of pickling cucumbers. That’s because often, people don’t want to go through the process of canning for just one jar of preserved food, so they tend to can enough fruits or veggies for at least three or four cans.
- Directions: Canning is similar to cooking any other food. You begin with mixing your ingredients together, and then use a funnel to put the mixture into the sterilized jars. Then, there’s generally an added step of putting the blend into a canner. Each recipe calls for different amounts of time in the canner.
So, now you’re ready to start preserving those fruits and vegetables for your family to enjoy year-round!