Having a bounty of wonderful foods stored up in your pantry for the winter months can feel so amazing. For a newbie to canning knowing where to start is the hardest part. Join me as you learn how to can your own food.
A Basic History of Canning Food
Canning food is something that has been going on for centuries with the first canning taking place way back in 1810. This was truly a novel event since it allowed society to start preserving their harvests in a more sustainable manner. No more was the root cellar or dehydration your only ways of preserving food (or salt brine).
Canning also allowed for certain bacteria to be killed off reducing the risk of illness. This of course only works when canning procedures are followed closely (and is also why you should follow the canning guidelines for each recipe that you use).
Over the years canning evolved from being something only a commercial industry could do to what is now the modern homesteading skill that many people possess.
As a homesteader or gardener being able to can your own food is a huge accomplishment not only for skill, financially but also for food security.
Why Canning Your Own Food Can Will Help Your Family
The basic reasons to get started canning can vary by household. Here are the main three reasons everyone should get started preserving their own food.
Knowing how to can is a life skill that should be passed down from generation to generation. As we saw in 2020 knowing how to grow your own food and preserve it proved to be extremely beneficial to so many families across our nation.
The simple life skill of canning allows you to have peace of mind. You can not only take a hobby, such as gardening, and turn it into a store of food but you could also bulk shop and store the extras safely for a later time.
I have saved SOOOO much money canning my own food over the years. Not only on the food but also on the canning equipment.
New to canning but are committed to learning the skill?
Take a look at this post on Reusable Canning Lids. I reviewed the top brands but only one came out a clear winner. I have been using that winning brand, Harvest Guard, for a few years now and I get so excited about the money I am saving using reusable lids. Also be sure to check out the special coupon code I snagged for my readers at the end of that post to save even more!
Financially it may seem like a lot of work to put the food in the jars but it really does pay off in the long run. A single tomato plant can provide you with several pints of homemade organic salsa or spaghetti sauce. Then there are the jams, jellies, stews, vegetables, juices and so much more.
If you start to add up the cost of your favorite food items that you could be canning yourself at home it will really add up.
If 2020 taught us anything it’s that the food system has some serious flaws with it. I have always felt that food deserts should NOT exist but having nation wide food shortages was so overwhelmingly sad to see. Our family did what we could to share with others and donate where possible.
I was taught at an early age the importance of food security. My great grand parents and grand parents lived through the Great Depression. They also grew up in the middle of no where so having a food supply on hand was essential. *As a reference point growing up our closest Wal-Mart was over an hour away.*
When you start canning your own food you will find peace of mind knowing you have several months worth of food ready to be eaten.
How to Get Started Canning Your Own Food
So you’ve decided you want to go ahead and can your own food. I’m so excited for you! If you need any help along the way please do not hesitate to ask. You can email me or reach me in my Facebook group. I want this to be a great start on a new adventure for you.
There are a few things that will help you determine what to preserve as you go along. Let’s go through those now so you can decide what is best to preserve for your family.
Deciding What to Can
Determining what to preserve for your family will differ from household to household. Here are the key things you should ask yourself when you are starting your canning adventure.
- What item do I have a LOT on hand of that I could preserve for later?
- What items do I purchase at the store that could be made myself at home?
- Which items could I preserve and not use a pressure cooker to process?
- Determine what canning items you already have on hand that would not need to be purchased?
- Make a list of all the items you could can yourself and decide to get started with ONE of those items this year while also following the suggested questions from above.
Obviously these are not all the questions that you would need to ask yourself but it’s a great starting point.
Season 1 of Canning
During your first season of canning you want to experience success and I want you to too. So start small!!!
Yes, as in don’t go all in right away. I really want you to know that you love canning and the foods you are preserving before you invest serious amounts of money into this skill.
If you are still sure you want to move forward, and I hope you are, here are the basic items you will need to preserve your first items.
Basic Canning Items Needed:
- water bath canner
- pressure canner (more expensive than water bath but can be used for both water bath and pressure canning)
- jar tongs
- canning jars (sizes vary)
- lids for canning (regular lids, wide mouth lids or reusable lids)
- canning salt (this is NOT the same as table salt)
- white vinegar
- canning pectin (if making jams or jellies)
- produce of your choosing to preserve
- canning book full of recipes to pick from
These items will be the starting point for beginning canners.
Basics to Remember When Canning
First and foremost remember that what is on your food will be in your jars.
Always wash thoroughly and be picky about what you preserve. Remove any blemishes or undesirable pieces from your produce to ensure the highest quality possible. This also helps to ensure that you are keeping bad bacteria out of your canning jars which improves the safety of the products you are creating.
Second you will want to make sure you are using sterilized objects like spoons, canning rings, canning lids, etc. This again helps to ensure that you have safety and health at the top of your list when canning.
The third thing you will need to remember is basic safety and care for yourself. If you are pressure canning NEVER try to open the canner while it still has active pressure. Ensure that you are using the proper equipment when moving hot jars and ladling hot liquids. I know for many this goes without saying but this is just a gentle reminder.
After all of the above steps are followed the final think you really need to remember is to check your jars. Follow these basic steps to ensure quality with every jar you are processing:
- Ensure that each jar has sealed properly
- Remove the canning ring from every jar
- Wipe the rim area of each jar to ensure no unwanted materials are sitting on it
- Label jars with date and contents
- Store jars in a cool dark area and use as desired
If you follow these basic steps you will be off to a great start on your canning career.