If you grow your own food or buy produce in bulk, canning your own food can be good for your health and your budget. Canning is heating food to a high enough temperature to stop decaying and bacteria in the food. Then the food is stored in cans or jars. With canning, you will never have to throw out your extra produce.
There are many benefits to learning how to can your own food. One of the biggest benefit is that it is good for your health. By preserving your own produce, you are ensuring that your family consumes produce that was canned when they are most fresh and healthy. If you grow your own produce, you can also be sure that the food you are feeding your family does not contain any additives or pesticides.
Canning your food can also save you money. If you grow your produce, and preserve it when it is in season, you will never have to have to buy some if you need it in the off season. Even if you do not harvest the food, you can still save money by canning. You can purchase more produce while they are in season and therefore less expensive and can
extra for later use.
Home canned food also makes great gifts and you can send a can of food rather than a store bought gift and save even more money. People love to receive homemade jams, jellies, salsa, and pickles.
Another benefit is that fresh just tastes better. When you can your own food, you are eating nothing but nutrious fruits and vegetables. There are no added preservatives or high fructose corn syrup, unless you are preparing jam or jelly.
For canning, glass jars are best to use. You can also use tin cans but you will need a sealing device. Glass jars will have either a screw top and a rubber ring, or a flat lid with sealant around the rim and a screw on band to hold the lid in place. Jars and lids can be purchased online and can also be found at garage sales. The glass jars can be reused as long as the are not cracked. Rings and lids however, will need to be replaced. Rings can get rusty or bent. Lids need to be replaced each time you can something because the rubber seal will not be as effective the second time around and could allow bacteria to get in the jar.
You will need to wash all produce prior to canning. Cut and pit large fruits and vegetables. Fruits can be dipped in ascorbic acid to preserve their color and flavor.
There are two main methods of canning fruits and vegetables. The first is a boiling water bath. For this method you will need a boiling water bath canner which is essentially a large, deep pan that has a tight fitting lid. It needs to be large enough to allow four or more inches above the jars. You will also need either a wire rack that fits inside the pan to hold your jars or a wire basket to hold the jars, tongs, oven mitts to handle the hot jars, and a kitchen timer.
First you will fill the canner halfway with water. Put the jars the pan, either on the rack or in the basket, then add boiling water to 2 inches above the jars being careful not to pour boiling water directly on the jars.
Next cover the pan tightly and bring to a roiling boil. You will need to look around online for guidelines as to how long you leave different foods to boil. Start the timer and reduce the heat to maintain a rapid boil. Add more boiling water if some evaporates.
When the time is up, remove the jars with the tongs and set on a cooling rack or on some towels. Leave space in between the jars so that the hot glass does not touch. Once cooled, you can store the jars where you would like.
The second method is a pressure cooker method. For this method you will need the same supplies, but instead of a boiling water bath canner, you will need a pressure canner.
First you will fill the canner with 2-3 inches of water and put the jars on the rack. Then fasten the lid of the canner and place on maximum heat. Let the steam exhaust through the vent for ten minutes and when the first inch of steam is nearly invisible, close the vent.
Then, at 8 pounds pressure, slightly heat and let the pressure continue to rise to 10 pounds pressure. Once it reaches 10 pounds pressure, start timing and hold that pressure for the entire canning period. If the pressure drops, start timing all over again.
Next remove the canner from heat and let cool. When the pressure is at zero, open the vent and carefully remove the lid. Set jars on a cooling rack or towels to cool.
Canning you own food can save you money and is much better for your health than preservative rich canned food. All you will need is some supplies and some time, and you can save your homegrown, or your store bought produce.