Canning is the process of sealing food in glass jars using heat and pressure by boiling in water or using a pressure canner. Canned foods are great products to add to your long term food storage because they can last up to five years on the shelf if properly processed and stored. It is also an inexpensive way to increase your food supply.
Vegetables that work well for canning include green beans, squash, corn, and carrots. Some good fruits to can would be apples, pears, peaches, tomatoes and even watermelon rinds. Tuna, salmon, beef, chicken and game animals are popular meats to preserve. Canning bad food will not make it good. Use fresh, organic produce and meat. You can store the food in its pure state, or you can make juices, sauces, filling, spiced and pickled items. Search for recipes that sound good to you, and don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors.
Starting to can and preserve your own food can seem daunting, but if you are able to follow a recipe, you can can! The advantage of doing it yourself is that you know what is in it and you know it tastes the way you like it. And with the harvest season upon us, now is the perfect time to get started. Produce is available in abundance and is at the peak of ripeness.
Contact your local agricultural university’s extension service to find classes on canning near you. There is usually a nominal fee of fewer than twenty dollars plus supplies for the class and you will walk away with some canned items in hand. The class will teach you the latest proven techniques for canning properly and introduce you to good resources for recipes. There are also many books written on the subject of canning, for instance, “So Easy to Preserve” produced by the University of Georgia. This book is well received in the canning community and considered a reliable source of reference.
A popular saying among food preservers says “Cooking is an art, canning is a science.” Following the recipe is crucial to your safety. Times and temperatures are very important. Make sure that the recipes you use have been tested and are USDA approved for canning. The jars should be completely sealed and airtight to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Follow the precautions and you will have quality, delicious food to add to your long term food storage.
Gary Jenkins is a father and husband living in Oregon who is a wildlife rehabilitation and outdoor adventure enthusiast.