Interested in canning your own food? Here are the basics you need to know!
If you’re new to canning, here a few things to think about before getting started.
One reason people consider canning is to save money. But, it may or may not depending on your situation. Before you jump into canning, think about the food you will can. Where will you get it, and how much will it cost? Food costs vary by season and by source of food.
If you want to grow your own food, you’ll need to consider the time and energy in maintaining a garden plus the cost of equipment, fertilizers, seeds, water and tools. That being said, gardening can be a worthwhile hobby that will provide you with fresh produce throughout the season.
If you plan to purchase food to preserve, keep in mind that grocery stores are usually the most expensive places to shop. Instead, check out local farmer’s markets, farms, or roadside stands for in season produce.
Other factors to consider when deciding whether or not it will help you save money include the cost of your time, electricity, gas, water, equipment, and supplies.
Having the right equipment in good condition is a must for safe, high quality home canned food. You’ll need either a pressure canner or a water bath canner, depending on the type of food you want to preserve.
A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats, fish and poultry. There are two basic types available. One has a metal weighted gauge and the other has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the canner. *By the way: It is important to have the dial gauge tested every year. If your gauge is off more than 2 pounds at the recommended pressure, it will need to be replaced. I offer free dial gauge testing every year, just contact me and we can set up an appointment!
A boiling water bath canner is used for canning high-acid foods like fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. The canner needs to be deep enough to allow at least one or two inches of water to boil over the tops of the jars. Both types of canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars off the bottom of the canner.
Other helpful items that you may not already have in your kitchen and want to pick up include:
- Mason-type jars specifically made for canning with two piece self-sealing lids are best. The screw bands can be re-used each year if they are still in good condition, but the flat lids should only be used once.
- A jar lifter to remove hot jars from the canner.
- A jar funnel to pack small food into the jars.
- A bubble remover to remove air bubbles from the jars, but you could also use a plastic knife or spatula (just nothing metal).
- A lid wand to remove jar lids from hot water.
Canning is a science, so it really is important to use recipes that have been scientifically tested and are up-to-date. When cooking, we can be creative and modify our recipes but that’s not the case with canning. There’s a ton of information on canning out there, but if you want to do it safely, here are the sites you should refer to:
Finally, if you want to start canning you obviously need to be able to store the food that you preserve right? So, do you have enough storage space, and do you have the right kind of space? Home-canned food needs to be stored in a cool, dry place for it to keep its quality, and you will need to use it within a year. While the food may still be safe, the quality of the product quickly decreases after one year.
So to wrap up, if you’re thinking of canning just know there will be some upfront expenses, you’ll need plenty of time (because canning is no quick task), reliable resources, and plenty of storage space.
Now that you know the basics, are you ready to get started?