Canning used to be a thing of the past, something your great grandmother did to preserve the fruits and vegetables she grew in her large garden. But canning is making a comeback, not only to preserve foods from your garden, but to ensure that your family is eating only the best foods. Listed below are the benefits I’ve noticed while canning from my garden.
Health: Although you don’t need your own garden to preserve fruits and vegetables, I sometimes feel that having your own is the only way you truly know what has been sprayed, added or inserted into your produce. However, it is possible to buy produce from local farmers markets in bulk if you don’t have time or space to maintain a garden. You can also learn more about gardening in smaller spaces here. My family’s health is one of the biggest reasons I can many foods from our garden. I know exactly how much sugar or salt is added to what I have canned.
Cost-effective: Some would argue this point, but I truly feel that preserving food saves my family money in the long run. Yes, there are some costs involved, but they are minimal. The jars and screw lids are reusable each year, and the only thing I really have to purchase are lids, seasonings and seeds — but the return you get from one little seed packet makes it all worth it.
Gifts: I love to give canned foods as gifts; I usually put a pretty piece of cloth over the top of the jar and tie it with ribbon. Attached is always a note that says “return for refill,” so that way I always get my jars back. I feel this, too, saves me money in the long run, and who doesn’t love a homemade gift?
Pride: This might seem funny, but when I see my jars all lined up in the basement I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. I suppose it is similar to the olden days when a father would hunt for the meat that would feed his family. I feel that all of those jars are my contribution to the “hunt.”
Time: Canning saves me so much time and wasted trips to the grocery store. The closest grocery store to our home is 15 miles away; if I had to run to the store every time I needed a can of peaches or green beans I would be using about $4 in gas. That isn’t very cost-effective and it’s a waste of time. It takes me roughly 30 seconds to run to my basement, grab a jar and get it heating on the stove.
Some might argue that canning requires a lot of time. It is quite the process, but once you find a routine and get in the groove of things, it goes pretty quickly. I canned even when I wasn’t a stay at home mom, so it is possible.
Together time: Gardening and preserving our food is a great way for our family to spend time together. My 4-year-old helps me snip green beans and our 20-month-old loves to help pick the beans, tomatoes, etc. My husband and I care for our garden together and take great pride in knowing we are providing for our family, and gardening with our children is one of the highlights of our week.
So far this summer I have several jams, peaches, applesauce, pickles, tomato sauce, green beans, salsa, pizza sauce and apple pie filling on my shelves. I still have a long way to go and plan on adding pasta sauce, tomato juice and peppers.
If you are interested in getting started in your canning adventures, check out the many groups on Facebook and hundreds of websites where recipes can be found and where you can converse with experienced canners. Check garage sales or thrift stores for jars and canners to help get you started at a cheaper price, and don’t forget to check your grandmother’s basement — you might be surprised at how many jars you find hidden.