Whether you’re preparing for a long winter or an emergency survival situation, canning 101 will introduce you to the one skill that every survivalist needs to know. All the bounty of your summer garden will quickly disappear once cold weather arrives, but you can make it last with the help of home canning. By using some simple canning 101 techniques, you can quickly build up a large supply of essential foods to feed your family in any emergency situation.
Canning 101 – What is Canning?
If you are completely new to home canning, it’s actually a really simple process. You store fresh foods in sterilized glass jars then seal them to prevent spoilage. The jars are airtight so the food can last for years in your pantry, basement, or other cool, dry place.
People have been canning for years, but this isn’t just your grandmother’s hobby. Home canning is making a big comeback, and it is an essential skill for survivalists who need to stretch a food supply for months after the garden withers away.
Canning 101 – Two Basic Canning Methods
When you decide to start canning, there are two methods you can use: a hot water bath or a pressure cooker. The hot water bath is the most inexpensive method and it is a great choice for beginners.
Basically, you place your filled jars in a large pot of hot water. Then you bring the water to a boil and this
kills any bacteria present to safely preserve the food inside your jars. The hot water bath method is best for highly acidic foods like tomatoes, jams, salsas, or jellies. The second method relies on a pressure cooker, which you can purchase online or in a kitchen store.
Pressure canning is best for foods with a low acidity like meats, beans, and vegetables. The pressure cooker relies on boiling water like the water bath, but it adds high pressure to the equation as the sealed cooker allows inside pressure to build as the heat rises.
The rising pressure is controlled with a dial that allows you to release pressure through a valve if it gets too high. It’s actually not as hard as it sounds and this is usually the preferred method for canning because it offers peace of mind that your canned goods are safe to eat for years to come.
What to Consider Before You Start Canning
There are a lot of factors to think about before you jump into canning. First, do you have adequate access to fresh fruits and vegetables? If you live in the middle of a big city with very little access to fresh produce, canning might not be the logical choice for you. However, if you have a large garden or live near a farmer’s market where you can stock up on produce, canning is something you should consider.
You also need to think about the time and cost involved. Think of canning as an investment. It takes a few hours to process your food and properly preserve it, but you will enjoy the results for months or even years.
In terms of cost, you will have to pay the upfront cost of your canning supplies and your food, but it could save you money in the long run. Plus, you really can’t put a price tag on having a good stock of healthy, nutritious meals if there was ever an emergency situation where food was not readily available.
Canning 101 – What Canning Supplies Do You Need?
If you are ready to give canning a try, there are just a few basic supplies you will need. First, you will need a large canning pot and/or a pressure cooker. You will also need glass mason jars, lids, and bands. These come in pint and quart sizes so you can choose whichever size you prefer.
You will also need jar lifters, a wire canning rack (it might be included with your canning pot), measuring cups and spoons, a sauce pan, ladle, large wooden spoon, kitchen knives, and some mixing bowls. It’s also a good idea to invest in a book of basic canning recipes.
Keep in mind that you probably have a lot of these supplies already waiting in your kitchen. It’s okay to use what you already have on hand. You can also find a lot of canning supplies used. Check with your grandparents to see if they have an old canning pot or pressure canner that you could borrow. Look for old canning pots at yard sales or flea markets, but just be sure to examine them for warping and defects.
If you buy a used pressure canner, ensure that the valve and gauge are intact and working properly. Spread the word that you need glass mason jars and your friends and family might have dozens collecting dust in their garages or basements that you can have for free. Wash and sterilize the jars properly, and purchase new lids and seals. This can radically reduce the start-up cost of canning.
Canning 101 – Canning and Food Safety
When you start canning, there are three things to keep in mind that are very important.
- First, safety is always paramount. Make sure you take time to read about proper canning techniques online or in a canning recipe book. When you are talking about your family’s safety, there are no excuses. Spoiled food could result in deadly botulism so make sure you are preserving your food properly and creating a tight, sterile seal on your jars.
- Second, remember that canning is not limited to jams and jellies. You can store almost anything in your glass jars. Can your famous chicken and dumplings, vegetable soup, or beef chili. You might even want to try canning meats and cheeses. The sky is the limit!
- Third, use canning as one of your top survival skills by strategically growing extra produce in your garden to preserve. Always think ahead and take time to can extra when you prepare soups, stews, and chilis. Label your jars properly with the contents and the dates, and you can quickly build up a good food supply to use in case of a major emergency.