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.
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 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.