Conservation includes conserving what you’ve grown — like canning those nice organic veggies and fruits you worked so hard to produce this summer — or the seasonal surplus from the farmer’s market.
Canning is inexpensive, easy, and fun once you get the hang of it. It’s another example of a simple practice from simpler times that can be revived today to produce good healthy clean food at low cost. Just start with a few jars of something you really like and build from there. Here are the basics.
There are two basic types of canning- water canning and pressure canning. Water canning is the simplest, and can be done for:
- Pickled foods
These foods can safely be preserved using the water canning method. The boiling water reaches temperatures of 214 degrees which will safely destroy any micro organisms in the foods. In this method, jars of food are heated by being completely covered for a period of time with boiling water.
High-acid foods contain enough acid (ph of 4.6 or less) so that botulism spores can’t grow and produce their deadly toxin. High-acid foods include fruits and properly pickled vegetables. These foods can be safely canned at boiling temperatures in a boiling water bath, done in a special pot and rack for this, or just with a good tall stock pot. Tomatoes and figs have ph values close to 4.6. To can these in a boiling water bath, acid in the form of lemon juice or citric acid must be added to them.
You must use pressure canning for those foods that have low acid content like:
The only safe method for preserving these foods is pressure canning where you can reach the 240 degrees temperature that will destroy all bacteria and micro organisms in these foods.
The USDA has a great set of guides to home canning. America’s tax dollars paid for this, you may as well use them. Here’s the links to PDFs you can download.
Guide 01: Principles of Home Canning
Guide 02: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Fruit and Fruit Products
Guide 03: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Tomatoes and Tomato Products
Guide 04: Selecting, Preparing, and Canning Vegetables and Vegetable Products
Guide 05: Preparing and Canning Poultry, Red Meats, and Seafood
Guide 06: Preparing and Canning Fermented Food and Pickled Vegetables
Guide 07: Preparing and Canning Jams and Jellies
You can find local classes in canning through the Ball Jar website.
Canning jars and other canning supplies are inexpensive and reusable again and again. You can buy new at places like Ball Jars or The Canning Pantry or find plenty on Craigslist or eBay. Canned foods make great gifts too- made at home and from the heart.
My mom, being frugal before there was “green”, used to put up peaches, pears, applesauce, beets, tomatoes, pickled cukes and green beans in Mason canning jars. Maybe it was the love she added, but they sure tasted great. So take in the cornucopia that late summer and early fall offer. Enjoy some of it fresh now, and can the rest to get you through the coming winter. Yes, You Can!