Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canning - A Winter tradition that saves money!

Beautiful fall canning memories

My memories of childhood, most definitely, include my mother canning through the fall season. We grew up in the beautiful northwestern hills and mountains of Pennsylvania. My parents always had a bountiful garden. In fact, my dad still does to this day. I love reminiscing about the smells of all the grape juice, pickles, and applesauce that my mom had brewing on the stove.We enjoyed our tasty supply all year long!

Now one thing to know about my mom is that she was from Brooklyn, NY. Canning was NOT in her repertoire of experience. I say that to prove that if my city-born mother could learn the art of canning, with no experience, then anybody can!  The only tools she had were desire and a financial need to save money on food. In this day and age of rising costs and an unpredictable economy, canning can be a very valuable skill to have in our own money saving tool box.

Benefits of Preserves

One of the perks of canning at home is that you limit your exposure to the chemicals and pesticides used on so much produce and seafood. In fact, most commercially prepared vegetables, fruits, spreads and sauces contain added sugar, salt and preservatives. These ingredients can not only be unnecessary because the natural flavors of foods don't always need enhancers like added sugar and salt. They can also raise health risks for people suffering from serious health problems. Home canners have complete control over the ingredients they put in their food. They can choose organic, local and fresh ingredients. If you choose your produce carefully, you can limit your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals found in so many packaged foods today.

When you can’t eat fresh… preserve it!

home canners
Canning preserves nutrition and flavor.

When you pick foods at their peak of ripeness they are far superior nutritionally, even when preserved.  The vitamin C content in tomatoes, for example, increases when the vegetables are allowed to fully ripen on the vine. The challenge with a garden is that everything seems to ripen at once. The solution to making the most of a bountiful garden is to preserve the food by canning. Since letting produce ripen on the vine increases its nutritional value, canning and preserving them at the peak of ripeness will preserve their vitamins and minerals.


We preserve many things in our lives. Food is one of those things, and preserving your own self-reliance is very important as well. If there is a natural disaster and supplies are short, will you have your own food, or be prepared to store food you’ve harvested yourself? Not feeling powerless in life is more valuable than we often realize  Preserving your own food in times of hardship could turn out to be one of the most significant benefits of learning this art. It gives you the confidence to know you can do other things to take care of yourself, and those you love.

Home Canning
preserve canning
Home canning saves money!

Home canning used to be one of the only ways to safely preserve fresh foods from decaying. Of course, that was before we had so many canned and frozen foods on the market, before so many food preservative options and, of course, refrigeration. The canning techniques developed in the late 1800s are the same ones we use today. 

Reading the labels on store bought food can give you some insight as to why home canning can be healthier. On store labels you find ingredients like salt, sugar, and preservatives. Canning your own food lets you decide whether to add sugar and salt and how much you want to put in. The advantage of home canning is that preservatives are not necessary because the canning method is what preserves the food.

Money Saving AND Nutritional Value - you can’t beat that!

Another good reason to preserve food by canning is to save money! Whether you grow your own food or buy in bulk from your local farmer, canning will help you save money and keep quality food on your table.

Let’s say you are NOT a person with a “green thumb.” That’s okay; you can visit your local farmer and take advantage of the best produce in your area. You can buy in bulk so that you get a good price and then preserve the food so that you have plenty of fresh grown fruits and vegetables throughout the year. If you like to buy locally grown produce, then you know that most produce is only available when it's in season, in your area. Canning produce means you can take advantage of in-season vegetables and fruit and extend their great taste and value beyond the growing season. You get better tasting food and support local farmers at the same time.

Not sure where to begin? The USDA offers a complete guide to help you with everything from selecting to preparing fresh vegetables, fruits, raw meats and fish. The National Center for Home Food Preservation also has a comprehensive link for information about how to can safely as well as tips about what not to do.

Canning Recipes

There are many options when canning. In case you are unfamiliar with preserves, here are a few for you, so you can go on a great canning adventure of your own!

Simply Canning and All Recipes are sites that give tips about all types of canning:

canning and preserving
Preserving food is practical and saves money.
  • Jam preserves
  • Canning fruit
  • Tomato canning
  • Canning salsa
  • Canning pickles 

A Word About Freezing

Freezing is also an option for preserving food. However when freezing, label your packages with the name and date and be sure your freezer is in good working condition. In case there is a power outage you would need to have a generator to keep the freezer running, or you could risk losing what you have frozen.

Have a Great and Fabulous Canning Adventure!

Gwendolyn Adams
Contributing Writer

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