Canning is a tradition in my family. Every generation has partaken in the process. My parents spent many summers putting up the produce they grew, as well as spending winters canning maple syrup. In the summer my parents typically canned tomatoes of various styles, jams and jellies and a variety of pickles (cucumber and beet). After years of canning, our sagging kitchen cabinet shelves were on their last leg. My father built hardwood cabinets in our pantry room to store the canned goods. These shelves can withstand the weight of the canned goods. Luckily, Jon and I live in the house that I grew up in so I have inherited the built-in canning cabinets. My parents on the other hand, gained a full size walk out basement in their current home, which is where they now store their goods.
While I have been involved in the canning process for years, this is the first year that I have decided to try to can on my own.
The reasons that I decided to can include:
- I love to cook. Being in the kitchen is relaxing for me. This just seemed like an extension (precursor) to cooking.
- I like to know where my food comes from. I like my food to be from local sources when possible (living in NY can make this difficult). By canning my own produce, grown in my backyard, I can enjoy local produce year round.
- Regardless of the fact that we have more food regulations than ever before, food seems to be increasingly unsafe. By canning my own foods I am reducing worries about contamination and harmful additives. If my food becomes contaminated at least I will have the background about how it was processed and what went wrong. You can’t say that about contaminated food from the grocery store.
- It’s a fun process and I feel connected to my family. When I look at the Mason jars that I will be canning in, I can’t help but think about all those people before me that used those same jars and the fact that they had no choice but to can if they wanted to eat throughout the winter.
Once I decided that I wanted to can I started researching recipes, canning methods, canning equipment and the best places to purchase supplies. I love to research so this part was very fun for me and I am still researching to learn more.
My canning equipment:
-Presto Pressure Canner- Although I have no pressure canning experience I choose to invest in one because I want to be able to can low acidic foods. This canner had good reviews, a great price and free shipping. I will review the product once I have a chance to test it a few times.
-Back to Basics Canning Kit- I picked this up a garage sale for $1. The kit was in the box and had never been used!
-Jars- I acquired Ball, Kerr and Mason jars from my family, friends and an elderly woman cleaning out her home.
My parents passed on about 200 of their jars that they have acquired from my great, great (paternal) grandmother, my great (paternal) grandmother, my (maternal) grandmother and my great (maternal) grandfather. To think that many of these jars have been in our family for multiple generations and are still just as good as new amazes me. My family took excellent care of these jars and few had chips or cracks.
I gathered another 100 jars or so from family friends who used to can and no longer needed all of their jars.
I purchased another 100 jars (my only purchase) from an elderly lady that was cleaning out her home. I paid $ .25 a jar. When Jon and I went to pick up the jars, she and her son showed us where their gardens used to be, told us stories about their fruit trees and berry bushes and shared a bit of the history that these jars held. In addition to the history she shared with us, she gave us some of her homemade soap made from bear and venison fat!
I now have many empty jars packed away in Rubbermaid totes waiting for the summer harvest to become bountiful. I am anticipating so many delicious canned goods. I hope to utilize these throughout the winter and reduce my produce purchases in the winter when most of our produce comes from many miles away.
-Lids and Bands- I purchased my lids and bands from the Goods Store in Lancaster, PA and from a small Mennonite grocery store in the Finger Lakes area. These stores offered the products for a relatively low price compared to many of the stores that I have searched.
-Recipes- To find recipes I searched the ball book and the internet in addition to books provided by my mother and Jon’s mother. There are so many recipes I can’t wait to try!
I will be posting the lessons I learn, recipes I try and all the fun (and maybe disappointing) experiences I have. Do you have any tips to share?