Canning is a great way to save your fresh fruits and vegetables
Posted by Grange Co-op on 4th Sep 2013
Is canning and preserving fruits and vegetables worth the effort? In one enthusiastic word: YES!
Think of it this way: Which would you prefer? Fruits and vegetables grown far away and commercially canned through processes that add chemicals, additives, and preservatives? Or would you prefer produce grown in your own garden or purchased from a local farmers market that you can preserve yourself free of harmful additives?
Canning your own harvest is an amazing process with many beginning-to-end (and into the future) benefits. Canning is an inexpensive way to provide healthy fruits and vegetables straight from your garden or local farm for year-round enjoyment. You control the ingredients so you know they are safe and nutritious. Plus, you will take great pride in your work and maybe even enjoy a sentimental connection to your parents or grandparents who always seem to have shelves of Ball mason jars loaded with delicious preserved produce on-hand.
The canning possibilities are practically endless. Got a tree full of apples, pears, or peaches? Then go ahead and can everything you can’t eat! Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and carrots? Can them for use in a soup next winter! Canning can be done with nearly every fruit and vegetable you can grow or buy in the market, and it’s an inexpensive investment that will save you money in the long run when you are using produce you either grow yourself or purchase in-season. Basically, all that’s needed are jars (including half-pint, pint, and quart-sized), a large canner with wire racks or pressure canner, a few utensils such as tongs and funnels, and preserving ingredients such as brine or pectin.
Not convinced canning is for you? Here is more on the many benefits canning can bring.
Convenient Produce Stand Right in Your Pantry
No need to run to the grocery store for healthy ingredients – they will be conveniently stored on your own shelves. Eat canned fruits as a healthy snack straight from the jar, or use them in pies and other recipes your family will love. The canning process destroys organisms that can spoil food, so canned foods stay preserved indefinitely – as long as the container is intact.
Health in a Jar
If you enjoy the delicious taste of fresh ingredients and also want to know what’s in your foods, canning and preserving is for you. Canned foods retain the same nutrients as fresh foods. Many commercially canned foods we find in grocery stores are loaded with harmful chemicals, preservatives, additives, and even BPA. When you can your own fresh foods, you control the ingredient list so you know exactly what is – and what isn’t – inside. Go pesticide-free with your own food! Plus, you’ll also be washing and peeling to remove any residues left on your unprocessed foods, and the canning process destroys bacteria and seals food within hours of harvesting.
You’ll see – or taste – for yourself: foods you can yourself from your garden or farmers market taste considerably better than commercially canned products. You will be using produce at the peak of its ripeness, with no harmful additives or preservatives, ensuring the highest quality.
Eating home-grown canned blueberries out-of-season can save you big-time over buying some out-of-season, at a premium price, that have been grown and shipped from far away. You can also save money by buying produce at farmers markets and grocery stores in-season when they are abundant and less expensive, and then canning for use year-round.
Helping the Environment
When you can, you will feel great knowing you didn’t add to the environmental impact of waste associated with pre-packaged and processed foods. You are also avoiding purchasing foods shipped across the country or across the world. Less fuel and less emissions means more good you are doing to help the environment. Plus, you can reuse your Ball mason jars for more canning or other household storage and projects, as opposed to food packaging ending up in a landfill.
Connecting with our Past
Canning is by no means a forgotten art, but it is something that was much more prevalent in decades past as families canned out of necessity and practicality. When you can today, you can enjoy a connection with earlier generations who valued a little extra effort for things that matter. It’s a connection to culture, family, traditions, and heritage, and a great activity you can enjoy with your children to share in that tradition.
A Fun Hobby
As you get into canning, you will definitely get better and more comfortable, but you also may feel a passion and sense of personal satisfaction. And you may discover it’s a lot of fun, and something you can do with your children, friends, or neighbors! You can also connect with other canners on social media sites and blogs.
Perfect for Gift Giving
A personal jar of homemade strawberry preserves straight from your garden or farmers market is a gift that everyone will love. You can even design your own fun labels that will be a memorable gift for birthdays, Christmas, or any time of year.
Now that you know all of the great benefits of canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, the next question may be, ‘ how do I can fruits’ or ‘how do I can vegetables?’ Don’t be intimidated by the process. It’s relatively easy with the right guidance, supplies, and practice. In fact, it’s as easy as filling your jars with clean peeled and cut up fruits and vegetables, adding a few ingredients (or not), screwing on the lids, placing them in a pressure canner, and following the canner’s instructions.
Grange Co-op is always here to offer expert advice and can answer any canning questions in our stores. We even provide free canning classes – watch our website for announcements about our next classes, usually offered in late spring/early summer. For more tips, you can also speak with the “Grange Canners” at your local Grange Co-op store, or visit our home and living tips section.