Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Canning 101 - Self - Reliance

This I hope will become one of many, so called Self-Reliance posts.  The Moose and I decided a few years back that we needed to become more self-reliant.  We can no longer depend on large food manufacturers to provide healthy food products, or that we'll be able to afford them as inflation begins to soar.   As our economy continues to grapple with itself, we need skills that are from an era long since gone, and many of my generation only hear about when Grandma is around.   I hope to share some of what I learn, and have created a page dedicated to Canning.

The Moose thought it might be a good idea, to share canning recipes with the blogosphere.   I already have my list of topics and am thinking about other articles that can be posted that would fall under the self-reliance category.  If you have any ideas, or want to guest post, please let me know.

Canning has been used for generations as a reliable means of preserving food.   We’ve just gotten so lackadaisical, that it’s second nature to just pick a can with a pretty paper label off the shelf at the store.  Trust me, I still have to, there are just some things I cannot grow in my area.  But after learning about the chemicals that are sprayed on our foods, or GMO’s, I am making an effort to avoid them when possible.   We’re not perfect, but we have to start somewhere.
Of course, you need to source the items you need for canning.  Do you garden, or do you have access to a farmers market?  Canning can be done on a small or large scale.  Much of it will depend on where you live and the number of growing seasons you have.  We have two here in Central Florida; spring and fall.  This gives us access to fresh produce for a better part of the year.  What you may not know, is that everything we normally eat, cannot be grown in each season.  Cabbage, broccoli, etc. are cool season vegetables only for the fall season.   So, we’ll need to grow more during this season, and preserve more for the “off” seasons.

I am focused on canning; however you can dehydrate or freeze foods as well.  We’ll cover these in future articles.
Here’s a basic list of equipment needed.  I would suggest buying the items a little at a time, to help save the pocket book.  There is an initial startup cost, but this can be alleviated by spending some time at local yard sales, or on Craigslist.  Once you have these items, other than lids (which you can also purchase that are reusable), you’ll get years of use out of them.

·         Spoons, wooden are best.  For stirring and packing.

·         Knives, a variety are needed, for peeling and chopping as necessary

·         Saucepans for sterilizing lids

·         Measuring cups

·         Colander

·         Tongs

·         Food scale

·         Timer (I use my microwaves clock)

·         Water Bath Canner

·         Pressure Canner

·         Jar Funnel

·         Jar Lifter

·         Bubble Freer, used to run down the sides of a jar to release air bubbles

·         Jars;  quart, pint

·         Lids

Stand out items; Water Bath Canner.  The big box stores sell these as a kit that includes the canner, tongs, jar funnel, jar lifter and bubble freer.  Also, I buy the lid brand Tattler as they are reusable.  There are other companies out there, the choice is yours.    My friend “Sista” posted an interesting article regarding BPA in canned foods, as well as disposable canning lids.   If this is important to you, you’ll want to find lids that do not contain BPA.  Just one other reason to consider reusable lids can be found here.

The list can seem daunting, but please take the time to consider the health benefits of canning fresh produce yourself.   You'll know where your food comes from. 


  1. This is something that's high on my list. We been trying to move, so I hate to get started on this. I guess I could at least the materials on the list above. A few more boxes at this point won't hurt.

    1. Matt,

      I feel your pain, with regards to moving. It took me several months to gather up all the equipment I needed. I'm taking it all in stride, and learning as I go. But I have to start somewhere. Good luck with the move, and thanks for following along.

  2. Your so cute. I am looking forward to reading all of the stuff on canning. Especially anything about pressure canning. The man bought me a pressure canner and I tried canning chicken vegi soup. It looks awful. I hate overcooked vegis and that is what it looks like. On the bright side I got strawberries yesterday from a local farm and made jam, ice cream topping, and frozen berries. Canning season is just starting here.

    1. I'll keep you posted on the pressure canning. I'm trying to convince the Moose to make a batch of his famous chili, so we can can it.
      How are your strawberries this year? Ours in FL were terrible, no flavor, and expired way too early. Even the ones from California aren't that great this year.

  3. Izzy, I'm happy to say that I have everything but the Pressure Canner.

    I could use a few more wooden spoons. Always continue to add jars, lids as well.

    Because garden didn't do as well as I thought I haven't canned anything yet but I've dehydrated or froze what I've come across on sale so far (pineapple, okra, peaches, jerky, tomatoe paste, etc.)

    1. Our garden didn't do as well as I would have liked either. I too froze some stuff, but look forward to learning more about canning as I go. Thanks for following along..

  4. Excellent post. You are so right about our food sources, and you are equally right about at least starting somewhere! Every year I have new goals to add to my canning skills as well as my pantry.

    1. Leigh,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope I can do the subject justice.

  5. I love to can and just yesterday made cherry jam and canned up 7 pints of cherries. Some are in the freezer and some were dried. I love knowing I can feed my family good, wholesome food. Home canned food even tastes better than commercially canned. A pressure canner will be well worth the investment. I don't recommend one with a rubber gasket. The All American canners are awesome.

    1. Rose,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I would about give my left arm to be able to grow bing cherries here! I'll take some time to review your blog as well. Looks like some interesting posts, right up my alley..

  6. The berry season just got started because of our cool and wet weather. Normal strawberry season starts first week in June and is over by late June so we are at least 3 weeks late. The berries looked big and fat and luscious but didn't taste like much. Too much rain means too much water in the berries. Not enough sugar. We say summer starts here on the 5th of July. That seems to be how it works so with a week or so of sun maybe the berries will have a chance to develop some sugar and taste better. I will try again in a week.

    1. Plant City strawberries, Florida's best known area for strawberries tasted like reclaimed water. They use reclaimed water on them, and that's what they end up tasting like. I wonder if they overwater them just so they get bigger, and of course they sell them by weight, so?..


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