Canning and Preserving

Preserving food is a very cost effective way to store up food for times when produce is not as plentiful. In the culture and society that we live in, canning and preserving our own food is not even a necessity like it used to be. We can buy pretty well any type of food we want at any time of year.

If you have the privilege of being able to grow your own garden, then growing produce that can be canned and preserved for winter, can help cut the cost of buying certain groceries.

Storing up excess produce from the garden if you have one, or even bulk from a local farm or farmers market, is a great way to be to feed your family better food during the winter at a lower
cost. My husband has challenged me to try and only buy the type of produce that is available in season. I don’t think that I’m up for that challenge. I’ll admit it, I’m too spoiled.

The part of the country that we live in, reminds me of a few Biblical accounts where storing up food was necessary.
God gave Noah the command to store up food in the ark to preserve their lives and the lives of the animals during the flood. Had Noah not been obedient in this, they would have all starved to death even though they would not have drowned.

In the event of the famine in Egypt when Joseph was put in charge, God provided an abundance of food that could be stored up for 7 years when crops would not grow. That reminds me a lot of the VERY long winter we just had.

The ants; they work continuously while there is food available and store it up for use later. It’s important to store up the abundance that God gives us for future use and to bless others with the harvest.

Canning is something that I find very enjoyable. I have many recipes that have been handed down from my mom and grandmother. I really enjoy taking certain recipes and changing them up to make them my own version. It doesn’t always produce the result I hope for, but it helps me learn what not to do next time. There has been a lot to learn as far as what helps to keep the colour of the fruit, to being able to use less sugar in jams, yet have them turn out thick enough to spread. Also I do not like soggy pickles! Who’s with me? Pickles need to crunch! Here are a few tips that I’ve used in
my canning.....

 > To keep pickles crunchier, add alum and don’t over cook/bake.

 > Keep better colour of your fruits when thickening sauces, use perma flo.

 > Using less sugar in jams but want thickness? Use more pectin and possibly some
clear jell or perma flo.

 > Label your jars or jar lids so that you know how long they have been sitting.

 > Use appropriate size jars so that the contents can be used in a short period of time and not sit in the fridge to take up space and often spoil.

 > To save time with washing cucumbers, rinse well in a tub of water (outside), pick flowers off if there are any, then put in washing machine (top load only) with a couple of towels on gentle cycle for about 5 minutes. (Another tip - if you get cucs right after a rain or first thing in the morning after a heavy dew, they will be much dirtier and harder to clean)

 > To save time peeling peaches, I have started blanching them and they end up peeling really well just like tomatoes do!

When it comes to canning, I like to experiment and to can things I find interesting. It turns out that it’s
a good idea to stick more to the basics with canning so that food is not wasted. That does not help to save money.

My favourites to can are pickles, peaches, pears, stuffed jalapeño peppers,
salsa, spaghetti sauce, cherries, blueberry sauce, strawberry jam/sauce, apple pie filling,
habenero pepper jelly, pickled beets, green tomato pickles, pickled jalapeño peppers and pineapple.

I’ve read quite a bit about the canning process and realize that there are many different ways to
‘can’ the produce, many of which are not recommended because of food safety. I have not very often
pressure canned or water bathed my jars. Generally I have washed my jars in hot water, put them in the oven at around 200* and when the food is ready to be put in jars, I just take them out, fill them and then invert them. From reading a bit online, I learned that this is our ‘grandmothers’ way of doing things and is not safe anymore. I can’t say that this will convince me to change how I do things.

Another way of preserving food is freezing. Freezing certain vegetables and fruit while they are plentiful, is another great way to have nutritious options in the winter. Corn is my favourite vegetable to freeze. My mom froze green and yellow beans for me last fall and she froze them in water to help keep
them from getting freezer burnt and that way, all you have to do is put them in a pot the way they are to heat them up, water and all. It also makes a great option for bean soup.
Fruits freeze best if they are spread out on wax or parchment paper in a single layer, frozen solid then stored in freezer bags or containers. Perfect for making sauces, pies, smoothies, or throwing in muffin batter. When you can find berries on sale, freezing them for later use is a great way to save money, but I
have found that most often if you aren’t looking to use fresh berries for something, buying already frozen is cheaper

I’m looking forward to the season for fresh fruits and vegetables and am thankful to have a garden to grow some of my own produce. I hope you enjoy the canning season and I would love to hear from you, for tips that I don’t know or recipes you’d like to!

Laura Martens

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