|Start with High Acid Foods|
I recently had a girlfriend ask how she could get started with her first canning project and I had the thought that some of my readers might also have the same questions, so I’m turning it into a post. First let me start by telling you why I love canning and freezing, it isn’t for the money I save. In fact, if you do the math, you would have to make canning and freezing a big hobby to really save a lot of money. It is the quality of the food that canning and freezing supplies and the satisfaction of a job well done. That being said, home canning and freezing is a great way to supplement your pantry and save some money. When you make canning and freezing part of your routine, you can buy fresh produce on sale and preserve it for later. This week I bought pears on sale at Sprouts for $.48 per pound and I made pear butter and canned sliced pears for the pantry. I also stocked my freezer with frozen blueberries and sliced peaches for smoothies.
Beginning Canning Supplies
One of the best ways to save money with home canning is to start small. After all the point is to save money, so although you can expect an initial investment, there is no need to buy everything brand new on the first outing. To get started with basic home canning you will need one box of pint jars which will come with lids and seals and a large stockpot. That is it. That is all you need to get started. If you would like to purchase an older cookbook with canning instructions then that might be helpful and some large canning tongs with a wire canning rack will come in handy. You don’t need a pressure caner until you are into more advanced things like soups and meats so don’t buy one until you decide whether or not you enjoy home canning. You can get started with a simple water bath method.
Beginning Canning Foods
Basically, the higher the acid content of the food, the easier it is to can. So, tomatoes, strawberries and anything pickled is going to be the best foods to try first. Vegetables are going to be preserved with salt unless they are pickled and fruits will be preserved in a light syrup and Fruit Fresh unless they are made into butter or jam. When preserving tomatoes and salsas you are going to put half a teaspoon to one teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the jar, when canning fruit you will mix a solution of sugar syrup and Fruit Fresh to pour over the fruit. This solution recipe can be found on the Fruit Fresh container. A beginning pickle spice mixture can be purchased in the canning supply section of your super market. The pickle spice mixture will have vinegar and produce specifications on the package. Simple fruit butters and jam recipes can be found on the web; I prefer to make them in the Crock pot to avoid burning.
For the More Advanced
Items like chicken soup or meats of any kind; foods that are high in starch like corn are going to be more difficult to can. You may either want to consider freezing these foods or purchasing a pressure caner if you are enjoying home canning and ready to try something a little more difficult.
Finally your going to need one really good resource for preservation and processing measurements and times. When you can, you are going to follow these steps: prepare your food for canning (salsa, sliced peaches, sliced pickles etc.), fill your jars, put the lids on and then boil the filled jars for a specified amount of time. So then, depending on what you are going to can, you will want to resource an amount of preservative (salt, fruit fresh, vinegar solution) and the amount of time to boil the filled jars. After preservation and processing you will know your canning was a success as you hear each jar pop as it cools. Off the Grid has a great chart for processing times and Bella Online is also a great resource.