Canning: A Cheap and Simple Alternative

There are many reasons home preserving is gaining popularity once again. Here are a few canning methods and recipe ideas applicable for everyone.

When some hear the word canning they might think of a lost domestic art form once practiced by apron-clad housewives. But with the current economic downturn and the growing desire to become more efficient and self-sustaining, canning is making a comeback, and you don’t have to fit the above image, either.

Why Consider Canning?

Canning can be inexpensive and rewarding for many; great for frugal families who purchase fresh produce at the local farmers’ market, or even the urban gardener. There are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables suitable for canning and a multitude of combinations and recipes. You aren’t limited to jams and jellies, don’t forget other items commonly sold in jars: condiments, salsa, spreads, glazes and chutneys.

Popular Canning Methods

There are a few options to consider. You may choose to use home canning equipment like a pressure canner, or you can opt for the bath method by submerging your jars, filled with desired ingredients, in a large pot of boiling water to seal the lids. Remember, only mason jars with two-piece metal lids are appropriate for safe canning at home.

Another method is frequently referred to as fresh-pack, or quick-process. This is done by simply heating a combination of vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pickling spice in a large saucepan, stirring often.

You Will Need:
  • 8 1/4 C sliced pickling cucumbers
  • 2 C white vinegar
  • 2 C water
  • 6 tbsp pickling or canning salt
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp pickling spice
  • 71/2 dill seeds
  • 5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved
(Recipe makes about five pint jars.) Remember, you don't have to use cucumbers when pickling. Other low acidity vegetables like carrots, asparagus, and green beans are great for this as well. For an adventurous taste, you may even like to try pickling fruits, like watermelon or peaches.

Stuff pre-washed jars with the fruit or vegetable of your choice, and complementary ingredients, such as fresh dill, garlic, bay leaves and mustard seeds. Let the above mixture boil slightly for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and carefully pour the liquid into each jar. Screw on the specially designed lids and within a few minutes, they’ll seal by themselves. It is important to always use common sense practices while canning to ensure safety.

Are Canned Goods Nutritious?

The nutritional value of all fruits and vegetables begins to deminish once they’re picked. Due to the heating process during canning, some nutrients, like vitamins A and C, may be destroyed by up to half, but will only lose 5-20 percent more each year if they’re safely stored.

Most nutrients are only slightly affected by canning, and all foods are best preserved if canned shortly after harvest. Many of these foods can actually be more nutritious than those left in your refrigerator for just a few days. Canning is a simple way to enjoy natural sweet and savory treats all year long.

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