Learning how to properly can food at home is not difficult at all, and I have found home canning to be a lot of fun. Canning food in jars is an excellent hobby idea, but home canning is much more than a simple hobby, and experienced home canners are very serious about their kitchen craft. The satisfaction that comes from preparing, cooking, canning and preserving healthy, nutritious food for the family without chemical preservatives, dyes, additives and pesticides is reason enough to learn how to can your own food in the comfort of your own home.
Experienced and seasoned home canners give many different reasons why they choose to spend hours throughout the week and weekends at home canning fresh fruits, jams, jellies, preserves, tomatoes, salsas, sauces, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry etc. If you have ever tasted the freshness and delicious taste of home canned strawberry preserves versus store-bought preserves, you can begin to understand the vast difference between commercially sold canned foods vs home canned foods.
If you have ever enjoyed eating a fresh apple you have picked yourself off of an apple tree, and compare the fresh, juicy, crisp flavor to that of store-bought apples perhaps shipped from hundreds of miles away to your local grocery store, you can begin to understand why canning is such a popular hobby for home canning enthusiasts. The freshness, flavor and taste is undeniable.
Reasons to Can Your Own Food
There are many reasons why someone might decide to begin canning food at home. Having an organic fruit and/or vegetable garden in your backyard, and the desire to preserve the fruits of your labor with an abundance of home grown foods that you can enjoy well past the growing season and throughout the winter months, is an excellent reason to start learning home canning.
Even if you don’t have your own garden, bulk buying and canning fresh fruits and vegetables purchased from your local farmers markets or grocery store, allows you the opportunity to enjoy your favorite seasonal fruits and veggies post growing season and throughout the winter months and beyond. For example, I love cranberries and homemade cranberry sauce, and I want to enjoy eating cranberries and whole berry cranberry sauce with meals throughout the year, rather than just around fall/winter holidays. I don’t want and am unwilling to buy canned cranberry sauce preserved with chemical preservatives and who-knows-what-that-is additives and dyes with unpronounceable names on the label. Make your own, can it and process it in mason jars, then enjoy it all year long.
Another reason why the interest in home canning is growing is the concern over BPA in many commercial canned foods, such as canned tomatoes and many other foods sold in stores. BPA-free foods, chemical-free healthy and nutritious foods free of chemical preservatives, chemical additives and pesticides and chemical dyes, is enough incentive from many cooks to choose to start canning foods at home. The time and effort put into home canning is well worth it when you know with 100% certainty what is in your food and what is not in the food you and your family are consuming.
Buying in season fresh fruits and vegetables when it’s cheap, on sale and plentiful is an economical and smart way of stocking the pantry when you know how to can and preserve foods correctly, labeled and stored properly. If you’ve ever bought or considered buying the upscale and expensive food in jars found in stores, you will be amazed at how inexpensive it is to make and can those favorite foods yourself for next to nothing, financially speaking.
Home canning is also eco-friendly because canning jars are reusable, greatly reducing the amount of waste disposed of in trash bins and in the environment. Just think of all the pre-packaged food boxes and containers purchased at the grocery store that end up being thrown away, versus the ability of opening your canned jars of food and reusing your own jars. Your homemade and home canned green beans must only travel from your pantry shelf to your stove, rather than chemically preserved store-bought canned goods that must travel hundreds or even thousands of miles to your grocery store shelves.
Home canning enthusiasts understand the satisfaction that comes when you hear the POP sound when the jars seal, and you know the food was made and preserved for future use by your own hand and your own efforts in the kitchen. When I decided to make strawberry preserves as my very first canning project, I was so giddy when the jars finished processing and I heard the POP of the lids as they sealed. It made me giggle. I did it and I did it right! I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to start my next canning job, so I spent the entire weekend cooking and canning an abundance of fruits and vegetable recipes found in my canning cookbooks. Canning is fun!
I love to learn new things, and learning how to can foods in my kitchen creates a real sense of connection to past generations, when home canning and food preservation was common practice and a necessity. Even though I’ll never know if my grandparents or great grandparents canned food at home or not, our grandchildren will grow up seeing us continue the “old fashioned” tradition of home canning, and will enjoy the results of our labor.
Another excellent reason for learning how to can foods is the honor of bestowing food in jars as “from the heart” gifts to family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and strangers alike. Homemade gifts make the best gifts for any occasion or “just because” gifts. Years ago, and in some cases still happening nowadays, brand new neighbors would be welcomed to the neighborhood with a gift of some homemade food item, perhaps a cake or cookies etc. Presenting home canned fruits, jellies or preserves as a “welcome to the neighborhood” gift is an great icebreaker to start a get-to-know-you conversation.
Having had several long discussions with friends, family, acquaintances and subscribed readers who have taken the time to watch all of the food documentaries I’ve discussed before, about genetically modified foods (GMO’s), chemical preservatives and harmful additives added to many foods and beverages etc, more and more people that I know are now interested in home canning.
Since receiving last year’s Christmas gifts from my wishlist of basic canning supplies and a few canning cookbooks to start home canning, it’s been a fun and exciting hobby being able to try out different recipes for canning all sorts of fruits, vegetables and meats. I absolutely love my Presto pressure cooker/canner and the large water bath pot and various canning accessories that makes canning and pressure cooking food as easy as possible. If you’ve been thinking about starting a new hobby and haven’t decided on what hobby to choose, I highly recommend giving serious consideration to learning how to can. Once you’ve completed your first canning project as a beginner and see how great your project turns out, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t thought of home canning before now.
Do you can food at home? What caused your initial interest in starting home canning? Do you have a favorite canning cookbook?