On our recent trip to Kentucky, we took our kids and grandson to a local orchard to enjoy some apple picking. Before we came to Kentucky, I pulled the needed canning supplies and spices to make salsa, applesauce, and apple cider with my daughter, Faith Hardy, and my daughter-in-law, Jess Kowalski. While I knew that we’d get a chance to make the applesauce. I had no idea if I’d be able to find the tomatoes at such a late date. I was thrilled when I spotted two baskets of tomatoes in the reduced produce section of the Apple Barn of Jackson’s Orchard. When I asked the girls if they’d like to do some home canning with me they were both excited to help out.
Homestead eBook Article
I have partnered with a group of homesteading bloggers to compile an eBook. “Homestead Anywhere: A Guide to Learn How to Blossom Where You are Planted”. This article on home canning is a part of the FREE eBook that is full of information about homesteading no matter where you are in your homestead journey. Maybe you are curious about homesteading. Perhaps you’re building an urban homestead on the property you have. Maybe you are looking for land where you can spread your wings. Possibly you’re already living your homesteading dream. This eBook will be an amazing resource for you! The eBook is in its final stages of publishing and will be released soon. Be watching for more information.
The Homesteading Lifestyle
When it comes to a homestead lifestyle, people often think about large gardens where they grow their own food. As the vegetable harvest begins, you may quickly find yourself drowning in an abundance of fresh vegetables. While some people rely on freezing their abundance, we feel that freezer space is a valuable commodity. Even running multiple freezers, we limit using the freezers for foods that can be preserved in other ways. One of the age-old methods of preserving the harvest is home canning.
Even if you don’t have a garden, you can preserve the foods that you purchase. Local farmer’s markets, small farms or even grocery store are possible sources of produce. Even in my small container garden, I freeze my produce and save it until I have enough to preserve. I consider it my classroom until we move to the homestead.
What is canning?
Canning is the process of using glass jars to preserve food. Once the canned foods are properly prepared, the jars are processed using one of two canning methods: water bath canning or pressure canning. In its simplest explanation, water bath canning is the processing of jars of canned food in boiling water. Only acidic foods can be safely water-bath canned. Pressure canning heats your canned foods under steam pressure, which allows canning at a much higher temperature. Both methods of canning when done properly create shelf-stable foods that you can enjoy all year long.
Safe Canning Methods
Safe canning can be a hot topic in the homesteading world. Canning as we know it, heat-processed food in glass jars, was developed by Nicolas Appert in the late 18th century. During the French Revolutionary War, the French government offered a reward to anyone who could develop a practical method of preserving food that could be used by the army. After 14 to 15 years of experimentation, Nicolas Appert was awarded the prize in 1810. He became known as the “father of canning”. While Nicolas knew his method worked, he didn’t fully understand the science behind why it worked.
While the process of canning foods became popular. Other scientists took Appert’s method to the next level even developing patents in the field. Still, it would be decades before the relationship between microorganisms and food spoilage would begin to be understood.
Modern Canning Methods
Today modern methods of canning practices continue to be refined. Methods that were considered standard practice in the canning world only a few decades ago are no longer considered safe practices. It’s for this reason that there can be such conflicting information regarding what methods are safest for home canning foods.
Some homestead cooks prefer to follow the “old” ways. They believe that generations before us have successfully filled their pantries using these time-trusted methods. While other homestead cooks prefer to follow the continued research and guidance by leading organizations in the field of food preservation. These organizations continue to research the methods, the canning materials available, and changes in our food sources that lead to the safest methods of food preservation that are recommended today. While each homestead cook will need to decide for themselves what methods they deem safest for their family to preserve their harvest. In this article, only safe canning methods will be included.
Who Can I Trust?
In the United States, The United States Department of Agriculture, the USDA, is the leading authority on safe home canning practices. The USDA funds the research and education efforts of The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). Their book, The Complete Guide to Home Canning: Revised in 2015 is considered the leading authority regarding safe home canning. This guide can be purchased as a spiral-bound book, or it can be accessed as a free PDF document.
In the private sector the Ball Blue Book is a trusted resource for home canning instruction. The Ball Company, who produces home canning supplies, has been publishing home canning books since 1909.
What’s the Big Deal?
Botulism is food poisoning caused by bacterium growing on improperly sterilized canned meats or other preserved foods. Contamination of home-canned foods can provide the optimal conditions for the growth of botulism spores. The methods developed by the USDA have tested techniques that prevent the growth of the spores that produce deadly toxins. This prevents food-borne illness.
When done properly home canning is an excellent method to preserve the harvest on the homestead. While all homestead cooks need to be aware of the importance of safe canning methods, they shouldn’t be paralyzed with concern. The research and development of modern techniques combined with generations of home canners before us have proven that home canning is a safe and reliable method of preserving food.
A Full Pantry
Preserving the garden harvest can be one of the most demanding parts of the gardening process. Typically, when the vegetables begin to come in, they come in all at once. Some products can be frozen and processed later, while others must be processed right away. The satisfaction of colorful jars lined up in a full pantry and the knowledge that you have secured your family’s food source is an extremely satisfying experience. I still love sitting down to a meal, knowing that we raised most of the items on the plate right in our own backyard.
September Workcation Home Canning Video Trilogy
I took so much video of the canning we did while we were in Kentucky for the September Workcation! I’ve created three videos of the canning projects we tackled. Once for each of the products we canned. Enjoy!
Water Bath Canning Tutorial
NOW Available! I’ve created a complete water bath canning tutorial right here on the blog. It includes complete written instructions and a video to guide you every step of the way. Click here!
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About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.