EAT WHAT YOU CAN, CAN WHAT YOU CAN’T!

Old canning posters

Like to thank our dear New Zealand friend, Charley, for the catchy title. If I remember correctly, he said his granny used to say that. Wise woman!

Another friend of ours just passed along this Canning Song

If that doesn’t get you in the canning mood, there’s this wonderful DVD from the West Ladies (this DVD and the entire Homestead Blessings collection are sold right here at our online store)

When we started growing full time, every summer it came down to too many vegetables and fruits and something needed to be done with the surplus.  So about 7 or so years ago I took the plunge into preservation and haven’t looked back.  During the fall and winter we rely heavily on  what we put up during the summer.   We are proud to say there are not many store bought canned goods that line our shelves.

Learning practical food preservation has been something I’ve looked forward to every year and have come to enjoy. Looking at the colorful jars that are stocking the cabinet you get a real sense of food security and a connection with the past – something Grandma would be proud of I am sure.

Canning is easy, you just have to know a few basics. One of the most important aspect is the difference between low and high acid foods. Here on the urban homestead we use a simple water bath method to preserve our foods. With low acid vegetables like beans or peppers without a pressure canner we’ll just pickle instead.

SAFE CANNING METHODS

There are two safe ways of canning, depending on the type of food being canned. These are the boiling water bath method and the pressure canner method.

Boiling Water Bath Method: The boiling water bath method is safe for fruits, tomatoes and pickles as well as jam, jellies and other preserves. In this method, jars of food are heated by being completely covered with boiling water (212 °F at sea level).

High-acid foods contain enough acid (ph of 4.6 or less) so that the Clostridium botulinum spores can’t grow and produce their deadly toxin. High-acid foods include fruits and properly pickled vegetables. These foods can be safely canned at boiling temperatures in a boiling water bath.

Tomatoes and figs have ph values close to 4.6. To can these in a boiling water bath, acid in the form of lemon juice or citric acid must be added to them.

Pressure Canning Methods: Pressure canning is the only safe method of canning low-acid foods (those with a ph of more than 4.6). These include all vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. Because of the danger of botulism, these foods must be canned in a pressure canner. Jars of food are placed in 2 to 3 inches of water in a pressure canner and then heated to a temperature of at least 240 °F. This temperature can only be reached in a pressure canner.

Can All You Can

Helpful links

Canning Guide

Home Canning

Canning Low Acid and High Acid Foods PPT

An Introduction to Home Canning

Quality for Keeps: Preserve Your Garden Delights — How to Can Fresh Vegetables

Resources

Art of Canning DVD

Supplies

Canning Kit w/ utensils with Ball Canning Book

Preservation Supplies

Collection of Preservation Books

Are you capturing time in a bottle? Let’s show those canning hands – are you a veteran canner, newbie? What’s your latest canning adventure?

Coming up...

Let the harvest and fun begin! Latest pics of our can-athon here at the urban homestead…

Comments(21)

  1. Paula says:

    I was all set to can up tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, pickles…but then blossom end rot took place w/tomatoes. Though I’m able to cut some of the rot off and get some tomatoes to eat, I really don’t feel comfortable canning them. So, I’ve been saucing and freezing. My handy fall back, the farmer’s market, will supply me with enough tomatoes to can up for the next year.

  2. Dog Island Farm says:

    Paula, give your tomatoes some calcium and you’ll beat that blossom end rot. We actually add crushed egg shells from our chickens to our planting bed when we plant tomatoes and peppers. You can also use milk to give them a calcium boost.

    We can or freeze everything we can’t eat (barring some items like lettuce). We do have a pressure canner, well two pressure canners, but one got dented thanks to a high shelf and a curious cat so now it’s strictly for water baths only. I usually only pressure can when we’re out of freezer space though because it’s so time consuming and I don’t much care for the texture of the vegetables afterwards. The last thing I pressure canned was fire roasted peppers. They’re good for stews and soups but that’s about it as they’re basically mush. Usually we roast them and then freeze them.

  3. Annette - CoMo Homestead says:

    I’m really looking forward to trying canning for the first time this summer. I went through a food preservation workshop through Extension last summer, and this spring I went through another Extension train-the-trainer workshop for folks who will teach food preservation.

    I’m confident that I have the knowledge to do it properly and safely, so now I just need to get in there and do it! I hope we have a good crop of Romas this summer so I can make some salsas and spaghetti sauce.

  4. Annette - CoMo Homestead says:

    P.S. LOVE the old canning posters! Anybody know of a source for replica posters?

    • Anais says:

      @Annette – CoMo Homestead: Just Google “old canning posters” search “images” and they should pop up!

  5. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for posting this because I had meant to get this collection and I forgot all about it! Just bought it. 🙂

    Oooo wait … I meant to get a PTF t-shirt too …

    • Anais says:

      @Rhonda: Thanks for your support. We truly appreciate it. Every purchase, donation helps keep this site going and growing. For those of you who have glean information or gain inspiration from this site learn how you can help keep us online

  6. Tim says:

    I’m canning beets and making pickles today. I pulled my larger beets the other day and did slices, but today I pulled some of the smaller ones and am pickling them whole. Not sure what kind of pickles I’m going to make today, but I need to hurry and do something as I’m getting buried under all the cucumbers. That reminds me…I have a couple of jars of fermented pickles that are ready today….okgottagobye! lol

    • Anais says:

      @Tim: Love pickling – such fun! Going to be picking some carrots today….

  7. Laura @ Getting There says:

    Two weeks ago I tried canning for the very first time–I made strawberry jam. I was so pleased with the results–it was very easy to do, and although the jam turned out a bit runny it was by far the best jam I’ve ever tasted! I am now a convert, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more produce to can!

    • Anais says:

      @Laura @ Getting There: Way to go! Welcome aboard the canning train, er wagon or ship – whatever you want to call it! If you ever get runny jam, try mixing it in plain yogurt or a vanilla ice cream topping. Like Ruth in NH said “wishing you a can-tastic season!”

  8. Ruth G says:

    I was blessed to be taught canning by my Mum when I was a child and then doubly blessed to find and marry a man who was also taught canning as a child and whose father, at the age of 93, stills cans up jams and jellies. My husband and I spent many “dates” going to pick-your-own farms and then going to one of our homes to can it up. Instead of a guest book at our wedding, I am some friends made quilt blocks that looked like canning jars and had each guest sign the “label.” We both love the process of growing our own food and canning it. Our marriage brought together our individual collections of canners and equipment. Each year people give us the jars they find in the attics, basements and garages. It is one of our favorite things to do together.

    So far this year we have only put up sugar-free Strawberry Jam and Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate but it is still very early in the season here in New Hampshire. We have frozen about 11 pounds of peas because we just don’t like them canned. In the winter we took some of the wild grape juice we had made and canned in the autumn and made a batch of jelly.

    Wishing you all a can-tastic season!
    Ruth in NH

    Looking forward to

    • Anais says:

      @Ruth G: Love the canning dates – my kinda courtship! Happy canning to you too.

  9. Nancy says:

    I bought that new canning kit from Ball, and made strawberry jam last night. Like the PP, mine came out a little runny but tasty! My 2 year old loved it. I used a recipe from The Encyclopedia of Country Living, which didn’t call for any acid or pectin. So, next time, I will use a different recipe that calls for pectin, and see if it comes out thicker.
    I also made bread&butter pickles, using a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Yummy!

    • Anais says:

      @Nancy: If you ever get runny jam, try mixing it in plain yogurt or a vanilla ice cream topping.

  10. Kris says:

    I really liked that canning song!

    • Anais says:

      @Kris: Glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Carrie says:

    We just started canning about a month ago. Seems like there is much to learn but we are glad to at least have begun the process. So far we’ve only canned salsa and jellies, but we just found a pressure canner at an estate sale so hopefully we’ll be able to start canning different things. Now we just need to ramp up our fruit & veggie production so I don’t have do buy the food to can it!

    • Anais says:

      @Carrie: To a pantry full of home preserves – happy canning!

  12. CANNING AT THE URBAN HOMESTEAD | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] season?    Do I hear a “Yes We Can!”  Never canned before?   Then, hopefully, my last post helped tip you over the […]

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