You Can, Can! The Lost Art of Canning

Canning

Canning doesn’t need to be something sacred that your grandma or your great great grandma used to do. Anyone and everyone can, can. I came across the idea of canning while listening to homesteading podcasts. They brought up a good point. If you have a successful garden, canning your fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve your bounty. Justin and I started our first garden this year, and we quickly realized how much can go to waste when you don’t preserve and store your excess quickly. So canning it was! Here is how I got the Ball (Lol, like the jar. I crack myself up) rolling.

I started by doing A LOT of research. I listened to podcasts, searched online, checked out books from the library, joined a canning group on Facebook, and talked to experienced canners. One of the podcasts that I found extremely helpful is Canning Season, by John Gavin. He did a Canning 101 series and provides you with a TON of helpful resources.

After doing all of the boring research, I still felt overwhelmed and nervous about the whole thing. Come to find out, that’s completely normal and very common for beginners! I knew that I had to push myself  to do it. So naturally I started ordering canning supplies!

What You Need to Get Started

To start, you need a canner. There are two types of canning methods, water bath canning and pressure canning. Water bath canning is a technique used to preserve fruits and most vegetables that have a high acid. For the water bath method you will either need a canning pot with a rack or you can use a large stock pot and extra jar rings as a the rack. Pressure canning is used for canning fruits, veggies, and meats with a low acid. For pressure canning you will need a pressure cooker/canner.  I know, I know, this all seems confusing, but I won’t go into too much detail. After all, you’ll want to do your own research through more experienced canners and canning sources.

I chose to go with a pressure canner (like this one) because I can use it for both the water bath method and pressure canning. I went ahead and bought the larger pressure canner because the price difference was negligible and I liked the idea of canning more at one time. You go with what works best for you! Just a note… if you have a glass cooktop you are limited to the type of canners you can use. I myself have a glass cooktop and the Presto Pressure Canner works well for me. Make sure to call your stove manufacturer (if it’s glass) and ask if  your cooktop is appropriate for canning.

Other items you will need include, jars of different sizes (used is fine), new jar lids (you can find these at Walmart with or without the rings), and a canning kit (like this one).

Recipes

It is important to always use recipes that have been tested and approved. I only pull recipes from recipe books and from trusted and experienced canners (like John Gavin). It is not recommended that you use recipes that have been passed down from generations before you. I know it’s sad and disappointing, but let’s just try and keep everyone alive and well with safe recipes.

I would definitely recommend all canners to start with the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It has a ton of recipes and gives you a step by step guide to safe canning. I also recommend Canning for a New Generation. It has a lot of fun recipes and I also like that their recipes are usually smaller.

But What About Botulism?

Botulism is such a scary word! And it is indeed a nasty bacteria that can be very dangerous. The fear of botulism was my main reason for being hesitant to home can. The key to avoid this is to ALWAYS FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS EXACTLY. I can’t stress that enough. Once you have familiarized yourself with the process of canning you will be able to focus on the exact recipe. Be confident! If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT!

Can Away!

Now you have the basics on how to can, so get out there, do your research, and start canning. You will be one step closer to a self-sufficient lifestyle. It’s much more rewarding than picking something up from the canned food aisle. Thanks again for reading! Come back again next week for updates!

 

 

 

Ditch the Non-Stick: Alternatives to Teflon

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Farewell to Teflon!

My husband and I have recently decided to start transitioning from all of our non-stick cookware to cast iron, glass, and stainless steel. In this post I will explain why teflon is not a safe choice, what alternatives I have found that work well for me, and how I started transitioning.

To start with, you should know that I have been using Teflon for years. I would never look down on anyone who reads this and chooses to stick with Teflon. So with that in mind, let’s get into why Teflon is not a safe choice

The Sticky Truth About Teflon

The wonderful thing about Teflon, which I would believe everyone would agree, is that it’s non-stick (duh). You don’t have to worry about your eggs sticking, or scraping the bottom of your pan after cooking up a nice, big pan of bacon. While all of these things are great, it doesn’t necessarily outweigh the potential dangers.

Teflon is made from a chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). I was never very good at chemistry, but I’m pretty sure that’s nowhere on the Periodic Table. That’s because PTFE is a man-made chemical.

One of the risks of using Teflon products while cooking, is the danger of the toxic fumes that can be released into the air when the pan or pot reaches high temperatures. These fumes can cause flu-like symptoms and could possibly kill small pet birds. That sounds scary enough for me!

Teflon also has the tendency to chip and flake apart. If you don’t dispose of these chipped pots and pans, you can risk ingesting them. Yuck!

That’s enough about that! I think you get the point.

What CAN you cook with?

Here are a few options I have come across:

1. Stainless steel: I love this choice for pots and some skillets. I have a lot of trouble keeping food from sticking to a stainless steel skillet, but who knows, I’m probably doing it wrong.

2. Glass: When baking, Pyrex is always a great option. I have also been able to find vintage glass pots for dirt cheap at garage sales and thrift stores.  I LOVE using my glass skillet for cooking scrambled eggs because they don’t stick!

3. Cast Iron: This is definitely my favorite alternative. They are sturdy, cheap, and will last you a lifetime if you take good care of it. It might take some time figuring out how to season your cast iron skillet but there are plenty of helpful guides on the internet (like this one). Although they can be heavy, cast iron cookware can be a great non-stick alternative.

Where should you start?

Over the past couple of years my family has brought up the subject of changing out my Teflon cookware numerous times. I admit I brushed it off and didn’t think much of it. I started doing my research and made the decision that it was time to make a change. But where to start?

I started making trips to different thrift stores and garage sales. I was able to replace most of my Teflon products for less than $30 in under 2 weeks! I was also able to return many of my pots and pans to the stores I purchased them from, as I kept most of the receipts. If you are able to do this, you can get store credit to replace some of the products you need. It’s a win, win! The others that I could not return, I donated to charities or recycled depending on their condition.

All in all, it didn’t take much time or effort to make the change. I hope you feel inspired to do so yourself! I promise you won’t regret it!

Thanks again for reading and I hope you will come back again! Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to my blog for updates!

Malorie