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).
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!
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!