Canning fresh fruits and vegetables is a traditional skill that has gotten less popular then during our grandmothers’ time. But canning has some significant health, environmental and personal benefits that make it worth learning again.
Home canners can control the ingredients in the food. The option to choose organic, local, and fresh ingredients means that you can make the food better for you. As long as you choose produce wisely you avoid your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals found in commercially produced food.
If you read the labels on store bought food you might surprised to find that ingredients like salt, sugar, and preservatives are in many of the foods you buy. When you can your own food you decide whether to add sugar and salt and how much you want to put in. Preservatives are not necessary because of the canning method.
Anyone with a garden has stories of everything being ready at once. One way to make the best of a bountiful garden is to preserve the food by canning. Letting produce ripen on the vine increases its nutritional value. Canning them at the peak of ripeness helps to preserve the vitamins and minerals.
Even if you are not a gardener you can take advantage of summer’s best produce. You can buy in bulk so that you get a good price and then can the food so that you have an ample supply in your pantry. Another bonus of canning is that it makes it worth it to make the trip to pick fruit in an orchard or to visit a local farm to get a bushel of vegetables. If you are making an effort to eat locally then you know that most produce is only available when it is in season in your area. Canning the produce means you can take advantage of in-season vegetables and fruit and extend their season beyond the growing season. You get better tasting food and support local farmers at the same time.
Of course one very good reason to preserve food by canning is to save money. When you grow your own food, buy in bulk, and take advantage of the seasons you will easily save money without compromising the quality of the food on your table.
While you can freeze food to preserve it you have to use energy to keep it stored. And if there should be a power outage you run the risk of losing what you have frozen. In the event of a natural disaster you will be self-reliant if you have a pantry full of food that you have canned.
Although hard to quantify, the satisfaction that you gain from canning your own food can be one of the most significant benefits. It also increases the confidence that you can do other self-reliant projects.