How Canning Your Own Food at Home can Provide You With a Stockpile of Nutrition

How Canning Your Own Food at Home can Provide You With a Stockpile of NutritionPreserving your food at home is a wonderful way to make the most out of a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden. When harvest time rolls around, many gardeners find themselves with more produce than they can use. If they aren’t familiar with the art of canning, they may resort to giving or even throwing away their precious food, leading to a loss of a lot of time and effort, not to mention nutrition.

The Negatives of Conventional Produce and Pesticides

Not only does your home garden provide you with better nutrition, but it lacks the dangerous chemical pesticides found on most conventional grocery store produce. There are over 450 different types of pesticides and herbicides in use, and the long term effects on the human body are still unknown. Using organic growing methods on our garden and canning food ourselves is the only true way of protecting our bodies.

The Nutritional Value of Home Canned Produce

Studies have shown that foods properly canned at home, especially within 24 hours of being harvested, retain their nutrition levels for years. On top of that, home canned foods can actually offer us more nutrition than fresh produce from the grocery store. In the time it takes to ship a box of produce from one part of the world to another, much of the nutritional value is lost. Growing and canning your own food at home is a wonderful way to provide the organic nutrition that you and your family deserve. Having plenty of preserved food on hand is also important to protect yourself in the event of a major winter storm or other disaster.

Preparing to Begin Your Canning Adventure

There are a few things you will want to gather before you make your first attempt at canning. First, you need the obvious: a supply of fresh produce and an adequate amount of glass jars. You will also need a large pot for boiling the cans, or if you’d prefer, a pressure canner. Although pressure canners are not necessary for canning the more acidic foods, such as tomatoes, their high temperatures are important for preserving most other lower acid foods, such as vegetables and meats. Other essential items include jar racks, for lowering jars into and out of the hot water.

The Canning Process

The first step is to wash your jars and lids with warm soapy water, and then boil them for a few minutes to make sure they are completely sanitized. You don’t want any unnecessary bacteria getting in there and spoiling your good nutrition! Next, you will want to fill the jars with food, using a spoon or spatula to press out any pockets of air. Continue pressing down and filling until the jar is mostly full, leaving a bit of a gap between the food and the lid. This gap is known as “headspace”, and may differ depending on what you are canning. Too little headspace may result in the produce boiling over, and too much might leave the can improperly sealed.

If you are canning without the use of a pressure canner, the next step is to place the jars in boiling water for a specific amount of time. Consult the internet for guides that pertain to what you are specifically canning in order to find out what amount of headspace and boiling times are required. For tomatoes, jars should be covered by one to two inches of water and left to boil for approximately 35 minutes for pint jars and 45 minutes for quart jars. When the time is up, immediately remove the cans and allow them to cool. If a seal was properly created, the lid shouldn’t budge when pressed.

Store your cans in a cool dark place, and cover with a blanket if freezing is a possibility. Then, whenever you are ready, you can feast upon the wonderful nutritious food that you so carefully preserved.