Harvest Series: Canning

With harvest season in full force you might feel overwhelmed with all the fruits and vegetables from your garden and maybe wondering what is the best way to use your harvest for emergency preparedness. Canning is a great way to preserve most fruits and vegetables and you can also prepare these items many ways before the canning process, like creating jams and jellies or pickling items. Anyway you want to prepare your harvest, canning is a great way to preserve that food.Let’s take a minute to talk about how to use the boiling water method of canning to preserve your food. My sister and I create applesauce, apple butter, and pie apples each year from her apple tree in her back yard and use this method to seal our jars. In order to use this method you will need a pot that is taller than any jar you will be using since the jar will need to be completely submerged in the water. Once you have prepared the food you want to put in the jar make sure you have a lid that will seal tight and that your jar is completely cleaned off and at room temperature. Using your bare hands to lower the jars into the water is not recommended. We normally use regular kitchen tongs, but be careful because some jars might crack if they are dropped into the pan or knock the side or if the contents and jar are too cold when they enter the water. The time it will take for the jars to seal will differ on your elevation and the temperature. You will know the item has been properly sealed when the “button” on the lid goes down and does not pop back up.Another method for canning is known as pressure canning. This method is usually preferred for meats and vegetables. It is a bit more expensive since you will need to buy the pressure canner and will need to get the pressure gauge calibrated. (Check your manual to see how often they recommend calibration.) Like the boiling method you fill your jars and make sure they are closed properly, and are clean and dry. Each machine is slightly different so your best bet is to read your manual to know exactly how to proceed, but the time each item will take to seal will once again depend on elevation and temperature.Preserving your own harvest for your food storage is a great way to know exactly what you are getting, you know how your food was treated and how much sugar or other ingredients have gone into it. Before you choose how to can your harvest make sure you know the best method for what you want to can. If you are not comfortable with canning there are other methods to preserve your harvest, stick around for more on this series.—Breanna Legler—

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