12/12 Edible Gardening 101: Canning

I think it only fitting that I end off our Edible Gardening101 journey with canning . It is, hands down, my favorite way to preserve the garden harvest. I grew up with canning and I have never met a mason jar I didn’t like. 

Where to begin as a beginner? Well, salsas and jams are a great way to dive into water bath canning. To safely water bath can, food has to come up to a high temperature in the jar to kill off bacteria, which can grow in an oxygen deprived environment. If you have never canned before, buying a canning pot, lids, and jars is a relatively low cost investment for shelf stable food. If you grow your own food, the ingredients you are putting into the jars for the most part did not cost a lot.

EXCEPT YOUR TIME. Let’s not discount the time it took to grow the food, the preparation of the food and the time it takes to process. Trust me,it is heartwrenching if you put 8 jars of beautiful salsa in the canner and one jar cracks. 

But we move forward. And over time, you realize the effort of having your beautiful homegrown food available longer than your growing season is a feeling like no other. You hold onto the jars. You lovingly touch the jars. You show them off proudly to family and friends. Not to boast but simply to say “Look what I can do now!”

 Waterbath canning is for very high acid foods, or ones that have a high sugar content. So things like tomatoes, vinegar based pickles and relishes are the tested recipes to look for: 

Salsas

Tomatoes- diced crushed or whole

Pickles & Relishes

Applesauce

Beet Relish

Pressure canning is a bit like jumping in the deep end of canning right away. But lots of people swim! If you are a quick-learn- on- your- feet kinda girl, it is not hard to learn to pressure can. People are very frightened by pictures of canning lids in the ceiling-I get it. If you start with clean hot jars, the right amount of water for your canner, the right pressure for your altitude, process for the right amount of time at the right amount of pressure,and  let it come to zero pressure naturally, you are 80% of the way to safely processing low acid garden goodies. Low acid goodies from the garden include:

Carrots

Peas

Beans

Potatoes

Rhubarb

Corn 

and just about any other matter of veggies can be pressure canned with just water and salt. 

(Zucchini is just gross canned-just saying)

My canning bible, and a great one for beginners too, is The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. 

As we wrap up our Edible Gardening 101 series, I tip or two, are inspired to begin a garden or to expand your current one. Growing food is the oldest form of self sufficiency there is for a reason. It simply sustains us-mentally, physically and spiritually.

“ To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn

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