Canning Wisdom

            For me one of the most pleasant sounds that can come from my kitchen is the light little ping that comes from canning jars full of food that have just sealed. It gives me great satisfaction to know that a few hours of work has added a few more jars to my canning food cupboard. As a child I remember my mother doing her canning through out the garden season. We had a large one acre garden and my mother canned and stored more food in the shelves in the cellar than I could ever dream of. Still I try my best to can everything I can possibly get from my small gardens.

            My pressure canner is quite small. Just a pressure cooker/canner combination but since I usually do not have a lot to can at once it fills the need I have for a pressure canner. I also have a water bath canner that I bought at a thrift store for just five dollars. I use it when I have several jars to water bath can but when I have just a few I use a smaller stock pot instead. I see no reason to waste precious propane by heating the large water bath canner if it isn�t needed.

            The basics of canning may be learned from several websites and canning books and by reading the instructions, which came with your canner. There is nothing to fear from using your canner if you follow the instructions for the food you are canning. Seldom have I had food I canned go bad but it should be said that food canned at home will not last forever even if the seal hasn�t been broken. Though they may still be safe for years, after a reasonable amount of time they should be discarded.

            When you first begin canning you will be amazed at all the things you can now make. You can now make a variety of products you once had to buy at the store and some things are not available in your local grocery store can now be made at home and increase your variety. However, there is one thing to be taken into consideration when increasing your variety. Don�t over-do it! You may find you have a bad tendency to make and can anything you have a recipe for just because you have the ingredients and then a year from now those jars of pickled pumpkin pickles and corn relish are still sitting in your canning cupboard and you yourself are wondering if you should got off your diet just so your precious goodies will get eaten. Stick to the things you know your family will like and experiment slowly until you are sure what you are making more of it going to actually be eaten.

            Another mistake you might want to be careful not to make is jar hoarding. When you start canning, of course you�ll need jars and several of them but the tendency to pick up every jar you see is hard to resist. I myself bought several cases and picked up an odd jar here and there at yard sales and thrift store. I was also given jars and cases until I now have more jars than I will ever know what to do with and of course, I can�t throw them away so until I find another person interested in canning or until my garden grows to my mother�s acre size, I am stuck with plastic tubs full of jars. What I would suggest hoarding are lids and pectin. Lids you will always need and I buy several boxes whenever I find them on sale. The same goes for pectin (but you may want to be careful with this as well as after getting several boxes of pectin at a dollar each, I have a very bad jam/jelly making spree), as pectin and lids will always eventually be needed.

            Keeping these few things in mind you too will have that wonderful feeling of satisfaction when you hear that little ping of your jars sealing in your own kitchen.


                                               Rebecca Whitford