One thing I hear more than anything else is new canners talking about being afraid of using a pressure canner, this fear while understandable is unfounded in that the concerns they may have regarding these canners have long since been addressed.
I cannot encourage new canners enough to give this process a try once you do you will never look back.
Canners are much safer than they have ever been, and the chance of an accident when canning jars of food is extremely low. All canners have safety mechanisms that are designed to release any excess pressure as well as valves that will release at a certain pressure, to keep pressure from building up dangerously high.
The type of canner you buy will also offer you even more assurance of safe canning, not only from the standpoint of not having an accident but also from the standpoint of making sure that your food has been properly heated for safety. Canners such as the All American Canner offer several features that cheaper models do not, such as metal to metal seal, which means that there are no rubber seals to wear out. A geared steam gauge ensures that the pressure stays consistent, to ensure safe canning.
There are a Lot of Reasons to Try Pressure Canning
With canning being a lot safer these days, there are a lot of good reasons to try canning your own food and it won’t take long to become comfortable with the process.
1) Use a Pressure Canner to Preserve Home Grown Foods – One of the best reasons to can is that you preserve the harvest from your gardens and keep it for times when gardening is not possible because of the weather. Canning offers one of the longest lasting methods of preserving your food, and allows you to enjoy your own harvest year around.
2) Pressure Canning Lets You Buy in Season Locally – A lot has been said about buying your produce in season and locally as a way to help the environment and to ensure that your family is getting the best quality food. Buy your food in season, then can it so you can enjoy local foods year around. Local foods are picked ripe rather than being picked before they are ready as many farmers must do to ensure their crop makes it to market in peak condition.
3) Canned foods are Budget Friendly for Those that are On limited incomes – Once you have your canner and jars, (which can be found at yard sales and sometimes even given away by neighbors and those through your church) canning what you grow can be a cost effective way to feed your family. A 400 sq. foot garden can produce much of what your family will eat for a year, depending of course on the size of your family. Of course you can also tuck that 400 square feet in where ever you have room for it, it does not have to be all in one place. Urban gardening and edible landscapes are catching on even in the larger cities as a way to feed your family.
4) Using a Pressure Canner Gives You options in What You Feed Your Family – Not just budget friendly, using a pressure canner offers you more control over what you will feed your family. You might not be able to afford local fresh produce in the middle of the winter, but if you can grow and can or even buy your produce locally, it puts you more in control of what your family is eating.
5) Canned Goods Are not Affected by Power Outages – One of the more compelling reasons to use a pressure canner is that foods that are stored in a freezer are vulnerable in the event of long term power outages. Even if you are able to keep your food in your freezers safe, you won’t want to be opening them during the power outage so canned foods offer a ready and easy source of foods.
6) In The Event of a Disaster your Canned Foods Will be Safe to Eat – Canned foods are sealed, making them less vulnerable to damage than foods that are in your freezer or are packaged differently. In the event of a disaster you will need a readily available and easy to access and fix food source, canning offers all of that.
7) Canned Foods Last a Long Time – Stored properly you can get a shelf life of at least 2 to 3 years from your canned goods, and many people feel you can go much longer than that. Much depends on how your canned goods are stored, cool dry storage with minimal light can offer you a better shelf life for your canned goods.
8) Canned Goods Can be Stored Anywhere – Unlike a freezer that requires a place to sit and electricity, once canned, your food can be put anywhere where it is cool, dry and dark. This could include tucking a shelf in a closet, stashing jars under a bed, or using up that basement you have no other use for.
9) Then Energy and Resources Used to Store Canned Goods Are Far Less Than Frozen – Think about it, not only do you need to have a bag or container to put your food in but then you must pay for the electricity to store it for months at a time. Once you have a canner and jars, you will only be paying for the lids and the electricity to can your food, then you only need to find a place to store it.
10) Jars Can Be Reused – if you are concerned about waste, jars can be re-used provided they have no cracks or nicks in them. You can also buy the Tattler reusable lids rather than disposable lids for less waste and ultimately less cost. They are expensive but eliminate the need to buy new lids every year.
I tend to split my harvest between jars and freezer, canning gives me the peace of mind of knowing that my family will always have food regardless of the circumstances. While canning is a bit more labor intensive, it stores longer, and offers you more storage options as well as the ability to keep a larger inventory than a freezer can hold.
If you are interested in pressure canning there are many resources that can help you get started down the road to safe and cost effective food storage using a pressure canner. Once you take the leap you will never go back and you will find tremendous satisfaction in growing your own food and preserving it. Check out the first part in our three-part tutorial on pressure canning basics for more information!