This is the first year I’ve really set out to preserve our harvest. I’m not sure if it’s the talk of looming food shortages or if it’s because I’ve finally watched enough YouTube videos on canning, but I finally feel like this is the time to really learn how to can.
I’ve canned here and there before, a little jam one year and a few pints of tomatoes another, but nothing significant until this summer.
I’ve known for a long time that canning, especially pressure canning, would be a helpful and important skill to learn, but in the past I’ve had so much fear of killing us all with botched food that it’s squashed my desire.
For all the negatives social media brings, learning from other homesteaders and seeing the way they grow and preserve food has been priceless. It’s shown me that some people completely rebel against all the rules because generations before them have and live to tell me about it. I definitely am not a rebel canner, but it’s good to know that if I follow the rules everything should be just fine.
I remember years back there was a story of a woman taking potato salad from canned potatoes to a church potluck which ended with many people sickened with botulism. I’m certain this story contributed to my fears and I still feel nervous to can potatoes.
This year I knew one of the biggest things I wanted to do rather than expand my garden, was just learn to preserve it all better. I wanted to move past simply throwing things in the freezer and begin to fill shelves with all those beautiful home canned foods.
So I decided that even if I bought local produce to put up, it would be better than having no stockpile this winter. I’m not excessively worried about these supposed food shortages, but no one can deny that food prices are significantly higher than they were even a few months ago. Knowing how to produce and keep food for a year seems like a priceless investment.
So this spring I began small and made a few batches of dandelion and violet jelly from the flowers that grow freely in our yard. Easy peasy and delicious.
Then I borrowed my mother in laws pressure canner and after reading through the instructions about fifty times I finally dove in and canned some black beans. I sat in the kitchen the entire 75 minutes, a nervous wreck that either the thing was going to explode or the pressure would drop too low (spoiler: it did and I had to start the timer over again). As soon as the time was up and I pulled those jars out of the boiling water I felt a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that can only come from conquering and learning new things.
I canned some of the wonderful grass fed beef in our freezer to make for a quick and easy meal one night (I finally took the plunge and cooked it last night but I was praying health over us the entire time we ate). It was delicious, and honestly a super easy and quick meal that saved me on a day that I had not planned ahead.
I have made pint after pint of pickles from our cucumbers, and today I threw together some sweet relish.
Every time I go to can it gets easier. I am less nervous, most sure of myself, and excited about making nutritious and delicious food to eat when the snow flies.
It’s always hard to learn something new, but boy it sure is worth it.