In a time where everything old is new again, and “vintage” is a new trend, processes that used to be normal household routines are now becoming popular.
DYI Canning homemade food is one of those old processes that were the norm in households around the world. The peak came during World War 2 when making food last was required due to rationing.
What is canning?
Canning is when you preserve certain foods at high temperatures. The heating process creates a vacuum in the jar, ensuring the microorganisms that cause food to spoil are destroyed when the jar cools.
Why are jars being used when the process is called ‘canning’?
The term ‘canning’ actually is referring to the word ‘canister’ – which were made from glass when canning first became popular. Using jars is the way people do it these days.
Why has canning become popular again?
The increase in popularity of canning homemade food largely stems from people wanting to know more about the food they consume.
In recent times, there have been a lot more studies on the use of pesticides on fruit and vegetables and the long-term effect that has on consumers, and what it does to the produce.
Because people want to be in touch with the source of their produce, farmer’s markets and buying directly from growers are also becoming popular. This way consumers see the grower and know if the produce is organic or treated with nasty chemicals.
In addition to fresh food, people want to know where their canned and frozen food has come from and what ingredients or additives they are consuming. More and more packages feature names in the ingredients list that no one can pronounce – and that is scary!
Canning food at home is one of many processes that consumers have started up again to ensure they are in control over their food.
Also on the rise is the awareness of what food wastage in landfills is doing to the environment. Fruit and vegetable waste causes greenhouse gases as it breaks down and is a contributor to global warming. More and more people want to assist with reducing waste so are researching ways that all the parts of a fruit or vegetable can be used, or bulk produce such as what consumers grow themselves or get for bargain prices, direct from the farmers.
Getting started – What do you need to begin canning your own food at home
The method of canning is something that needs to be followed closely and carefully to not only ensure the food doesn’t spoil once shelved, but so those who consume the canned product are not at risk of food poisoning.
The best advice experienced canners can give is to make sure you follow a tried and tested recipe and follow the canning method perfectly. If possible, sign up for a class so you can learn from an experienced person and see how it is done. There are some great online classes available as well.
Once you know what you are doing, everything you need for canning food at home can be bought from your local department store.
So what do you need for canning:
- A ladle (with a small spout if possible)
- Glass mason jars
- Tongs to be able to lift jars out of boiling water
- Wide-mouthed funnel
- Large pot
Once you have mastered the art of canning, and it is a regular practice at home, it’s recommended to get a designated water bath canner.
What is some of the most popular produce for canning?
The following produce is often available in bulk from farmers markets and relatively easy to grow at home:
- Tomatoes – great for homemade ketchup or for salsa
- Berries – any sort for wonderful homemade jams
- Peaches – perfect on their own to add to ice cream
- Pickles – great to add to an antipasto platter
How long should your home-canned goods last?
If unopened, the shelf life of your homemade food should be about a year; providing all the steps were followed correctly when canning originally. Sugary based foods such as jams should last a bit longer; up to two years.
Hints and tips for canning homemade food
Once you have mastered canning your own food, it is a lifelong skill and something you can do season after season, with a variety of produce.
Other hints and tips to make your canning homemade food easier
- When opening up some of your canned food, make sure it doesn’t bubble when you open it up. That is a sign that the food has probably gone off and is spoiled.
- Never overfill your jars. Always make sure you leave enough room for the lid to be sealed effectively or all your hard work will go to waste. But don’t worry if you accidentally overfill and don’t leave enough room! This is the jar that can be used in the next few days when you are showing off how clever you are to family and friends with your new found skill.
- The fresher the produce the better. Food that is slightly bruised or is overripe should be avoided when making your recipe. So it doesn’t go to waste, research other ways you can use this type of produce – and add another skill to your repertoire.
- While the process of canning homemade food may seem overwhelming, it has become popular again for a reason. Once learned, the skill is one you can pass down to the next generation to ensure it is not lost again and ensure your sustainable practices benefit long term.