I always get a little sad when the temperatures start to drop because that means the garden will soon stop producing. Home canning or freezing is a great way to preserve the taste of summer all year long. When I was in college, one of my classes required us to learn how to can. At the time, I wasn’t very interested, but now I think it’s great. And, it makes me feel closer to my family farm when I pull out a can of green beans or open a bag of frozen corn. I can always convince my daughter to eat something if she thinks it came from Papa’s farm! My family cans green beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, jellies, relish and we freeze corn and peppers. A few years ago, I spent several days helping my grandmother can because I needed a refresher course. I convinced her that we needed to branch out and make hot pepper jelly! She was a little unsure of that, but we did and soon learned the hard way that you must wear gloves when handling hot peppers! This year things have been a little busy with the baby, so I didn’t get to participate as much as I would like but I did make my annual hot pepper jelly and made sure to wear my gloves. Read on to learn all the benefits of home preserving:
• you limit your exposure to chemicals and pesticides that are often not used in home gardening but are abundant in commercial products
• the vitamins and minerals are higher because you are preserving when the product is at its peak of ripeness. When produce is allowed to naturally ripen on the vine, the nutrient content increases
• cost effective – Burpee Seed Company estimates that for every $50 spent on seeds, a gardener can yield $1250 worth of produce. That’s a big return on your investment! Home canned products also make great gifts. Add a cute tag, some fabric to the lid, a ribbon and it’s ready to go.
• express your creativity and try different herbs and seasonings in your products. I’m planning to use my food dehydrator this year to make fruit leather, banana chips, sun dried tomatoes, and to preserve my herbs. It just makes you feel good to know that you are providing your own food for your family.
If you’d like to try home preserving, check out this great website from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. The site has a free, self paced course you can take to learn all about home preservation. It’s very important to make sure that you use the right techniques for home preservation to prevent food borne illnesses, so make sure to read ahead before you get started.
We’d love to hear about your own canning stores. Leave us a message on our Facebook page or comment below. Pictures are always wonderful too. Here’s this year’s pepper jelly at my house …