Canning is the process of preserving food in glass jars so they are shelf stable for up to a year. It is a science (as opposed to an art) that anyone can master, so long as they follow a recipe from a trusted source. Any busy mama can incorporate canning into their cooking routine to preserve a small basket of berries, a few extra tomatoes, or to fill shelf after shelf in their pantry like grandma did; canning is just as versatile as YOU are, homemaker!
The Big Myth About Modern Canning
Canning has a reputation as being a super time consuming project. The canning your grandma did was indeed, a marathon event. Because of limited (or zero) cold storage and more limited produce availability, canning used to be done in huge batches, which took days to complete.
Now, canning can be done in small batches quickly; there’s no need for columns of steam rivaling that of Old Faithful. A gal can turn on one extra burner, fill jars, set a timer, can soon have a few jewel-colored jars of something delicious saved to enjoy or gift months later!
The MVP of Canning Recipes
Canning is cooking in advance; this refrain is my favorite about canning and it’s worth repeating. The food that you preserve in jars is ready to eat; it requires no special attention once you get it in the jar nor once you’re ready to eat it. In my home, canned tomato sauce gets the MVP award, hands down, and is the best example of canning’s versatility.
If I had to can one recipe for the rest of my life, it would be tomato sauce. By spending a few afternoons in the summer preserving tomatoes into sauce, I have over 30 dinner’s main ingredient ready for all year long. Canned tomato sauce has no added sugar nor chemical preservatives; I don’t have to worry if my kids are allergic to any of the ingredients because the ingredients are just veggies. Homemade canned tomato sauce tastes miles more delicious than anything you’d grab from the store shelf, is far less expensive than the organic variety that you’d be tempted to purchase (that would come with a jar lined with BPA no less) and is infinitely more satisfying to make than buying a jar from the big box store.
If I had to can one recipe for the rest of my life, it would be tomato sauce.
But doesn’t canning take forever?
I hear this all the time and I’m so glad you asked. In late 2015, the USDA approved the use of a pretty awesome device called the steam canner for home canning. They’ve been around a while but this was the first year they’d been scientifically proven to be safe and they are an amazing, time-saving advance. Steam canners are ready to preserve jars in about 5 minutes. Regular, old fashioned water bath canners can take 30 minutes or longer to be ready. A steam canner weighs just 8 pounds with the water and lid, and a traditional canning pot weighs 34.
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Using a steam canner makes incorporating small, quick batches of simple preserves into a busy mom’s routine fast and easy. The extra step of adding steam canning can be a huge time saver for any homemaker. This lightweight canner is ready quickly and uses fewer tools and makes canning much faster than traditional canning. The result? Healthy, wholesome, kid-friendly jam, pickles, apple sauce, peach slices, dilly beans, and more. Sick of kid-only foods? How about sophisticated cherries in wine, pickled pearl onions, hot sauce, marinades, cocktail mixers, shrubs, and salsa to fit any fare? Steam canning is THE technique a busy homemaker needs to incorporate into their cooking routine to save time, money, and their sanity.
Jenny Gomes | The Domestic Wildflower
I’m Jenny and I blog at The Domestic Wildflower and I’m all about helping beginners learn how to do more handmade and homemade foods and crafts for themselves. My favorite thing to share with beginners is canning because it has so many myths surrounding it and it can be such a huge win for a busy homemaker.