Having been raised in rural Alabama, I must confess, I'm a bit domesticated. Growing up on my Grandmother's farm, I spent many a summer shelling peas and canning them in her kitchen. As I got older, we moved away from near my Grandmother, and my canning days were ended.
About 20 years ago, I got the wild idea to try home canning again, after finding a pressure canner in a catalog. I bought two and I have been canning ever since. Every year at Christmas my husband and I can about 75 quarts of pasta sauce and give them out as gifts. All of my friends and family look forward to it. I love to can and have been collecting canning recipes for years.
Home canning is a great way to save Summer's bounty, and shopping for fruits and vegetables at local farmer's markets can save you money. Using local farmer's markets also help the environment because the food is locally grown, and therefore no shipping is involved.
For those of you who are new to canning, or those who need a refresher, get the Ball Blue Book of Home Canning, or go to the USDA website and download their Complete Guide to Home Canning. Both of these are great resources.
To a lot of people, home canning can be intimidating, but if you plan your steps well, and gather all of your equipment before starting it can be a fun job for the whole family. You will also need some good recipes to follow. Always double check your recipes and read the manufacturers directions on your canners. This will help to avoid mistakes.
Why Do Your Own Home Canning
Disregard the value of your time, canning homegrown or locally produced food can save you half of the cost of purchased canned food. Canning favorite and special products to be enjoyed by your friends and family can be very rewarding. Home canning has changed greatly in the 170 odd years since it was first introduced.
New developments in technology have resulted in safer, higher quality products. Home canning is a great way to take advantage of a great harvest, and preserve all of those fresh vegetables and fruits.
What Kind Of Equipment Do I Need
I would invest in a good quality pressure canner. You will need this to can low acid foods like vegetables, and meats. It can also be used as a water bath canner. I would advise that you purchase a 16-17 quart canner with a good pressure gauge, and petcock.
Use only standard Mason, Kerr or Ball type home canning jars and two piece self-sealing lids. Mayonnaise jars are not recommended for canning. The jars that you get from the Classico spaghetti sauce are good because they are Mason jars. Canning jars are available in a variety of sizes including 1/2 pints, pints, and quarts. Pint and quart jars are most commonly used, but some foods like crab meat and mushrooms should only be canned in 1/2 pint jars. Wide mouth jars are more easily filled and emptied, but they cost more than standard jars.
You will also need a good timer, an open mouth funnel, to fill jars with, a jar lifter, and tongs. And of course pot holders and baking racks or towels to set the hot jars on after canning. Other items that you will need are, a ladle with a lip, a sieve, a colander, a food mill, and sharp knives. Some of these items you will only need if making jams and jellies.
Home canning can be one of the most enjoyable experiences that you will ever have. Get the whole family involved. It will make many great, lasting memories that your family will always have. You'll find pleasure in the canning process, and pride in your home canned jars of food. Remember, they also make great gifts!
For some great canning recipes click on this link Home Canning Recipes.