Do you feel that canning is a necessary skill?

GardenMama Posts: 95 ✭✭✭

So background is, no one ever taught me to can. And while I'm all about learning new skills on my own (which is what I've done for most I have), canning scares the heck out of me.

I usually just freeze or lacto ferment items items that I want to preserve. But in getting pushback from some local acquaintances that without knowing how to properly can I'm not prepared enough should a SHTF issue arise.




  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,282 admin

    I think so. Obviously, the human race existed a very long time before canning. So, maybe it isn't "essential". But, that was when the "hungry gap" was a major part of life. Canning is a very important method of preserving food without refrigeration or freezing that can help fill that gap between harvests. I would say that learning to cure meat is equally important.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,395 admin

    @GardenMama I think you should just jump right in and try to can something. You will quickly lose your fear and be so enormously proud of what you have accomplished. That feeling is a reason to can.

    You will have a great deal of support here on TGN if you want to post questions about anything you have concerns about. Everyone is very helpful and willing to share.

    Fruit is very easy to start with. Pickles, jams & jellies, relishes, syrups and sauces are all very safe and easy to do.

    The books put out by the canning jar companies (Ball, Kerr,Bernardin, etc.) are great to get you started. They have full instructions, time tables for each fruit, veg or other product you are canning. Great, easy to follow recipes. Pick things that your family is fond of and can those things first. You'd be surprised at how good home made relishes are, in comparison with store bought.

    So that is another reason to learn to can. Relishes, chutneys, ketchup, salsa, pickles, jellies, etc., can't be frozen or dehydrated.

    I have a steam juicer and make juice from a variety of fruit which I can. I don't like waiting for it to thaw. :)

    As @judsoncarroll4 has mentioned, if you are off grid or there is the possibility that you could be without power for an extended period of time, canning may be a better option than freezing.

    I agree that the smoking/curing of meat is an important skill to have for the same reasons as canning. I have cured hams and bacon using the old-fashioned method and they kept very well without refrigeration or freezing.

    I have 3 chest freezers and a dehydrator, but still can a lot of food.

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    Have to say I agree with all of the above comments. Canning is an important skill to learn and practice, isn't hard to learn to do safely, and can provide your family a more varied diet when SHTF. You can do it!

  • GardenMama
    GardenMama Posts: 95 ✭✭✭

    That makes sense. I've done lactofermented ketchup and salsas but the rest would pose a problem. And lacto anything woildnt be of much good without refrigeration anyway

  • GardenMama
    GardenMama Posts: 95 ✭✭✭

    Thank you all so so much! Looks like I'll face this fear and get busy learning. I have a feeling yall are gunna see a lot of me on this topic soon 😂

  • RustBeltCowgirl
    RustBeltCowgirl Posts: 1,403 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I need to get the fresher stuff out of the freezer. Will put on schedule to get the canning started.

  • moreyshadypines
    moreyshadypines Posts: 72 ✭✭✭

    @GardenMama definitely take the plunge. If you don't / like / want / need it - okay, but you will have the skill and perhaps pass it along to someone else. @dottile46 and @JaneMcTavish are spot on. Remember the power outages that they implemented in California to assist in the management the power grid? It's not that far fetched of an idea to be out of power. My power goes out on a regular bases, and then, when we have had hurricanes - it was out over 2 weeks at a time. So, yes, I do can - and its been very worthwhile. Start small as suggested, you will be hooked. :)

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    In my opinion, if you are interested in putting food by should an emergency arise, every food preservation method you have mastered will be valuable. Most people only have so much freezer space, so canning opens a whole other area of room temperature preservation storage for difficult items, from meats to vegetables and fruits. We plan almost our entire garden around preservation for the winter months, and while we do freeze some things, we also can a large amount, dehydrate, ferment, cure and store, etc... Over the years we have found what preservation method we really prefer for each thing we "put up", but every one of them is useful as we preserve things to be more self sufficient with our food.

    We were self taught with canning (following the Ball book) since we didn't have any relations who did much of it (and looking back, the ones who did were not following safe guidelines anyways!) Starting simple with maybe jams and tomatoes will help you feel more confident to branch out and try new things each year as you gain confidence. Just make sure to follow safe recipes and guidelines (The Ball website is a great resource for both with step by step instructions for beginners) - the fear of food poisoning is a great fear that prevents most people from trying canning, but by making sure you are canning safely through tested recommendations and recipes, you will be fine.

  • Megan Venturella
    Megan Venturella Posts: 678 ✭✭✭✭

    Wow this thread is motivating. I bought a pressure canner recently and then lost the will to can. I’d like to can broth to make room in my freezer. I just have to bite the bullet and do it.

  • RachelWrites
    RachelWrites Posts: 20 ✭✭✭

    @GardenMama Glad you asked about this! I’m in the same boat. Good luck with learning. I’ll be doing it too.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Jump in and do the first thing. Jams and jellies are probably easiest. If you follow good, known-to-be-safe recipes, you will be OK.

    Can something, and then open a jar and see how good it is! I think you will be happy that you gave it a try.

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    @GardenMama too, gotta can, one day! Looks like tomatoes to start-a neighbor once did it all for me years ago-she gave me a small plot for my tomatoes, I planted them, came by a few times - a 10 min. drive, got busy, asked her to harvest, then she said: 'I'll can them for u', she did, never saw them at all-my bad! I have 2 fridges-freezers -room needed for all 25lb bags of carrots, beets, even 50lbs, organic from health food store nearby. All the food in my freezers I wld use.. on some cook-burner!

    Juices (as I do them) do not last (in fridge) more than a few days, at most. I wld be glad to be able to keep them longer!

    I went to the website given above, I am intrigued by all this, but ...right now, do u know I am so taken up with all going on around us, the days r just flying by?

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Another possible resource is your local cooperative extension office. In our area they offer canning classes. Not sure how it is being done during the current craziness, but ours had dvd's available as well as the courses they offered.

  • marcy_northlightsfarm
    marcy_northlightsfarm Posts: 103 ✭✭✭

    Yes, I believe canning is a necessary skill. I was never taught either, so I taught myself. Started with pickles, then salsa, jam and tomato sauces. Now it is so important to me because there is only so much freezer space. I recently thawed out frozen strawberries and made them into jam. I was trying to make room in the freezer. I started canning meat when I raised a two year supply of chicken and it wouldn't fit in the freezer.

  • dottile46
    dottile46 Posts: 437 ✭✭✭

    Both of these have real comprehensive information and recipes. The first one covers other methods of preserving along with canning.

    The opening page for the second one has links along the right side for different categories of food.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    We canned our first picking of green beans today! We actually ran out and had to buy commercially canned for a few months. What a huge difference there is in quality if you do the work yourself.

  • ltwickey
    ltwickey Posts: 369 ✭✭✭

    I agree with many on this forum that stated the more options you have for food preservation the better! I freeze, can, pickle, ferment, smoke, dehydrate... It also adds great variety to my diet and good probiotics for my gut health! Preparing for the zombie apocalypse!!!

  • GardenMama
    GardenMama Posts: 95 ✭✭✭

    Thank you all so so much. It means a lot that you have taken time out of your day to respond and give me this kind of encouragement.

    It's seriously more appreciated than you know

  • Owl
    Owl Posts: 345 ✭✭✭

    I absolutely love canning! There is nothing so satisfying as walking into my laundry room an looking up at the shelves filled to the ceiling with jars of everything from spaghetti sauce, chili, gumbo, jellies and jams and lots of bone broth and chicken soup. I would love to know more about preserving some of the delicious lacto fermented vegetables. I have been just sticking them in the fridge and eating them but would love to know how preserving them is done. I’ll teach you to can and you teach me to save these wonderful ferments...

  • Joette
    Joette Posts: 17 ✭✭✭

    Canning is a skill all homesteaders need. Blanching and freezing vegetables, etc., is a wonderful way to preserve your food. Here in Louisiana we can always expect to loose power during storms, especially hurricanes. The last thing I want to do during a power-outage is heat the kitchen by cooking food from the freezer thawing out. It’s easier and more comfortable to open a jar as needed. We preserve a lot of figs. They’re so good for you. For a special treat, I add strawberries while processing the fig preserves - tastes just like strawberry preserves.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,395 admin

    @GardenMama You are very welcome! If you have any questions as you embark on this new part of life, don't hesitate to ask. We all started somewhere and I'm sure we all learned lessons the hard way at times, so if we can assist you, we will all be happy to do so. There are some lovely recipes that people share from time to time.

  • tomandcara
    tomandcara Posts: 712 ✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2020

    @GardenMama I have hesitated to weigh in on this, because I thought someone else might just do it for me. Canning is a great food preservation technique and once the food is canned, it doesn't take energy to maintain it like freezing does. One of my favorite preservation techniques is dehydration. Dried fruits and vegetables take up much less space than canned foods and they also do not require electricity to maintain them. For example, when I had an abundant tomato crop, I died the tomatoes and put "gallons" of fresh tomatoes into a half gallon mason jar once they were dried. have used the dehydrator to make jerky and put "gallons" of meat into a half gallon mason jar.

    Also, drying tomatoes, in my opinion is much less work than canning.

  • rbusby01
    rbusby01 Posts: 115 ✭✭✭
  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    I was hesitant and a bit worried about canning properly, but in one week I water bath canned and pressure canned successfully. So, now I'm just throwing stuff in there left and right.

    It reminds me of kombucha- i was so hesitant and didn't want to mess it up. Once I made kombucha I was like "that's all there is to it"! Now it's pouring out of our ears and i make fruit leather out of my scoby excess😋

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @nicksamanda11 how do you make fruit leather from scoby's? That would replace the need for as many 'scoby hotels' lol.. And what is the taste and texture of the leather?

  • Grounded
    Grounded Posts: 153 ✭✭✭

    Thanks for starting this thread. It has given me inspiration to step in and try it. I just saw a big sale at the local grocery for San Marzano tomatoes by the bushel.

  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @GardenMama i started canning in June this year. I have put up over 300 jars to date!! You can do this!

    THIS woman changed my life!! And boosted my confidence so much!!!