August 12, 2010

Not Your Momma's Canning


I recently read a blog post where the writer was berating all things home canned and felt that home canning was vomit worthy because her mother canned and she thought it tasted gross. It got me thinking. I know this reaction is pretty common, but let me say that the canning of today is not your momma's canning.

There are few things that I suppose would make home-canned food less than appetizing. The first being that our society is way too dependent on processed foods. These are full of salt, preservatives, and things that even a highly educated person can't pronounce. If you can't say it why eat it! If this is what you are used to eating than yes, that home canned food is not going to taste right.

Did you know that most of the food grown in the US these days has been genetically modified or hybridized to grow bigger and more perfect with longer shelf lives so that industry can get more bang for it's buck? While they've accomplished their goals, they left out one important thing. Along the way they modified the nutrients right out of the plant. Have you ever compared those hot house tomatoes in the store with an heirloom tomato straight from your backyard? You'll taste the difference right away.

Canning has found a resurgence in population these last few years and because of it there are many, many new and updated recipes to can. We are no longer just canning stewed tomatoes or cut green beans. We are canning soups, chilies, salsa, kiwi jelly, syrups and even caramel sauce! Wouldn't you love to know EXACTLY what you are eating and where it came from?

A lot of you express fear of pressure canners, but these are not your mother's pressure canners. These are updated with more safety features and safe fails. Trust me...the way mine locks down there is no way that lid is coming off. It'll blow the pressure release valve first. You have to take some precautions, but it's not scary.

Now there are a few things you can do to insure that your home canned foods taste great.
  1. Use the freshest produce possible! I can not stress this enough. If you put in mediocre food that's a week old, it's going to taste like mediocre week old food when you eat it. That is not appetizing to anyone.
  2. Follow a published canning recipe. These recipes have been developed to specifically work for canning. Remember that these foods will sit and blend on your shelf. What may not taste exceptional when going in could taste phenomenal coming out. My spaghetti sauce is a perfect example. On the day it's made I could eat for dinner, but it usually tastes like it needs more salt or seasoning. It's a little bland, but after a couple weeks on the shelf the flavors have all blended and I think it would be worthy of the pickiest Italian housewife. :o)
  3. Follow the processing instructions. When it says 10lbs. of pressure for 20 minutes don't assume 20 lbs. for 10 minutes would work faster. This will make your canned foods, well, just not good.
I'm pretty picky about what I feed my family. We raise a lot of our own meat, have a huge garden and preserve these things to eat when they can't be had fresh. The things we can't make on our own I buy from sources I can trust preferably local when I can. That's not to say that we don't eat the occasional box of mac & cheese or hot dogs, but these things are treats not the norm. In fact, when given the choice my kids will almost always pick fresh fruit or veggies over chips and ice cream. They understand the healthy eating and find joy in munching on food that they've had a help with.

Anyway, my point is, if you'd like to have that garden fresh taste all year long or to know for sure what you are eating try canning....again if necessary. Here are some of my fave books.

Now I'm on my way to make some of that spaghetti sauce and if I have time left today I'll also be making up some Praline syrup and canning that. Yum!

Oh and for those of you keeping track....these are the new summer preserving totals:
  • 12 dill pickles
  • 13 Bread & Butter pickles
  • 14 Sweet pickles
  • 5 peas
  • 41 corn
  • 47 green beans
  • 25 pizza sauce
  • 5 gallon bags of frozen corn (not sure how many quarts or such that might be)
That's 157 plus the frozen corn. Wow! Those shelves are filling fast. The kids are already begging for the pickles, but I told them they need just another week or 2 to taste really yummy.

7 comments:

  1. I just started my adventures in canning this year and I LOVE it! The pressure canner was a bit intimidating at first. After one use though, it was a piece of cake.

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  2. Love, Love, love to can! Hope you will be participating in my "Canning Week Blog Party" Aug. 23-27th. We will have lots of tips, recipes, a linky party and give-a-ways. It is my hope to give others more information and encouragement on canning their own.

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  3. You go girl! I am already plotting and planning my garden. It don't want it to be too big, but it's been pretty non-existent for last few years due to Mommy fatigue! I think I'm ready to do me some growin' in 2011~!

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  4. I am a new follower from FFF! I am excited about starting canning next year. My husband and I just purchased the empty lot next door and are going to plant our first garden. I am sure I will be asking lots of questions!
    I am excited to read more!

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  5. Visiting you from Friendly Friday Follow. Looking forward to getting to know you better. Stop by my blog at www.jennifersikora.blogspot.com

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  6. This sounds great! Found you via NFF btw :) Is it possible to can in secret? LOL The bf hates canning and I want to give it a try... only thing is that we both hate jam, there must be something else I can can?

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  7. I loved this post. My friends and I just finished canning 2 bushels of pickles. It was hard work (because it was an early morning.) I have fallen in love with eating close to home. I bought the most beautiful garlic from a local farm the other day. It was a little expensive but so worth it. I wanted to buy more and roast them for olive oil. i love how passionate and devoted you are to good food. I grew up the way your children are and I can smell a preservative a mile a way. I loved the childhood and never felt like I was missing out! (We live across the street from a McDonalds!) Anyway, reading your blog makes me just want to cook! Love it! I would love that Praline recipe! hint. hint.

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