I’m sure many people wonder why a twenty-something is canning. “Isn’t that for grandmas?” No! It is for everyone – boys, girls, young children, to the not-so-young children.
Endless Food Preservation Ideas
As many of you know by now, I’ve wanted to grow my own garden for a long time. I wanted to be able to provide fresh foods (and save money!). Many people set out creating the largest garden possible with the same goals but can easily have so much fresh produce that they either give it away (which is good!) or they leave it to rot. I have had some people ask me personally what to do with hundreds of tomatoes when they simply can’t eat them all not realizing there are other options! In this case, my suggestion to them was to freeze to can later on.
To prep tomatoes for freezing you want to first wash and dry the tomato. Then, cut the tomato in half (or large wedges depending on the size of the fruit) and scoop out all ‘jelly’ and seeds (aka coring). You can save the core to either dehydrate and crush into a powder or freeze for use in soups and broths (or anything else for that matter). Once cored, I lay all tomatoes flat into a freezer bag and freeze (just makes stacking easier). When you have enough tomatoes to can with, you can then pull them out of the freezer to defrost. As they defrost, the skin should slide right off. I also keep the skins to dehydrate and turn into a powder. I use the powder to help thicken sauces or add a little tomato flavor to different recipes. (Remember – the goal is to eliminate waste!)
As far as other veggie scraps go, you can easily keep these to throw into a freezer bag throughout the year. Once you have enough of a variety of scraps, you can then use them to make your own vegetable broth. The possibilities are endless!
Another example of why I love canning so much is that there are a number of ‘meal-in-a-jar’ recipes that are available. Earlier this year we canned pot roast (DELICIOUS!). Although the prep time was mainly chopping the meat and all the veggies, the cook time was (I believe) 1.5 hours in the pressure canner. After 24 hours I had multiple meals of pot roast that I could dump into a sauce pan, add my thickener, cook for about 10 minutes and I was good to go!
Additionally, with the ability to freeze and can items – I am more likely to purchase fresh produce when it is on sale (see Weekend Plans). For example, it is not very often to find Red Bell Peppers under $1 where I live, yet sometimes I can find them for 4 for $1! Many people will buy some and generally they would go to waste. With the ability to can I usually prep a few for the freezer (de-seed and slice into thin strips) and the rest I can (also sliced into thin strips).
As far as saving money goes – I believe the previous paragraph speaks for itself. I can store more fresh produce to have year round as well as having a way to safely preserve home grown food as well. Additionally, when comparing the prices of store bought (and even Farmers Markets!) jams and jellies I can easily save $4+ per jar!
Security of Knowing
It is always reassuring to be able to walk to my pantry and pull out a full three course meal in no time. This is especially important in todays’ current economy – many people have lost their jobs due to COVID, store shelves are bare, what food you are able to find doesn’t include fresh produce or meat, or at least this holds true in my community. Even pandemic aside, there are times that the bank account runs dry, or you just can’t seem to make it to the store – I am thankful every day that I can quickly pull out meat from the freezer, or some that I canned previously, add a few cans of vegetables that were straight from my garden, and even whip up a dump pie (thank you, Cherry Pie Filling) in no time!
Last but not least – who wouldn’t want to eat something that you know EXACTLY how it was prepared, and that there are no artificial ingredients? Believe it or not, many canned goods (except commercially canned) are still processed using older techniques that have now been found to be not safe [I’ll save that rant for another day].
With all of my canned goods I can tell you exactly how it was prepared and guarantee its freshness.