Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homemade Canning - Growing and Canning Your Own Food

When it comes to canning, the fresher the produce the better the flavor and the longer the shelf life would be of the canned produce. Avoid store-bought fruits and vegetables; these have been in cold storage, which results in a shorter shelf life and poorer flavor. Opt instead for produce purchased from a farmers market or from your garden.

How to Choose Produce to Can

If electing to purchase from a farmers market, make sure the produce is really from local farms and has been picked within three days of purchase. You can tell if the food is local by checking for distributor labels, rubber bands or ties, boxes from retailers, and so forth while at the market stalls. Also doing proper research on the farmers market or farmer stall helps to ensure the food is locally grown and not purchased in bulk from a distributor.

Even better yet, grow your own produce for best results. Home-grown foods picked at the peak of freshness and canned weekly or semi-weekly result in a delicious and fresh-picked taste that will win awards and smiles over store-bought goods. Research is the key to perfect canning. Find out which foods should be picked in the morning and which should be picked in the evening for the best flavor.

The Best Fruits for Home-Grown Canning

The easiest produce for homemade canning are fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, berries, quinces, oranges, apples, and cherries. These are also easier to grow and produce a large harvest from a single tree or two. Most fruits are high-acid and usually a lot of sugar goes into the process which further helps keep the fruits from spoiling.

Most fruit trees and vines are low maintenance compared to a vegetable garden. Simply prune and fertilize once to twice a year at the appropriate season, and water them frequently. Plus, each fruit ripens in a slightly different week or month all summer long, if you choose the right varieties, making it easier to deal with one type of produce that week.

The Easiest Vegetables to Grow and Can

Vegetables take a bit more maintenance than fruits to grow and to can. Low-acid vegetables need to be canned more carefully to prevent spoilage. However, like fruits, the right garden can produce something to can weekly or bi-weekly all year long.

When setting up a home-grown garden for canning, select vegetables for particular seasons:

Winter Garden Produce

Cabbage Brussels sprouts (in coastal areas) Kale

Spring Garden Produce

Dark leafy greens like spinach

Summer through Fall Garden Produce

Green beans or long beans




Onions and Garlic



Dark Leafy Greens like Kale and Swiss Chard


Even a small family garden, or container garden, can produce enough to stockpile canned produce. Many of these foods can well with little or no previous cooking. Simply scrub them, chop them up, stuff them into a jar, pour boiling water over them, screw on a lid, and put them into the pressure canner. Each vegetable, vegetable blend, or relish has a specific time and recipe that needs to be followed to the letter when canning it. Failure to follow a recipe for the particular food can result in an inedible product, or worse, spoilage.

Other foods not mentioned in this article are not recommended for homemade canning because the time and effort in growing and/or preparing them makes it not worth it, especially for a beginner. The fruits and vegetables listed tend to grow large harvests with little space. And, when picked and canned right away, also last longer in the shelves and retain their flavor.

Home grown produce not only tastes better, but may be better for you since store-bought canned or fresh vegetables tend to lose important nutrients the longer they sit. Additionally, it will save money. With the right soil conditions and care, home gardens can typically produce more food with less expense over the same amount of food purchased fresh or canned from a grocery store.

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