What is the allure of canning? What makes a person want to invest their time, energy, and especially their money in the process of preserving their own food?
What makes one want to can whether they live in the city or the suburbs or rural areas? Think about it, from a novice’s point of view. One has to learn about the canning process (a bit like learning a foreign language) and invest in the canning supplies, from jars, to the right canners, a jar lifter and other tools…
What about whatever other unusual requirement that may be needed for the particular food of chosen origin the person doing the preserving has decided to tackle? (Cherry pitter for cherries? Apple peeler for apples?) THEN the person canning has to invest a very substantial amount of time from start to finish actually doing the act of canning. Is it worth it? Apparently so. Canning and urban homesteading are on the rise across our country. Personal experience reminds me of the satisfaction gained from this process.
For example, when one has an overabundance of something (maybe my strawberry plants had a bumper crop this year), with basic knowledge of making jam and some persistence, by evening my strawberries are contained in jar after jar of crimson satisfaction. When one learns the language of canning, no food — especially the bounty from one’s garden or a good deal on produce from the farmers market or grocery store — has to go to waste.
Made too much chili for supper? Great! Put the excess into wide mouth jars, put on some wide mouth lids, their rings, and use a pressure canner to can the chili for the appropriate time. When the pressure cooker is done cooking the jars containing leftover chili, ta dah! Now you have jars of soup that can live in the pantry until those times when time is short, everyone is hungry and you need something fast for supper. Maybe you don’t feel like cooking after a long day? Open a jar of chili, heat it and lunch or supper is served!
Wide mouth jars are great for canning bigger things, like peaches or pear halves, because the fruit fits into the jars easier and one can stack more fruit in the jar. Most of us don’t have peach or pear trees growing in our backyard, or if we live in the city, around our concrete sidewalks. We can, however, buy peaches, pears and other produce from those who do have those trees and can the bounty for another day.
There is something tremendously satisfying about looking at the jars of whatever has been preserved when one has completed the process of canning. Knowing YOU are the one who put forth the effort, time and investment to bring about the end result of whatever was canned. Knowing YOU took the initiative to make sure the food for yourself and your family is preserved in as pure of a form as could be attained, especially in the middle of winter when you need a whispered reminder of what summer memories were about. Pure satisfaction in a jar. The language of canning is definitely worth learning.
Editor’s Note: This article was first posted in May 2017.