Thursday, May 31, 2012

Canning Your Way to Good Health

One of my favorite things to do in the early morning or late evening during the summer is to can all of my summer's crops so I have that great taste to enjoy all winter long.  Despite some popular belief, canning is not a lost art, in fact, it's become once again a booming trade to learn.

Last year, Ball Canning reported double increases in sales of their book, Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and classes on how to can have also seen an increase in their student roosters.  Mother Earth News asked some 85,000 Facebook fans about home canning and the positive responses they received were overwhelming.  Many can because it's healthy, it's a great tradition to pass on to future generations, it's a self-sufficient practice, and it saves you money.

I can because it's a healthy choice for my Fibro issues, it's something fun to do, I get satisfaction in knowing I'm able to be self-sufficient, and best of all-- I SAVE MONEY doing so!

Some people think there's a lot of products you have to buy in order to can and that's simply not true.  Many of the easier recipes for canning only involve boiling your food for a certain amount of time to ward off bacteria growth.  Boiling can be done in a stock pot-- something most people already have.  The most expensive thing you will have to buy are the jars and they run around a dollar (or a little less) per jar.  These jars are reusable, though and believe me when I say I've gotten my money's worth from them!

Jams and jellies are probably the easiest to do and that's how I started with my canning craze.  There are countless numbers of recipes for jams and jellies.  Some contain as much as 7 cups of sugar but there are some that contain less sugar and/or no pectin, a natural substance that helps fruit to gel.

My first attempt at jams stemmed from my first berry picking excursion.  My family and I picked strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries for a good majority of the morning and I came home with several pounds of the deliciously ripe fruit.  I went to my local food store with the intent of making some pies and instead of coming home with pie shells, I came home with 12 Ball pint jars and some low sugar pectin.

I opened the pectin and found a nice triple berry jam recipe and I proceeded to cook and can for the remainder of the morning.  The smells of sweet delight filled my apartment and I grinned from ear to ear with excitement and joy.  I had found a new hobby that would make our family life richer and healthier and it was a blessing to me.  The jam lasted all winter and almost half of the spring that year.  I probably could have had it last longer but I gave away a few of my prized jars as tiny gifts of summer joy.

After that first experience I began to look for other things to can.  I've tried salsa, tomato sauce, pickles, butters made from fruit, jams, and jellies made from fruits and herbs.  I have not tried any types of meats or low-acidic foods yet, but I plan to in the future because I just recently inherited my Grandmother's pressure cooker.  When I start my canning adventures with that I will make sure I share an entry or two with all of you.

Canning is a great way to eat healthy because you know what goes into your cans.  The cans are glass so there is no BPA to worry about and there are also no chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, or dyes to worry about either.  But, there are a few rules you need to follow in order to stay healthy and not get sick from food-borne illnesses.

  • Only use recipes that have been tested as safe by reputable cook books and websites.
  • Make sure your jars seal overnight.  If they do not, repeat the canning process exactly as directed without skipping steps to ensure that no bacteria will grow on your canned food.
  • Store your jars in a proper place that is cool and dry.
  • Before consuming, check for broken seals, mold, gassiness, cloudiness, seepage, slime, yeast growth, fermentation, spurting liquid, and of course, a disagreeable odor.
Hope these tips make you go on a canning craze!
Stay fabulous!
Love and Friendship,

Kimberley 
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