Home canned or Commercially Canned - which is more nutritious?

by Luther

I asked my friend Luther this question....

I had a reader ask me if home canned foods would be more nutritious than commercially canned foods. My instincts are that they would because commercially canned foods most likely have preservatives. With home canned you know exactly what is in your jars. But I've not done any real research into this. I'd like to find out for sure.

Do you know of any research that has been done comparing nutritional value of home canned vs commercially canned?

Thanks for any thoughts.


Luthers responds:


I have not seen any specific studies that analyze canned foods but I know they are out there. I have asked several extension agents and nutritionists, food scientists, etc the same exact question.

Fresh and raw is the best nutrition for those things that are eaten like that, except when it comes to carrots, celery, rhubarb, etc, and a few others when it is actually more nutritious and digestible when steamed or roasted. Onions somewhat, etc. The fresher the better, whether eaten like that or preserved, fresh and peak of ripeness is the best for you. No question.

Many vegetables need to be cooked. Taters, broccoli, green beans and all that. So cooking them fresh is best. Freezing them is next for preserving nutritional values, water bath canning is next (a cucumber is better for you than a pickle) and pressure canning your beans is next.

The preservation process DOES NOT diminish their nutritional values by very much. Some. But not by much. So eat another fork full of the fruit or vegetable and you have more than made up the difference. It is not much and your home canned products, done well of course, are still much better than the commercially produced items.

Almost all fresh foods preserved at home are better for you than processed foods, by far.

The vitamins are diminished more than the other nutritional values. Fermented foods offer great benefits to you that are lost when treated by heat, like pasteurizing yogurt or canning sauerkraut. Eat those fresh and avoid canning the kraut. They have long molecules that are complex and destroyed by heat. Vitamins are best fresh and cooking of any kind reduces the amount you get, but again, not by much, so eat another fork full. It is still much much better than French fries or lean cuisine.

Marion Nestle is one reference I read, her book “What to Eat” is a good perspective to follow. She is the department head at Columbia University in nutrition. She says the loss of nutrients is minimal and that it is still much, much better to eat home preserved foods before we use processed or prepared foods. Like green beans, eat a fork full more and you have made up the difference between fresh and home canned. Not a big deal. Eat your beans! Frozen Olathe sweet sweet is still a great nutritional value for your family. You are still way ahead with home raised and preserved.

What I say is to eat all that is offered fresh, then dig into your pantry for the rest of the season for frozen, dried, canned and pressure canned vegetables, fruits, meats and soups, home made stock from vegetables and chicken, and your family will just be glowing in good health.

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