Start canning and preserving foods now. Don’t wait.

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I wanted to talk to you about why I think gardening, home canning and preserving foods is important as a part of a preparedness plan. I know a lot of you are probably into preparedness or concerned about the future, want to be a little more self-reliant. I think canning and dehydrating is an important part of that.

There are three types of canners, of course there’s a lot of overlap in this.

Sharon in the garden holding a bowl of fresh tomatoes and green beans with a collection of canned green beans and tomatoes to her side.

Canning for Fun

People love to can just for fun. That’s basically how I started out. I enjoyed canning and there are lots of people who stay there and they just can because they like it. They like to make jams and jellies out of different combinations of berries and fruits. They like to make special condiments and just lots of fun foods.

A lot of times they wrap them up in bows and put them in pretty baskets and give them away as presents or gifts for Christmas or for birthdays and I’ve never been very crafty or creative and so I do a little bit of that. I usually give some things away at Christmas time.

Jars decorated for gift giving.

I give my dad some pickles because he loves my pickles but it’s pretty non-decorative. I’m not very into fancy baskets and things like that. I probably should it would be a fun thing to do.

Jars of home canned and pickled vegetables.

Canning for Health

Then the second mold that some people fit in is people who are looking for healthy foods. They want to know what they’re eating. Maybe they have special dietary restrictions. They need to lower their salt intake or they want to know what kind of sugars are in their food. They want to stay away from preservatives and high fructose corn syrup, things like that.

A package of Pomona's Pectin with the instruction pamphlet spread over the countertop.

These types of people, maybe they have their own organic gardens or they take the time and they go to local food markets and buy produce that’s in season and that’s fresh and organic and they know what they’re putting into their bodies.

There’s a lot of that in me. I’m always concerned about what I put into my body and I like to try to stay healthy. That’s one reason why I plant a garden, to preserve my own foods.

I know exactly what goes into my jars. I know what hands have handled my food. It’s a very short time period from the garden to the shelf or to the freezer because I do do some freezing or to our stove to cook, to eat for supper.

Sharon in braids holding a basket of home canned food while sitting outdoors under a tree.

Canning for Self Reliance

Then there’s another section of the canning population that I believe is more concerned about preserving foods for preparedness. They’re concerned about the future. They’re concerned about what are they going to do if the stores are not available to buy their food. What about if fuel goes up to these astronomical rates?

If you’re like me and you live way out in the country, it’s a half hour drive to go to the store. Maybe a little bit less but some people live even further out and fuel is a concern because you go to the store, it’s not just a little jog down the street.

They’re also concerned about food prices and food availability. There lots and lots of concerns that are going on out there in the world. These are kind of the people who are planning a whole foods storage plan. If you go to most survivalists or preparedness websites, they talk about having food storage as a part of emergency preparedness plan and I do absolutely believe that that’s true.

Sharon standing next to a full pantry of home canned food.

Food storage most definitely has a place in a preparedness plan. There are all kinds of things that you need to consider. Energy sources and warmth and water is a big one and food definitely needs to play into that and there are all kinds of types of foods that you can get.

A lot of what you see is the freeze-dried and the commercially dehydrated foods and I don’t want to knock those and say that that’s not important. But I do want to ask you to think about it and I want to request that you think about becoming more sustainable with your plan.

Get sustainable. If you think about it, what happens when that store of the number 10 cans of whatever foods that you’ve collected, whether it’s dehydrated veggies, dehydrated fruits – which I actually have a hard time keeping them in the shelf because my kids like it and I like it. So it always ends up in our homemade granola and things like that.

My husband and sons shucking sweet corn in the yard.

But any of those types of foods that you’ve collected and that you’ve stored, it doesn’t matter how much of that food you have in your pantry or in your storage units or whatever. If you start using that food on an everyday basis, it’s going to run out. I mean there’s no way you can save enough food to last the rest of your life obviously. Even if you could, what about your children and your children’s children?

So it’s not going to last forever. If you learn how to garden and produce your own food, learn about canning and dehydrating, then it’s a more sustainable way to provide for your family. Those food products that you buy in a number 10 can or the pouches or even whatever you pack yourself in Mylar bags and in buckets, all of that should be only intended for a temporary event.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If it’s a temporary storm and you’re out of energy, you’re out of power for a certain number of weeks, days or whatever and you have enough food storage there, then you’re good to go. You know that you’re going to be safe. You’re going to have enough food to feed your family and we’re good.

Home canned pickles and other foods.

Growing and Preserving Foods is Sustainable

But if you’re ever thinking about a more long term situation, gardening and preserving that food gives you a way to sustain your family through more than one season. It’s a way of life that people used to live all the time.

I forget sometimes that it’s not common for people now to think that way. I’ve been gardening and canning and it’s just sort of part of our lifestyle. I don’t even think about it.

Some people think it’s weird that I plan how many jars of green beans I’m going to need and I plan how many jars of apple sauce do we want or how many jars of relish are we going to use. I forget sometimes that it’s not common for people and it’s not a usual thing.

So gardening and preserving foods, it sustains you year after year. You grow it in season. You preserve it for out of season and then the following – and then throughout the winter, you have that food there and available for you and then the next spring, it’s a cycle. You start over again.

Sharon in the garden holding a bowl of fresh tomatoes and green beans with a collection of canned green beans and tomatoes to her side.

I would like to encourage you also to don’t wait to learn this. The skills that you need to be prepared are really, really important. You can buy a canner and you can buy lots of canning lids and jars and all of the supplies that you think you need.

Don’t just put it on the shelf and think, “OK, if I ever need to put food on my shelves in my pantry, I have all this stuff. I’m good,” because you’re not good. You really need to practice this. This isn’t something that it’s just going to come super easy.

It’s not hard but it’s going to be a whole lot easier for you to learn it now a little bit at a time than to wait until you – all of a sudden your food for next winter depends on whether you get your green beans canned or whether you get enough apples picked.

If you haven’t done any canning at all yet, I would encourage you to start with some easy things, preferably from an orchard or a local source. Start with apple sauce. It’s one of the easiest things to can. You don’t need a pressure canner for it. All you need is a water bath canner. You need jars and you need lids and it’s just a great way to start.

Filling quart jars with homemade applesauce for canning.

Just for fun?

Great, do it for fun and just get a water bath canner and have a blast. I envy you. I wish I was as creative and could make all the cute, little baskets and the bows and all that kind of stuff. But go for it. Do it.

Health reasons?

If you’re looking at health reasons, then you’re probably going to want to start now. This show probably doesn’t really affect you that much because if you’re doing it for health problems, you’re already canning and preserving. You are doing it and you’re eating it and you’re enjoying it.

Canning and Preserving foods for a self reliant lifestyle?

If you’re looking at canning and preserving for a preparedness lifestyle, if you’re concerned about about a future when you can’t go to the grocery store, then I would encourage you start now.

Don’t wait. Can a few items and get that experience under your belt and you never know. You might just find out that it’s fun enough, that you will want to go ahead and do even more of it and that’s the best way to do it. You can make it fun.

Invite some friends over and have a canning party and then you would be amazed at how much you can get done altogether.

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How to Start Canning and Preserving Your Food

Page last updated: 2/28/2021

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