Canning

What is canning?

what is canningCanning has been around for a very long time and has recently made a modern-day revival.  Combining age-old tradition with new age ideas, canning is now more popular than ever.  In this article, we will discuss the motives behind why people love canning.  We will talk about how canning works, what you need to get started and the best ingredient options for your desired canning goals.

Why people love to can

Canning produces delicious, high-quality foods that last for an extended period.  Building a strong sense of self-reliance, canning also saves hundreds a year on food costs.  Many people find joy in the following tradition while creating everything you need at once to eat throughout the year.  With canning, you can enjoy your delicious summer salsas all year long as if it was made yesterday! WOW! Ace carries a variety of great canning supplies.

The health benefits and minimal environmental impact are a couple of reasons many choose to can their own foods.  Did you know there is an ever-growing concern for the presence of BPA’s in food?  BPA’s are an industrial chemical sometimes found in plastic food containers.  Research is continuing to find that traces of this chemical could be transferred into the food within these plastic containers.  Canning at home 100% guarantees your food will be as organic and clean as possible.  Reducing waste from pre-packaged foods will also reduce your carbon footprint on the planet.  We aren’t just talking about what you throw away in your own garbage can.  We are talking about the entire lifespan of a pre-packaged product.  It’s easy to forget about all the harmful factory emissions created where the packaging was made as well as the truck that traveled thousands of miles to get to your pantry.  There is a lot less wasted when you make your own food and store it for yourself long-term.

If you are looking to spend your produce budget thoughtfully, it’s smart to buy it when your desired product is in season and less expensive.  Many of the homemade jams and salsas you could make are more delicious when made with extra fresh fruits and veggies.  They might even taste better than anything you can find in an expensive gourmet foods store.  When food is prepared in season, it has the best flavors and highest levels of nutrition too.  The whole idea of canning is to have the freshest, cleanest produce all year.  When sealed and stored correctly, canned fruits and salsas can last up to 18 months.  Pickled veggies can last up to 2 years and jams can last even longer than 2 years.

Imagine how nice it would be to discover all that your local farming community has to offer.  Take your family to local farmer’s market for quality time while selecting your desired produce together.  Supporting local farmers always helps the community and will ensure a sense of security knowing where your food originated.  By consistently stocking up at local farmers markets, you are also exposing yourself to a wider variety of choices than you will ever find at a grocery store.  We encourage you to seek out and experiment with unique combinations of veggies and herbs to create canning masterpieces.  Before you know it, you will be completely immersed in the heritage and culture of canning.

The science behind canning

Now that you know you want to start canning right away, let’s talk about how canning works.   There is a definite science behind the success of a good canning project.  The more you know about the science behind food, the more confident you will be in the kitchen in general.  Food preservation science involves encouraging a specific type of good bacteria to take over and overwhelm bad bacteria.  Canning was invented in 1806 by a French confectioner named Nicolas Appert.  He was utilized by the French Navy to preserve meats, vegetables, fruit, and even milk.  Louis Pasteur can take the credit in 1864 when he found the relationship between microorganisms, how food spoils, and food-related illness.

Food has natural ways of protecting against spoilage.  Many times, the final step in food preservation is a pressure cooker step to ensure the jar has an airtight seal.  Fruits that are high in acid, like strawberries, for example, require no added preservatives for canning and require a short pressure cooking time.  Most vegetables are less acidic and require longer boiling times.  We recommend investing in a canning cookbook, which will give you all the fine details for the specific type of canning you are wanting to try.  You can also talk to the canning experts at your local Ace Hardware.  We have a TON of canning supplies and a vast knowledge of all the important stages of a successful day of canning.

Following canning steps carefully is very important.  If part of the process is over-looked, many unwanted outcomes may occur.  Most failures in canning come from a presence of air left within the jar.  This will create a rise in water and microorganisms within and will result in gas production that can cause the can to swell and burst.  Other toxins can develop with certain foods as well if the proper process is not followed cautiously.  Make sure to do a little research before canning something new for the first time.  If you want professional canning advice from the experts, you can stop into one of your five local Ace Hardware Stores here in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

What you need to get started

For successful food preservation and storage, we recommend using glass storage jars.  The most popular types of jars are mason jars.  Mason jars are very common and are readily available at Ace Hardware.  Most cases of jars come with the appropriate lids included. However, sometimes they do not.  Always make sure you have both the jars and the lids before you head home.

There are several types of mason jars out there. It’s best to make your jar selection based on what you are canning.  Regular Mouth Mason jars have a large range of sizes from 4 ounces to a quart.  These jars are best for pourable liquids like soups or salsas.  Many use the small regular mouth jars for the storage of jams because they are made in small batches.  Wide Mouth Mason jars are much larger.  You can find these in sizes all the way up to a half-gallon.  If you are canning whole vegetables or big cuts of meat, these jars will be most convenient.   If you plan to freeze your jars, remember to select a larger jar than needed to avoid bursting.

There are a few other accessories we suggest to get started.  If you want to get serious about canning, we recommend investing in a water bath canner.  These are large kettles with a lid that will hold your jars stable for you during the sealing process.  Bubble poppers are also needed to remove any air bubbles in your food before you seal the jar.  You can purchase actual air bubble removers or use a chopstick.  Get a large funnel to transfer hot liquids.  Stainless steel is best.  When you are canning, you want to remove any excess liquid from the foods you are canning.  Using a Dutch oven or large pot will be best for this.

Having a friend or family member to help with the process is a luxury that is very nice to have when canning.  It is a long process with many steps, and it’s nice to have a partner.  Plus, the tradition of canning has always been a family one.  For more information on how to get started with this fun and delicious hobby, stop into any one of our 5 Ace Hardware Stores here in Colorado Springs.  We will set you up for success!

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