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Canning…Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

One of the challenges of eating seasonal, locally available produce is the issue of overabundance. Whether you’re growing fruits and vegetables at home, buying them at the local farmer’s market, or getting them in a CSA or co-op, when it rains, it pours – when something comes into season, it all ripens at once, and it can be difficult to use it all up before it spoils. You can extend the life of your fresh produce by following these tips, but this has its limits.

A great way to handle this problem is through home canning. “Putting up” was immensely popular in the 1960s and 70s, and then faded away as more women started working outside the home and fresh, year-round fruit and vegetables became available in every grocery store at an affordable price. The familiar glass jars were relegated to yard sales and dusty basements.

Home preservation is now experiencing a renaissance. Your local grocery store or discount retailer probably has an end-cap or display featuring jars, canning funnels, packets of pectin, and tools for sterilizing equipment. Canning cookbooks abound. Canning recipes focus on safely preserving the food for use later, and maintaining its flavor and texture.

40 minutes from my house is a farm that offers pick-your-own fields for many different fruits and vegetables, as well as pastured beef and pork. This weekend I drove out and picked a bushel of beautiful yellow freestone peaches and several pounds of cucumbers. Over the next few days I’ll process them into homemade jelly, chutney, and pickles, which can last in the pantry for months – well past the end of the season for peaches and local cucumbers. This will allow me to enjoy the flavors of summer, any time of year.

Canning can also be a way to involve the whole family. When I was a little girl, my mother would take us out to the local strawberry patch and come home with pints of fresh berries. Together we would clean and cut the strawberries and make freezer jam. There was so much satisfaction in pulling a jar out of the freezer months later and making a sandwich with jam I made myself.

By making jams and jellies, relishes, preserves, and pickles at home, you’ll also have control over what goes into them. You decide what flavors you like and dislike. Also, there’s no need for artificial colors or preservatives. Heat, acid, pectin, and/or salt are enough to make your fresh fruits and vegetables stable for the pantry.

So get out there and start canning!

(Photo Source: Sarah Boyle)

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