It’s that time again. Planting the vegetable garden. And getting ready to do some canning and preserving. This time of year my husband gets the “fever” and cannot wait to get out there and get the garden worked up and planted. And I love the idea that I can just run out to the garden and pick a mess of green beans and prepare them for the evening meal. Nothing like fresh green beans especially with new potatoes and bacon. My mouth is watering at just the thought. My neighbor puts out a huge garden and does lots of canning and preserving. But is canning and preserving the produce from your garden really worth it? Let’s find out, shall we!
A Big Family
When my children were smaller and still at home I did do a lot of canning and preserving the produce from my garden. I live in a rural area and our local grocery store was a journey in itself. Another disadvantage was the possibility of being snowed in during winter, so having the produce from the garden on my shelf or freezer was handy and convenient, to say the least.
My mother-in-law also put out a huge garden and canned and froze everything out of the garden. Of course, she had five kids to feed. She taught me most of what I know regarding the garden. Before I was married I lived in the suburbs and knew nothing about gardening or canning. So yes in these instances it is worth it.
A Smaller Family
When my children grew up and moved out on their own, my garden became smaller so there were fewer vegetables to can and preserve. After all, it was just my husband and me. Check out this post about our garden adventures
But there are a few things I like to can to have on hand. Beets come to mind. Now my husband doesn’t like beets but I love pickled beets and I have to say I have not come across a jar of pickled beets as good as mine.:) It is so handy to go to the cupboard and open up a jar of them when I have that craving.
This year I am going to try and make bread and butter pickles. It is a request from my oldest daughter. Also by request, I am going to tackle tomato juice. My husband loves tomato juice. Myself, not so much.
I have made tomato juice but it’s been a while.
I have been trying to get supplies in to do my canning and preserving. I have plenty of jars and rings but I have found that the lids are hard to find. I got mine here.
My youngest daughter also likes pickled beets and will come over for a jar or two. I’m glad when I have them on hand. I also will can one mess of green beans just so that I will have them on the shelf if I need them. So again yes I think it is worth it to can or preserve if not everything out of the garden but a select few for a rainy/snowy night.
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Grocery Store Vs Canning and Preserving
Sure with Aldi’s and Save-a-lot you can buy canned goods pretty cheap. But if you are going to put out a garden you might as well save what you grow. The vegetables I don’t can or preserve I give away to family and neighbors. Also, the produce you preserve would make excellent gifts. Just fix up a basket with some of your home goods. You would be amazed at how appreciative the recipients’ are. Also, you know what went into that jar of green beans or peas you preserved or canned. So yes it is worth it!
But It Is So Much Work!
Yes it can be challenging and a lot of work to preserve your own vegetables, but it also depends on how much you preserve. If you are going “whole hog” and planting a huge garden and preserving it all, a good suggestion is having friends and family over and making it a party. After all the work is done send them home with a couple of jars of the finished product. You are all having a good time visiting and everyone gets something out of the experience. I can’t tell you how it makes me feel after I have “put away” several jars of pickled beets or a canner full of green beans. I give myself a pat on the back and tell myself “good job”.
Books on Canning and Preserving
You can find all kinds of information regarding canning and freezing. Google it is one way, asking friends and neighbors is another, but I prefer to have a book or two on the subject also. It is much easier for me to just reach into my book drawer pull out the book and the information is right there. You can find several books on the subject at Amazon. Go here
What You Need to Can/Preserve Your Produce
First, you need to decide if you are going to cold-pack (also known as a water bath) the vegetables or use a pressure canner
. Cold packing or water bath as some call it, is a large stock pan with a rack. It will hold 7-quart jars or 10-pint jars. Put the rack into the pan and then add your jars. Cover jars with water at least an inch above the jars. Cover and put on the stove on medium/high flame. Depending on the vegetable, will determine how long to boil the jars of food. If you have a good memory, great, but this is where a book on canning comes in handy.
You can also use a pressure canner. It is exactly as it sounds. Uses pressure to can the vegetables. The pressure canner will come with instructions.
I am not going to go into detail on how to can your vegetables. That would be another article/post by itself. You will also need canning jars. They come in different sizes such as quart, pint, and jelly. You will also need rings and lids. Usually, when you first buy jars, the lids and rings come with them. You can reuse the rings and jars but you will need to buy lids each time you can anything, thereafter. There also many accessories for canning such as lifting tongs, funnels just to name a few.
Is It Worth It?
There are so many foods you can preserve for future use. I have blackberry bushes at the edge of my yard. I have made blackberry jelly and have put several in the freezer for blackberry cobbler. In years past I have gone to our local orchard and bought peaches to put in the freezer and of course every year I can pickle beets and usually a few jars of green beans. Although it might be cheaper to buy your canned goods at Aldi’s or save-a-lot you have the satisfaction of a job well done. And you know what you put in those jars. They make great gifts for loved ones and friends. But I will let you decide if it’s the right decision for you!