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Canning and Preserving Your Garden Harvest

Yes! You Can Can!

More than just an autumn event, for gardeners and fresh fruit growers, canning and preserving can be an ongoing activity as different crops ripen to that plucky readiness.

From strawberry preserves in spring to root crops like radishes and beets, there are garden goodies you can preserve throughout the season to lock in that garden fresh flavor and nutrients.

There are few things more gratifying and satisfying to a gardener than a pantry full of garden fresh canned food. No matter if you’re growing your own food, purchasing fresh produce from the Farmer’s Market, or stocking up on sales at your local grocer, it’s great to be able to preserve fresh food.

A well stocked pantry of garden fresh produce is salve to the gardener’s soul.

~GardensAll.com
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Storing Food

Squirrels know to stash food away for winter. Many humans have forgotten how. We haven’t needed to. But, in uncertain times and in an era of health crises from processed, preservative and additive laden foods… it’s time to return to nature and the garden.

Grow, preserve, conserve and enjoy!

When we’ve received canned garden gifts—especially in winter—they’re the best! The homemade salsa from my brother and sister-in-law, and the canned tomatoes and vegetable soup from my mother… those carefully preserved treasures from the garden are always the best!

Fresh canned vegetables from the garden are like summer sunshine in a jar.
~GardensAll.com

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For a comprehensive guide to everything canning, Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff is a good book. And there’s also the best (how to) seller from the folks at Ball.

If you’re like us and try to avoid too much sugar, we highly recommend the book, Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The revolutionary Low-Sugar, High Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves and More.

Apparently, the Pomona Pectin activates without sugar! If you’ve ever canned jams and jellies, you know that most canning recipes call for more sugar than fruit. Yikes!

And if you need to stock up on canning jars or lids (we always need extras), it’s easy to have these delivered right to your door. These also look cool: Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps. Have you tried them? We also like the Tattler reusable lids (and rings).

If you’re just getting into the jar type preserving, here’s pretty much all you’ll need to get the hot water bath going. You’ll find jars in the stores, for sure but you can find them online here, – you may be pleasantly surprised how much money you can save, especially if you have Amazon Prime. We’re intrigued to try this Amazon bestseller pressure cooker. If you already have it, please let us know so we can add your feedback to this article.

Similarly, jars and bags of dried fruits and herbs are also a sight that brings gladness to a gardener’s heart. More than evidence of a labor of love, it’s a storehouse of nourishment and nature’s medicine.[1]https://gardensall.com/grow-your-supplements/

We’re just getting into drying foods, starting with apples, having put it off for far too long. We’re starting with organic gala apples. While these are not from our garden because we don’t yet have an apple tree, that will come in the future. This year we’ve been testing a home dehydrator.

Hmmm… do you like electric dehydrators…?

The dehydrator we’re using is: Nesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator along with Nesco Clean-a-Screen to help keep the dehydrator trays easier to clean and easier for food removal. It works well, but over all, we’re not impressed with how much time and energy it takes to dry foods using an electric dehydrator, which we’ve written more about in these articles footnoted here, should you be interested.[2]https://gardensall.com/how-to-build-a-solar-food-dehydrator/ [3]https://gardensall.com/dehydrating-foods-for-preparedness-preservation-and-storage/

If you’re using a dehydration system you like, we’d love to hear about it. Also please let us know if you’ve tried any of these resources and how you like them. You can send an email or post your comments on the Gardens All Facebook page.

Healthier Canning for a Healthier Family

Don’t mess up your healthy garden bounty by loading in sugar in the preserving, canning and drying process. I know grandma did. But…

We have better options today.

The one thing wrong with traditional canning, preserving and drying is how much sugar is used. We recommend trying your recipes with little to no sugar compared to what you typically find. Sugar is the number one cause of the majority of disease amongst developed nations, so best not to taint our nutritionally potent garden foods with a substance that science has found to be more addictive than cocaine.[4]https://mytrainerfitness.com/when-hunger-is-not-about-food/ [5]https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2013/10/16/research-shows-cocaine-and-heroin-are-less-addictive-than-oreos/#100681174b7b

Just one venti Starbuck’s frappuccino contains approximately 22 teaspoons of sugar!! That’s inconceivable. None of us would sit down and spoon 22 teaspoons of sugar into our coffee mug, yet many Americans start their day this way. A frap or a sweet flavored coffee—my favorite is chestnut praline—chasing down a giant muffin, and well… it’s amazing that more people aren’t in insulin shock.

But instead, we could enjoy—guilt-free—a dollop of homemade raspberry jam (no added sugar), in some homemade yogurt topped with homemade granola, and a home brewed butter coffee with coconut oil.[6]https://mytrainerfitness.com/recipe/recipe-butter-coffee-coconut-oil-brain-octane/

Back to canning and preserving… and how to do it better and healthier for your family on page 2. But if you want to cut to the chase on best canners for canning, more people in the GardensAll Facebook community prefer water bath canning with the built in water spout for draining, like this one by Ball.

Because We’ve Always Done it That Way

Here’s the thing: grapes are one of the sweetest fruits. Naturally. And yet sugar is added[7]https://mytrainerfitness.com/sugar-with-a-side-of-gmos/ to grape jellies and jams. But why? It’s not necessary. So many things we do because it’s always been done that way, but if it doesn’t make sense, we don’t have to keep on doing it. One tablespoon of most grape jams contain over 1 tablespoon of sugar. What?! That means that each tablespoon of jam is basically flavored sugar.

Most jams contain over
1 tablespoon of sugar in a
1 tablespoon serving!!

Highest Fruit, Lowest Sugar Store-Bought Fruit Spreads

If you run out of homemade jams, our favorite store-bought fruit spread with no sugar or sugar additives, is Fiordifrutta which you may find at Whole Foods or on Amazon, and Polaner All Fruit which you can find at most grocers. Though they use additional fruit juice concentrate, it still has fewer of the negative ingredients and only half the sugar of most jams and jellies.

But, back to canning:

Just because it’s always been done that way, doesn’t mean it always should be.

Another avant-garde canning and preserving cookbook newly out this year is Naturally Sweet Food in Jars: 100 Preserves Made with Coconut, Maple, Honey, and More by Marisa McClellan. Now Marisa still uses sweeteners, and while some sweeteners are certainly healthier than others, less added sugars in whatever form is best for health, so we still prefer the Pomona Pectin method, however, both of these are a significant improvement over the traditional refined sugar laden preserving process. These also taste better in our opinion… more like the fruits than like fruit-flavored sugar.

Author Allison Carroll Duffy uses PomonaS Pectin Universal Pectin for no or low sugar canning and preserving, and it’s available on Amazon.

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The tradition of gardening and preserving bounty from the garden is priceless.

Gardening roots in your soul.

Canning and Preserving Okra

Canning Okra

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-1/2 pounds okra per quart
  • Salt (optional)
  • Water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Wash and drain okra.
  2. Remove stem and blossom ends without cutting into pod.
  3. Leave whole or slice.
  4. Cover okra with cold water; boil 2 minutes.
  5. Pack hot okra into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace.
  6. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to each pint jar,
  7. 1 tsp salt to each quart jar, if desired.
  8. Ladle boiling water over okra, leaving 1-inch headspace.
  9. Remove air bubbles.
  10. Adjust 2-piece caps.
  11. Process pints 25 minutes, quarts 40 minutes in a
    steam-pressure canner.

Freezing Okra

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Select young tender pods when the seed is first formed.
  • Wash in cold water, snip and cut into 2 to 4-inch lengths.
  • Water blanch 3 minutes.
  • Cool promptly by dripping in ice water bath, drain and package, leaving 1/2-inch
    headspace.
  • Seal and freeze.

The subtle and potent flavor of foods from nature is rich and vital. The more we get used to eating food in its natural state the less we need and want added junk and the healthier we become.

Most processed foods have two predominant flavors: sweet or salty.

Yet nothing tastes as sweet as the nourishing fresh dried fruits of your labor, whether it’s an apple from your own apple tree, blueberries from your bush or strawberry plants, those luscious bites are a taste of heaven.

And nothing is as mouthwatering savory and zesty as tomatoes or herbs from your garden. Nature’s bounty is rich, aromatic, delicious and nutritious. Homegrown food stores are like money in the bank, so enjoy canning and preserving the bounty of your harvests!

If….

Gardening is like printing money.” Ron Finley, Gangster Gardener

Then…

Homegrown canned food lining your shelves is like money in the bank!

So let’s be sure to make lots of deposits this year!

How to Preserve, Can, Freeze and Dry Your Garden Harvest

Here’s a list of bestselling books for more info and products on preserving and properly storing your garden bounty.

BOOKS on Amazon
Root Cellaring – Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables
Naturally Sweet Food in Jars: 100 Preserves Made with Coconut, Maple, Honey, and More by Marisa McClellan
Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin: The Revolutionary Low-Sugar, High-Flavor Method for Crafting and Canning Jams, Jellies, Conserves, and More by Allison Carroll Duffy

And also, for no or low sugar canning, Pomonas Pectin Universal Pectin – available on Amazon.

Before you go, take just 10 minutes to get inspired by Ron Finley’s Ted talk on changing lives through gardening. You will be glad you did.

Wishing you great gardens and happy harvests!

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