Yes! You Can Can!

More than just an autumn event, for gardeners and fresh fruit growers, canning 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 gardeners than opening their cabinets, cupboards and pantries and seeing rows of jars of fresh canned foods from the garden. 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 from the garden and beyond.

shutterstock_257213761Squirrels 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 garden gifts—especially in winter—such as homemade salsa from my brother and sister-in-law, or 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.

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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 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)http://mytrainerfitness.com/when-hunger-is-not-about-food/5)http://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)http://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.

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I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always been interested in medicinal herbs and getting nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. As a family we’re eager to dig more deeply into gardening and edible landscape for the love of fresh organic foods and self sustainability. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community.