A first try at canning

Canning is something I have wanted to try for a long time. My mom used to can a lot when I was a kid, and she still cans a few choice items every year, though not quite as much as she used to to. As a kid we regularly ate canned trout, beef, fruits, salsa, antipasta, pickles, and various other things.

This year we grew a garden in our new home, with some mixed results. There are a number of great things about growing a garden: no transportation or packaging is required to get the food to your house, you control what goes into the soil and what pesticides (if any) go onto your plants, you save water by harvesting the rain to water them, and the food, in my experience, tastes better. Plus, it's super satisfying to see the rewards for your efforts.

I had been avoiding trying canning on my own mostly out of nervousness and lack of knowledge.  When I helped my mom with canning, for the most part I just chopped things and she did all the real work. I was worried that it was too hard, there were too many variables, and that it was way too much work.

This year our garden was successful in a few things: carrots, beets, and tomatoes. We didn't have quite enough tomatoes to bother canning, so we focused on making pickled carrots and beets.

My good pal Carli came over with a couple bottles of wine, and we managed to make nine bottles of pickled beets and two bottles of pickled carrots in 4 or 5 hours. Considering we are not pickling experts, I suspect you could cut that time way down as you got better.

The next day my partner and I did five more small bottles of pickled carrots in about an hour and a half.

I don't think that I should teach you how to can, considering how inexperienced I am. I just wanted to give the message that it's not quite as hard as I had thought it would be, and can be accomplished on a Friday night while drinking wine. Here are a couple links to some of the instructions we based our recipes off of.

There are lots and lots of different instructions out there though, so I encourage you to search on your own and decide which recipe you'd like to follow.

And what does canning have to do with waste reduction? The most obvious answer is that you are preserving and storing food in jars that you can reuse over and over again. It also means that you don't have to buy those food products from the grocery store where they are packaged in cans or jars that have to be sent for recycling. An added benefit, although not directly related to waste, is that you can then buy produce when it is in season and have it all year round, which will save you money.

I will definitely be doing more canning in the future, so stay tuned!


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