Monday, December 28, 2009

Gardeners! Plan to save that summer abundance with home canning

For gardeners, winter is both a welcome relief from toiling with their beloved Earth and a prison in which nothing can be grown. Even in warmer climates, the winter months hardly compare to the bountiful bliss of summer gardening. Gardeners know to spend their down time researching new plants, shopping seed catalogs, and studying pest and disease control techniques, but sometimes more focus is placed on producing the food instead planning how to consume every bit of it.

If you are a gardener who has yet to learn how to preserve food with home canning, then you are missing out on half the fun. Opening a jar of tomatoes in February that you put up in August is a very satisfying delight. It will let you revisit the glories of a summer enjoyed in your garden and allow you to eat the fruits of your labor long after the first frost.

Home canning often intimidates people. I know I hesitated for a long time before teaching myself this rewarding and addictive hobby, but home canning can be successfully accomplished by anyone who can read a thermometer and possesses the patience to boil water.

If you are considering adding home canning to your gardening skills, then there are some helpful steps you can take even in the winter to prepare for success.

1. Start reading canning recipes so you can get an idea of what you might like to eat. This will help you decide what types of fruits and vegetables to grow.

2. Study your seed catalogs and take note of varieties well suited to food preservation. Marketing materials will often note if a tomato cans well or if a cucumber is ideal for pickling.

3. Make small incremental investments in equipment like canning jars, a large water bath kettle, jar lifter, ladle, thermometer, and funnel. Although none of these items is particularly expensive, stretching out the purchases in the off season will keep your household budget happy. Also, this equipment can be downright impossible to find during the peak of harvest season.

Anyone looking for a concise guide to home canning, should bookmark my website Canning Local where you can find easy-to-follow directions for successful home canning plus yummy recipes.