Alright, alrighty you hungry ass friends… I get it. You want me to tell you how EASY it is to preserve your food! Its SOO easy. Seriously I think water bath canning has to take the same amount of energy as it takes to boil eggs/noodles/potatoes!
I’ve been on a path of homesteading/self sustainability and preserving food” for probably close to 7-8 years now and I have run the whole gammet of “food prep to preserving”. I started out with the cute homemade lunches and continually improving my dinner game and the occasional batch of my moms “famous” beef jerky. Then I moved into couponing and collecting an almost “prepper storage” status, the freezer meals and starting to dehydrate all the things followed while I was also just starting to really get into small scale gardening and raising rabbits for meat.
When we moved into our last home it was a 2 acre property with a older ‘farmhouse’ on it. I think about that house all the time and the potential it had. I was fortunate to really get in and get dirty quickly… mostly because I kept finding/getting farm animals before we even had a place for them. We had to move fast. Goats, Rabbits, Chickens, Ducks and Quail all coexisted in a single huge run. The garden right off of that and then the pigs next to that.
This little ‘co-exist’ farm and garden was my sanctuary though. It may not have looked picture perfect but most of the structures and housing for the animals were built by myself… or with kids 9 years old and younger helping me. I was DETERMINED. When you begin farming and gardening naturally the next step is. Now what to do with all the food? I canned A LOT that year. But my main focus every year is always my top 3 items to put up. They are fast, fool proof and always eaten in our household! When we downsized, I sold all of my preserving equipment in efforts to fit in a smaller space. Over the past couple of years though, I’m proving that it doesn’t take space to preserve food. You make do with what you have and you get it done! So in effort to continue my traditions of growing more and learning more every year. I continued to preserve. These are the top 3 things I try to “put up”.
Disclaimer: I am going to share recipes from other sources that I have used as a reference... because honestly, I don't measure and I am lax on a lot of rules. So if you are brand spanking new to canning and food preservation be sure to consult sites like The National Center for Home Food Preservation , USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning , the CDCs Guide to Home Canning or sites like Ball Canning for guidelines and correct methods for each item you are making. Know the difference in water bath canning and pressure canning and which foods need which process to correctly preserve them. Here is another great reference chart.
Jam: Any and All types of IT!
Who doesn’t like jam… like really. PB & J, dolloped over yogurt, drizzled over ice cream, used as a base in BBQ sauce… shoot. Jam is in competition for my number one thing I hope to put enough up! By Jam… I mean the whole fruit, skins & seeds (depending on the fruit) I rarely ‘mill’ out anything. Mostly because I am lazy, also because I don’t mind it. Our favorites are the classic berry jams, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry. This year I put up
- How To Make a Single Jar of Fruit Jam – basically how I can, small batches
- Strawberry Jam Recipe without Pectin and Low Sugar
- Maple Peach Whisky Jam – Ive made a blueberry vanilla bourbon one that was delicious!
- Simple Lemon Jam – still on my to do list
- Peach Jalapeno Jam
Also adding this great blog about Why Your Jam Or Jelly Isn’t Setting And How To Fix It because… my crabapple jelly didn’t set this week and now I need to recook it!
Tomatoes: Its My Forest Gump Fruit
There are a WIDE variety of things you can make with tomatoes… again this is one of the reasons its one of my most favorite things to grow and use! With that said… when water bath canning the key is to be sure that the contents you are filling your jars have the correct amount of acidity added to the recipe. Low acid items are not safe for processing in hot water bath canning due to the potential threat of pathogens like Clostridium Botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism and it seeks and thrives in high moisture, low acid, low salt and low oxygen environments.
With that said… TOMATOES!!! You can water bath can them SO many ways! I am literally just going to list them out!
- Enchilada Sauce
- Smoky Sweet Barbecue Sauce
- Zesty Salsa (notice the addition of vinegar for acidity)
- Canning Tomato Juice
- Homemade Tomato Paste – funny blog, showing some trials and tribulations. (Tip I make my tomato sauce and then spread it out in a pan in the dehydrator to reduce it down some. Then pack in jars and cold start water bath them)
- Canning Stewed Tomatoes – super super simple
- How to Can Diced Tomatoes – another quick way to put tomatoes up!
- Tomato Paste Canning Recipe using Homegrown Tomatoes – she even has a video ( her whole channel is fun)
The more I make pickles, the more I find I rather pickled veggies like cauliflower, carrots, romanesco, green beans, BEETS?! (this has become a recent FAVORITE!!) and really just anything that is a harder versus pickles that perpetually come out soft.
Pickling is SUPER EASY I generally have a 1/2 gallon jar that has my pickle brine already made.
1 Part White Vinegar
1Part Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Part Water
2 T salt
1/4 c sugar
Other resources with great information onfood preservation
Honestly, the most important thing about canning is… you’ll never know until you try it! So just make a small batch and water bath can you some shelf stable deliciousness!