How to Save What You Grow
When I was little, my mom and grandma would get together to do some canning in the summertime. I would pitch in and do any job that I was able to in order to help get things done faster. Oftentimes, they were canning fruits or vegetables that I had even helped pick. I didn’t always like every job that I was assigned, like shucking corn, but I loved those days at grandma’s house. Recently, I started my own garden and I decided to learn how to preserve the things that I’m growing. I’ve noticed that many people are showing an interest in getting back to the basics and learning practical skills like this to be more self-sufficient and have more control over the quality of their family's food. This is fantastic!
Learning from the Best
Through a friend, I learned about some free classes on food preservation that were being offered by my local land grant university in partnership with a local business. I quickly came to appreciate how important it is to know what you are doing when you are preserving your own food, especially when it comes to canning. I took classes from a Master Food Preserver, who is an expert at what she does, and I want you to learn from an expert and trusted resource too. It is absolutely mandatory that you know how to preserve food the right way so that you do it safely. Use only information and recipes that come from reliable sources and keep your information current. In other words, don’t use canning instructions that come from great-grannie’s treasured recipe box and even if you have a book on canning, if it’s old, throw it out and get something that's up-to-date. There are some great online resources and the very best of the web for home food preservation is the website of the University of Georgia's National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP). This is hands down the premier place to go for the most current research-based information and resources on most methods of home food preservation. NCHFP was established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (CSREES-USDA) to address food safety concerns for those who practice and teach home food preservation and processing methods. Put it at the top of your list and when you go to the site here’s what to look for:
- Peruse their publications on food preservation. Most of them are free to download.
- Click the search link to reveal a Google-powered, Custom Search box, which limits your searches to only the pages of the NCHFP website.
- Check out the blog. This is a great place to ask the experts your questions and find more good tips and recipes.
- Use the “How do I?” section in the sidebar for quick access to instructions on specific methods of preservation.
- You can sign-up for a free, online, self-study course. Topics covered include: Introduction to Food Preservation, General Canning, Canning Acid Foods, Canning Low-Acid Foods
If you’ve ever been interested in learning more about or getting started with home food preservation then I hope that this has inspired you to take the next step. Food preservation does take effort but it is a valuable skill and what a great sense of accomplishment when you preserve your own delicious food to feed your family and share with friends. Enjoy!