Friday, September 9, 2011

Canning Vegetables from Your Garden

Every year when the spring vegetable gardening season rolls around my wife always tells me to tone down the amount that we grow. Not because we do not have the room or that we take away space from the kids play area, but because we end up with so many fruits and vegetables that even after donating them to a local food pantry and giving them away to friends, neighbors and family, we always have way too much.

I can not disagree with her assessments. By mid July we do have a lot. But come December I would love nothing more than to eat a tomato from my garden. Unfortunately here in NJ we are unable to grow tomatoes due to the cold. That is where canning comes in.

My grandmother was an expert in canning. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to learn her skill set so to me canning is still fairly new but I am finding that it is easy. To get a better understanding of canning, I turned to canning expert Linda Amendt.

Linda is an award winning cookbook author and also the winner of the international book awards for canning and preserving. So who better to get the dirt (or jar in this case) on canning.

Canning is the process of preserving vegetables in jars. You place the vegetables in jars specifically designed for home canning and cover them with liquid. The jars used, I will get into in a moment where you get these jars, are then fitted with a special two-piece closure consisting of a canning lid and a screw band.

A piece of equipment that Linda says you will need is a pressure canner. This helps create a vacuum inside the jar and tightly seals the lid. This process helps make the jars of vegetables safe for shelf storage. As a side note, Linda says, “A pressure canner should not be confused with a pressure cooker. They are not the same piece of equipment and are not interchangeable. A pressure canner is specifically designed for home canning and has a gauge that allows you to monitor and adjust the amount of pressure inside the canner to ensure safe canning.”

According to Linda canning is an easy skill to learn. Just follow a few basic safety rules and techniques and you can create an array of preserves from summer produce to enjoy throughout the winter and into the spring months.

I asked Linda where does she find the supplies needed to properly can vegetables grown in one`s garden. She says that beyond the normal tools most people have in their kitchens currently, such as a cutting board and knives, the canning supplies such as jars, lids and screw bands can be found at most grocery stores, Walmart, Target and Kitchen stores, as well as online through website like Amazon.

One final note on canning. Canned vegetables are at their best when used within one year. In that time that is when they will have the best flavor, color and texture. After that, although they will be safe to eat (so as long as they are well sealed), the flavor and appearance will begin to deteriorate.

Be sure to store your canned foods in a cool, dark, dry location. Heat can cause the seals to fail which could cause the food inside the jars to spoil. Also, exposure to light will cause colors to fade and moisture can cause rust on the lids.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home for the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Seeds of the Month Club:

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