Calling all clean eaters – canning is not just for grandmas
Isn't canning just for old ladies? I'm here to tell you canning is the thing you should be learning this season to improve mealtimes by miles, to improve your diet, to share your effort and love with others way after the seasons change and to give authorship over one important slice of your life.
Canning is literally spreading the love. When you prepare a complex holiday meal, you exert all kinds of energy preparing it. Of course, the meal is appreciated, but the results of that meal don't last. Other than the next-day turkey sandwiches, your effort can't be enjoyed later.
With canning, you can spend a few hours preserving delicious produce and enjoy it months afterwards. When you are the busiest, you can feel the satisfaction of that afternoon again and again. If you grow the produce yourself, then you get double the satisfaction of spreading the fruits of your labor over the course of the year. No green thumb? Me neither, but don't worry. Canning has lots of love to share beyond gardeners and old women.
Canning gives you choice and authorship over what you eat. Eating healthy is the hottest health topic around — for good reason. We all know someone who has lived what we would consider a healthful life and yet has suffered from one chronic disease or another, and surely, what we eat has played at least some small part. We cannot control everything, and I would never suggest that everyone needs to start his or her own homestead, but I will suggest that learning how to can gives you choice, which is currently absent from the grocery store aisle.
If you know how to can, you will be able to preserve the peaches that you choose. Either you picked them, bought them from a market or actively made a choice to can those particular peaches. You get to wash them and you get to decide what recipe, what kind of sweetener and what kind of spices to use. Then you get to choose to feed them to your family. Buying store-bought, packaged or prepared food takes most of those choices away from you. If you aren't making the choice, who is? That is an important question anyone who is concerned about health should be asking.
Canning doesn't have to be all about what is green in the hip sense of the word, either. We have to be very careful about this slippery slope that marketers have put consumers, moms and family cooks on. If we are forced to believe that organic-grown or wild is the only way to go, then it won't be long before you run into an impasse as the family grocery shopper.
What if your kid doesn't like the organic strawberries? What if the fancy produce is crazy expensive? What if there's not a lot of choices in the produce aisle because you live a long way from the Central Valley of California? Canning allows you to take produce and preserve it for the sake of economy, nutrition and for the choice it offers you in your diet. Choosing what you prepared yourself is almost always going to be a more healthful choice, no matter how many adjectives marketers tack onto their products.
Do you or your loved once suffer from a food intolerance? How about more than one allergy? It is a lot of work to read labels, which is why canning is so great. There's no label to read. You can choose recipes that fit within what is healthy for your family and their needs. With knowing what you are feeding your family comes freedom and ease.
Canning doesn't have to be the way you remember it: taking all weekend or even all afternoon. Years ago, canning was done in large batches out of necessity, but now we have great refrigerators, easily accessible markets and the recipes available to us to preserve small- or medium-sized batches in very sophisticated and multicultural varieties.
Knowing how to can allows you to reduce food waste in your home, and that has an immediate tangible financial benefit. If you bought a flat of berries and the kids will never eat them all before they go bad, canning them saves all that nutrition and money to be enjoyed later. Later is often when you are busy and can't run to the market, and you might be tempted to serve up something you'd rather not.
In my mind, canning is the skill a modern girl should equip herself with in order to add more health and choice to her diet, and it is critical to living more healthily. If you want to learn more, head to Start Canning.