Gault on Preserving The Harvest


Home canning has been around since the mid 1800s. That’s when a tinsmith named John L. Mason invented the Mason Jar.  For most of its existence canning was done by the “open kettle method”, but with the advent of the “pressure canner” canning became more useful and more broadly used. With the spread of supermarkets and the industrialization of food production, but for a few diehards, canning faded from our culture, at least that’s what I’ve read.

My wife’s childhood is full of memories of her helping her parents can, I spent my whole life not knowing a thing about it. When we moved to our farm 3 years ago and started gardening, my wife immediately purchased a pressure canner, jars, jar tongs, screw-tops and lids and whatever else she needed and began teaching me all about it. I’m now a big fan, though still a novice.


Canning seems a perfect extension of prepping. It promotes self-reliance, contributes to your survivability and stocks your shelves with healthy food that if properly stored can last several years. The initial investment to get started is small and the benefits could end up being invaluable.


Although I could find only anecdotal evidence, with the growing popularity of “self reliance” and the whole “get back to nature” and “living off the land” movement, home canning surely must be gaining in popularity.


Although you can usually gain the most benefits of canning from growing your own produce, it’s by no means a requirement. Bartering with gardening neighbors and buying what you need from your local farmers markets are good alternatives. This year the wife and I relocated our main garden, with disastrous results, so this year all our veggies have to come from other sources.


Fortunately this past winter I took on the job of repairing the transmission of my neighbor’s tractor. The negotiated payment for my labor (which I completed) was to be 12 dozen ears of Merit sweet corn and a small selection from  any over-production of his garden (I really will work for food). We’ve already received our corn payment in full, and now each week we receive a basket of various vegetables. We also purchased 2 bushels of Roma pole beans which we canned, and we will likely buy some pickling cucumbers as well.


Growing-up my mother could have threatened me with any punishment known to parents, it wouldn’t have mattered, I wouldn’t have touched a green bean to save my life. My wife pressure cooks the green beans with fatback and now they are my favorite vegetable.


I suspect that many of you are far more knowledgeable about canning than I am, but if you haven’t considered it before, this time-honored technique for preserving food offers much to the prepper. The best guide I know of for getting started is Ball’s Blue Book Guide To Preserving. Another favorite of mine is The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest.

John Gault …somewhere in Georgia…

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5 thoughts on “Gault on Preserving The Harvest”

  1. I grew up out in country I to remember canning a LOT of stuff everything from corn tomatoes beans peas making pickels and all kinds of stuff I WISH we had ROOM for all that stuff but we are in a small apartment with very limited space have found that DRYING works pretty well I have dryed everything from corn oinions tomatoes and lots of other stuff

  2. John, exc article.Your wife is fortunate to have your enthusiastic participation
    in the canning adventure. I grew up with my Mom canning tomatoes and making exc.
    grape jelly. We were so used to hers we didnt like store bought . Its a hot job but worth it.I just canned 26 jars of bread n butter pickles.Next will be sauerkraut. Yes canning has grown in such demand over the past several years that
    it was hard to get canning supplies so the stores are really full now.Lehmans
    sells a large amount of lids at a decent price.
    Kevin -its not how we put up the food but that we do !! Good for you. I just bought a dehydrator last year and learned at our local county ext. service how to dry apples etc. They taste great !! Happy harvesting everyone. Arlene
    The first time I canned carrots many years ago I didnt know about pressure canning and they all developed mold-and had to be discarded- a tough lesson !!

  3. Excellent article!

    Growing your own food is half the battle. Being able to preserve what you grow is the second half. I see that you compliment your supply with locally grown food and that is great. Not everyone has the space to grow all the fruits and veggies they need to get by throughout the year.

    Canning (pressure and water bath), dehydrating and using a vacuum sealer are all great methods to preserve your harvest. I would recommend that if you never did any, take a local class in your area. You will learn a lot.

  4. Gault, thanks for the very nice post. My jars are all stored in a manner so that earthquake cannot vibrate them off of the shelves (in a manner similar to shelves on a boat). We have converted completely to the wonderful plastic re-useable rings as well.


  5. I was taught canning and food preservation from the time I could stand on a chair and snap peas over a colander in the sink ! ( dating myself ) LOL Green Beans too ! I’m truly glad this “lost art” is making a come-back, and glad you are willing to learn. Some of us have never given it up !


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