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…