Food storage isn’t only about buying freeze-dried or dehydrated foods. It is very important to learn to be more self-sufficient by growing and preserving a portion of our food storage ourselves. What great peace of mind it brings to know that we can provide food for ourselves in times of need.
Every spring I plant a garden full of vegetables. We plant everything that we want to eat fresh—and what I want to can for the winter season. My family loves salsa, so we have a large area that is filled with tomatoes and several kinds of peppers. I also use my large garden area for corn, green beans, broccoli, cucumbers and melons.
I have learned to be creative when looking for garden spaces. Space beyond our main garden area is limited, so we use some of the area in our flower beds and among the rockwork to plant herbs, onions and garlic. We have planted grapes and raspberries along fences, and fruit trees are a productive part of our landscaping.
If you don’t have a large yard or a dedicated garden space, keep in mind that most garden vegetables grow quite well in pots. Just be sure to place them where they will receive the correct amount of sunlight.
Now is a great time to start planning for the fall canning season by growing what you want to store, and learning how to preserve your harvest by canning or dehydrating your own foods.
What about you, readers? Do you garden? How about canning and dehydrating foods? What are your best tips?
Sarah, start out with the Ball Blue Book, it is the gospel on canning. There are two ways to can, one is with high acid food (like tomatoes) that can be done in a water canner (large pot with water over the jars). the 2nd is with a pressure cooker that cooks under high pressure to kill things like botulism. I use my press cooker for meat, potatos, everything!
Where should I start if I am just wanting to learn to can? are there any books or anything that someone can recommend? I am trying to learn how to do this on my own. I have no one to help or ask questions to.
My husband and I are canning a good bit this year – we live in the south and are always concerned about long term electrical outages from hurricanes. We lost a ton of stuff several years ago in the freezer. We've canned peas, tomatoes, okra, squash, blackberry and blueberry jelly, and several kinds of figs. My first year canning okra. You can use the canned okra in soups, gumbos, etc. and also you can drain it, let it dry just a bit, flour and/or cornmeal it and fry it up for fried okra! My next project is to dehydrate. I can't wait to try that.
Tammy, that's a great point about the veggie "chips," I hadn't really considered that. Good luck with canning your tomato products! —Sarah
Zanny, those are great tips. I'm hoping to learn how to can and dehydrate foods this fall—if my garden survives! —Sarah
I have recently taken up both canning and dehydrating foods. So far I've made preserved lemons, ketchup, and pickled beets. I'm planning on a bumper crop of tomatoes, so I also plan to can homemade spaghetti sauce and salsa once they start producing.
My dehydrator is great for fruits and veggies. It's amazing how good "chips" from veggies can be, and with no fat or preservatives!
My husband and I garden and can. We have a suburban home so our garden space is limited but we have 4 tomato plants, 2 peppers, 2 haricot verts, 2 pole beans, 2 fava bean plants, a squash, a melon, radishes and pumpkins. We also can, you can buy canning tomatoes a 30 lbs. box for about $15. I like to can tomato sauce, salsa and pickled vegetables. You can also store veggies in the freezer, just blanch them and put them in freezer bags.