Home canning food is a lost seasonal art these days when the local grocery store is well stocked year round with anything and everything we need. But for the average prepper, canning remains a trusted and rewarding method for stocking a long term food supply. The goal for any prepper is to maintain a sufficient store of safe and nutritious emergency essentials for his or her family when a disaster occurs. Canning at home is one of the best approaches to long term food storage and is an ideal way to stock a respectable supply of healthy emergency goods.
Why Canning Food Is Vital For Preppers
It is an economical and safe method of preserving quality goods for long term storage at home. Not only does it provide an economical alternative to store bought supplies but it can be healthier option.
Commercially processed canned goods add sugar, salt and other preservatives, not to mention pesticides and other chemicals used in their initial production. Canning what your family grew every season was an annual tradition, perhaps lost in recent years, but it’s something that preppers are bringing back into the family fold.
The process itself provides a shared sense of accomplishment as everyone takes part in the growing, prepping and preserving, culminating in the enjoyment of eating the garden fresh delecacies you’ve produced yourselves.
Prepper Canning Methods
There are two main methods used. Each method requires its own particular piece of equipment but will ultimately depend on what type of food you plan to can. If fruits, jams or pickles are on the menu then a standard wide pot for boiling is all you need. But if you’re planning to preserve vegetables or meats then you will need a pressure canner given the higher temperatures required for safely processing those treats. Most pots sold these days are designed to hold seven quart jars.
Low-acid foods (pH above 4.6) such as vegetables (including tomatoes), meats, poultry and seafood require higher temperatures (240-250 degrees F) reached only through pressurized methods using a pressure cooker. This is to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulium, the bacterium that produces the botulism toxin.
High acid foods like fruits and pickles can be safely canned in a boiling water bath canner. Given its ease and the lower initial costs, most preppers start with this method then move on to pressure canning to expand the range of goods they want to preserve.
Preppers Basic Canning Supplies
The Basic equipment is inexpensive and readily available. Tools needed include:
- Jars and two-piece lids (a seal and a ring to hold it in place)
- A large pot with a lid and rack for a boiling water canner for high acid fruits and jams OR a pressure cooker for low acid meats and vegetables
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Tongs, a jar lifter and a funnel
Procedure for Boiling Water Canning
Procedures for water bath methods are straightforward:
- Ensure jars, lids and screw-on bands are in good condition; discard jars that have nicks, cracks or sharp edges, and discard bands that show signs of rust or are dented; new lids are required every time to ensure a good seal.
- Wash and rinse jars, lids and bands; put hot water into jars to preheat them until needed; sterilize jars if the recipe calls for it.
- Fill the canner with water so that it will be about 2 inches above the filled jars.
- Preheat the water to simmering.
- Prepare the ingredients according to the recipe.
- Fill the hot jars with prepared recipe to the level recommended.
- Use a spatula to work out air bubbles from the jar.
- Wipe the edge of the jar with a clean damp cloth, apply the lid and tighten the band snugly but do not over tighten.
- Use the jar lifter to place jars into the canner.
- Add more water if needed to cover the jars about 2 inches
Cover the pot with lid and boil vigorously initially and then gently for the time recommended by the recipe, listening for the distinctive twang as the air is sucked out and the lids are sealed tight.
- Remove canner from heat and remove its lid.
- Remove jars vertically and place on cooling racks away from a draft to cool undisturbed for 8-10 hours.
- When cool, test the seal by pressing on the lid; there should be no give.
- Label and store in a cool dry place.
Procedure for Pressure Canning
This process requires a careful check of equipment before use in addition to specific preparation steps:
- Clean, inspect and assemble the pressure cooker according to manufacturer instructions.
- Prepare jars, lids and screw-on bands the same as for the boiling water method.
- Add water to the pressure canner according to instructions and preheat the water.
- Prepare recipies according to directions provided .
- Fill hot jars to recommended levels, usually one inch for vegetables and meats, and one inch for fruits.
- Work out air bubbles with a spatula, and clean the sealing edge with a cloth.
- Use the jar lifter to position jars into the canner.
- Follow directions to vent air from the canner and then place the pressure regulator on the vent pipe.
- Heat the to the desired pressure and begin the process time.
- At the end of recommended time, remove from heat and let cool on its own.
- When pressure has been completely reduced, remove the regulator and allow time for additional cooling.
- Open the pressure canner and remove jars vertically.
- Let jars cool on racks undisturbed for 8-12 hours before pushing down on the lids to check for a proper seal.
- Label and store in a cool dry place.
Learning how to prepare and preserve your own essential emergency supplies with canning food techniques is a skill that every prepper will appreciate. Accompanied by a feeling of self-reliance for doing it all yourself, the reduced costs will allow you to stock your long-term preppers pantry quicker with goods your family will thoroughly enjoy.