IMU’s Handy Fall Canning Guide

Home canning is back in fashion, as more Americans focus on a better quality of life, greater self-sufficiency and easier access to affordable, high-quality food. Whether you’re an old pro or a newbie, we have tips to help you save energy and maximize your canning results.

Canning essentials

There are three basic types of canning: pressure canning, water bath, and steam canning.

  1. Pressure canning uses a special pressure canner, and is used for preserving low acidity foods and prepared foods like sauces, stews, and meats that need a cooking temperature above boiling to kill harmful bacteria.
  2. Water bath canning involves covering prepared jars in boiling water and processing (boiling for the correct amount of time) to create the needed seal.'
  3. Steam canning is now approved by the FDA for properly acidified foods (the same as water bath canning). It requires a special pan that needs less water and heating energy, and makes jar-handling easier. Both methods are typically used for acidic foods such as tomatoes and certain kinds of fruit.

What about freezing and dehydrating?

Overall, a balanced approach is best. You can freeze just about anything, especially when it’s also vacuum sealed. But even with a big deep freeze, space gets tight quickly. And if your freezer isn’t completely full at all times, this can be a costly approach, as partially empty freezers must work harder to maintain temperature.. Dehydrating is great for items like jerky and dried fruit for snacking, but is a well-known depleter of nutrients. Consider reserving the deep freeze for meat and other items that don’t work well with other preservation methods.

Four great reasons to can this year

  1. Reduce food waste. Canning reduces food waste by allowing you to preserve large amounts of fresh foods at once, preserving them for up to a year.
  2. Save money. Canning is more cost-effective than refrigerating or freezing. Food also lasts longer and holds its nutrients and flavor better!
  3. Connect with family. Many people are turning back to canning to recapture grandma’s favorite recipes and make new family memories.
  4. Save time on meal prep. Canning saves time prepping future meals. Just open your jars and heat for quick sides and tasty main dishes all winter long.

Concerned about the added energy costs of canning?

You might be surprised! Depending on the time of day and which types of canning are predominant in your kitchen, your energy investment for 1,500-2,000 cans - enough to feed a family of four for a winter - is only between $20 and $40.