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Get Real: Why Canning and Freezing are the Way to Go

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

This month is all about canning and freezing your tasty, nutritious whole foods.  Why, you ask, are these the best methods of food preservation to use if you are a whole foodie?  I’m glad you asked!

There are several reasons these methods are optimal for those of us striving to make whole foods a priority in our homes:

  1. There are minimal to no preservatives used to maintain the quality and freshness of food.  With freezing, most foods require no other preservatives; and with canning, there are small amounts of preservative that are necessary, but you can be sure to choose very basic and natural options.
  2. You know exactly what has gone into your food, and whom has handled your food.
  3. These methods preserve the greatest amount of nutrients at the food’s peak of freshness; although some canning methods may have a very slight loss of vitamins or minerals during the heating portion of the process.
  4. These methods are cost effective (most of the time).  There are definitely times when canning is not the least expensive option, but I think it’s worth a few extra pennies here and there when the quality of the food you are eating is increased.  Freezing is a no-brainer, when it comes to the inexpensiveness of the process.

Although most of the research I found favors freezing over canning, canning has many benefits.  Canning is a time-tested method that has been done for over four thousand years, and has been passed down through the generations.  It is a very specific art form, a precision form of cooking, with little to no room for spontaneity or improvising.  If your home lacks sufficient freezer space then canning is definitely a great option for you.  One canner I spoke with says that she almost always prefers canned stone fruits (such as peaches) to frozen, since they keep their color and flavor better when canned.  Also, home canned items make wonderful gifts for friends or family.

What do you think, is canning something you want to try?  How much canning experience have you had?  Do you have a favorite canning recipe or technique?  Let us know in the comments!

Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles

Adapted by Hilary Browning of Thistle Confections

Makes one quart jar or two pint jars

  • 2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 pound onions, cut into slender rings
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt, or Diamond Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pickling spice blend (see recipe below)
  1. Combine the zucchini, onion slices, ice, and salt in large bowl.  Add cold water until the zucchini and onion are covered.  Set aside for two hours.
  2. Drain the zucchini and onions well.  Rinse them, then drain them again.  Place the zucchini mixture back in the large bowl.
  3. To make the brine, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and spice blend.  Bring to a rapid boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Use a stainless steel or enamelware saucepan.  Do not use aluminum, as it can leech!
  4. Pour the brine over the zucchini mixture.  Ladle into jars.  Allow to cool to room temperature; refrigerate for up to three weeks.

Hilary’s All-Purpose Pickling Spice Blend

Recipe by Hilary Browning of Thistle Confections

  • 4 tablespoons dill seed (or celery seed if you do not prefer the taste of dill)
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 5 bay leaves, crumbled

Combine all spices in a  mason jar.  Store for future use.  Use this blend for any recipe that calls for pickling spice.

August Week One Action Item:

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.

1.    Try a simple canning recipe and see what you think!  I am including a tasty, easy recipe for zucchini refrigerator pickles that I just learned at a canning class this past week.  No expert skills are required for this one.

August Get Real:

Please take a moment to thank our guest authors by clicking over to their sites and/or liking them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Sponsor:  Once A Month Mom

Guest Author: Marisa of Food In Jars



16 Responses to “Get Real: Why Canning and Freezing are the Way to Go”

  1. Lanette says:

    Personally, I believe that canning and DEHYDRATING are the way to go. That is because it is much easier to lose the contents of the freezer (power outage, mechanical failure, door left open, etc.) and it is more energy efficient to store foods without requiring electricity. I have frozen some fruit for smoothies, and some of the corn (we like it better than canned) but everything else is safely stored in jars!

    HIGHLY recommend the book “Independence Days” by Sharon Astyk for a great read about why to preserve.

  2. Stacie says:

    Perfect timing…The Hubs and I are going to try canning pickles for the first time. Bought our canning pot, jars and spices…just need cucumbers to give it a whirl.
    These refrigerator pickles sound perfect to get started with. :)

  3. jamie says:

    I just tried canning peaches for the first time. They look good. If all goes well I am planning to do more peaches then applesauce in the fall.

  4. Amy Ries says:

    I would love to learn how to can chicken. I bought a pressure canner, but I haven’t used it yet. Would LOVE a tutorial on that!!

  5. Sally says:

    Canning is my preference. You can eliminate all salt, use organic ingredients and tailor your seasonings. Power outages won’t rob you of your hard work stored in the freezer. If I am blessed with tons of produce and am short on time, I will freeze and/or dehydrate the surplus. As soon as I can can ( ha! can-can) , the extra frozen veggies become a variety of soups which I then can. It is work but I find it an enjoyable art. Creative and precise at the same time.

    Today, tomatoes are on the dehydrator, peppers are roasting in the oven ( I will cut them into strips and place one each in a sandwich baggie. All the small baggies go into a large gallon bag in the freezer. I pull out one small bag at a time for quesadillas etc. ) and green beans are on their way to the pressure canner.

  6. Leslie says:

    I grew up with parents that canned. Now that I am in my 40′s , I am canning myself. This is my second year and I have finished 9 quarts of tomatoes and 6 pints of salsa. It is so wonderful to open some summertime vegetables in the cold of the Michigan winters. I hope to do more canning in the next two months.

  7. Rebecca A. says:

    I have been canning up a storm this year for the same reasons above. We have food allergies and are finding it nice to know that what we eat has not been cross contaminated. So far this year we have canned cherries, peaches, green beans, corn, cream style corn, dog food, blueberries, soup and plums! Next weekend is going to be tomatoes of all different types.

  8. Melanie says:

    I grew up around all the women in my family canning. My mom was the president of 4-H and FHA in her senior year of high school. So, I grew up with “Suzy Homemaker”! I’ve been canning on my own for nearly ten years now. So far this year, I’ve canned beef broth, chicken broth, chili, corn, peaches, salsa, strawberry jam & cherries. Next on the agenda is pizza sauce, pasta sauce, ketchup, blueberry butter, blueberry syrup, green beans, purple hull peas, apples, applesauce and pears. That’s an insane list. :)

  9. Wait, canning has been around for over 4000 years?! I want to learn more about that! I assumed it was a much more recent innovation.

    I haven’t been able to work up the courage to can yet. I really want to, but it sounds so intimidating with all the special pots and stuff to buy!

  10. Lanna says:

    I have over 1500 canning jars, probably more. You could say I do a fair amount of canning. :) When local peaches become ripe, I’ll probably be getting at least 9 boxes, need closer to 15-17 boxes to can up to last the year for us…

    I don’t keep all my eggs in one basket – I freeze, pressure and water bath can, dehydrate, and keep trying to do a little root cellar-type storage in the garage during the winter. So if something happens, I have a backup so to speak. :D

  11. Rebecca C. says:

    I have canned tomatoes quite a few times. I like to keep things simple. Score the skin, drop in boiling water for a minute, then into ice water. Peel the skin, core, and slice into four or six large wedges. Stuff into jars that have been sterilized with a little lemon juice and process in water bath. I also made salsa with some of those tomatoes, and with my green tomatoes I made several jars of salsa verde. I use them like tomatillos, they are very close in color, texture, and flavor.

    Apples I tried for the first time last fall. I had a lot, so I made apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, apple jelly and apple slices. I am finding that I am not using the apple sauce near as much as I thought I would. I have use the apple butter as a spread or mix in with oatmeal, yogurt, etc. I have made a few quick apple pies with the filling. I have found the apple slices to be the most versatile. Alone you can make an apple pie, crisp, crumble, or almost anything out of them. You could also turn then into apple sauce later on. I will probably make the majority of my apple canning be just plain apple slices this year. I don’t season it because I like it to be versatile. Just peel, core, slice, stuff into sanitized jars and process. Apple jelly is almost a byproduct of canning apples. Boil and simmer the skins and especially the cores because that is where the pectin is, basically add sugar and you have apple jelly. I got a lot of my ideas from pickyourown.org.

  12. Veronica says:

    What is a natural option for preservatives when canning? Thanks! :)

  13. [...] in fact, that the price is reduced dramatically, so consumers will grab it up fast. If you have freezer space or like to can foods, stock up when fruits and veggies are at their rock bottom price, so you can eat from your surplus [...]

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