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Should You Can Your Own Veggies?

The question of whether or not to can your own veggies is important for people involved with home gardens that often produce more than the grower’s household can consume. There are a limited number of ways to prepare something like Swiss chard.

Unlike tomatoes or zucchini, some veggies are also hard to give away to family and friends. Canning is a great option to store the summer’s bounty for winter enjoyment and can contribute to a larger emergency food supply strategy. But for some gardeners, canning may not be the right use of time and energy. This brief article will help you decide whether canning your own veggies is right for you.

Emergency Preparedness Plan

Since the escalation in terrorist activity since 9/11, the US Department of Homeland Security has established programs to ensure the American people, as well as American businesses, are prepared should a disaster strike. The government’s Disaster Supply Kit Website gives specific recommendations to help you prepare. They suggest at least a three-day supply of food for each member of the household. So even if you are not someone who believes in a pending apocalypse, it is clearly important to have some non-perishable food stored in case of an emergency.

Canning Benefits

“Non-perishable” is the key here, as electricity may be cut to your home or business in the case of natural disasters such as hurricane, blizzards, tornadoes, or floods. Canning is a solution to having non-perishable food that is also healthy.

Fruits and vegetables retain more of their fresh flavor in the canning process. You will also be fully aware of what went into the jar, so you can avoid the preservatives and chemicals of commercial canned goods, not to mention the metal from the cans.

Salt content is also a big issue when planning an emergency food supply. Salty foods will make you and your group thirsty, and certainly water will be in short supply. Commercial products, even organic ones, use a lot of salt in the preservation process and to increase flavor of processing not-yet-ripe produce. By canning your own veggies, you can be sure the salt levels are minimal because your garden will have the time to fully ripen.

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Considerations for the Novice

That said, if you have never canned your own veggies, you will want to familiarize yourself with the background of what canning involves. For one thing, it can be a time-intensive, not to mention labor-intensive, endeavor. Also, there is a financial overhead cost in canning your own veggies because you have to invest in the necessary equipment. You will need canning jars of an appropriate size for the items you plan to can, plus large pots for boiling.

On the other hand, if you are the type of person who likes to survive on your own resources, you might enjoy the challenge of canning the veggies you grow. Although there is no guarantee, generally a well-run veggie canning operation can end up saving you money on groceries during the winter months and give you and your household higher quality meals to boot.

If you do have the time, budget, and inclination, canning can bring the taste of summer to dreary winter months, reduce waster from your garden, help you prepare food for emergencies, and save dollars in the long term.  And then there’s that intangible sense of satisfaction you get when eating tasty food all prepared with your own hands.

Sarah Boisvert writes on a variety of topics from Apple computers to apple strudel recipes. She’s also written profiles on Martha Stewart, Steve Wynn, and Steve Jobs.

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