Home canning today may not seem like it has much going for it, especially when grocery stores are full of inexpensive, convenient jars of preserves, jams, jellies and pickled vegetables that don' t require hard work and a hot stove. Despite the work involved, home canning still has its advantages.
Foods Out of Season
Home canning foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, has the advantage making seasonal produces available year-round. Before the advent of refrigeration, home canning meant you could have fruits and vegetables in winter, when nothing is growing. While modern imports make most fruits and vegetables available all year, out-of-season fruits are invariably expensive. Canning your own fruits and vegetables as jam, whole fruits or pickles at the height of their seasons ensures the availability of summer fruit flavors during the winter.
Along with seasonal fruits being less expensive than imported fruits, canning large quantities of fruits and vegetables is usually less expensive than purchasing jars of jam, jellies and pickled vegetables. While canning equipment and jars do cost money, they are a one-time expense. Fruits, berries and vegetables are usually affordable when bought in season and in bulk from a farm stand or large supermarket. After the fruits and vegetables, all you need are sugar, pectin, vinegar, salt and canning spices. One jar of jam or pickled vegetables costs significantly less than a quality store-bought jar.
Know What You're Eating
Canning your own foods allows you to put exactly what you want in the can. Home canned fruits and vegetables are free of preservatives, colorings and added flavorings. You control everything that goes into it, so you can choose organic produce, how much sugar you use and the overall flavor of the food.
When there is too much fruit to eat, too many tomatoes or cucumbers in the garden, too many berries picked down the road, the alternate to throwing all the items in the freezer is to can them. Preserving food helps reduce waste in times of abundance. Home canning also reduces the waste of unwanted glass jars because home canning jars are reusable and don't end up in a landfill or recycling center after one use.
One advantage of canning over other types of preservation methods is that canned foods make good gifts. Give your friends jars of jam, jelly and pickled vegetables. Add a homemade label, ribbon or cloth top covering and the gift is ready.
One of the greatest advantages of canning foods is that it is, for many people, an enjoyable activity to take joy and pride in. Creating your own jars of food that can be brought out and passed around the breakfast table is something to be proud of.