Preserve Your Harvest with Canning

Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor all year long with this guide to canning.

| June 2018

  • canned goods
    Be it through canning, freezing, dehydrating, culturing, or cold storage, preserving the bounty of spring, summer, and fall is the very best way to ensure you are eating well all year round!
    Photo by Shaye Elliot
  • cover
    “Welcome to the Farm” by Shaye Elliot is a comprehensive guide for all readers wanting to grow their own food and live a homestead life from their backyard.
    Cover courtesy Lyons Press

  • canned goods
  • cover

In Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from The Elliott Homestead, Shaye Elliot teaches readers how they can live a homestead lifestyle without a farm. In this fully illustrated how-to, Elliot shows readers how to harvest their own vegetables, milk a dairy cow, cam jams and jellies, and more! The following excerpt is from Chapter 2, "Preserving the Harvest."

"Preserve everything!" is the homesteader's mantra during the months of plenty. You'll see many a farmgirl hunched over the stove canning her precious peaches, dehydrating her cherries in the sunshine, or bundling up herbs to dry. Traditionally, this is the only way people had food to eat during the winter. I suppose at least a tinge of that tradition has held on through the years. Be it through canning, freezing, dehydrating, culturing, or cold storage, preserving the bounty of spring, summer, and fall is the very best way to ensure you're eating well all year round!

Canning the Harvest

One of the most common ways to preserve a surplus of succulent summer goodness is by canning. Each year, homesteaders line up with their glass jars and zealous ambitions to fill their winter larders with the best of what the harvest has to offer. And after popping the top on those luscious, gently sweetened peaches while the snow falls, you'll totally understand why it's worth the effort. Summertime on our farm means boxes and boxes of ripe produce, sticky floors from "helpers" overfilling the jars, bottles of vinegar lined up along the walls, and the steam from the canner filling the kitchen. It's hardly a bad place to be.

Almost all vegetables, fruits, and meats can be preserved by using various methods of canning. What canned goods does your family currently enjoy? Are there specific crops that you'd like to invest your energy into preserving? We're surrounded by orchards in our area, so it's an annual ritual to put up a zillion (fine, it's closer to a million) jars of cherries, nectarines, peaches, and apricots. There's hardly a treat that makes my kiddos giddier than a bowl of canned cherries. We also put a lot of our canning efforts toward pickles, because I seem to be eternally pregnant, and I can hardly get enough. Asparagus, beets, cucumbers, a variety of green beans, and even eggs can be very easily pickled. If pickles aren't your weakness, as they are mine, how about canned beans? Tomato sauce? Corn? Jams and jellies? Dream of the jars lined up in your storage pantry, and let's get to work.

There are two basic methods of canning: water canning and pressure canning. Both are wonderful methods for the backyard homesteader to delight in.

Water Canning

Water canning is a beautiful preservation method for your excess foodstuff. When I delight in my memories of homesteading as a young girl, this is often the task that comes to mind. My grandpa often canned peaches, pears, and applesauce throughout the summer and fall, and the smell of warmed apples still takes me back to his kitchen. I remember being down in his root cellar, grabbing a few jars of pears off the dusty shelves, and feeling rich as I marched proudly up the stairs with my bounty in hand. Grandpa used to sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of his pears, which still gags me to this day, but I'll happily dive into a bowl of plain, preserved pears any day!



February 15-16, 2020
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