It seems like it would be putting the cart before the horse to think about canning already. Really, there is still some snow on the ground around here. However, I want to be “putting food by” this year so I need to be planning ahead of planting. If I put some thought into what we would like to be eating next winter and how we will preserve that food, I should plan what that food will be (and how much) so I can plant appropriately.
I expect to improve my skills at freezing and dehydrating this year. As for canning, I have never canned, so I can’t really improve skills I don’t have. But we will be canning this year. I didn’t put up any tomatoes last year even though I had a huge crop – and by huge, I mean WAY more than we could consume. I regret not canning all of those tomatoes, especially in the middle of winter.
If you haven’t thought about canning, you should. I think it is an important part of self-sufficiency. It should help you reduce your reliance on the grocery store and what you spend there. It is also a dying art. I recall both of my grandmothers and my mother canning every year. My parents had an enormous garden and we ate its bounty throughout the year. But my wife does not can, nor was she taught this art by her mother; something that previous generations had passed on. In fact, most of the women I know do not can, nor do they know how. And why should they? Food is plentiful at the store.
But what happens when the day comes that food is not plentiful at the store, or money is tight, or both? Should you be relying on outside systems for your daily nutritional needs? I would argue that it is just plain foolhardy to put off learning any longer.
I will be picking up a copy of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, considered the Bible of preserving by some (or most?). I was also considering a copy of Putting Food By by Janet Greene.
If you are looking for more information on preserving, canning, freezing, and dehydrating, definitely check out Ball’s site freshpreserving.com. It has a lot of information, resources, recipes, ideas, and also some crafts.
And if you intend to can this year, start thinking about what you will be preserving. You’ll need to plan your planting accordingly.