Canning Your Own Food

Canning Your Own Food

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In recent years, I’ve met more and more people who can and preserve their own food. When a friend gave me a jar of peach and blueberry preserves that she canned herself, I started thinking about this even more. At this time of year, I’m always buying too much at the farmers market and then scrambling to find things to do with it all. What, exactly, does it take to get into canning your own food? Is it the kind of project that could be undertaken in a library, school, or makerspace?

I’ve done some preliminary investigating, and here’s what I’ve found out.

Basic Supplies

1. A source of information about what on earth you’re doing. If you can find an expert, that sounds desirable. A New York Times article also recommended theNational Center for Home Food Preservation, which has the support of the USDA, the University of Georgia, and Alabama A&M (among others). The same article also recommends Pick Your Own as a site that translates the NCHFP page into plainer English. My own searching also turned up some straightforward-sounding instructions from Better Homes and Gardens.

2. Mason jars with lids (images)

3. Boiling water canner or pressure canner (definitely a pressure canner if you’re canning foods that aren’t very acidic)

4. A jar lifter (images)

5. A spatula

6. Lots of boiling water for sterilizing jars

7. Better Homes and Gardens also suggests a jar funnel and a magnetic lid wand (both of which sound like they would simplify the process immensely).

8. Food to can!

What To Do With Those Supplies

Follow directions from experts! Apparently the health and safety standards for canning food have changed a lot in relatively recent years, so you probably want to do some reading before you dig out your grandma’s old recipes. You can get food poisoning if you don’t do things properly. That being said, here are some sets of directions I found:

1. National Center for Home Food Preservation, “Using Boiling Water Canners” and “Using Pressure Canners.”

2. Better Homes and Gardens, “General Canning Steps.”

3. Pick Your Own, “Directions for Home Water Bath Canning” and “Home Pressure Canning Foods.”

Are Libraries, Museums, Etc. Already Teaching This?

Some of them are! You’d definitely need a kitchen setup to be able to pull this off, but once you’ve got that, the canning equipment doesn’t appear to be terribly expensive. Some libraries I turned up who are already into canning include:

1. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA: Family Cooking Class: Homemade Preserves. (I love how it sounds like they’re tying this into WWI history!)

2. Historic Waco Foundation in Waco, TX: Victorian Harvest Time.

3. Campbell Library in Campbell, CA: DIY: Preserving Fruits and Vegetables


Do we have any readers who can their own food? I’d be curious to hear more in the way of dos and don’ts, and tasty recipes!


Image Credit: Canning Season by Chiot’s Run on Flickr

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