“Why do you can?” “There is no need to can here! You can get produce fresh all year round!” True. So why do I can?
There is no winter here that you have to stock up for. Most of your vegetables are available year-round and the fruiting trees have two producing seasons each year, meaning there is a good chunk of time twice a year where you can enjoy those fruits. So why can?
Produce is cheap here (most of the time, not all) and you can get meat fresh every week! Why can?
The simple answer? I like to. I find canning up my own food to put in my pantry for my own use very fulfilling.
What are the other reasons you can?
- When you have your own garden, regardless of how cheap produce is, it saves you money as long as you use an economical fuel source. Even when not using the most economical fuel source I’d bet you’d come out close to even when crunching the numbers (free produce from the garden + cost of fuel).
- When you do grow a garden, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the production and canning allows you to eat the produce when you want.
- Convenience! When I’m canning things I can do a bunch of work all at once and then I have the freedom to walk into my pantry and grab a jar off the shelf easily later. Meals come together quickly when you have canned staples waiting for you. I don’t have to think about defrosting that stock ahead of time or soaking and boiling beans for hours when I want to use them; they are there, ready to use.
- Creativity. Knowing you can make that new flavor of jam with tropical fruit and preserve it, inspires me to try new things. Mango-pineapple spread? You betcha! Would you like a glass of home-canned passion fruit juice? We can do that.
- Quick Meals. Meals in a jar are quick. For those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking, you’re running behind, or are sick. A meal in a jar is a good and quick way to feed the family.
- Having a pantry full of staples means I don’t HAVE to run to the market if I don’t feel up to it that day. I’ve worked hard to put that food up and I get to take a break in other areas if I want to.
- Less waste. Though this is a topic big enough for it’s own post, I love that canning allows me to be less wasteful. Butcher a chicken and nothing is wasted because after those meals from the meat, dog food (or Dave food) from the organs, you get to roast the bones and can up some bone broth for using in other foods later. Less waste, more productivity!
So far in the first two weeks we have lived here, I have canned up tomato juice and bone broth.
I will be canning up pineapple chunks, mango puree, and dried beans this week to begin to build my pantry. After that I have plans for tomato chunks and some preserves.
How do you do canning when no supplies are available?
Think reusable. Everyone in the canning world knows that jars and rings are reusable but most people in the have not heard of reusable lids. Some people know that you can reuse the metal lids a few times, despite the manufacturer saying not to, but that isn’t a long-term solution to living in a place where you can’t find canning supplies to replace the metal lids.
That is where Tattler Lids come in handy. They are a safe plastic lid that uses a separate gasket and they are reusable indefinitely. If the gasket is nicked or damaged you can replace it with a new one and continue to use the lid no problem.
Tattler lids have mixed reviews from the canning community simply because the old-timers try to use them in the same way that you use metal lids. You just can’t. The old metal lids you screw down firmly BEFORE processing but with Tattler lids you don’t tighten the rings AT ALL and then tighten them directly AFTER taking them out of the canner (you still have the metal ring on the jar to hold the lid in place). Different lid, different directions and if you follow their directions (the Tattler Company’s) you will have a successful seal. I haven’t had a single one fail yet and I started using them a couple of years ago, before we were even in Africa. I love them and recommend them.