Home canning might seem more like an activity your grandparents did than something busy people in our day would embrace. But canning homegrown and local foods is undergoing a revival, and many people now see canning as a key element of eating local, sustainable, healthy food. Here are some reasons you might like to join the ranks of modern canners:
1. Keep it local, year-round
If you don’t preserve food when it’s in season, you generally have to rely on grocery store, out-of-season produce that was shipped from far away. By canning local or homegrown foods when they’re in season and at the peak of their nutrition and flavor, you can enjoy those foods through winter. This is a smart choice for personal and environmental health.
2. Avoid additives
By canning your own foods, you know exactly what you’re adding to those jars. Foods from the store—whether processed foods or commercially canned foods—can contain a whole host of additives, from artificial colorings and flavorings to loads of added salt.
3. Avoid BPA in can liners
If you do like using canned foods in your kitchen, note that most of those metal cans at the grocery store have a liner inside the cans that contains a controversial chemical called BPA. Tests show that BPA—because it is in constant contact with the foods in the cans—does leach into the foods. Tons of evidence shows that BPA is a dangerous and potent endocrine disruptor linked to several serious conditions.
4. Supplies are pretty inexpensive and easy to find
Get a basic water-bath canner—new or used—some jars and lids, and a few other simple utensils, and you’re all set to start the process of home canning.
5. Have fun!
Myself and many of my friends love having summer canning parties during which, together, we can chat, laugh, listen to music, and share fresh produce. Canning can easily become a way to connect with friends or neighbors. A lot about our modern food system is isolated—consumers are almost completely isolated from growers and food processors. Growing your own food—or getting it directly from a farmer at a local farmers market—and canning it with friends breaks down such isolation and creates more meaningful connections.
Resources to help you get started in home canning:
- Home Canning Guide: Learn How to Can Your Own Food
- Home Canning: Putting Food By the Old-Fashioned Way
- Water Bath Canning and Pressure Canning: Explained
- How to Can Tomatoes at Home
- Canning Safety Tips
- Free How to Can App
- Eat Locally Grown Food All Year
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