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Updated: Jan 3

Are you thinking about canning your harvest?? But are unsure if canning is for you. Today you and I are going to walk the pros and cons of preserving your harvest by canning. Let's Get Growing!


Is Canning for you?

Today you and I are going to talk about the pros and cons of canning. And asking that burning question is canning for you? Is preserving your harvest by putting your harvest in jars with lids and rings for you?

Now there are two different styles of canning, pressure canning and water-bath canning. But today you are going to talk about canning in general, so you can decide if this method of preserving is for you. There are many ways you can preserve your harvest and canning is just one of them.

When I first started I started with the easiest method, freezing, and worked my way up to pressure canning. Because I felt freezing was easy. I had lots of littles running around and in that season of my life, that was all I could handle. And that is why you and I are going to look at canning to see if you are ready to jump in this harvest season. So take your time to look at all of these pros and cons before you decide!

Pros and Cons of Canning

I have listed these pros and cons in order from least to greatest. I have also alternated them to give a little variety as you read through them. Let’s get growing!

Pro- Convenience

Now, this is not saying that the process of canning is convenient but that having the finished product on your shelf is. The ease of preparing a jar of homegrown green beans for supper is so easy. All you have to do is open the jar, pour it into a saucepan, heat, and serve.

Canning is not just limited to whole vegetables but you can make and can gravy, spaghetti sauce. This list could go on and on. The convenience of having part of your supper already prepared is a blessing at 5:30 at night when you are wondering what to cook!

I remember when I discovered that you could pressure can, new potatoes. It was a lifesaver. My family loves those little tender potatoes but let me tell you it is hard to store them for very long because they dry out so quickly. But the convenience of being able to pull a jar of these tender beauties off the shelf in mid-January was amazing. It was as simple as open, drain, warm in the butter and we had delicious new potatoes that tasted as they had just been dug from the garden. To learn more about how I did this you can check out this blog post, Planning Beyond the Harvest with Potatoes!

Con- Lower Nutrient Value of Food

The process of canning cooks the fruits and vegetables or whatever it is you decide to can, which causes a loss of nutrient value of about 65%. Yes, eating fresh is the best way to consume your food to get all the nutrients that those foods have available for you but I think canning is the next best thing.

When you can it is best to only can fruit and veggies when that is at their peak, when they are in season. And by doing this you are making sure that even if you lose a few nutrients in the process you are still putting the best food on your family plates even in December. Because in a way these numbers will balance themselves out!

Pro- Self Sufficient

Growing your own food and preserving it will always make you less dependent on others for your food supply. And this makes you more self-sufficient!

Con- Storage Area

Jars full of produce are going to need some kind of storage area. When you can your products you are canning and storing enough food to last you for a few months. Not just a month like you do when you go grocery shopping. I know when I shop I try to stock up about a month's supply, which does take a little extra room in my cupboard. But when you are canning you are trying to do enough to last you through the whole year or to can your whole harvest. This amount can be quite significant and will need you to have a designated area. And may need to even think about building a root cellar or storage area.

Pro- Less Expensive

Canning your own produce can be less expensive. Now, this is not talking about all of the upfront equipment but more about how the replacement tools you will have to buy each year will be less expensive. Because the only things that are going to have to be repurchased are the produce and the lids. But I have seen huge strides in reusable lids in the last year so that may be taken off of the table too.

You can also look at this as that using and reusing jars every year can be less expensive on the environment. A glass jar, when it has broken or worn out its use, takes less time to decompose in the landfill than a can. Yes, cans can be recycled but face it not every can used in the United States is recycled properly.

Con- Short Life if Not Stored Properly

A jar of green bean will have a shorter lifespan than say a metal can of green bean because the glass is thinner and more transparent. But if you store your jars in a special area or root cellar where you can keep out the light and a consistent max temperature of 70 degrees you should have no problem with your harvest lasting for a few years.

Pro- Harvest Last thru the Winter

You have worked really hard to grow and nurture your fruits and vegetables in your garden and the last thing you want is for your harvest to go to waste. By preserving with canning, your harvest you will be able to enjoy it through the whole winter. And if you want to learn more about making a plan so that your harvest does not go to waste you should grab the Planning Beyond the Harvest Handbook. In this handbook, I walk you through the 5 steps I have used to make a plan for my harvest here at Red Ridge Farm Homestead!

Con- Equipment

The process of Canning is going to take special equipment that may be a huge investment at first. You are going to need jars, lids, rings, a pressure canner, or a water-bath canner. But what I have noticed over the years is that all of this equipment is made to last and in the long run preserving your harvest by canning is cheaper. I am currently using my mother's pressure canner that she got given to her 30 years ago!

Pro- Preserve What You Want

You can preserve what you want. If you want green beans then you can do simple green beans but if you want green beans, onions, and a hint of bacon you can do that too. It is all up to you! You don’t have to be confined to what you find in the grocery store!

This is also a pro of gardening. You can grow a variety of vegetables you would never find at your local supermarket and when you preserve these varieties as well you will have so many more choices for your family!

Con- Knowledge

Growing your own food takes knowledge and so does preserving your food. You are going to have to reach out to someone in your community or take a course to learn the proper methods of canning. Sadly this is an art that has been lost over the years.

But I do want to say, if you are determined to learn this skill you will find someone to help you. In the past 5 years, there has been an explosion of people wanting to learn this skill so the market has answered them with many online courses and blog posts!

Pro- Specific Recipes

This ties into the previous pro. Not only can you can what you want but you can preserve the recipes you want. Maybe your mom makes the most delicious spaghetti sauce. You can use her recipe and can jar after jar for your family to use on a weeknight when you are busy to remind you of mom! The list of different recipes you can use is endless.

Con- Time

The reason canning can be cheaper than the grocery store is that you are the one doing all of the work. And that work is not added to the price. But it should be. Everything good in life takes time. But what I love is that this is something you can do as a family. And a family that works together gets to eat healthy food together!

So now that you have gone through a few pros and cons about canning. Is canning for you? Comment below if you would like some help with Planning for Beyond the Harvest!

And as always,

Don’t let the World hold you back,

Pray, Just Plant!!

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