Does the end of summer excite you in anticipation of preserving the harvest’s bounty? Maybe you like to make jam for your family or as gifts. Perhaps you grew up with grandparents who preserved peaches or a mom who made salsa. No matter what your level of experience with home preservation it’s a great skill to acquire at any age!
Canning is one method of home preservation. It preserves food in multiple ways by:
- Removing air
- Preventing growth of bacteria, molds and yeast
- Destroying enzymes
- Creating a tight seal (keeps liquids in and air and bacteria out)
How are foods canned?
The type of canning depends on whether the food is high acid or low acid.
High acid foods: fruit
Low acid foods: meat, seafood or vegetables (except tomatoes)
High acid foods use a boiling water canner, typically this type of canning makes jams, sauerkraut, pickles, relishes, chutneys, condiments or fruit butters. Whereas low acid foods are canned using a pressure canner. A higher temperature is required to kill bacteria.
For more information on getting started with home preservation click here
Traditional Methods of Home Preservation
Before our modern preservation methods came into popularity food was preserved in some odd and ingenious ways. Including: drying, fermenting, pickling, dry salt, curing, smoking, sealing and cellaring.
Drying was a common method for drying fruits and some vegetables. To dry fruit was set under a cheesecloth in the sun or on a roof until becoming shriveled a hard. At that point it was then hung in cellar or store room till consumption. Later when it was time to eat the fruit or vegetable was soaked in water and stewed with sugar to increase palatability.
Whereas fruit was relatively easy to preserve, meat required many more intense steps. Upon killing game preservation or preparation had to happen quickly to reduce the risk of meat going bad. If meat was to be consumed within a few days, it would be parboiled or par roasted until being fully cooked within a few days. If it was to be preserved for longer it was salted to the point where it would not rot. Finally, prior to eating the meat was rinsed, scrubbed and soaked.
In the winter months’ meat, could be hung outside and frozen. Or it could be cured in a smokehouse. This process involved stoking a smoky fire below the meat for days or even weeks.
Pioneers had to undergo hours of labour to ensure they could provide their families with safe, nutritious food throughout the year. Although our modern preservation methods are much more industrialized the art of home preservation is still a skill that is valuable and worth learning. It gives one a sense of accomplishment and an awareness of what they are eating.
What are your favourite items to preserve? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear!
C, C. (2017). An overview of 10 home food preservation methods from ancient to modern – The Home Preserving Bible. Homepreservingbible.com. Retrieved 8 February 2017, from http://www.homepreservingbible.com/630-an-overview-of-10-home-food-preservation-methods-from-ancient-to-modern/
Eat Right Ontario – Introduction to home canning . (2017). Eatrightontario.ca. Retrieved 8 February 2017, from https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-Food-Preparation/Home-Canning.aspx
PBS – Frontier House: Frontier Life. (2017). Pbs.org. Retrieved 15 February 2017, from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/frontierhouse/frontierlife/essay6_2.html