Canning your own home grown food can be a great way to enjoy the nutrients of summer over the winter months. It is of course important to make sure that you are canning safely, and adhering to guidelines to make sure that the food you preserve lasts and is safe to eat. But in this post, I want to focus on a common question asked by those new to canning – “What should I be canning?”
There are a wide range of foods that it is possible to preserve to last you through the winter months. But just because it is possible to can something – that does not mean that it is necessarily a good idea for you. In my opinion, the answer to the above question is simple: You should be canning what you and your family will eat. I would recommend canning for your food needs for the next year only.
Many people new to canning get carried away with all the great recipes online and can a range of things that then sit on shelves uneaten. But I believe that it is not enough to preserve food. You also need to eat it! While canned food can often last a lot longer, I believe it is helpful to think about canning for a year’s supply. There should be rotation. If you find that cans are still sitting on your shelves next year – this is probably not something you should be canning.
You might not always be able to tell right away whether or not you and your family will eat through your winter food supplies. So it is important to take inventory, and take note of what you need more of, and what you overstocked. Too many jars of jam? Not enough apple sauce? Too few tomato sauce jars? Too much chutney?
Every family can be different when it comes to what they eat over winter, so when canning, it is important to keep your own family/ household in mind. Over time, you will get a much better sense of the things that go down well, and those things that are left uneaten. Take notes, and you can spend your time more effectively and make sure you have enough of any favourites. Remember, depending on your climate and the conditions where you live, you may well have access to fresh food year round too.
If you would like some help to come up with a year-round growing and eating plan for your family, please get in touch.