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Can It - Storing the Harvest

Most gardeners are the type who raise food for a family of 38 people. Since most families aren’t that large, many gardeners turn towards anyone who has a pulse to take their vegetables. It seems a shame to let them go to waste, but the human body is only capable of ingesting a certain number of cucumbers no matter what type of sauces you dip them into. Fortunately, gardeners have an option for their harvest. They are able to can most of the extra food they brought out from their garden. Canning is a method of preserving food naturally in glass jars so that it can be eaten months down the road. This article serves to give you the basic idea of canning. There are other articles to walk you through the processes of canning.

Proper storage actually begins with the harvest and knowing what the right time is to bring in a crop. Some vegetables are not as crucial, while others have to be picked at just the right time. This is a matter of knowing your crop. If you don’t know, check the Internet, books, or a gardening neighbor. Don’t be afraid to ask and make sure that you are right.

Once you have brought in your boxes, bags, and buckets full of vegetables, it is time to try to preserve them. If it starts to seem like too much work just imagine sitting together in the dead of winter enjoying home grown produce. You have the added benefit of having it on hand and not having to trek to the store. People from Florida may not consider that a great deal, but the North Daktoans would have some great things to say about being able to stay indoors during the month of December.

Canning is a simple process and just about anyone can do it. If you have problems, there is almost always somebody close by who has done at least some canning before. Never be afraid to ask for help. The good news is that you are dealing with gardeners who tend to be nurturers anyway. Most of them live to help people.

There are two ways to can. Both of them work on the same principle. You heat the food enough to kill the bacteria that cause food to spoil. You also force the extra air out of the jar. Once the jar cools, it forms a vacuum seal (airless) and keeps those bacteria from growing again. Food can keep for years with this method, letting you enjoy the fruits – and vegetables – of your labors long after the harvest.

The first method is a boiling water canner. This is an older method where a jar is placed in the boiling water and capped. It was mostly used to make pickles and to can fruit. Fruits contain citric acid – as well as other acids – that prevent the bacteria from growing. However, it is not used to can vegetables now because it does not heat up enough to kill the bacteria.

The second method is a pressure canner where the lid locks tightly onto the jar and high temperatures can be reached quickly. It’s much more “high-tech,” but its also safer for you and your family.

Whichever method you use for canning, as long as you take the proper precautions, you and your family should be able to enjoy your hard-worked garden harvest for years afterwards.

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