9 Reasons to Try Canning This Summer

credit: K Martinko

From reducing waste and saving money to preserving seasonal produce, there are many reasons why traditional canning is making a comeback.

Canning, whether it’s making fruit jam or pickling vegetables, gives me a lot of satisfaction. The more I do, the easier and more efficient it gets. Recently, my grandmother lamented that canning is a dying art, but I disagreed and told her that I think more people are starting to see the value in processing seasonal produce to enjoy all year round. Here are some of the reasons why I think a growing number of people are incorporating canning into their summer routines.

1. Canning is almost zero-waste

You can reuse the same glass jars and screw lids year after year. The only new item needed is snap-lids, since you must have a fresh, new seal in order to keep the food properly preserved.

2. Canning is a way to preserve the freshest local produce

Fruits and vegetables are always best when eaten in their proper season, and canning enables you to keep that wonderful taste of early summer strawberries and late summer peaches to enjoy in the middle of winter. Nothing at the supermarket can compare.

3. Canning at home allows you to keep additives out of your food

When you can at home, you know exactly what’s going into those jars. Most recipes require minimal ingredients – just fruit, sugar, and lemon for jams, and vinegar, salt, and spices for pickles. You won’t need to worry about extra sodium or unrecognizable ingredients or BPA in store-bought cans.

4. Canning teaches kids about where their food comes from

Many kids think that food just comes from the supermarket. Explain to them how the seasons work, and how certain foods grow and ripen naturally at particular times of the year. Take them to pick fruit, which is a fun family activity.

5. Canning helps you to support local farmers and reduce food miles

Pick-your-own fruit farms are everywhere (visit this site to find one nearby), but you can also buy large baskets of produce directly from farmers. The smaller quantities sold in stores tend to be much more expensive. By buying and canning at home, you will reduce the total number of miles that your food has travelled to get to your table, and its accompanying carbon footprint.

6. Canning can save you a lot of money

Buy fresh produce in bulk, and ask your local farmer if you can get cheaper ‘seconds,’ which are slightly bruised, damaged, or ugly produce. By reusing the same glass jars and screw-top lids every year, you’ll have minimal costs associated with canning each year – certainly less than if you were to buy the same items in cans or jars at the supermarket.

7. Canning means you’ve got the perfect homemade gift on hand at all times

People love homemade preserves, jams, and pickles, which makes them the perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer. One of my favourite wedding gifts was a huge basket full of homemade jams, jellies, and chutneys, which I enjoyed eating for months afterward.

8. There is food security in canning

There is something deeply satisfying about storing food for future consumption and knowing it’s always there. I think it’s a good idea to minimize one’s dependence on the corporate grocery and Big Ag food world. Canning is a way to stay off the ‘food grid’ as much as possible. Jars also won’t go bad in the case of an unexpected power outage.

9. The act of canning carries on an age-old tradition

It’s only in the past generation that canning has fallen to the wayside. For centuries, people had to preserve their own food out of necessity, but now we’ve become so dependent on a larger food system that canning hardly seems worth the effort. It’s a skill, however, that’s worth preserving.