I’ve greatly increased my repertoire of preserving methods over the past few years. However, don’t get me wrong—I’m still deeply committed to all the reasons to choose canning. Sweating over my rusty water bath canner was the first time I found the joy of putting food by, and that thrill hasn’t diminished. When I have reason to venture into my canning room I end up distracted by rows of jams, pickles, bone broths, and vegetables lined up on the shelves.
If you are new to canning, I suggest checking out my post Canning for Beginners: What to Know to Get Started.
Despite my appreciation for fermenting, freezing, and dehydrating, I still turn to canning as my primary preserving option each year. Fermenting is my latest muse, and I tell you why in my post, 6 Reasons to Choose Fermenting for Food Preservation. However, if you want to know the main reasons canning is my old faithful, you can find them here. Some of the links in this posts are for affiliate products, which allow me to earn a small percentage at no extra charge to you.
Reasons to Choose Canning
Long Life/Shelf Stability
If you have followed all the safety recommendations for canning then it can be counted on to be safe for a very long time. Most official recommendations suggest using your canning within a year or processing. However, this is usually for quality. The colour and even nutrition may start to deteriorate after that, but if your canning is processed and sealed properly it will be safe indefinitely.
Store your canning without the ring, and throw out anything that doesn’t prove to have a proper seal. Watch for corroded lids—I once had one that was growing little fungi out the top and crumbled when I pushed my thumb against it. That’s an obvious failure—you will want to be alert before it gets to that! This is one reason I am particularly fond of my vintage glass lids. You could also use Tattler lids or Weck jars.
Ease of Storage
The simplicity of storing your mason jars of food is another one of the reasons to choose canning. Ideally, you will have a cool, dry, dark space in which to stash your canning. As glass jars are, obviously, prone to breakage you will want to make sure your shelves are strong and stable.
Freezing is the most high-need when it comes to storage requirements. Fermenting is better, but finished ferments should usually be stored somewhere fridge-cool to halt the fermentation process. Dehydrating is more susceptible to humidity problems. Canning takes the win!
Very Concrete Procedure
If you are someone who likes to follow a clear set of instructions and check off all the boxes, canning is a great option for you. You should always follow tested recipes to ensure your end product will be safe for your family. This is the reason the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is, by far, the most used on my (very full) cookbook shelf.
As you gain experience you will begin to learn where you can change some flavours without compromising safety. But, overall, canning comes with a strong set of rules to follow. Sometimes it is nice to know that everything can be neatly wrapped up. My most trusted source for current recommendations is the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Although all the food is cooked when it is canned, there is lots of options when it comes to spices and flavours. In this aspect it can compete with freezing while still being shelf stable and available on a whim. Fermenting fruits and vegetables almost always results in a sour flavour as the bacteria does their work, consuming sugars. I certainly enjoy a good kimchi or pickled apple, but it’s just not the same as being able to open a jar of borscht or apple sauce.
Ingredient Options and Pressure Canning
Once you delve into pressure canning you will discover the magic of canned meat and veggies. There is something satisfying to opening a jar of chicken or fish and putting it straight into a wrap. It’s like fast pre-packaged food without the harmful additives and suspect processing. Pressure canning also redeems tough meats and “garbage” fish.
While you can freeze finished foods, they will be a frozen block if need access to them quickly. Those with ambitious passion might enjoy delving into fermented or dehydrated meats. Still, it doesn’t come with the ease and simplicity of canning. You can also use canning to put aside jars of soup, hamburger, or vegetables such as potatoes.
Once you see all the reasons to choose canning it is likely to become a reliable practice in your home. Whether you buy a case of peaches from you local farmer, go crazy with your own produce, or make marmalade when the citrus is ripe, it is a satisfying experience. I hope you will also know the joy of shelves full of the fruits of your labour.
Having great information at your fingertips is essential for any canning kitchen. Here are some of the books I have relied on.
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
This book is always the one I turn to first. No matter which produce I’m working with, I am sure to find a creative and reliable recipe to use. It is not heavy on photos or illustrations, but as a go-to set of recipes it can’t be beat.
The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
Another classic book, this one covers a wider base of preserving styles at the cost of canning recipes. However, there are still plenty available, which you can review in Amazon’s “look inside” option. It has better illustrated steps and basic instructions. It is the perfect option if you’re looking for a book to get you started.
Canning for a New Generation: Updated and Expanded Edition: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry
This is a fun book, and a great fit for the kitchen that is looking to expand it’s creativity repertoire when it comes to canning. It was a splurge for me. Now I enjoy paging through it and dreaming of summer produce.