I’m up past my bedtime canning green beans, and that’s gotten me thinking about why I do it. Here are my top five reasons:
1. It makes winter suppers easy. Some January afternoon when it’s freezing cold outside, I won’t have to run to the store; I’ll just pull a few cans out of the cabinet and have supper ready in a matter of minutes.
2. It connects me with past generations. Rarely do I complete a canning batch without calling my mom. Tonight I had to call and check to make sure I was putting the right amount of canning salt in each jar of green beans. Putting up food reminds me of watching as a kid as my mom did the same thing, and hearing her talk about her mother doing the same thing before her. Even if my immediate ancestors weren’t home canners, the skill of canning is a throwback to the past and makes me feel a little more self-reliant than I actually am.
3. It makes the harvest worthwhile. When we have two large colanders full of green beans, snapped and ready to eat, it’s hardly possible for us to eat them before they’re ruined. Instead of stuffing ourselves with all the veggies we can eat in the summer or worse, letting them go to waste, canning lets us eat some now and save more for later. And once they’re canned, they’ll still taste almost as fresh when we eat them in a few months as they do right now straight out of the garden.
4. It saves money and promotes good health. Ok, I know that a can of green beans doesn’t cost much at the store. But aside from our labor, our own canned beans cost almost nothing. Eleven quarts for a couple of hours of work isn’t bad. (Lee picked them and snapped them, so he put in a couple hours as well.) Even better, the beans we can at home contain only fresh green beans, a little bit of salt, and water — and store-bought beans usually contain high sodium content, along with who knows what else.
5. It gives me a sense of satisfaction. One of the sweetest sounds I know is the pop of a Ball jar lid when it seals, letting you know the food you’ve processed is safely preserved. After going through the steamy work of washing jars, boiling lids, packing jars and watching the pressure canner for the allotted time, it’s a little bit thrilling as you’re cleaning up the kitchen to hear the occasional “pop,” letting you know your work was not for naught.
Do you can your own produce at home? If so, what are your reasons for doing so?