When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, summer is the season of abundance. In addition to the supermarket, local farmer’s markets, farm stands and backyard gardens, it’s easy to grow tired of our favorite foods, not to mention, simply allowing them go to waste. At the same time, it may be relative famine during the off-season months (do you dream of strawberries in the winter?). Especially for those that prefer local and fresh—there’s really no alternative to the taste of food that’s bought in season or locally harvested.
You can put up food at peak times for later in the year during the off-seasons.
That’s how Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars began canning several years ago. She went blueberry picking and came home with more blueberries than she could possibly eat and decided to turn the excess into jam. It was a project she did years earlier with her mother, so after a quick call home and refresher, she set to canning blueberries and didn’t stop. All that canning led to her blog, Food in Jars, which led to two books (a third due out March 2016), and travel giving demonstrations and interviews too.
In this video, McClellan talks more about the canning process itself. You’ll learn when a boiling water bath works and when it doesn’t and why, sugar’s role in canning, the purpose of acid, and the advantages of canning in small batches.
Some people are concerned about the safety of home canned foods and that surprises McClellan, especially when it comes to canning preserves from high acid fruits. She says,
“As I talk to people about canning, I’m often taken aback about how much misinformation is out there and how much fear exists. And there’s just a lot of people who have grown up believing that home canned foods, home preserved foods, are inherently dangerous. And they really aren’t. Especially the high acid ones. If something goes wrong in a jar that is a high acid water bath preserve, you are either going to be able to see it or smell it immediately upon opening the jar. It is never going to be something where you’re like, ‘I don’t know if this is bad’. It’ll have mold growing on it, it will have discolored, or it will be fermenting so it will be sort of bubbling or it will smell boozy – and not a good boozy smell. And so you’ll always know that something has gone wrong. So I’m just very surprised when people tell me that someone gave them a jar of jam and they threw it immediately because they were afraid it was going to kill them. That’s not going to happen.”
The number of “people who are interested in home canning has just exploded”, says McClellan, for a number of reasons – the downturn of the economy in 2008, concern about BPA lining in cans, and the proliferation of local sources for fresh market fruits and vegetables. “All of the things have come together to create a moment for home food preservation. And I hope it continues indefinitely because I think it is such a useful skill to have as a person.”