5 Things You NEED To Can NOW

Winter is here, winter is here! While I always (slightly) dread the cold weather, I always look forward to the slower pace of life in winter. No animal babies that need constant checking. The garden has died down to just the few things in the greenhouse…and a greenhouse needs no weeding – HALLELUJAH! The kids are settled into their school routine and things just seem to run more smoothly at home.

In years past, grandma would have also spent ample time in the summer and fall preparing foods for winter. Her shelves would be lined with canned goods. Her garden harvest safely and economically stored for the future. It’s a habit so many have forgotten about. But we really shouldn’t. Canning shouldn’t be a thing of the past. No matter how efficient freezers are or how ample food supplies are at the local grocery, canning is an efficient way to stock your pantry for unexpected lean times. You never have to worry about a power outage or old appliances ruining hundreds of pounds of food overnight. It’s also the best way to have easy-to-prepare foods and meals at your fingertips. No defrosting required!

I can A LOT. There are literally hundreds of jars in my pantry. I enjoy working hard in the summer and fall so that my winter belly can be filled with stews and soups with vegetables preserved at their peak ripeness and meat tenderized by the pressure canner. Sam always says that he never met a stew quite as savory and tender as those I can in the fall and pull out of the pantry in winter.

So what should you can for winter? Taking some time now to put up these five essentials will ensure you filling, healthy meals and sides during the coldest months of the year.

The recipes below are mine and basic and simplified.  All times and weights are based on our location, and will vary based on altitude. I STRONGLY recommend visiting https://nchfp.uga.edu/ and educating yourself on canning safety rules and FULL recipes (including safety preparations and precautions) and weights/times for your location.

1. BEEF STEW

A hearty beef stew couldn’t be more simple!  Layer chopped onions, carrots, potatoes, and cubes of beef roast (uncooked) in hot quart mason jars. Fill with boiling water and add 1 tsp of salt.  Process 90 minutes.

2. HAM AND BEANS

Serve with a slice of hot cornbread for a super filling and quick meal!  Bring a big pot of great northern beans to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the beans sit in the hot water for 1 hr.  Drain and add new water, cubed ham, and diced carrots.  Return to a boil.  Fill hot quart jars.  Process 90 minutes.  Visual learner?  Check out the step-by-step video at the end of the post.

3. APPLE SLICES

I use apple slices for everything from fried apples, apple and pork chop bake, to apple pie.  So versatile!  And if you buy when orchards are picking, you’ll save yourself at least $1 a pound over winter prices.  Check out https://nchfp.uga.edu/ for recipes, there are many different ways to can slices depending on how you like to enjoy them.

4. PASTA AND PIZZA SAUCES

Sauce is the boss…and just as versatile as the apple slices.  I freeze my tomatoes all through the summer.  Then, in the fall, I defrost, the skins slide right off, and I process them into a variety of tomato based sauces.  We can enjoy spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, goulash, on and on all winter long with wholesome and hearty tomato sauces.  You can use your family recipe (just be sure to add lemon juice for canning) or use a pre-packaged mix like me.  I personally like these the best: https://amzn.to/3kixnMo

5. BROTH

Chicken Broth. Veggie Broth. Beef Broth. Bone Broth. All the broths.  Make it now by the gallons and save yourself dollar after dollar all winter long.  Broths are so easy to make and pressure can.  Save your veggie scraps and meat bones in a bag in your freezer (thins potato skins, carrot peels, onion peels) .  When it’s full , put it in a big (I mean BIG) pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer an hour or two, then process 20 minutes in hot quart jars.  If you like your broth pre-spiced for soup making, just be fore-warned that pressure canning can change the taste of some spices.  So be sure to do some research before doing a big batch.

There they are.  Five things you can put up now and enjoy during the winter.  What do you like to put up for winter?  There are so many possibilities!  Happy canning!

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