Why Do People Can?
There are a so many good reasons to learn about canning and food storage/preservation. So many, in fact, that it's almost hard to pick the one that is most important. I suppose that the most important one for me is the control that you are able to exercise over the food that you and and your family are eating. With all of the GMOs, additives, artificial chemicals, and BPA that are now in our food, it is a great comfort to me to know that my family is eating foods that are prepared completely naturally. Or at least as close as I can manage!
But there are other great reasons to learn about food preservation. Food storage is extremely important these days. We have become too complaisant in our belief that nothing can interrupt our food chain. However, natural disasters, government snafus, truckers' strikes, and rising costs can all affect our food supply. We should have enough on hand to feed our families for at least a month, and many people believe that a year would be even better.
If food preservation is done right, it can also save you a lot of money on the grocery bill. I can year-round. When I find a great sale on produce or meat I buy as much as I can afford, and I can the excess. If you're making chili because you got a great buy on ground beef, it's just as easy to make a whole bunch and can a few quarts for future use. This goes for soups, vegetables and even meats. Almost anything can be canned and, don't forget, after a hectic day at work it's awfully nice to be able to come home and just heat up a nutritious, home-cooked meal in a few minutes!
Many people are intimidated by canning because they have heard that it's hard to do, or they're afraid of using a pressure cooker, or they believe that people drop dead of botulism if they eat home canned food. I've always thought that these rumors were probably propagated by the big companies who would prefer that you purchase their over priced, chemical laden foods! Canning is ridiculously easy, and if you take some common-sense precautions in regard to cleanliness and following the rules, you should be able to produce safe, healthy, and very tasty foods.
In this post I want to address what you're going to need in the way of equipment. Your initial investment is not huge, and there are ways of making it even smaller. I love to shop for bargains, and it makes me very happy to find things that I need at great prices. (Getting a great buy on something that I need makes me feel like I've won something, or out-smarted the system!) Garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales are great resources for building up your canning supplies. If you live in the country, like I do, you're probably more apt to find canning supplies at tag sales, but if you persevere you'll be able to find bargains on at least some of the things you need, even in urban areas.