People always ask why I go to the trouble to can and dehydrate food every year. Here are my top reasons for preserving food at home.
What’s in your jar?
The most important reason is that when I “put up” foods at home I know exactly what is in it. No artificial colors. No artificial flavors. No “natural” anything. No preservatives. No weird chemicals that I can’t pronounce and have no idea why they’re there.
Just real food.
I try to find organic fruits, berries, veggies, and grass fed meats grown locally, when possible. I use the best choices I have available to me.
If you’d like to learn more about home canning, check out this series, Home Canning Basics: How to Safely Can Food at Home.
Home Preserving Saves Money
It saves money in the long run. When I buy produce in bulk at the height of the season, it is much less expensive than buying it out of season.
And it helps me build up my food storage economically, because I like to can enough for the whole year.
Home Preserving Supports the Local Economy
I really enjoy supporting my local farmers. I do this by making as many of my bulk purchases as possible at the farmers’ market.
While a lot of them haven’t spent the time, energy, and money to get the government’s stamp of approval, many of them do farm organically and sustainably.
When I buy from them I am honoring their choice to farm that way.
I would also prefer to help a local farmer pay for their kids’ braces or sports uniforms or whatever they need rather than a corporate CEO buy another vacation home. End of rant.
Home Preserving Makes Meal Time Convenient
I love having everything I need in my pantry to make all of our favorite meals.
If I forget to get something out to thaw or if I don’t have as much time as I thought I was going to, I just grab a few jars or packages (I use a vacuum sealer for my dehydrated stuff) and I have dinner on the table in no time.
That means fewer trips to the store (or drive through) which also saves me time and money.
And if you menu plan like I do, it makes the planning go soooo much faster when you already have a lot on hand.
Of course, if you have a garden big enough that it provides enough to can or dehydrate, you will save even more. And that’s always a plus!
It’s important to point out the obvious here, that you should only put up stuff your family will eat.
If you are the only one who likes canned peas, it makes no sense to have 50 pints of peas in your pantry. Even if they do look really cool.
What to Can and Dehydrate?
So take a look at what you use regularly for a place to start.
We eat a LOT of Mexican food at my house so that’s where I started.
In my canning pantry I have pints of hamburger, black beans, diced tomatoes both with and without chilies, quarts of pinto beans, pints of canned chicken, and pints of enchilada sauce.
From my dehydrating I have homemade taco seasoning mix, minced onions, dried garlic, and dried cilantro.
I make my own refried beans from a quart of home canned pinto beans.
Throw in some tortillas or tortilla chips, homemade cheddar cheese and sour cream, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and I can make pretty much anything Mexican.
And I just happen to have a great sourdough tortilla recipe that’s also good for making chips. So that’s bonus points!
Now, if I could only figure out where to put an indoor salad garden I could have fresh lettuce all year too!
What would be the first thing you put in your canning pantry?