Canning and preserving is not a lost art for Christin Kane.
“I remember my mom canning fruits and vegetables. We had canned peaches and oatmeal for breakfast every day when I was a child. I never really had an interest in canning until I had my own children and I wanted to make sure they had healthy food, that I knew where their food came from and that I could control the sugar,” said the mother of two, four-year-old Ridley, and Willow, two. She and her husband, Uriah, are expecting their third child.
“My mom was shocked and surprised when I wanted to start canning about six years ago but she’s pleased and she has helped me a lot.”
Kane usually does peaches, pears, apple sauce, tomatoes and pickles, as well as antipasto, salsa, carrot, grape and apple juice, and is proud of her well-stocked pantry.
“I’m an avid gardener and I grow a lot of what I can and people give me produce. I have a huge garden — tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, carrots, onions, beets, beans and herbs and fruit trees. It’s a challenge to use it all and I freeze some and dry fruit leather. It saves a lot of money with the cost of food going up dramatically in the past few years,” she said.
She recommends getting jars at the glass recycling depot and said friends also give her jars so she doesn’t have to buy many. She uses a hot water canner.
“It is a lot of work and time but I find it very satisfying and it saves time and money shopping later, and I know it is good food for my family,” said Kane. “More of my friends are getting interested in canning and I know I will be doing it for years to come. Why stop when there is so much reward. If you want to start canning, start small and work with someone who has experience and you’ll quickly see how easy it is.”
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Mercede Ivany’s family is grown up now but she and her husband, Randy, still like to can to preserve the bounty of local gardens and fields.
“My mother and grandmother canned. I canned out of necessity in years gone by, now I can for the taste and variety and because I don’t like to see things go to waste,” said Ivany, a retired registered nurse. “I’m a big walker and I see so many things that people are not using. If I see things that are not sprayed, I ask if I can pick it and I trade for it, some canning or bread, cookies or cake. Most people are happy to let me have what they are not using.”
She started with pickles in July and has carried on with other vegetables and fruit as it comes in season. Her kitchen is full of jars waiting to be filled, lids, jars cooling and the pressure cooker is heating up on the stove. She likes to use a pressure cooker because it allows her to can more in a shorter time and is necessary for safe canning of meat and some vegetables.
Ivany is always trying something new, from using peach skins to make fruit leather (that didn’t work), to elderberry and wild choke cherry juice (pretty good). She also cans homemade soups, chicken, salmon, meat balls and makes jam.
“I find I don’t have to do much shopping and we have food the way we like it. People want instant food now. It’s too bad because there is so much good food in the area and all you have to do is prepare it. We sometimes do up to 1,000 jars a year,” she said.
“If you start canning, you’ll never regret it. I’ve got my granddaughter doing it now.”
Ivany said canning does not have to be expensive. A pressure cooker costs about $130 and a box of sealing lids is $2. She gets her jars for free from recycling or friends.
“I feel I’m healthier than most people my age. I’ve got lots of energy. When you’re eating healthy food, you feel better.
“There’s no secret to canning. It’s hard work but it’s easy and a few days of hard work gives you food for many days. We see only good in doing this.”
Now she’s thinking of trying pomegranate juice.
“And if I could only find a place to get a lot of pineapples,” she said thoughtfully.