We put money away into savings and retirement funds to ensure our future financial security. It is critical that we do the same with our food.
Home canning has a long and rich history here in the United states. Going all the way back to 1884 when the Ball corporation started manufacturing glass jars for it. A few years later, in 1903 Kerr Glass Manufacturing joined in with their own home canning supply business. Twelve years later, Alexander Kerr was granted a patent for the two piece canning lid we still use today, and in 1917 the pressure canner was introduced for safely preserving low acid foods.
1943-44 was the peak of home canning and food preservation. During WW2 victory gardens produced around eight million tons of food. That was more than 40% of all fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States!
By 1945 the decline in home canning and preservation declined due to the growing availability of home refrigeration, and in less than two generations these skills have been lost to a majority of the population.
Many of us live in areas where Mother Nature wreaks havoc. A couple of years ago, the northern part of my state had such intense spring rains the roads washed out taking power poles and lines with them. Some families were without power for weeks while they waited for the water to recede and roads to be repaired. Even with extra freezers for stocking up, they do no good when the power goes out.
Preserving food at home cuts out a rediculous amount of packaging and, in turn, garbage waste. Canning supplies are all reusable, with a few exceptions, and if you’re able to grow your own food or buy local, it’s a huge reduction on your carbon footprint. So why don’t more people do it?
When I ask folks this, many of them site their fear of botulism poisoning, saying most cases come from home canning. Well, according to the CDC, that’s just not true. They have yearly reports available for viewing on botulism cases, from 2001-20017. In 17 years, only 79 out of 326 cases were from home canned products.
Botulism is a neurotoxin that lives all around us in the soil and environment. It can not live and thrive in anything with a PH of 4.6 or lower. This would be your high acid foods, or anything that can be water bath canned. Botulism spores can be killed at a temperature of 248°f. Home pressure canners achieve internal temperatures of 240-250°f. Still nervous? Don’t be the actual toxin can be killed by bringing food to a temp of 185°f for 5 minutes. So with common sense kitchen cleanliness, and thorough heating, there is no need to fear.
With millions of us out of work and social distancing protocols frowning on frequent trips to the grocery store, as well as processing and packaging plants closing; home food preservation is in dire need of a resurgence.