In case you haven’t noticed, I am all about food preservation this week; specifically canning. Our family’s journey towards a more self sufficient lifestyle has improved by leaps and bounds, just by incorporating canning into our life. I put off canning for a number of years, mostly because I found it to be intimidating. I thought for sure it would be too hard, especially when it came to processing meat. Since I was hesitant to start processing my own foods, I know there are others out there with the same concerns. Today, I’m sharing an interview with Kendra from New Life On A Homestead. She’s been canning for a while now and has a fantastic instructional DVD, At Home Canning For Beginners & Beyond, that just might help you overcome your fears about preserving your own foods.
Canning can be intimidating to a lot of people – I know it was for me before I started actually doing it. What advice do you have for the newbie canner out there to help kick start their food preservation adventure?
I was also intimidated when I first started canning. My biggest fear was that I would do something wrong and end up giving my family food poisoning. You just have to take that leap of faith and trust the science behind preservation. If you follow approved recipes and methods, and begin with good quality, clean foods, you can be sure that what you are feeding your family will be safe and delicious. For those just starting out, I included a very thorough Safety segment in my DVD to cover everything you need to know to ensure a safe end product.
You and I both live similar homesteading lifestyles. What’s your response when you hear things like, “I’m not a homesteader, so there’s no reason to learn to preserve food.”
One of the great things about home canning is that anyone can do it wherever they live! You don’t have to live in the country on a farm to can. Even if you don’t have a garden, there may be a You-Pick farm or Farmer’s Market in your area where you can buy in-season foods to preserve. You can even stock up on a good sale on meat or produce at the grocery store and preserve it for the months ahead. If you’re interested in saving money, and eating healthier by avoiding unnecessary additives, preservatives, BPA, excess sugar and salt, and if you want tastier food preserved at the peak of ripeness, learning how to can will do all of that and more.
I follow your blog and I know that you like to treat your family with herbs or natural remedies when possible and prepare from-scratch meals and snacks. Is canning something that you feel fits in easily with that practice?
Definitely! It all goes back to becoming less dependent on others for your most basic needs, and learning how to nourish and provide for your family with what you have available to you.
With four children, I know you can’t possibly have a plethora of time to work in the kitchen, undisturbed. How do you fit your children into the canning equation?
I never sleep, hahaha. Just kidding. No, honestly I do a lot of canning at night after the children are in bed. I’ve found that that’s the best time to get it done without interruptions.
What do you think canning your own food says to your children? How do you think your decision to preserve your foods at home will impact them in the future?
I think they are seeing the value in learning how to do as much as you can for yourself. It’s fun for them to see their food being raised from seed to harvest, and they enjoy helping as much as possible throughout the entire process. The food seems to taste even better to them when they’ve planted it themselves, you know? I know they are healthier because of the food choices we make, and I hope they will continue with what we have taught them as they grow and have families of their own one day.
Is there something specific that inspired you to put a video together? What’s different about your canning DVD that another instructional video won’t offer?
When I first started out canning, I couldn’t find any good resources for a newbie canner. It seemed that EVERYTHING I read or watched assumed that I knew something about the process. I didn’t grow up canning or watching anybody can; I knew absolutely nothing! Many times I was left with more questions than answers. After several years of canning through trial and error, asking a lot of questions and mastering the techniques, I knew it was time that I create a product that would help others who are just like I was. In my DVD, I don’t assume anything. I demonstrate from start to finish every single step, explaining the what’s and why’s as I go. I didn’t want there to be any questions left unanswered, only the confidence you need to get started canning on your own.
You and I both enjoy foraging for wild edibles. Is there any difference to preserving wild foods vice those grown in your garden or purchased at markets?
Isn’t foraging amazing?! So many edibles right under our feet, without an ounce of effort to grow them. Although I haven’t dabbled much with canning wild edibles yet, they can definitely be canned just like anything else from the garden. You want to make sure that you are foraging in an area that hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals, and you’ll want to wash your forage well before canning it. Linda Runyon has some great information on using and preserving wild foods, if anyone is interested in exploring that option more.
Let’s talk about making sure your canning supplies are prepared properly. I’ve heard a lot of argument about whether or not canning jars need to be sterilized prior to use. What’s your verdict on this debate?
Definitely sterilize. Why take a chance? If you have a dishwasher, a quick run through a hot wash cycle will do the trick. Otherwise, you can boil the jars in a pot of hot water for several minutes before using. Your jars will need to be hot before you fill them with food anyways, why not sterilize them beforehand? It never hurts.
What is one question you would ask, if given a chance to interview yourself?
Hahaha… good question! Hmmm… maybe, “What made you want to start canning in the first place?”
Long story short, we woke up and realized the importance of avoiding all of the toxic junk that is in our food today, we discovered how much money we could save by growing and preserving our food, and we became aware of our vulnerability with dependence on grocery stores for all of our food needs. We wanted more control over our health, our money, and our food availability.
Do you have a role model, favorite quote or story that sums up your love of kitchen self-sufficiency?
You know, there are so many women who have been doing this for much longer than I have; amazing women you’ll never hear of, who spend their days laboring for the good of their family. They are modern-day pioneers. These women are my heros. If you happen to meet such a woman, cling to her skirt-tail. She likely has much wisdom to share, if you’re willing to learn.
And before you go, be sure to pop in and enter into our Spring Into Canning Giveaway, where you could win a bundle of canning goodies (everything you need to get started with your canning adventures), including Kendra’s instructional DVD, which she has generously offered to send to the winner! And if you’re looking for additional motivation to try your hand at canning your own foods, be sure to check out my recent post where I provide thirteen reasons you should try canning your own food at home.
Are you a veteran canner or are you just toying with the idea of preserving your own foods?