The two major challenges of eating healthy are typically time and money. If everyone could afford the freshest, high quality ingredients, and had the time to cook and prepare them everyday, we would all do it! How can you benefit from more healthful, unprocessed fresh produce and meat, and also save time and money? One great way to do this is canning!

Fresh produce and meat are recommended by the Body-for-LIFE program, but also cost more than packaged, processed foods. Unfortunately, fresh produce and meat also expire and spoil more quickly, and many times we end up throwing food away. This is where canning comes in! Canning preserves these foods in glass jars for a longer period of time, allowing you to avoid throwing away your hard earned money. Canning allows you to stock up on foods when they go on sale, and consume them at a later date. Or by canning your favorite fruit while it’s in season, you can purchase more, and not worry about consuming all the fruit before it becomes rotten. 

As summer is on the horizon, consider gardening and canning as two goals that can help lead you towards a healthier diet. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables from your own garden can be incredibly rewarding. Canning from your own garden not only saves you money, but also saves nutrients. Fruits and vegetables that are canned promptly after being harvested retain more nutrition!

There are two common methods of home canning, which include a boiling-water canner and a pressure canner. In a boiling-water canner, jars of food are submerged in boiling water for a specified period of time. Foods with higher acidity can be canned with the boiling-water canner. This is because their natural acidity can block the growth of bacteria, or destroy the bacteria more rapidly when heated in the water bath. Some examples of high acid foods are citrus fruits, berries, apples and most tomato varieties. Pressure canners use pressure and hot steam to cook jars of food at a higher temperature than is possible with a boiling-water canner. Foods with lower acidity must be canned with the pressure canner. Some examples of low acid foods are asparagus, carrots and meat. If you prefer to keep it simple and just use one method, your pressure canner can be used for both low acid and high acid foods.

Don’t be overwhelmed by this information! The USDA has an easy-to-follow guide, which you can find online by searching “USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning,” or you can even purchase a hard copy. We do not recommend pursuing home canning without being properly informed of how to be safe first!

We hope home canning not only helps you save time and money, but also enriches your Body-for-LIFE experience. If you spend a few hours on a Sunday afternoon canning, you could have multiple dishes already prepared and saved for those nights on Body-for-LIFE when you don’t feel like cooking and shouldn’t grab fast food!