How do you know how much food to can and store for your family? Harvest time is busy and there is never enough time to get everything done. Of course like many things, there is no one correct answer. It will depend on how your family eats, how many mouths you are feeding and how many times you eat dinner at home each week. Knowing how much food to can starts with assessing your needs.
A Formula For Figuring How Much Food to Can and Store
Will you require something from your home canned vegetable stores for every day? Take into consideration that for many of us we can be growing or purchasing fresh vegetables at least a third of the year. In some areas we might be able to garden and buy fresh even longer. So for the sake of calculating, count the number of months that you don’t have access to fresh vegetables and fruit, locally. I will use 6 months to illustrate. 6 X 30 days (average month) = 180 days. I still have to shop at the local grocery for some things so I will also buy some canned vegetables and fresh foods from the store. We eat out maybe once a week, also. This roughly brings my total days for vegetables from our stock to 130 days. Also for illustrating, I will say we need one vegetable for each day of the 130 days.
Canned, Frozen or Dehydrated
All three methods are good ways to store food. With some vegetables, we prefer them canned in jars. Beets, green beans and tomatoes are a few that I prefer to put up in jars. Corn and Lima Beans are good frozen. And for seasoning soups and stews, peppers, and onions can be dehydrated. Peppers are also good frozen.
How much food to can for your family
Tomatoes are by far the most eaten fruit in our pantry. Salsa is a family favorite and I always make a few dozen pints of salsa for the year. I also use tomato sauce for the base in many recipes. By far, tomatoes are the fruit that I put up the most. (want to know my secret to making my family’s favorite Salsa?)
Using the Formula
Green Beans are another favorite, probably eaten at least once a week. For the time period we are working on, I like to have at least 20 pints of green beans. If we run out I will have to purchase some from the store. I try to do all the green beans we will need at one time because it is a time consuming vegetable to can. First you have to clean or trim the ends of the I prefer to cut the beans so more can fit into each jar, but I have just placed whole string beans into the jars when I am running low on time. (really, when am I not running low on time!)
Beets are another vegetable that we like to add to our meals. We don’t eat them as often as string beans or corn so I prepare less.
Carrots are often the last vegetable that I can. It seems that they are readily available in our area for a long time so I put that one off and do a canner full in late fall.
Continue on, with the notations of how many vegetables you will likely use.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself- Here are a few of my favorite tips for canning and preserving.
- I think it is easy for new canners to jump in with both feet and try to tackle too much at one time. I know I have been caught doing this myself. Remember, you are dealing with fresh food and it will spoil if you don’t preserve it in a few days time. I have purchased too much and ended up feeding the ruined fruit or vegetables to the farm animals.
- Another tip for preserving the yummy goodness of summer. When a vegetable or fruit freezes well such as berries, sliced peaches, and tomatoes, store the amount you usually need for a recipe in freezer bags. This makes it so much easier when you want to prepare something. You can easily grab one bag of fruit or vegetable that has been pre-measured.
- When freezing berries I like to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, cover with the berries in a single layer and freeze. When the berries are frozen, (it doesn’t take long) you can then put the fruit into a freezer bag for long term storage. I think it is better than having a lump of frozen fruit to deal with when you want to garnish something with whole fresh berries.
- For many vegetables, turning the canning job into a two day event can ease your potential exhaustion. Often I will prepare the vegetables on day one. Blanch the corn and remove the kernels from the cob. Place all the corn in the refrigerator in a large freezer bag or covered bowl. Next day, heat the corn, fill the jars, start the canner and complete the process. The slight bit of nutritional loss (if any) is worth it to me if I don’t exhaust myself trying to do all things in one day.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading my tips on what to do with your harvest.
September is National Organic Harvest Month and to help you make the most of your harvests, I’ve teamed up with these other amazing bloggers. Please be sure to check out their tips and more: Rachel from Grow a Good Life – Kathie from Homespun Seasonal Living – Teri from Homestead Honey – Chris from Joybilee Farm – Susan from Learning and Yearning – Shelle from Preparedness Mama – Angi from SchneiderPeeps – Janet from Timber Creek Farm