Canning Your Food

Have concerns about canning? Here at the end of “Canuary” we have a guest post from a fellow who has been canning and eating canned food most of his life. James Rancourt is now retired and lives in Massachusetts, and this is what he has to share.

Canning is Normal

“I want to calm some fears and hopefully encourage those who have trepidation about pressure canning, and canning in general.

I’m 76 years old and have been around canning ever since I can remember. We lived in a place (in Massachusetts) where we had a decent sized garden, and dad raised chickens and rabbits, so there was always good honest food on the table. Now, we’re talking back 70+ years ago (I just had my 76th birthday) and the very fact that I am here to tell you about it is something that should be strongly considered.

Image of a happy farmwife with ample food stored for the winter.

Canned Meat & More

“Mom and Gram Little canned meat in a water bath canner…it can successfully be done but the processing time is measured in hours. The vegetables were not quite as long, but still a significant time. The pickles, relishes, jams, jellies, sauerkraut, and other items were fairly quick and easy.

Then dad buys mom her first pressure canner. I can’t remember the name but that sucker would process anything you put in it. However, there was a caveat, and that is, you had to be very careful not to over process the canned goods. Done right, they were delicious. Done wrong and they were tasteless mush. But, after a bit of experimentation mom got the hang of it and we ate like Royalty. All the while I was watching and learning.”

The new model pressure canner is coated with warning stickers. The old one was from before lawyers got involved.

Next Step

“Then I got married and got a home of my own. A 4-bedroom Cape on a dead-end street with 2/3 acre of land. I put in a 50×60 (3,000 sq/ft) garden with all kinds of vegetables from corn to squash, and beans to beets. This garden, along with foraged foods like berries, mushrooms, wild game, etc., fed a family of 6 (with 4 growing boys). This was done with a boiling water bath and a pressure canner. The same canner, with a number of gasket replacements, I use today.


Safe Canning

“So, here is what I learned. Safe canning requires:


Getting the contents of the jar to a temperature, and for a time, and maintaining a seal, which will kill all the pathogens (bacteria, viruses, and particularly parasites like worms, flukes, etc.) and prevent them, or oxygen, from re-entering the jar. When you are first beginning, always employ tried and true recommended procedures.


Once you know what you are doing, and why you are doing it, you can begin to deviate from the basic FDA recommended systematic plan.  Now, you can begin to ask questions to other more experienced canners. Note however, that you need to sift through these answers!”

One of your editors distant Vermont cousins in her cellar stocked with canned foods. Note the old style lids. Image circa 1920, courtesy of the former Vermont State Archivist.

“Sift the answers, not because people are giving you bad info, it is just that many folks who answer have been canning for so long they automatically think you know what they mean. You don’t, but don’t say so to not sound dumb. What you need is a reply that not only answers your question but tells you why that particular answer holds water.”

savor-soule-plant-geek-shares-informationEditors note

There is actually a term for this.  It’s called the “Curse of Knowledge.” It means that we have forgotten that we once didn’t know a certain bit of knowledge.

Now that we do know it – we have a hard time remembering that others may not. It’s not that we are trying to be mean or that we lack empathy, it’s just that our brains are cursed with knowledge.

PLEASE! If we do this to you in one of our posts – feel free to give us a shout in the comments or in social media.

Back to James’ words: …”

Here’s an Idea

“Finally, if all else fails, READ THE FRIGGIN INSTRUCTIONS. You know, that booklet that came with your pressure canner. Do what it says, the way it says, and enjoy your journey into food preservation.”

– James

Instructions Missing?

Editor’s Note.  Don’t have the instructions? The internet does. Those companies that make and sell the canners post the instructions as PDF’s for you to download for free. After all – they don’t want you to blow up your house and create bad PR.

Our Handy Cookbook

savor-honey-bookMay we suggest our dandy little cookbook?   Using Honey in New and Savory Ways offers 36 pages of tips for using honey in your cooking, as well as in all manner of dishes.

Price is what you would pay on Amazon – only when you buy from us you get a signed copy – and you help support some local Southwest folks!
From the review:
“Honey is for more than desserts and this book can help! Using honey in cooking savory dishes helps engage all your taste buds and adds a layer of added flavor to everyday dishes – plus holiday fare.”

Legal Note

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