Zero Waste Canning | It’s canning season and I am already behind! Since I am lucky and have enough space for my own garden, I’ve taken it upon myself to utilize the knowledge of canning that has been passed down from past generations. I remember my great grandmother’s pantry. It was filled from the floor to the ceiling with every type of fruit and vegetable concoction you could think of. Need some creamed corn, gooseberry pie filling, or some pickle relish? She had it all, of course, she wouldn’t have been able to afford the amount of produce that went into her canning if it wasn’t for her supplier. My grandfather. His thumb was so green I’m sure he could have grown a pine tree in a desert given the opportunity. As a little girl, his garden was my fairy land. The gnomes lived in the squash hills and I never dared enter the blackberry forest since the evil witch lived there. I’d play in it all day, snack, and occasionally help grandpa bring in the daily harvest. It was magical.
Homemade raspberry jelly from foraged raspberries.
My great grandparents lived through very hard times in Northern Missouri during the Depression. I think that’s what molded them into the most resourceful, unwasteful people I knew. Good luck finding anything disposable in their house. Their whole way of life was centered around being sustainable so that they could provide for their family. Without canning, that could not have been possible.
Since I work more than 40 hours a week, I try not to overwhelm myself with the amount of food that will require canning. I choose the staple fruits and veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and onions that I will grow every year. Then I choose 1-2 different items to grow a surplus of so that I have a canned stock that will last 3-4 years. That way, next year I can focus on something different.
This year was cucumbers! I found a really cute bamboo trellis that I installed into one of my raised garden beds, planted the seeds, and before I knew it I had about 20 pounds of cucumbers waiting to be pickled, relished, chipped, salsa’d, you name it!
Bread and Butter Pickles in the works!
To keep my canning as zero waste as possible, I stock up on all of the spices necessary at the local City Market where I have my spice jars filled. I don’t have access to bulk vinegar so I do the next best thing and buy it in very large glass jars.
Keeping a stock of canned foods allows me to enjoy fruits and vegetables throughout the winter when they aren’t in season. When we talk sustainability, we always mention buying local. Since we are all so incredibly spoiled and are able to purchase strawberries in the middle of January, canning allows us to indulge in our favorite out-of-season fruits and veggies in a sustainable way!