Canning your own fruit and vegetables at home is an old tradition people still practice today. (AP)

Canning your own fruit and vegetables at home is an old tradition people still practice today. (AP)

Fresh fruits from the garden won’t last all year. You’ll have to make them into “preserves.” (AP)

Fresh fruits from the garden won’t last all year. You’ll have to make them into “preserves.” (AP)

Preserving food by canning, freezing, or pickling allows people to eat from their gardens all year round. (AP)

Preserving food by canning, freezing, or pickling allows people to eat from their gardens all year round. (AP)

Canned and vacuum-sealed, green beans and tomatoes sit on shelves, ready to feed the family through the winter. (AP)

Canned and vacuum-sealed, green beans and tomatoes sit on shelves, ready to feed the family through the winter. (AP)

Lost Learning

Posted: November 1, 2017

Growing huge mums isn’t the only gardening skill many people have forgotten. Once, most people grew not just their own flowers, but their own food too. And we don’t mean just a little food. We mean enough to feed their families all year long. People ate what was ripe during each season. When their gardens overflowed, they saved the rest in jars for winter. They heated and sealed the jars so nothing would spoil. For many, gardening and canning were literal lifesavers!

Today, people can buy factory-canned food cheaply. Instead of spending months growing a field of corn, you can pop into the supermarket and buy a factory-packaged can of corn for 89 cents. Many people think the time saved is worth a little money.

But more and more, people see growing and preserving their own food as a cheap solution to serious problems. Food prices increase. Packaged foods contain unfamiliar ingredients. From time to time, large batches of factory-made food make people sick. When gardeners do all the work themselves, they know exactly what ingredients go into their food. They know that healthy soil and water fed their plants. And they get to prepare the food in any creative way they want, almost for free. A 120 square-foot garden may cost about $20 to plant and produce around $300 worth of vegetables!

But today’s food preservers often don’t follow the same recipes their grandmothers did. Your grandmother’s recipe might say, “Can five bushels of peaches like this.” Your recipe might read, “Can five quarts of peaches like this.” (There are about 37 quarts in a bushel.) Most of today’s food preservers don’t need to preserve all the food they will eat in a year. They don’t can and freeze because they need to. They do it because they get to.