Home canning is a wonderful way to preserve the nutrients in fresh foods, avoid excessive salt, eliminate preservatives from your diet and save money by buying in-season while prices are low. Fruits, vegetables and home-made broth are obvious choices for canning and storing food. However, some canning choices are more exotic or unusual. Here are five foods that you may not have previously considered canning.
A viral video that took the Internet by storm shows a disgusting view of a canned chicken. Encased in a gelatinous paste, it looks unappetizing and may make you think twice about trying to can chicken meat for yourself. On the contrary, home canned chicken meat is wonderful! You can use it in soup or strain it and use it to make a gorgeous chicken salad for picnics. With you controlling the sodium content and skimming off the fat, it is also much healthier than many commercially canned options. This is a project you can do in one day in winter and enjoy the fruits of your labor for the rest of the year.
Most people just buy them at the grocery store when they want to make a pie or a big fruit salad for a gathering. Did you know that the apples in the grocery store in February could have been picked over seven months ago? Some companies coat them in wax and expose them to gas to stop them from rotting, which means they can sit in the grocery store for months before you buy them. Canning fresh apples from a local orchard in summer and fall will give you a nutrient-rich, juicy apple in the middle of winter. Canned apples can be used for all kinds of dishes, (including apple pie filling) or eaten alone as a healthy snack.
Making homemade, slow-cooked chili can be an all-day, labor-intensive affair. Chopping vegetables, grinding fresh spices and tending to the simmering pot all day takes up a ton of your time. Why not can the leftovers and save it from being freezer burnt? The meat in chili makes some people nervous to can it, but there is no reason to be intimidated. You can enjoy your favorite chili recipe year-round by making two big batches a year and canning it. As long as the top of the canning jar is concave and a good seal is in place, there is no reason to fear canning chili with meat in it.
(Note from APN: We strongly advise that you use the USDA approved Chili recipe. Canning is a science and when you change ingredients you are messing with that science. It is not always safe to can your great grandmothers recipes because you may not get the processing time correct for a specific ingredient and contaminate the jars with botulism. For a more detailed explanation please read, Why Can’t I CAN That.)
Watermelon rinds make for great pickles, and the juice is a nutrient-rich, heavenly treat you can add to smoothies or homemade sherbet. Unfortunately, they are only available at a decent price for a few months out of the year. Buying a few enormous watermelons when they go on sale and canning them can leave you with a delicious treat for the entire year.
Canning can save you a lot of money and let you enjoy a varied diet year round. While these items may not immediately come to mind, they are all excellent ideas for canning. As with canning any food product, just be sure to use the proper tools, and follow all safety and sealing protocols to ensure your treats are well preserved and your family is protected from food-borne illness.