Eating healthy on the go can be a challenge, let alone eating healthy and affordable. Canning offers the potential for long-term food storage of organic, home-grown goodness, making it possible to travel in your RV with reliable access to food that is both good for you and easy on your wallet! If you want to try canning food for the road, be prepared to transform the way you and your tastebuds experience travel!
Reasons To Give Canning A Go!
- Save Yourself Money - Reusing jars, skipping weekly trips to the grocery store, and buying items in bulk all reduce your cost and expenses, making canning a financially smart move!
- Nutrition and Diet - You control the ingredients and the processing when you can your own foods for the road, giving you access to chemical-free foods you can trust.
- Make Use Of Excess - Often food goes bad before it ever gets used. When you can, food spoilage is dramatically delayed so no excess food goes to waste!
- Taste and Quality - Locally-grown and canned harvest is superior both in taste and quality when compared to commercially canned products. It's genuine freshness that lasts.
- Make Meal Prep Easy - While the canning process itself might take time, it will take the work out of future meal preparation. Typically you just heat up the contents and dig in!
- Satisfaction and Fulfillment - There is a profound sense of achievement in seeing this eco-friendly, waste-reducing project through to its finish, from seed to sustenance.
The World Wide Web has a wealth of resources for finding canning and preserving recipes. A simple Google search of your produce type and ‘canning recipe’ should unearth a surplus of results. Canning recipes don’t allow much room for creative modification. Stick to the recipe and its exact calculations to get the safest and best results. Resist the urge to experiment and just follow the directions.
Water Bath Canning
This method of canning is used for foods that are high in acidity like condiments, sauces, jams and jellies, salsa, pickles, and more. Water bath canning is remarkably affordable with large granite canners costing around $20. Follow these steps for simple water bath canning:
Step 1. Prepare your ingredients and fill your jars, allowing for the recommended amount of headspace between the contents and the rim of the jar.
Step 2. Stir your contents with a small, nonmetallic utensil to remove the air bubbles. Then wipe the rim of the jars clean.
Step 3. Screw on the lids and bands. It doesn’t need to be overtightened, as this will not improve the process. Remember, air needs escape to create the seal.
Step 4. Lower your jars into simmering water making sure they are fully submerged by at least an inch. Heat to a steady boil for the recipe’s recommended length of time.
Step 5. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes before removing your jars and letting them cool. You should begin to hear the ‘pops’ of the seals forming.
This method of canning is used for foods that are low in acidity like vegetables, meats, seafood, chili, and more. Whereas water bath canning can provide the sides and enhancements, pressure canning provides the main courses. The process is more complex and the equipment is more expensive, but used pressure canners can be picked up for around $100 or less. Follow these steps to pressure can:
Step 1. Follow steps 1-3 of the water bath canning process. Then lower your jars into the canner before bringing the water to a boil.
Step 2. Cover and let the steam vent for around 10 minutes, after which you should close off the vent and place your pressure gauge on the vent pipe.
Step 3. When the pressure gauge reaches the right temperature, lower your heat to maintain the pressure and begin the timing process according to the recipe’s instructions.
Step 4. Turn off the heat and let the pressure gradually return to zero before opening the vent back up. Carefully remove your jars and let them cool.
Tips For Successful Canning
- Inspect your jars for cracks and chips as these can affect the seal and result in broken jars. It’s also recommended that you get your gauge checked once every year at your local extension.
- Wash your jars in warm water or leave them in the steam of the dishwasher before using them. The drastic temperature change when adding in hot contents can result in broken jars.
- Altitude impacts canning, so it will affect the length of your boil time. Typically, recipes will include the proper measurements for varying sea levels.
- Use a canning rack. Don’t let your jars sit directly on the bottom of the canner, and leave space between the jars for water to flow and circulate.
- Do not attempt to tighten the bands after removing them from the heat. Doing so could interfere with the sealing process.
- Leave your jars on a thick towel overnight to cool. In the morning, check your seals by pressing in the center of the lid. If it doesn’t flex, it’s properly sealed.
- Mark the top of your lids with the contents and date. This will help you monitor freshness and easily distinguish between similar looking jars.
- Hook up with other RVers who are interested in canning so you can buy in bulk together and get the best deals. Then bond as you make large batches of canned goods together for the road!
- Store your jars in a cool, dry, and dark place. Typically, this will be the pantry space of your RV, although dinette storage and overhead cabinets are great options too!
In the era of instant everything, it’s nice to slow down and put a little love and time into something. Canning doesn’t just promote self-sufficiency, it unlocks a whole new selection of foods and flavors for the open road! Canning is especially great if you are camping with a baby, as it allows you to make healthy, homemade, and long-lasting baby food for your little one.
Do you can food for the road? Let us know your tips, tricks, and insights in the comments!