Letter Re: Home Canning Your Garden Produce and Meat

I appreciate the SurvivalBlog site and loved your novel “Patriots”. Keep up the good work!

Let’s assume TSHTF in a long term way. Let’s further assume you have made reasonable preparations for food, both stored food, and open pollinated seeds for future gardens. How do you store all this future food?

Freezing will be iffy since the electricity may become unreliable. It only takes a few days to ruin a freezer full of meat and veggies.

Drying can be effective for some, but not all foods. It’s a very time consuming to prepare the food, and it has to be stored cool and dry, which is not always easy. This will affect flavor and texture a lot. Cooking with dried foods is also different.

Pickling works for some foods, and depends on acidity and/or salt to preserve the food. Limited shelf life if not heat sterilized. Definitely affects flavor/texture. Not everything tastes good pickled.

Canning with glass jars is very satisfactory, with good to excellent shelf life. Color, texture and flavor are often excellent for years. Recent studies suggest that
the nutritive value may be pretty good for a decade or longer, though flavor, texture, color and nutritional value does decline slowly. Shelf life varies a lot depending on the food too.

Now for the real problem with canning. Where are you going to get disposable canning lids and jars and canning equipment after TSHTF? The lids are only good for one use, though the glass jars may last for a hundred years.

The shelf life on the disposable lids is pretty good, and the jars last forever if you don’t break them. I’d bet real money that canning lids become excellent barter goods. [JWR Adds: I recommend that you stock up whenever you find lids on sale, purchasing above and beyond the supply that you anticipate needing for your own use–for barter, and for charity.]

If possible, buy a pressure canner that does not need or use a rubber gasket, but rather, uses precision machined metal surfaces to make the seal. Anything with a rubber gasket will probably be out of commission in ten years or less. A spare parts kit would also be a good idea. Here’s a nice one, though they are not cheap.

Another jar sealing alternative is using paraffin wax. It’s not nearly as reliable, but it is reusable to a point and may be more available after TSHTF.

The most up-to-date directions/instructions/recipes for canning
is a product of our tax money (one of the rare good results of our tax money). This is a great book, it costs less than twenty bucks and that includes shipping to the continental U.S. If you do a bad job at canning, botulism has a pretty high mortality rate, meaning that it can kill you the first time. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

[The canning jar and lid maker] Ball also produces a nice little booklet for less money, but it’s not as extensive.

I’m sure there are other options out there, but I wanted to point out the urgent need for procuring canning lids and jars now. Finest Regards, – Troy H.