Today, we are going to cover the next part in our series, “preparing heart and home for the days ahead”. We are going to be talking all about preserving food, filling up hearts, and filling the pantry shelves. In the south, we call it “Putting up” (or as we actually say it, “puttin’ up”).
In our last conversation, I talked about “buying local” from your wonderful local farmers, and then beginning to garden to grow some of your own food. Today we’re going to cover how to put away all of that delicious food so that it is shelf stable and ready to use when you want to make delicious meals for your family.
Also, I want to address how this translates to filling the hearts of our precious loved ones, which is one of the blessings of having a well-stocked pantry.
My food preservation adventures began when I was in the seventh grade.
Can you believe that?
I was a member of the 4H club and on Saturdays, the county extension agent would host various classes that we could attend. One of the classes that I signed up for was on learning to can and freeze food.
Isn’t that just a hoot?
There I was, at 12 years old, learning how to can peaches! I laugh every time I think about it! But it was definitely a foreshadowing of what my life would hold in the years to come!
Ever since that day, I have just loved the process of canning and “putting up” for my family. As a bonus to the other perks of canning, you won’t believe how beautiful your pantry shelves will look, displaying all of the rich colors of the harvest. The food is phenomenally delicious, so convenient, very healthy, and chemical free. And, as you gaze at those pantry shelves, it is such a rewarding thing to know that you did it! You put that beautiful food away for your family! So, in light of my history, it is only fitting that we first discuss canning.
There are two types of canning: water bath canning and pressure canning. Choosing which process to use is determined by the acidity level of the food you are preserving. Typically, things like jams and jellies, preserves, and pickles are all done with water bath canning. Things like meats, potatoes, and other vegetables, are usually pressure canned. Water bath canning is done in any large pot with a lid.
Pressure canning is done in an actual pressure canner. My favorite is the “All American Canner”. I received my pressure canner as a birthday gift from my honey. They are a little pricey, but I love to add to my kitchen essentials by choosing high quality products and asking for them for various holidays. That’s also how I got my Excalibur dehydrator and my KitchenAid food processor. I don’t mind getting those things as gifts, when I can choose to get the quality items that I really want.
When it comes to choosing what to preserve, the list of items that you are able to can in order to stock your pantry is almost endless. From my local farmers I have canned things like peaches, strawberry jam, blueberry jam, apple pie filling, pear preserves and canned pears, sweet potatoes, onions, and white potatoes. From our own homestead, we can fig jam and preserves, strawberry and blue berry jams, carrots, tons of pickles and relishes, candied jalapeños, green beans, tomato sauce, and salsa, peas, greens, and a variety meats.
To get started canning, I highly recommend buying a good instructional book such as the Ball Blue Book of Canning. There are also many other great books on canning available in bookstores and online. I think it is important to have hard copies of these instructions in case the Internet was ever unavailable when you needed it. Videos online are also an amazing way to learn skills and home preservation.
YouTube and other platforms have a wealth of information available to can almost anything. And while these are available, the best way to learn is to can with someone who is experienced. They can share tips and tricks with you and ease your fears and feelings of being overwhelmed. *I plan on sharing some of my canning recipes in future blogs. If there is a specific recipe you would like for me to cover, please comment below and I will do my best to share that with you.
Freezing food has always been a great option for food preservation. For putting things away like fresh summer sweet corn, berries, and many other farm goodies, freezing is convenient, fast, and easy. I must tell you though, that in our current situation, as our world is experiencing upheaval in many ways, I am hesitant to tell you to freeze a lot of food. Things like rolling blackouts and power outages on the grid, make freezing food a less dependable and stable method for self-sufficiency.
As someone who has gone through a recent tornado with subsequent power outages, I know the uncertainty and trepidation of having a freezer full of food and wondering if it would all be spoiled. Not a good feeling…at all. For that reason, I do not highly recommend freezing large amounts of food. Canning and dehydrating are my favorite methods of preservation.
As I mentioned before, I got a dehydrator for a birthday gift two years ago. I chose an Excalibur 9 Tray model. I love it. It is awesome! So far, I have dehydrated carrot slices, spinach, various greens, onions, peppers for making my own seasonings, several herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, apple slices, and I am about to start working on venison jerky.
Along with dehydrating, I feel it is very important to use a vacuum sealer to secure your dehydrated food. It is ever important to keep moisture away from anything that you dehydrate. So, after I finish dehydrating the chosen item, I usually place it in a mason jar and use my “Food Saver” vacuum sealer to seal up the jar. This makes that food shelf-stable for many years to come. When I need to use some of the item in the jar, I simply open the jar lid, and when I am finished, I use my vacuum sealer to seal it again.
Now let’s get to the good part.
Let’s get to the “heart” of the matter, which is the heart of your home!
That is really why it is so very important to put away food in your pantry. Your family. And your loved ones. And the home you create! So, how does a full pantry relate to filling the hearts of your loved ones? Especially during the recent hardships our world has faced and may continue to face, it is increasingly more important to have a stable, comfortable, and peaceful place to call home.
Proverbs 31 tells us! “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants”. Proverbs 31:10-15 NKJV
Trust, goodness, and no lack of provision; these are the things that scripture tells us come when we “bring our food from afar”.
As keepers of the home, we bless our families by providing delicious and nutritious food for them. When our pantry is well stocked, we are at ease and more ready, willing, and able to practice hospitality. Knowing, that at a moment’s notice, we can provide a meal for our family, or a friend who may stop by, or someone who is sick, or in need, is also such a blessing.
And not having to depend on the grocery store is an even bigger blessing!
When we are organized, well stocked, and otherwise well equipped to make meals,(by that, i mean we’re not hunting and hoping that we have what we need) it translates into a more comforting and nurturing, and soul-nourishing home environment.
Ponder and meditate on this sentence in these different ways:
“WE” create the atmosphere in our homes.
We “CREATE” the atmosphere in hour homes.
We create the “ATMOSPHERE” in our homes.
We create the atmosphere “IN” our homes.
We create the atmosphere in “OUR” homes.
We create the atmosphere in our “HOMES”!
This is a practice that I use when meditating on scripture, but it works here too! Do you hear the different inferences when we stress the various words? Such different context, right? It helps the words to really sink in. And they are all so important!
A home that has healthy, soul warming meals, shared by family and friends, fills the heart with joy and precious memories that last a lifetime. Making loving “deposits” into the “memory bank” accounts of those we hold dear is a noble endeavor with great importance.
The impact of which, many generations will tell!
If you are like me, some of your sweetest memories and some of the biggest moments in family history have involved sharing a meal together. What an honor, as keepers of the home, that we have been entrusted with such an important job! So, my sweet friend, “put up” some food! Remember, it fills more than tummies!
Buy it, grow it, freeze it, can it, dehydrate it, and then enjoy it with loved ones and also with those in need. You will be so glad you did!
Until next time… see you later, sweet pea!
Sharon at Southern Bella Home
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, Acts 2:46 ESV