Please always remember that I am not an expert at anything and especially not canning so please consult the experts before beginning a project, even if it’s something I’ve explained in great detail about how I do it. There . . got that out of the way!
Canning is not hard. It’s actually so easy. And it’s even easier when you consider that the amount of work I put into most any batch yields up to 14 quarts (with my big canner). There are smaller and larger canners available. How much time is it worth to have 14 quarts of homemade soup sitting in the pantry, or 14 quarts of carnitas meat, all ready to heat and eat?
When anyone hears the word “prepper”, too many of us think about the people with bunkers buried in their back yards and a crazy number of weapons and just downright weird people but my idea of a prepper is simply – someone who is prepared. It’s as simple as that.
Two incidents that directly affected me have changed how I plan for the future.
First, back in early 1997, I was living in southwest Louisiana and we had an ice storm, which was so very unusual and unexpected for that area. It was raining and briefly, as in maybe for one hour, the temps dropped down cold enough for all that rain to form ice on trees and limbs started snapping and down came the power lines. There were lines down in a massive area. At my house, we didn’t have power for 7 days. It was January and I had no heat, no hot water, no stove. That first night, Chad and I put on extra clothes, put all the blankets and quilts we could find on our beds but the next day, the temps had warmed up. It wasn’t nearly so cold but it was still too cold to stay in a house with no heat. The ice was gone but the power lines were all down. My parents had a fireplace and plenty of firewood so we went to their house. It was still all electric but the neighbors were pooling all their food out of the freezers, grills, smokers and gas burners were going, a lady knew how to make her own solar oven so she baked brownies. At that time, I vowed to never be caught again without enough food and a way to cook it; and a way to stay warm. That is why I will always have a gas stove and a fireplace.
The second incident was about in 2005 and we were living in Kentucky. It was several days before Christmas and snow was predicted but not massive amounts. I think it was December 23 when it started snowing. During the afternoon and through the night, it snowed something like 20″ and for that area, everything came to a standstill. We never lost power but no one moved. Even the snow plows were idle the first day and once they did dig themselves out, they concentrated on the main roads. I think in the subdivision where I was, it was about the 27th before they got our roads cleared so people who didn’t already have food for Christmas dinner . . they didn’t have a special Christmas dinner. I had an elderly lady on one side of me and two nurses on the other side and I think neither neighbor had anything in the fridge so they all ate with us on Christmas Day.
While this incident didn’t affect me, it affected many people I know. Hurricane Rita hit southwest Louisiana. My parents were again without power for days and days; many were without power for weeks. They stood in line waiting for a FEMA delivery of MREs. Stores were closed. Restaurants were closed. Banks were closed.
So, just for a moment, think about this: You have no power. There’s a chance it will be out for 7 – 10 days. All of the grocery stores in your area are closed. All of the restaurants are closed and the few that may open have long lines and very limited availability. The banks are closed and the ATMs are not working! What would you do?
Probably your first thought is leave and go to a hotel — the closest one you can find in an area with power. Good luck! There were times when hurricanes were headed to an area and once the evacuation notice was given, there were no hotels available for hundreds of miles. People were running out of gas trying to get to them and without electricity, the gas stations were closed.
In my opinion, the best thing to do is have as much as you can possibly have in order to be prepared. It doesn’t take a zombie apocalypse to result in havoc. Even without an extended emergency situation, most grocery stores, or any stores for that matter, no longer keep a back room full of supplies. Have you noticed empty shelves in your grocery stores lately? Some of us have. Has there been an emergency that caused this? Not that most of us know about.
Having said that, there are things for which we cannot totally prepare and I have no idea what every scenario might be but I think of an earthquake or tornado, or a wildfire, where you have to leave your home with the clothes on your back. Obviously, you cannot take 10 days worth of food and water with you when you have to evacuate on a short notice. I guess it’s better to be prepared for some things than not be prepared for anything.
So, in a nutshell, the reasons why I can are numerous but, besides the ones mentioned above, here are the other main reasons:
- I buy food on sale and can it so that I can maximize our grocery savings. Example: Last week beef bottom round roasts were on sale at Aldi for $2.49. We bought plenty of them. This week, same exact roasts are $4.79 per pound. I do that with chicken, pork, beef and even vegetables.
- I’m not a fan of the freezer. I use them. We have several but if one of those fails and we don’t notice it, we lose everything in it. If the power is out and we aren’t able to get gasoline, diesel or propane to refill the generators, we’re going to lose what’s in the freezers. Everything in jars will be fine. Also, even vacuum sealed, foods don’t last as long in the freezers as they do in jars.
- Mobility! If I’m going to Chad’s or we’re going to a cabin in Arkansas for a week, I can grab jars of veggie/beef soup, roast beef, pork, chicken, gumbo, green beans, pork & beans, black beans — just about everything we need to be able to heat and eat meals without having to go out to eat. Even with the ice extender packs, we’re not going to make it to Arkansas with food still frozen (we spend one night in a hotel both directions on that trip).
Probably the biggest consideration of all: I love canning. I love knowing I have all that food ready to eat. If it isn’t something you enjoy doing, probably no amount of reasoning in the world is going to make it something you want to do.