In the Midwest, August is a time where fresh produce is plentiful. If you are anything like my mother, you love to garden. My mother has not 1, not 2, but 3, rather large gardens strictly for growing produce! By having so many gardens I not only reap the benefits of fresh, homegrown produce but so does the rest of our community.
My mother, and father, grow:
Tomatoes, Peppers, jalapenos, peas, beans, a variety of squash, sweet corn, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, onions, cantaloupe, muskmelon, watermelon, and raspberries to name several as I am sure I am missing some.
With so much fresh produce, there is no way my family can eat it all! Therefore, what we knowingly can’t eat, is canned. Canning is a method of food preservation in which food is available, and edible, long after it was processed, up to 1-5 years. Now we all know consuming fruits and vegetables are important for good health, but not everyone understands the benefits of canned fruits and vegetables. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, canned fruit and vegetables can be just as nutritious, if not more nutritious, than fresh fruits and vegetables.
When fruit and vegetables are bought in grocery stores it looses some of its nutrients in transit to the store. Canned vegetables, on the other hand, are processed upon harvest and therefore, their nutritional content tends to be at its peak. Even though the canning process, cutting, peeling and quick cooking, can deplete water-soluble vitamins,the nutrition levels stay the same for at least two years, reports University of Maryland’s extension program. In addition, lycopene and beta-carotene, disease-fighting phytochemicals, are enhanced by the canning process.
Canned fruits and vegetables are not only convenient during the winter months were you long for fresh, home grown produce but it also saves time when it comes to preparation. Because the canned items are already cut, sliced, peeled and pre-cooked, you can eat them from the jar or just re-heat them. A great way to use these convenient canned items are in soups, casseroles, as a side dishes.
Have you ever watched the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables? When fruit and vegetables are not in season or have to be shipped hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to get your grocery store you end up paying a pretty penny! However, if you are able to can your own fruit and vegetables from your garden, or even if you buy canned food from a grocery store, you can find it year around and usually at a less expensive price.
Yes, canning your own produce takes time, block out at least a day to can, but trust me, its worth it. I have been spoiled by my mothers canned produce my entire life and after tasting the difference between your own canned produce vs. grocery store produce, you wont be able to go back!