I recently had someone refer to canning as a “lost art.”  I snickered to myself that for us homesteaders, it is not an art, it is a tradition.  It has function and purpose.  Its history goes back generations to women who stood around boiling, hot pots filled with jars in order to preserve a bit of goodness after the harvest months had long faded away.

summer dill pickles

Then I remembered, canning was more than that to me–not an “art” persay, but a spiritual connection with God, a form of meditation, and a connection to simple living.

If you’ve never canned, you really must give it a try.  It is an opportunity to take everything you love about gardening/farming and summer and put it away for a day when you are tired of the cold rain or snow and want to remember the taste of sunshine and harvest and creation.

To can or preserve, you will use the following:

  • lots of hot water and lots of Mason or Ball jars
  • delicious fruit or vegetables
  • recipes passed down from generation to generation
  • a bit of patience and some creativity
  • a good canning pot, preferably enamel, a funnel, a magnet stick to remove hot lids, and a canning jar lifter/tongs

For me, canning has become a way to honor family traditions while engaging in a simple and healthy lifestyle.  After I mastered my own canning routine, I could literally put away a batch of jam or marinara while my daughter was in the shower at night.

That routine has become somewhat like the liturgy and ritual of a worship service.  I connect with creation, I honor and nurture it.  I pray over it.  I hold it close, then I put it up on my shelf or in my windows to be honored, eaten and shared with friends and family.  Some days when I’m feeling blue, I even put a few jars of various kinds of jam in the window–the sun shining through it creates stained glass made of sugar and fruit in the sanctuary of my homesteading kitchen.

salsas, pickles, and marinara

Recently, I sent out an email and Facebook post asking if anyone wanted to take a canning class–I would teach if they would come.  Within the hour, I had 11 people reply with a resounding “YES!”  So canning?  Not so much a “lost art” as it is a “found treasure” in the world of homesteading.


  1. That is amazing… I had referred to it as a lost art, but as you say, it is a lost tradition that we are also trying to resurrect in our area as well. We have also begun the search for individuals that would like to learn about canning and bring it into their own homes. The response was overwhelming. Thanks for sharing the tradition. We really like the story of your farm as well.

  2. Ben

    I was given a pressure cooker for Christmas and look to start canning tomato sauces. I’ve read a bit about botulism issues with tomatoes and canning. Any advice or tips on avoiding disaster? I assume from the lack of tomato borne deaths in my local paper that botulism is easily avoidable if you do things right. I’ve never done this. What’s right?

    1. My first recommendation is to contact you local Cooperative Extension or go online and locate their site. I usually use the one in my state:

      I don’t use a pressure cooker but I can tell you that two important tips I adhere to without fail:
      -Tomatoes need to be heated longer
      -Lemon juice or some other acid needs to be added because, due to contrary belief, tomatoes are actually lower in acid than other veggies/fruit.

      Good luck and enjoy!

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