Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
ED: When I signed up to blog for MOTHER EARTH NEWS it was with the intention of sharing information with other readers of "Mother" about our off grid and homestead experiences.
This article is about our experiences with reusable canning lids. Of all of the items we had in our MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR booth last June, they were the most talked about. Hundreds of questions were asked and many people just wanted to look them over and touch them to see what they were made of. Most buyers only wanted a minimum of one dozen to try out. These lids have been around for a long time but still seem to be relatively unknown to the pressure canning world.
Laurie and I don’t mind admitting we were inexperienced in our canning knowledge and at the same time striving to become more self sustainable in any way we could so we hope this blog will be informative to all of you out there just like us – learning to be more sustainable and trying to provide our families with homegrown safe and quality food items for years to come.
LAURIE: My experience with canning was non-existent until we decided that we were going to be moving from our condo to the wilds of Eastern Washington and the Okanogan Highlands. Our nearest neighbors are about 3 miles away and the closest town is 20 miles, and being as self sufficient as possible is the name of the game out here. My Mother-In-Law was my biggest and best help getting me started with learning how to can. She grew up growing and raising all their own food and continued right up until a few years ago. I had read several books and watched some videos, but until you actually get in there and do it you really have no idea what is involved.
So, I started learning to can while we were still living in the condo. That was a great time to start to learn. If things failed and didn’t work out like they were supposed to I could still walk 2 blocks to the grocery store and get what I needed for dinners. That’s not the case here. We’re lucky if we get off the mountain once a week now.
Even doing the small amount of canning we were doing while still living in town I hated throwing away the lids. So I got on line to look up what other people were doing with their used lids. You can only make so many Christmas decorations and shiny scary things to hang in trees to scare off the birds (although they didn’t seem to work for my birds). Ed had seen an ad in "Mother" for the reusable lids and we went ahead and got some to try. My first batch of canned green beans with the reusable lids did fine, but I had 3 or 4 jars that didn’t seal properly, so I went back and read the instructions, followed the instructions closely on my second batch of beans and haven’t had any trouble with the lids since. The method you use to can is essentially the same as with the metal lids, with just a little tweak. It has to do with allowing the jars to vent while they are being cooked and then tightening the lid while they cool down. It’s nothing more than that. They come in widemouth and regular sizes and you can purchase the rubber rings separately if you should lose or damage them. So far we have not needed to replace the rubber rings. The ones we are using have held up for 3 seasons of canning, and a lot of those lids and rings have been used 2 and 3 times in the season.
With all the news these days about additives and unnecessary chemicals used in growing and processing foods, (not to mention all the GMO foods that are the norm for foods in the grocery stores) canning and freezing food we have grown ourselves is what we can do to make our lives a little safer and healthier. The reusable lids are food grade and BPA free and can be used with the hot water bath or pressure canning methods.
We can a lot of fish we get from the lakes nearby, much of our garden produce, and we buy fruit from the local organic orchards and can that. We raised a batch of broiler chickens and canned most of the meat. We did freeze some of them, but freezer space is limited and canning is a great way to process your meat. Canned meat will store longer than frozen meat. This next season I think we will tackle canning more meat so that our freezer doesn’t get so full.
Ed: Over all we have found these lids to be as advertised and anytime you can reuse something over and over again, it just has to be a good idea.
Ed and Laurie Essex live off grid in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State where they operate their websites goodideasforlife.com and offgridworks.com.