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There’s nothing more satisfying than raking in a good harvest and it almost makes you feel like you can finally take a break from all that farming. But not so fast! You still have to make sure that your harvest stays fresh and preserved for the upcoming months. There are numerous ways of storing your harvest and keeping it fresh, such as freezing, drying, and canning it.

Canning is an age-old practice that was used by farmers to preserve their tomatoes and vegetables at a time when refrigeration wasn’t a service that was easily available. It involves adding produce to a jar and then heating it to a point when the air is driven out from it.

Two Methods

So there are two main methods that are completed through pressure canning and a boiling water bath. You can use a boiling water bath to drive out the air from cans that contain tomatoes, or other processes jams or jellies. This even works for pickles, as long as preservatives are added. The jars containing produce are heated by being completely submerged in boiling water.

Pressure canning, on the other hand, is practiced as a way to store vegetables and other products like poultry. In this method, the jars of food have to be placed in a few inches of water while inside of a pressure cooker. The entire setup is then heated to 240 o F at least.

Which Method to Use

High Acidic Foods

The boiling water bath method works well for high acidic foods like tomatoes and other fruits. These contain a pH that is lower than 4.6.

Low Acidic Foods

Pressure canning is implemented for low acidic foods (vegetables), which have a pH above 4.6. The reason why they can only be preserved this way is due to the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a microorganism that can leave behind deadly spores which thrive in low acidic conditions.

How To

The main difference between both methods is that pressure canning is achieved through a high temperature of the boiling water bath. So you’ll need a special pressure cooker to prepare vegetables using this method.

In both methods, you’ll need clean jars and brand new caps. You need to thoroughly sterilize each jar and keep them in boiling water until you’re ready to store your produce. Whether you’ve added the jars to a pressure cooker, or a boiling water bath, you need to give time until the right temperature is achieved. This is 212 o F for the boiling water bath method.

After removing your jars to cool, listen for a popping sound which indicates that the jars have sealed. You can check this by looking for a depression in the lid. If it hasn’t sealed, you should keep them in the fridge to eat soon.

Should You Try Canning?

While the boiling water bath method is great for preserving pickles, jams and salsas, the same can’t be said for a variety of foods that can be stored by the pressure canning process. If you’re looking to store beans, broccoli or other such veggies, you’ll find that other ways to preserve them, such as freezing, are much more suitable. On the other hand, if you want to store produce using the boiling water bath method only, you can add acidic mediums like vinegar or lemon juice that can keep botulinum from growing. Happy Farming!

More about canning here: Can Do

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The Pros and Cons of Off-The-Grid Living

With rising economic and political instability, more individuals who are looking for an alternative way of life are finding it in off-the-grid living. The idea of cutting links with centralized utility systems, and most of the world, appeals to many. Homes on wheels, secluded homes and trailers in the middle of nowhere are becoming more common in different parts of the world. Anyone considering living off the grid, however, would be wise to first weigh its pros and cons.

Pros

A good number of people around the world are embracing this way of life because of various advantages that it presents.

1. Save on Energy Costs

Off-the-grid living requires you to find alternative energy sources such as solar or wind. You can use wood for cooking and heating if plenty is available on your property. You can spend an afternoon chopping firewood on your property and stock up a pile for winter.

2. No Utility Grid Dependency

This kind of lifestyle will grant you the freedom from depending on utility grid. The grid isn’t always dependable, and natural occurrences such as earthquakes, heavy rains and bad weather might affect services. When you have no dependency on the utility grid, your home will always be lit up. Everything will be running smoothly when there is an area blackout due to a great storm that knocks down power lines.

3. Countless Home Design Options

The notion that off-the-grid homes are always smaller is false. The truth is that you can build any kind of home that your heart desires on your off-grid property. You have countless design options, which will also be energy efficient and comfortable. You can also incorporate the modern designs for your home.

4. Exposure to Environmental Options

When you adopt this way of life, you will get valuable knowledge about your environment. You will learn to manage alternative energy systems, live more simply and learn numerous conservation options. The environmental knowledge you gain from living this life is more effective because it is practical. Compared to that which is acquired by reading books, the hands-on knowledge is simply priceless.

5. Kids Will Benefit

When you have kids and adopt the off-the-grid life, you are giving them a great opportunity to learn vital life skills that many in their generation will lack. They will learn how to accomplish more with less, appreciate nature and treat the environment with a lot of respect.

Cons

The cons of off-grid living are not many. The problems will mostly be there during the period that you are setting up and adjusting to the life.

1. High Start-up Costs

In the end you will save a lot of money, but the initial start-up costs of building the home, installing the alternative energy systems, starting a farm (if you are into it) and so on can be quite high.

2. The Requirements Challenge
Remember, not all the alternative energy options work for all lands or on already-built homes. Most of them require the right home, land or location. If you are counting on wind energy, for example, and your off-grid property isn’t at a windy location, you will have to reconsider your energy options. You might at times be forced to make adjustments in the structure of your home to accommodate your needs, or simply look elsewhere.

3. Not Easy at the Beginning

Initially, going off the grid will not be easy, and you will have to work extra hard to get everything running smoothly. You will also have to forget some comforts that you have been used to, and learn to appreciate the simple things in life the hard way. Think about chopping a mountain of firewood on a hot afternoon, weeding the garden, milking the cow for your kitchen milk, painting your house, building that chicken coop or having a next-door neighbor who is miles away.

Off-the-grid living is not for everyone, but if you feel that you would love this kind of life far away from “civilization,” then it is better to be well aware of the pros and cons that come with it.


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