Probably most of us have heard the adage "waste not, want not." My grandmother used to say it all the time.
I think that piece of wisdom is especially significant when it comes to preserving the fruits and vegetables we grow and buy every summer, because we love to keep enjoying those wonderful tastes all year long.
How Home Canning Began
"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
It is interesting to go back and learn how preservation of food came about. Surprisingly, the concept was instigated by the famous French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
As you know, Napoleon Bonaparte was a brilliant military leader. He oversaw a large force of troops. Well, as one can imagine, making sure all those men got fed was a monumental, daily task - the word "daily" being the operative term here.
To solve the problem, the French government offered a reward of 12,000 francs to anyone who could come up with a way to accomplish that enormous feat.
An inventor named Nicolas Appert, though not completely understanding why, learned that by putting food into a bottle or jar, sealing it up tight and cooking it for a few hours, it could be preserved and then safely eaten at a later time. Hence, the problem of feeding the masses was solved.
Then came America's Victory Garden, a concept born in the early 20th Century when citizens of the U.S. were asked to help the war effort by growing large vegetable gardens and contributing most or all of their produce to be preserved. World War I, with men leaving their farms and families to go fight, had brought on terrible food shortages across two continents.
Over a number of months, literally millions of quarts of food were grown and preserved, which helped feed starving people not just in the United States, but also across Europe.
And many of us still do that today. When you get into the benefits of preserving fresh fruits and vegetables in the summertime, one can never argue that the gains definitely outweigh the effort.
So, that is some of the history of home preservation. Now let's get into some of the nitty gritty of actually doing it.