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Freezing versus home canning to preserve food

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If I'm cooking, I usually prepare large quantities of food so I can stockpile meals for the upcoming week and don't have to cook too often. In the past, I froze everything in my freezer.

Recently, I saw that home canning, apparently, is easier as it can be done right after cooking and food is preserved longer while loosing less taste.

What are the advantages of home canning compared to freezing food? In what situations is one method better than the other? Is meat suitable to be home canned?

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2 answers

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Home canning is great if you are processing a lot of food all at once to store for a year or two. It's much less efficient if you are just planning to use the food over a week or two.

The main issue is that canning takes a lot more work than freezing. You need to sanitize jars and lids, heat the food, fill the jars with food, process them in the canner for anywhere from ten minutes to an hour and a half (depending on what kind of food you have), then let them cool before testing the seal and storing. It's really impractical to can meal prep for a week or two, or even a month.

Where canning really shines is when you want to preserve a lot of one particular food for up to a year. When I was growing up we would can dozens of jars of salsa, pickles, blueberry jam, corn, carrots, beans, etc. during the summer when we had plenty available, and eat it for the rest of the year. You could certainly do the same if you have access to bulk food and want to preserve it this way. Note that you will need a cool dark place to store all the jars.

For high-acid foods you don't need a pressure canner - getting up to 100 degrees Celsius is sufficient. For most other foods you will need a specialized pressure canner that creates a higher temperature to kill bacteria. (Read up on water-bath vs. pressure canning for more information.)

You can definitely can meats - anything you see in a metal can in a store is possible.

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I would only can if I had a significant amount of a particular food and was worried about filling up my freezer. IMO most foods survive freezing decently, and if you are only prepping for a week that's usually no great loss even if the freezer breaks.

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One very obvious benefit is the situation when the freezer breaks. Then everything gets destroyed.

A benefit of freezing is that, provided that the freezer does not break, is something you cannot really screw up that much. The worst that can happen is that it gets dried out if you don't cover it properly. If you fail with canning, the food can get destroyed rather quickly in room temperature.

Potatoes really don't like to get frozen. I tried to freeze mashed potatoes once, and it was horrible. So maybe canning works for that.

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