There seems to be quite a difference of opinions when it comes to canning vs. freezing. Some love one over the other, while some do both. I’m from the latter group, although I do have a preference in how I prepare my food for long term storage. There’s no question about jams, jellies and pickles… canning is the way to go, in my opinion. I’ve tried freezer jam and didn’t care for it, so I’ll stick with my tried and true method. So which would I rather have in storage? It depends on the vegetable, but in general I like canned better for quite a few reasons.
I’m in my second year of freezing my veggies. The pressure gauge is broken on my pressure canner and since I haven’t replaced it yet, here’s another year that I didn’t get to use it. If two years of freezing has taught me anything, it’s that I need to replace that asap! I miss canning, the convenience of it and yes, even the “fun” of it. I love to can!
There are always factors to consider when looking at methods of doing things, and canning vs. freezing is no exception. I’ve read many people’s opinions that freezing is “so much cheaper” and “easier” than canning, but is it really? Maybe they’re comparable in the long run. Nutrition? Studies show no significant differences between the two (more on that later).
Here are some things to consider in order to decide which is right for you and your household:
1. What did you initially pay for the deep freeze? We got lucky on that score and a neighbor gave us a chest freezer they no longer needed, so ours was free. What did you pay for the jars? I haven’t bought a lot of new jars when compared to the number I bought second-hand or was given. I’d say that if I had to compare the cost of a freezer vs buying canning jars, I’d come out cheaper with the jars. Of course, that would change had I had to buy them all brand-new.
2. How much does it cost to run the freezer? I don’t know how you’d figure it out, but I’m sure that freezing all the garden’s bounty in the freezer is going to cost some electricity. If the jars are sitting on my cellar shelf, it’s not costing me anything to keep them. But, it cost me to process them on the stove. Again, I’m not sure how one would figure out the cost, but it’s there. Of course, if there were a natural disaster and you lost electricity for more than a few days, it’s a pretty fair bet to say you’d lose you frozen goods, another reason I like canned food – the security of it.
3. How much did the bags cost that your produce is in? Freezer bags can only be used once, whereas jars are reusable to infinity as long as they are taken care of. I won’t discuss cost of jars again, see #1 above. Then, there is the plastic vs. glass debate. Personally, I’d like to give up as much plastic as I can, so using the bags to put my veggies in wasn’t my ideal choice. There’s no environmental debate about glass jars.
4. How long will the veggies keep in the freezer when compared to the length of time they can be stored on the shelf? This is a big thing with me. There are many schools of thought on canned foods and their shelf life. Let’s just say that it can be safely eaten for years and years as long as it was canned properly. I’m not going to say that ten year old green beans are going to have the taste or texture of shorter term stored green beans, but they won’t hurt you. I researched ideal storage times for both frozen and canned food and this is what I found. Ideally, canned food should be used within 1-2 years. Freezing vegetables for longer than 8-12 months isn’t recommended. Those figures alone would be enough to sway me.
5. Taste and texture. Some people prefer frozen, some canned. I prefer some vegetable frozen, while others canned. For example, I detest canned peas, but love canned green beans. I guess it’s all a matter of preference since the nutritional values are comparable. For years I was under the understanding that canned had very little nutritional value, but that myth has been proven false.
6. Convenience of use. I think this is a big part of why I like canned food. I find that it’s easier to use when it’s mealtime, especially if I’m in a hurry. Again, it’s a matter of personal preferences.
Well, that’s quite a bit to ponder. When all is said and done, I really believe that it has a lot to do with what we like the taste of and what we cook for meals and how they’re prepared, as well as what we’re used to eating. I’m not going to say that frozen food is inconvenient. It has it’s place in our home, but there are certain things I’d rather can than freeze.
Until next time…