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Back to Basics

Food Preservation is a passion of mine. I love to teach classes and get more and more people to try new ideas in food preservation. My class is named "Back to the Basics, in the Kitchen with Margaret Heaton."

Be it a new idea in food dehydrating or attempting a new jelly or jam recipe, I love to teach on the subject of "Puttin' up food."

Here I am at the last class I taught at a local church. This night was different for me as I never used a stove or hot plate to do any actual canning. Folks had so many questions about food preservation, it kept me on my toes answering as many as I could.

So in this little introduction about me, I thought I would share my"rules" associated with food preservation:

  1. Have fun. If you don't enjoy the time it takes to preserve the food, Don't do it!

  2. Some people find canning and prepping food to be relaxing, if so, put aside the hours and put up that food!

  3. Some may want to get all their canning for a year done in just a few days, others may want to stretch it over weeks or months. Do it your way! Either way is right.

  4. Some may love to be with others while they work hard in the kitchen prepping, sorting, washing and canning. Then these folks can find a group to work with, all who love to be with others.

  5. A lone canner can be just at home in the prep kitchen all by him or herself. Find out what you like..with or without others in the kitchen. Make it work for you!

  6. Do Not Be Afraid of the food canner, dehydrator, freezer, vacuum sealer or any other item you need for preserving the bounty of food you have.

  7. Ask questions if something doesn't make sense, if you think a canning procedure is unsafe, or someone gave you information you just aren't sure about. Ask the question!

  8. Who would you ask about food preservation? Your county extension office is a great place to start. Or a trusted website, such as the, (National Center for Home Food Preservation.) Or someone you know who practices safe canning procedures and has been preserving her/his food for years.

Let's get Back to the Basics and get that food into jars, sealed in bags, dehydrated or froze.

So to introduce myself a little more,

I want you to know, I am NOT an expert on canning!

I am not an expert on the subject of home canning, I have never been certified to have the title of “Master” canner, home preservationist, or anything resembling these titles. What I do have is about sixty years of experience behind me. Having catered for thirty years and owning two restaurants, I have been certified in ServSafe practices, which is the standard for how to handle food safely and eliminate food borne illness.

I first learned to home-can at the knees of my mother. My mom, a mother of eight, would can and preserve anything she was given, raised herself, or bartered in exchange for food. I remember sitting as a young girl, snapping beans, one-by-on. We had apple and pear trees and I remember picking up apples and pears off the ground so none would go to waste. My Mom made the best applesauce!

I have read books and magazine articles (this was before the internet) and now, spend countless hours on the internet searching for new methods, new recipes, learning what is new or now considered to be unsafe.

I use two websites as my expert advice. These are the:

  1. National Center for Home Preservation. Find it at

  2. USDA guide: Https:// canning

I also use county extension offices from around the country, along with universities from states around this country. I use the Ball Canning Book for guidelines too.

Although I follow many websites and you-tubers, also finding inspiration on Instagram and from Facebook groups, these are for ideas and inspiration for me only. If a recipe doesn’t make sense to me or I see the person canning is not preserving food correctly (correct according to the USDA standards), I will not follow their recipes nor pass anything on from these sites.

Teaching the Basics of Home Canning

I am an avid home canner. Though we live in a fifth wheel trailer full time, I still put up and preserve as much food as possible. I’ve taught hundreds of people the art and joy of canning and food preservation. To me, preserving food in jars is joyful! I love to see jars of preserved food standing on my shelf. I love to know where the food is from and how it is preserved. I am grateful that I have taken the time to care for the nutritional needs of my husband and myself. For me, I get great joy in seeing the face of the recipient when I give them the food I lovingly prayed over when I took the time to preserve it.

Teach a person to fish…

We’ve all heard the old saying, give a person a fish, and they eat for a day. Teach that person to fish, and they eat for a lifetime.

Never is that truer than when I teach someone the joy of home food preservation. Home canning will always be my favorite way to preserve and teaching others is a bonus to me.

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