These 8 tips to get canning done with kids will set you on your way to getting more food put up this season, and enjoy your little ones in the process.
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It is easy to admire the women of the past as great heroines of history. How did Ma Ingalls get it all done exactly? Women throughout history have farmed, kept a tidy home, and had children along for the ride. Getting traditional homesteading tasks, like canning, done with children in the house isn’t just for women of the past. Canning is for us modern homesteading mamas as well! If you are growing any considerable number of fruits and/or vegetables in your garden and want to make the most of that hard effort, put into growing the produce, the task of preserving the harvest will be inevitable.
Children enjoy the process just as much as us adults, if we give them a chance. Canning can even be incorporated into homeschool lessons! Having children watch us work is one of the primary ways that children can learn hands-on real-life skills. I consider learning to put up food just as essential as some of the other subjects we learn in our homeschool. If you have not already involved your children, or attempted canning while they are home, I recommend it! Here are some tips to efficiently get canning done with children in the home.
Set reasonable goals to get canning done with kids
When involving children in the process, short and sweet is best. Rather than knock out 5 canning projects in one day, pick 1-2 canning projects and save the rest for another day. Setting reasonable goals will allow children to not be exhausted by the long day. Additionally, choose your canning recipes wisely, some recipes ask long prep and processing times. If possible, choose canning projects that are shorter and succinct. Home-canned tomatoes are done of the easiest canning projects you can tackle! If you can wait until another day to do your water bath or pressure canning, try something that includes no canning at all like small batch refrigerator pickles or refrigerator pickled beets.
When getting canning done with kids, include them in the process
Whether it be baking or cooking dinner, kids love to spend time with grown-ups in the kitchen! Canning is no different. Have them harvest the vegetables, wash, prep, and gather supplies. Play music while you cook and take the time to bond with your child. Make it a point to express how grateful you are for their help, and that there is no one in the world you would rather work on this canning project with. Like most kids, they will most likely just be thrilled to be a part of your world, but they may also be interested in the topic of canning, and food preservation.
Make it educational
If you are anything like us as a homeschooling family. Every activity is fair game to be counted as school. The history of canning can be explored, the science behind the microorganisms, and the math that is involved in the recipe measurements can all be turned into a lesson. Depending on the age of your child, he or she can write a journal entry or report about his or her experience. Even if your child receives his or her education somewhere besides the home, learning at home is still a valuable experience for both child and parent. If you are interested to know how we homeschool as homesteaders check out this post.
Have special independent activities ready
Even if your child has enjoyed spending the time harvesting and prepping the food with you, there may be a time when they are ready to move onto something else. That’s okay! Not requiring that children participate encourages them to like it more in the future! No one wants to have bad memories about being made to do something that was uninteresting. I read or go outside for a bit while my jars are processing, and my kids do to! If you child has decided they would prefer to do something else while you are still working though here are some ideas to keep them occupied:
- Send them out to do bubbles, we love these giant wands. Set it up and let them have fun!
- Other Chores on the Homestead
- Get them set up at a table for some simple play dough play
- Write or Color in their Journal (This journal for homestead kids is fun!)
- Send them on a Garden Scavenger Hunt
Talk about the plans with the food
One of my children’s favorite things to talk about is food! “What’s for dinner?” Is a frequently asked question at our house. Explaining what the plans are for after the food is preserved could be an interesting conversation, and engage your child in the process a bit more. A good idea would be to ask your child his or her opinions on how your family can use this food in the future.
Skip cooking other meals
On days when you plan to can, it can be such a relief to not have to also prepare other meals. Of course, everyone still has to eat! However, planning on eating simply on a canning day is helpful. Here are some ideas:
- Use a homemade freezer meal
- Make a no cook recipe like salad or sandwiches
- Plan to go out to eat! (Homesteaders need to get away from the farm sometimes!)
Use caution when learning how to get canning done with kids
Lastly, I highly recommend using extreme caution while canning. Especially with kids, anytime there are knives, hot burners, and steam it is wise to be mindful. Canning with a pressure cooker requires special care and attention when small children are around. Canning productivity stops completely should there be an injury for yourself or your child.
Seek child care on canning day
If none of the above methods are very effective for you and your children, consider getting help. It could be that you need only a few hours to do the prep work, but once you are on your way the children can join you or vice versa. Perhaps you prefer to can alone in the kitchen with no distractions. I highly recommend this, if you are a beginner. I enjoy having my kiddos be a part of the process, but quiet time with my favorite podcast or music is also so nice. Whichever way, getting canning done with kids, can mean getting help sometimes…and that’s okay!