Amish Canning

Amish Canning

Canning is an important part of the Amish home economy.  Sprawling gardens provide a wide range of produce for Amish families.

Amish Pickles

Canning helps keep Amish in fruits and vegetables throughout the winter.   Amish also can some meats.

Amish Canned Goods

Today Tom shares some photos from an Amish basement, also in the Jasper, New York Amish community.   This is from the basement of a family with 9 children.

Canned Amish Fruit

As you can see this all takes a lot of supplies.

Empty Amish Mason Jars

Amish Canning Lids


Amish Canned Foods


Amish Basement CanningCan you tell what’s in these jars?  I’m actually not sure what everything we’re seeing here is.  But I’d probably eat it all!

And any canners out there, what do you like to can?

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    1. Richard from Amish Stories

      Another great topic!

      Enjoyed the image’s very much Erik, and i think the art of canning wont be going away anytime soon because to me it just makes so much sense even today. I’m sure you will be getting a lot of good comments on this one! Richard

      1. Art of canning

        Thanks Richard, I liked your description “art of canning”. Looking at the rows of colors I am seeing something like artwork!

    2. Richard from Amish Stories

      On that last image.....

      Sorry i didn’t make this comment on my first post, but id say that in the last photo it was either potatoes or maybe pears in that jar, but i could be wrong and i look forward to what everyone else thinks. Richard

      1. Miriam

        Mystery Jars?

        I think that the last jars shown are apples. Reason being that potatoes aren’t usually canned since they store well in a root cellar and the color looks like apples. Above pictures include, jalapeno peppers mixed with red peppers, mustard relish, sweet potatoes, beets, green beans, corn, tomatoes and peaches.

        Yes, I can a lot! 😉

      2. Linda

        That was jars of pears. I’m a long time canner, and I do some in halves because they are pretty, but do some in chunks, because the jar will hold more fruit that way, and if the pears have some blemishes you can cut them out before canning.

      3. Teri

        content description

        Here’s what I believe represents the jar contents:
        beets, red cabbage, green beans, carrots, peaches, potatoes, dill pickles (both spears & chips) grape juice, corn relish, peppers, cantalope and pears. With the exception of the corn relish this is some of what I put up each season. There is a growing interest in canning… so you are right in saying it’s not a dying art!

    3. Margaret

      It is a beautiful thing! I have always wanted to can, but never have. My mom never canned, so I didn’t have an opportunity to learn the craft of canning.

      Great post, Erik! As far as what is in them, some are obvious, but I can’t tell the “white” ones apart…potatoes, pears, or apples. But, I agree with you, I’d eat any of them! :0)

    4. ramblinjodie

      I was also thinking potatoes. But perhaps cauliflower. I used to can but now its just the two of us and we moved to town. Now I container garden. The pictures are beautiful.

      1. Tom

        I am not sure, but I know that they do not can potatoes. They are stored in a root cellar.

        1. Teri

          Yes... potatoes are canned!

          I can appx 100 lbs of potatoes each year because we don’t have a usable cellar or basement area. Too damp as our home is over 100 yrs old and too ‘ooky’ for me to go down there!

    5. Brenda Henry

      Amish Canning

      My Amish neighbors butchered hogs last week, and everything was canned.I am so blessed that my Amish friend/neighbor does my Apple Butter and Tomato canning for me. They certainly put a lot of time and pride in their vegetable garden and canning!

      1. Brenda, we got some bacon from Amish friends last year. Having met the pig, my father was a bit squeamish about digging in. I wasn’t as sentimental.

    6. Bonne Campbell

      Thanks for the glimpse into the basement. Now I know another way to store my plethora of canning lid rings!! Sometimes, the simplest things just elude me…

      1. I thought that was neat too Bonne. On first glance I couldn’t tell what I was looking at.

      2. Linda

        Canning rings

        I have tried several methods of storing the rings. A. Tied up on long shoestrings, either the leather boot kind or the cotton ones from tennis shoes, or B. stored in the large plastic ice cream tubs with a lid, or C. in large plastic bags that are clear, see-through, or D. an old pillow case tied with twine and looped on a nail or hook to hang out of the way. I have finally found that I prefer the see-through plastic bags, which I can still tie twine around them and hang in a small amount of space, because I can quickly grab the bag I want, they are clean from dust and only require a quick swish in water before placing in hot water in preparation for sealing jars. I put wide mouth in one bag and regular size in another, so I am not having to hunt for the size I need. I also save the used canning lids in a large plastic jar with a lid, (I use one of the big jars candy comes in from Costco or Sam’s Club), then I reuse those lids for canning something safe like juice, or, to fill my empty jars with pure water, which is then stored for times of emergency when we need clean drinkable water for cooking with, brushing teeth, etc when the power goes out. That happens frequently in the winter here, and I figure if we have to store an empty jar, then we have room to store a jar with water in them. Every lid, has always resealed for this purpose…..but I would not trust them to reseal for canning of fruit, veggies, or meat. Only juice or water.

    7. Amish canning

      Several thoughts go through my mind at once when I look at these photos. Growing and canning all of that food is a lot of work! My Amish friends sent me some of their home canned food and it is a real treasure. You can’t beat home grown and home canned food for taste and nutrition. Food canned in jars like these is much healthier to eat than that in cans. You have probably read some of the concerns about the chemicals in the linings of cans leaching into the food, and what effect that might have on health. Great photos, as always. I think those last jars probably contain pears. And I would definitely eat all of it.

    8. Faye

      Love it!

      We do lots of canning down here in South Mississippi, and I enjoy it totally! Veggies, berries, jellies, jams, pickles, etc. We make a medium-sized garden, and can all the extra produce. It’s not only healthy but economically wise, also. We also store food in our home freezer.

    9. Jane Reeves

      Looks good!!!

      I have never canned but have made jellies and pickles. I have always wanted to learn to can but have never had that opportunity. All that food looks so good. I would love to have some of it. I am sure it would be really really good!!!

    10. Jane F Thompson

      last picture

      I think the last picture is garlic cloves.

      1. Christine Slaughter

        I normally store my garlic in braids. I haven’t thought about canning it. The picture actually looked too big to be garlic cloves, but it is a good thought… 🙂


    11. Kevin Lindsey

      My wife has canned a lot of produce (mostly fruits) and, having helped her, I know how much work is in all those jars. I am impressed! And I also agree with Bonne..a neat idea on how to store those canning lids. Thanks for the post, Eric, and to Tom for the pictures!

    12. Christine Slaughter

      Amish Canning and Canning at Home

      I love the variety shown in the photographs! It looks like pepper rings, beets, relishes, lots of pickles, green beans, corn, I can’t tell what type of meats, carrots, peaches, apples/pears and even cantalope! I also see jars of jellies (it looks like strawberry based on the color). I agree with Bonne that I now found a new way to store my rings (I used to store then in plastic bags and shove them in a drawer!).

      I love shopping at the Amish farmers market. I’m very fortunate enough to live close to Oxford and Lancaster, PA and there are lots of farms that participate in CSAs (Community Support Agriculture) around here. That coupled with my own five acre hobby farm provides me with everything I need to store enough goodies for the winter. I joke that I’ve made enough condiments to last until the end of the world. I purchase my corn and tomatos from the Amish farms so I don’t have to use my real estate for the quanities I need (I buy by the bushel).

      Every year I put up beef vegetable soup, beef stew, chicken corn soup, pickled beets, applesauce, fig jam, strawberry jam, peach jam, grape jelly, apple jelly, bread and butter pickles, dill relish, corn relish, bbq sauce, corn and black bean salsa, green tomato salsa, pepper jelly and pear chutney and spaghetti sauce. And of course, there is straight veg and fruit — green beans, peas, carrots, corn, peaches, pears and I think that is about it. I found our family eats more salsa, spaghetti sauce and soups so I can more of those than the jams and jellies. Qtys vary depending on how much I give away or keep.

      One thing I noticed in the picture was the bottle of Sarsaparilla. I guess the Amish use it to make their own soda.

      Thanks for this article!


    13. Nic

      LOVE those pics, but I just cannot help but think of the cost of the jars! I KNOW they can be washed, sterilized & reused over 7 over, year after year after year…but, wow, nowadays, those things are expensive. & why don’t most of the jars have the rings on them, only the discs, & then TONS of the rings were strung together & hanging on a hook nearby?

      1. Tom

        You only use the ring to hold the lip on the jar when you are canning. After you remove the jar from the canner and the lid pops and seals you can take the ring off. Jars are a lot cheaper at an Amish bulk food store like Kauffman’s or at a garage sale. I buy new lids at Kauffman’s for 1.20/doz regular and 1.40/doz wide mouth.

        1. Linda

          One thing important to note here, is that the rings need to stay after sealing, (lid pops) on the jars for 24 hours before removing them. Disturbing them before this time, could cause the lid to loosen and unseal.

    14. jan


      I love to can. I notice that a lot of the younger people don’t seem to carry on that tradition. I learned from the lady who adopted me and I have taught both of my daughters and my granddaughter how to can. I think it is wonderful. I have jars from many years ago and have only had to buy a few new boxes. I did notice, however, that some of my lids didn’t seal that well this year and had to toss out several ‘old’ boxes. I am amazed at the variety of their canning and impressed. I tend to only can fruit and vegetables. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

    15. Nadege Armour

      Thank you for these pictures – they are certainly a treat for the eyes. I have always wanted to learn to can. I do wonder though that if produce cannot be grown at home, would it still be economical to can??

    16. Julie Carte

      Canning question

      I enjoyed this article very much and the jars of canned goods reminded me of a quilt, in how the jars are socolorful. But my question is this: If most of the nutrients in canned goods leech into the liquid, then how come freezing fruits, veggies, and meats isn’t a more nutritious option? Is it because they use gas for energy – and it’s not practical or feasible to run the amount of freezers they would need to hold the amount of goods they produce? My mother used to can food when I was a girl, but I only remember veggies coming out limp & over-cooked. It must be an art to using canned vegetables – so that they remain tasty & nutritous. ~ Julie

    17. Theresa


      Hi Erik. I can myself. tis year I’m expanding to pressure canning!! so bring on the vegies that are low acid. The jars in question are potatoes. Lovina cans them & so do several other Amish & Mennonites. I did beans last year but in boiling water bath it takes 3 hrs to process the jars, where in pressure canner it takes 20 min.


      1. Tom

        Most Amish I know do their veggies and meat in a water bath (not the USDA approved). They leave jars in for along time. A young Amish woman I know had a baby last August and as is normal they had a hired girl come in to help. The hired girls did 60 quarts of corn in a water bath and all of it soiled. Most Amish use a big heater in their wash room that will hold about 35 quarts at a time.

      2. Hi Theresa, I didn’t realize people canned potatoes much. It seems like one of those foods that keeps pretty well.

    18. jan

      Just another thought…I remove all my rings as soon as the jars are sealed and use them on other jars. That way I only have to buy the seals. Great idea for storing them when jars are empty. No clutter in drawers that way. I may borrow that idea.

    19. MaryEtta

      We have a large garden and what we don’t consume, I share with family and friends(sometimes even strangers). I also freeze and dry some things. We have a large raspberry bed and I freeze lots of those. I tend not to share too many because I absolutely love them. I can the usual things-beans, peaches, pears, applesauce,and corn(we really like corn canned, but I freeze some,too. I can lots of beef(chunks)-It’s so good and nice and fast for soups, stroganoff,beef and noodles, or fried with onion and thickened and served over mashed potatoes. I can sauerkraut, pickles, jams, jellies, chili sauce, and one of my favorites is hot pepper butter-so good on sandwiches. I got the recipe from “The Amish Cook” website-one of Lovina Eicher’s recipes.
      Re:the pictures-I did not know you could can potatoes or garlic. I love the gardening and food processing “art”.

    20. sharon cawley

      Excellent pics of the basement, I too can and have shelves very similar but not nearly as full, but with only 2 of us left, it is not needed. Love your articles.

      1. Thanks Sharon. Looking at these photos brought back some memories. I’ve slept in Amish basements a few times (full house), but I think the fruits and veggies enjoy it better down there than I did 😉 Great to have the space to be able to do this.

    21. Wonderful photos

      Only once did I “put up” something – grape perserves. My husband came home from work with four paper bags full of beautiful purple grapes and since I had to do the work, and I prefer preserves to jelly, that is what I made. I used the lovely faceted jars and the preserves sparkled like jewels on the shelves. It was hard work and I cannot imagine the work and time involved in doing it all the time but honestly think if I could find a goodly supply of huckleberries (oh, what a pie they make!), I would definitely try it again, since I have only a small freezer. They used to be plentiful in the PA coal mine regions but I cannot find them and really miss the taste. I also wonder if fruits can be canned without sugar? In an ever constant battle with weight, I try to buy fruits canned in juice rather than sugar syrup but don’t know how to go about doing that myself. Any ideas? Your blog is wonderful. I live about 60 miles from the Lancaster, PA Amish community and hate to see what commercialism has done to the area.

      1. Tom

        I also have a problem with my weight and have type two diabetes. I started to can two years ago and am now “hooked”. I can my peaches and pears with water and make my apple sauce without sweetener. For jam and jelly I use xylitol and Pomona’s pectin. If you can your own you can cut the sugar content to what is the fruit naturally. Good, luck if I can do it anyone can. (a lot of cans)

      2. Thank you Nancy. Yes you can tell the Lancaster community has gotten crowded in places. I’ve been learning a lot about canning myself on this post, thanks to Tom again for the photos and his chipping in some info.

    22. It's a lost art...

      We can a lot of fruits and salsa, and some pickles; things that we eat the most of and buy in season or grow ourselves. I freeze the vegetables that can’t be processed in a boiling water canner since I haven’t invested in a pressure canner yet. Love the pictures!

    23. Karen Pollard


      I used to can like that. I stayed at home for 10- years when my children were growing up. I waited until the last one started school before resuming my teaching career. I can remember seeing 3 bushels of green beans and 3 bushels of corn waiting on me to get started. I’d feel like crying because I was so overwhelmed. I had no help; did it all.

      I may have been exhausted in the summer from processing it all, but come winter, we all were thrilled that everything on the table except the meat and milk came from our garden. It tastes SO much better too.

    24. Alice Mary

      U can, I can, everybody can can!

      Looking at the photos, the “white” foods could be potatoes (I’ve bought canned potatoes) or maybe garlic (I buy crushed garlic in jars) or, possibly some toot crop like turnips? (Might have used a turnip a few times in my life, in soup.)

      My Mom (in the city) used to can produce from my aunt & uncle’s big (to us, that is– it was an acre) vegetable garden (they lived in a suburb that we considered “the country.”) Mom pickled a lot of things—phew! What a smell! (I always was a very fussy child, food-wise—still am, I guess.) I wouldn’t eat any of it! I never canned until this past Fall, when a friend who grows grapes gave me bags full. It took most of a day to “put up” about 10 jars of grape jam (8 oz. jars), and I have limited use of one hand, so that may be one reason for the time it took! However, I did feel very fulfilled afterward, and gave away most to friends and family. I’d like to continue the process later this year, with beets–I will NOT pickle them! I can’t find PLAIN beets in glass jars anymore (only cans, and they have an off-taste, to me), so I’ll “put up” my own!

      The photos are a wonderful sight, though, row after row of home-grown produce—like sunshine in a jar! And I didn’t know about being able to take the rings off once the lids pop/set! Glad to learn that!

      1. I like the “radioactive” jars in the second-to-last photo 😉

    25. Chelsea

      I was not raised with canning, but when I moved out I started and am hooked. It’s a lot of work, but yet by this time of year I wish I had something to can! I like to can green beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, pizza sauce, dill pickles, b&b pickles, applesauce, and this year I tried some beets. I have also tried canning pickled eggs and mustard eggs as well as pepper rings. And we prefer to freeze our corn.

    26. Richard from Amish Stories

      I thought that this post would do well!

      This post turned out just as i expected with lots of really good comments, in fact it inspired me to drive over today to BB’s grocery market in Lebanon county that sells dented and slightly bruised food item’s at discount prices. Not really related to this post in particular but i did reference another post that you had done Erik on such markets a while ago, and went back to that one and found myself posting a comment or two on that post here. And yes those bottles with its many colors are very art like for sure and I’ve seen stranger things hanging on some walls in my travels, so maybe these images will be making a visit to a art house near you! Richard

    27. Tina Rice


      I enjoyed looking at these photos, they are great! Reminds me of the years that we canned.

      Years ago my basement pantry looked like that as we canned everything we could get our hands on. Due to my health I don’t do as much canning, but I still do can a little bit.

      I separate the wide mouth rings from the regular mouth rings and store them in a can (like popcorn or chips come in).

      Those last pictures could be apples or even potatoes- even though potatoes can be stored in the cellar. We canned a lot of potatoes over the years, even cut some like french fries. After digging the potatoes up we would go through them and put the small ones aside for canning. They are great in soups, casseroles and deep fried.

      Blessings, Tina

    28. Alice Aber


      I love the pictures, thanks for sharing!!

      I do a lot of canning, so really enjoyed this. I also will can potatoes from time to time as I do not have a proper root cellar. With a little prep work they can well. The last picture is definitely apples or pears, but by the shape my bet is on apples.

      I think it makes a lot of sense in this economy to be canning and putting up food whether one is Amish or not. Yes, it is a lot of hard work to grow and can food but it is well worth the efforts. The food tastes much better, is healthier and in the long run costs much less than commercially produced food. Not to mention you control the ingredients, use or non-use of chemicals on your garden and how much salt, if any you use in your canning.

      Richard, canning is an art. You hit the nail on the head with that one!! In the secular world today our young people are not learning how to cook from scratch, raise a garden and put up food. I think that is such a shame as there is so much to be gained by that.

      Blessings, Alice

      1. Alice if the supermarkets vanish some people will be better prepared 🙂 I was most stumped by the purple and pink jars in the 3rd photo.

        1. Tom

          The pinkest jars I believe are baloney. Since Levi and his oldest son are big time hunters and got 6 deer this years they put up a lot of baloney.

        2. Yoder

          Would the purple jars be blueberries, floating after they are canned?

        3. Alice Aber

          Erik, Alyssa, SHOM and Yoder

          I am thinking meats Erik. One would be a bologna type, another ground ham it looks to me, (I often can ground ham for making ham spreads for sandwiches) and a pickled meat such as pickled pigs feet or that sort of thing.

          And I agree, some people would be better prepared if we ever lost the grocery stores. A perfect example of that is when we had a bad ice storm here a few years back. Grocery stores were unable to open for a few days due to the loss of power. Those of us who “put up” food had no worries even with no power. We were able to open up what we canned and heat the food to eat. I wound up feeding several neighbors for a couple of days.

          Alyssa, I lived in an apartment years ago. I actually had a small container garden on the patio and in small areas in the apartment and did do some canning. Not on the scale these pictures show but it did still help the food budget. If truly interested you might pick up some books from the library on container gardening. You would be surprised at what you can do in a small space.

          SHOM I would imagine the practice is to share as many of the women will get together to help each other can. My guess would be they would do some trading in the process. The Amish, unlike the secular world, are very good at helping each other so it is safe to assume they would also be helping in this area as well.

          Yoder, apple juice is another good sugar and pectin substitute. For diabetics you can also use splenda instead of sugar.

          Blessings, Alice

    29. rick

      just joking

      City slicker: “You sure do have a big garden here! What in the world do you do with all these vegetables?”

      Amish woman: “Well, we eat what we can, and what we can’t eat, we can.”

      1. Permission to steal this joke? 😉

    30. Lee Ann

      I mostly just do fruit and jams for canning. Sometimes when I am given alot of fresh corn will can that.Green beans my type of canning those is using the seal a meal and then throw in the freezer. They taste more fresh that way.

      I used to help my Mom can fruits, jam’s, stew and potatoes, and many other things. We made our own juice and canned that as well. Stored everything in the basement. Dad dug a potato pit and covered it with wood. We would just lift the lid in the winter and pull out the potato’s from the basement pit.

      Mom used old cabinet drawers to store her lids in. I like the photo of them being strung on rope and hung up.

      I never liked the beats my Mom would make us help can. But she did them anyway. My parents pantry looks just like the amish one. I have canned deer meat as well. (venisson) Made jerky with the deer meat as well. Stringing it over the old clothes line in the basement to dry out and cure. Taste better than tuna for sure for sandwiches!

    31. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I wonder how much sharing goes on between Amish families, if someone has a lot of one sort of canned item and another family has very little, does the abundant family share? What’s the practice on that.

    32. alyssa

      I would love to can but have no place for a garden (i live in an apt). Great pics!

      1. No garden

        Alyssa, if you have farmers’ markets near you, that is second best to your own garden. That is were I get all my fresh produce any more, or when not in season, there is a discount produce store nearby and their prices are great.

    33. Yoder

      For less sugar, it seems I have heard of using pineapple juice for canning fruit, and using white grape juice concentrate for jelly.

      1. Thanks for this tip.

        I do recall that a lot of fruits seem to be canned in pear juice, or a combo of pear and apple. There used to be a wonderful breakfast drink called BC Cocktail and it was a combo of orange and apricot juices. It’s gone from the shelves now but I could try to make some and “put it up”.

    34. Canning supplies

      I live two doors from a thrift shop and they often have boxes of the jars very reasonably. (Someone gave up on canning I guess). I don’t know what shipping would be but I would be happy to post when I find them and if someone wants them, and would cover postage, I could send them. I have seen the seals too, but never the rings. I will keep looking. If anyone in PA knows a source for huckleberries, please let me know. I could make the pie filling and can it.
      Tom – not using sugar in fruits, what keeps them from discoloring? Should I use lemon juice? Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.

      1. Tom

        I add lemon juice to the water in a large stainless basin that I put cut up pears and peaches in until I fill the jars. Then I only add boiling water to fill the jars. For my grandchildren I make a syrup of red hot cinnamon candies and add it to my pears. The kids love the taste and the color is special at the holidays. If you use xylitol instead of sugar in jelly and jam the color of the jam is not as bright and sparkly, but the taste is fine.

        1. Tom, thank you. I have gotten some great tips here.

    35. Paul Hitchiner

      Love to know some of their skills at canning

      I would love to know some of their skills at canning. It seems it is only when we learn first hand, watching them, that we can learn their skills and the variety of fruit, vedgetables and even meat that can be canned.
      I know that cheap lemon pop can make a great and non-fattening syrup for pears.

    36. jan

      my kids didn’t like pears but would drink pear juice. I used all my pears and made juice out of them. It was wonderful

    37. Melissa H

      Wish my pantry looked like that!

      Thanks for the post Erik! I’m finally in a home with a back yard big enough for a garden…so this year will be my first attempt at gardening AND canning. To same I’m nervous/intimidated would be VERY accurate! :} I’m looking forward to the challenge tho, as this will go a long way in keeping my family of 6 fed!

    38. Brenda Henry

      Melissa H,~ My Amish neighbor helped me with my tomato plants last year. I had huge delicious tomatoes until mid Dec. She placed horse manure 6 – 7 inches from the plant in a circle around it. Also, once a week, she had me use Epson Salts, (1 cup to a gallon of water) when watering. Good luck with your garden!

    39. Matt from CT

      > If most of the nutrients in canned goods
      >leech into the liquid, then how come freezing
      >fruits, veggies, and meats isn’t a more nutritious

      Freezing, usually, is the easier way and more nutritious and better “mouth feel” way. Not always, but usually.

      However, you also have to balance it —

      Think of the freezer capacity you’d need for a family with 10 kids, half of them teens working on a farm!

      They also, at least on farms, probably eat more. The “average” American needs 2000-2500 calories/day officially and I suspect we should make that 1750-2250.

      Farm families in the age of horse power ran about 4,000 calories per day!

      Not only does that double the amount of freezer space you’d need compared to an average American family…it gives you double the amount of food to get your vitamins.

      So even if they lose a good part of the nutrition to canning, they make up for it by eating a larger volume of lower nutrient food to meet their calorie demands.

      (Of course as you get into Amish who work in shops, their needs are probably closer to but still more then the average American.)

      The “rule of thumb” for ordinary American families is 6 cu. ft. of freezer space for four family members. Double it once for more calories needed, double it again for preserving much more food then an average family, and triple it for family size you’re up to needing 72 cu. ft. of freezer space — that’s three of the largest chest freezers made, and I’m not sure you still have near enough. That’s a lot of appliance and power need, and you run the risk if you have a failure of losing a lot of your food.

    40. Matt from CT

      >Richard, canning is an art. You hit the nail
      >on the head with that one!! In the secular world
      >today our young people are not learning how to
      >cook from scratch, raise a garden and put up food.

      That was on an NPR radio show I was listening to today; one of the problems with the American diet today is you don’t have the home cooking (or shopping skills even).

      Even among the “Foodie” books like Michael Pollan, etc they’re recognizing it’s not about telling people to cook like Mom did, or even Grandma did…we’re getting to the point we need to speak about cooking like Great-Grandma did for many families. The turning point being roughly 1950.

      I did like that the guest confirmed my belief — you can eat well on $35/person/week (I have)…but most people just don’t know how to shop for it or even how to cook it if they did buy it. He sent out grad students to prove you could make that budget and eat pretty healthy, but it took a lot of knowledge to find the right stuff in the supermarket.

      (I suspect the $35/week is now closer to $40 after the last couple years of inflation…but it would be even less if I raised as much as the Amish farm families did and had access to their stores!)

      Of our two big food stamps programs, only one of them is nutrition oriented — WIC (Women-Infant-Children) which is restricted what you can buy. The standard food stamps program (SNAP) is a near free-for all — I have watched the woman in front of me at the grocery store buy six gallons of ice cream (that’s all, just ice cream) on her SNAP card. Knew it was a SNAP card because she had to dig out a couple bucks to pay for the bottle of Bon Ami cleaner which was the only other thing in her cart. I sure as sugar would prefer food stamps pay for the cleaner and not the ice cream!

      Oh, and I laughed at myself after the last post about calories and nutritional density…it sounded just like I was talking about feeding cattle!

      Seriously — there’s all sort of charts and formulas used for feeding livestock that you figure out how much hay, grain, supplements, etc to give them so it all balances out — they get the nutrients they need, the energy they need, the protein, the right amount of roughage, etc!

      1. crazyquilt

        Snap Cards

        It’s really awful. When my husband died I had to apply for emergency aid. The woman kept telling me…you can buy potato chips, ice cream and soda and I looked at her like she was stupid. She repeated herself. I asked, Can I buy fish oil and vitamin B? Oh no, but you can buy anything you want.
        I said, anything that will kill you huh? She shook her head.

        I’ve been canning like the Amish for a lot of years. Had to move and brought two big trash cans full of canning jars with me. I left behind a lot of stuff but I wasn’t about to leave my canning jars. I’m in there canning spaghetti sauce right now.

        Thanks for the photos. Sometimes, I’m homesick for my old canning pantry. It just doesn’t begin to feel like home until you have a garden and a bunch of shelves full of filled canning jars.

    41. Emma Miller

      Those photos are so beautiful and bring back so many memories. Looks exactly like our basement growing up. One of the great things about growing up Amish – I hope someday I have the space to store canned goods again.

    42. Alice Aber


      Freezers are also at a premium for the Amish as most run on electricity. To find others run on propane or another alternative source is quit costly to say the least. As you said Matt, you lose power you lose a lot of food.

      Canned goods can stay on the shelves indefinitely. They do not go bad. However, after 3 years they will begin to lose flavor. I personally do not believe it has ever been proven that nutrition “leaves the food and leaches out into the water” when canned. I think that is an old wives tale from when the push was on to buy frozen back in the late 50s and early 60s. But either way, there is certainly nothing wrong with canned food, especially if you are not adding a ton of salt to it, LOL.

      If we were to lose power for any length of time, my canned food would still be fine but the frozen food might all be lost if I did not get to it and cook or can it. And if I have to can it to save it from a power outage why did I not can it in the first place? Don’t get me wrong I also have a freezer that I use, but very much prefer canning.

      Blessings, Alice

    43. Emma Miller

      You’re right, Alice. I grew up Amish and our freezer was the size of a very small ice chest. Since we used kerosene refrigerators, we had even less freezer space than a normal-sized fridge.

      Canning was a wonderful way to preserve all our harvest, but boy was it a lot of work! No AC and woodburning or kerosene stoves. Can you imagine how hot is was canning in Missouri in August? But to see those shelves line up with canned goods – it’s an awesome feeling.

    44. Alice Aber

      Hi Emma,

      Believe it or not, I do as much of my canning as possible outside on the BBQ grill because of the heat in the house, and I do not have a woodburning stove, LOL. I want one though. 😉 I think it is very rewarding to know you can feed your family from all the food you put up and that makes the very hard, hot work worth it. 🙂

      Blessings, Alice

      1. Emma Miller

        Hi Alice,

        Yes, I agree. As those jars start filling up, it’s all worth it. As a young girl, I thought it was way to much work but now I miss it a lot. And I want a wood-burning stove too. Someday…:-)

        Blessings to you too.

    45. Debbie Welsh

      Wow, what a delicious and great looking supply! I don’t do any canning myself but I sure do buy most of my canned goods, fruits & vegetables, meats & cheeses, baked goods, and bulk food supplies from the Amish. You can’t beat them for quality and price, and I truly appreciate all the hard work they put into everything they do.

    46. glen k



    47. Matt from CT

      “Leaching” today is usually a synonym for worries about BPA.

      It’s a plastic compound that is/was used to coat the inside of metal cans of store-bought items and many home canning lids. It’s been in widespread use since the 1960s, and some modern research has indicated there may be a “subtle” effect on the endocrine system.

      Darn tough for it to leach into home canned food when there should be airspace between the food and the lid! Outside of brief exposure during the canning process from the bubbling liquids splashing on the lid.

    48. Great pics!

      My wife does a bit of canning, and I even help! But nothing compared to the quantities in this supply for a big Amish family and visitors. We are both Polish, living in Canada.
      What about fermenting? It has a tradition in countries like Germany (Sauerkraut) and Poland – “kapusta kiszona” (white cabbage), “ogórki kiszone: (cucumbers).
      Perhaps the Amish do it, too? The process preserves the product, no need for fridges. Fermented cabbage is an excellent source of vitamin C.
      Fermenting is done by valuable bacteria, that have been depleted in modern Western food and cleanliness lifestyle, so fermented foods are good for balancing the digestive system flora.
      My wife experiments with fermenting other types of cabbage: red (in Europe I’ve never seen red Sauerkraut), Italian, Chinese… available from ethnic veggie stores and markets; many are grown locally, e.g. near Vancouver.
      In Erik’s articles, I don’t see mention of dried friut. Don’t Amish dry fruit? My wife dries whole small pears, some types of berries, sliced apples…

      1. Piotr I have not paid enough attention to that and so am not sure how much drying they do, though the snitz pie (traditional among Lancaster Amish for the after-church meal) is made from dried apples.

        I am pretty familiar with “kiszone” veggies 🙂

    49. Mags

      Pickled Garlic

      Garlic only lasts a few months when hung – by Dec or Jan the garlic has withered or wants to sprout. We pickle garlic in bread and butter pickling mixture and it is sooooooo good. You can eat it plain like a pickle or mince it up as a relish on a hamburger or hot dog. We usually use smaller jars for pickled garlic, like jam or half pints.

      1. Re: Pickled garlic

        I’ve fermented garlic.. it stays pickled in my frig for a long time… it super intensifies the flavor too.. I also more often freeze my garlic.. it lasts much much longer that way and is always at hand for whatever I need.

    50. On the Amish Shelves

      Personally, I think the very last picture of white chunks are apples. In my experience (about 30 years worth) of canning, apples tend to float when they are canned.. .as do cold packed tomatoes. Pears nor potatoes do this. If you will look closely at the last photo.. they are all floating and the “chunks” are touching the top of the jars.. screams apples to me.

      In the same picture above it are peppers.. Yum! Thats exactly how mine look. And maybe tomato paste next to them… or maybe a hot sauce.. yum!

      Either way… I love looking at other peoples canned goods… Though there are just 2 of us at home these days.. I still enjoy having a wall filled with jars of good canned organic produce and grass fed meat.