A number of my recipes can either be canned — either pressure canning or water-bath canning — or frozen. If you’re disabled and considering canning, you may be wondering, “Canning vs Freezing: Which is more disability-friendly?” The short answer is, it depends. The longer answer required going through the pros and cons of each method of food preservation.
The Pros of Freezing
Pro of Freezing #1 – Requires Little Spoons
Freezing is a very easy way to preserve food. Because it is easy, it requires very little spoons to put food in containers and stick them in the freezer.
Pro of Freezing #2 – Cost Efficient to Begin
There is very little in the way of upfront investment for freezing. You’ll want to purchase heavy-duty storage containers that won’t need to be replaced as frequently as storage containers made from thinner plastics.
Pro of Freezing #3 – Food Can Be Stored for an Okay Amount of Time
Depending on the type of food and whether you are freezing in your refrigerator’s freezer or a deep freezer, your food can last 2 – 12 months, depending on what you are freezing. This is beneficial because you can cook multiple portions of food at once, freezing them in portion-sized containers that are ready to serve. This saves you from having to cook every day.
The Cons of Freezing
Con of Freezing #1 – Limited Space
If all you have is the freezer in your fridge, then you really can’t store much. Having a bigger deep freeze isn’t necessarily better either, which brings me to my next con.
Con of Freezing #2 – Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The problem I find with freezing pre-cooked, pre-portioned meals is, I forget what I have frozen as my small deep freeze begins to fill up. I don’t have this problem with the meat I freeze in recipe-sized quantities as those are always on the top of the freezer and are used in fairly quickly and tend to stay near the top.
At least twice a year, I find myself throwing out a lot of frozen meals because they were forgotten about and well beyond their eat-by date. That’s a lot of wasted money.
Con of Freezing #3 – Deep Freezers and Refrigerator Freezers Are Not Disability-Friendly
Having a deep freezer means a lot of bending over into the freezer to grab things that are near the bottom. If you’re in a wheelchair, it’s simply not possible.
The problem is the same for refrigerator freezers. Those that have the freezer on the top can’t be reached if in a wheelchair. Those that have the freezer on the bottom require bending over or squatting, which posses a number of problem for people with mobility-issues who are not in a wheelchair.
The problem with side-by-side refrigerator/freezers is there is only a limited usable zone for people with a variety of mobility issues.
Con of Freezing #4 – The Long Term Costs Get Expensive
Whether it’s because of food you have to toss that was forgotten about, the fact you need to replace even the best of storage containers, or even the need to buy a deep freeze if you want to store more than a couple of meals, the costs of freezing start out okay, but really add up over time.
Con of Freezing #5 – Requires Extra Thought for Meal Planning
Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t care for food defrosted in the microwave. You are able to defrost food in the Instant Pot, but it’s a bit of a process. Freezing meals means I have to think about what I want to eat always a day in advance so I can pull it out of the freezer and let is safely defrost overnight in my fridge. This often leads to eating meals I’m not really into and wishing I had taken something else out the night before.
The Pros of Canning
Pro of Canning #1 – You Can Store A Lot More Food
Space is only limited by cupboard space, pantry space, cans tucked in closets or the laundry room, wherever. There are no restrictions on where you can store your food other than it be a place with little to low light and room temperature.
Pro of Canning #2 – Food Lasts Longer
Food should be eaten within a year of canning. Which is quite a long time. You don’t have to worry about something getting freezer burned.
Pro of Canning #3 – You Save Money in the Long-Term
Canning jars, the screw part of the lids, canning tools, and canners last a very long time. Years and years. You don’t have to replace them nearly as frequently as you need to replace food storage containers. Replacement lids are not that expensive.
Pro of Canning #4 – No Extra Thought for Meal Planning
You never have to think ahead about what you want for lunch or supper. Once you are fully stocked with home-made canned goods — which only takes a few weeks of big batch cooking to achieve — all you need to do when hungry is walk up to wherever your jars are stored and make a decision. The worse thing that can happen is you get option paralysis.
Pro of Canning #5 – Little to No Food Waste
Just like not everything freezes well — don’t freeze chili peppers because they lose all flavour, as an example — you can’t can everything either. Unlike freezing, food isn’t out of sight, out of mind. It can’t get buried in the bottom of a deeper freezer and forgotten about well past its eat-by date because people tend to store canned good in a frequently accessed area.
Pro of Canning #6 – Best Way to Preserve Fruits From Your AeroGarden
If you’re like me and have an AeroGarden that can grow fruits, canning is a fantastic way to preserve your bounty. Tomatoes and chili peppers do not freeze well, at all, but bell peppers freeze without losing flavour when seeded and chopped. You don’t even need to pressure can your tomatoes. You can water-bath can tomatoes if you follow a recipe that has canning salt and vinegar. There are also recipes for pickled chili peppers.
I dehydrate my chili peppers because I don’t like the flavour profile of pickled peppers, but my canner will get a great work out when I harvest my tomotoes.
The Cons of Canning
Con of Canning #1 – Requires Extra Spoons and Posses Mobility Issues
While most the time spent canning is waiting for the canner to do its thing, more spoons are used during the process. They get used up preparing jars for canning, filling jars, sticking them in the canner, monitoring during reaching pressure to turn down heat, removing the jars from the canner and much more… I’m tired just thinking about all this extra work.
While there isn’t any bending involved with canning, it does require a bunch of time on your feet. This isn’t something you can do while seated.
Con of Canning #2 – Upfront Cost is Expensive
Pressure canners cost over $100, plus there is the cost of canning tools and a bunch of jars to get you started. So, while you save a bunch of money in the long-term, you need to have the money to get started.
I have a feeling that the Instant Pot Max would resolve a lot of the things mentioned in the first con, but its upfront cost is more expensive than buying a stove-top pressure canner. Eventually, I do plan to buy an Instant Pot Max because the extra cost will be worth the spoons saved when I’m canning 4 jars or less.
Canning vs Freezing: Benefits and Losses to Weight
Ultimately, there is no easy answer when it comes to canning vs freezing. Especially as you can’t can everything and you can’t freeze everything. For me, canning outweighs freezing for a few reasons:
- I can store way more pre-cooked ready-to-serve meals.
- I don’t have to think about what I want to eat at least a day in advance.
- I have zero food waste.
- I can grow a lot of tomatoes and not have to worry about using them in a short period of time.
- While it uses more spoons than freezing, it doesn’t hurt my body as much since there is no bending involved.
It’s not about replacing one with the other, but rather finding a balance between the two storage methods that best work for you when managing your disabilities.
If you have any questions about canning, let me know!