How to Save Money Canning
Most folks opt for buying canned food over the laborious job of home canning, as they state it is more expensive and too labour intensive. If you buy your fruits and veggies from the local grocery store, yes it will be more expensive, but if you know a few simple tricks to keep costs down, preserving your own food through canning can save you $100’s of dollars!
You do not need to buy all your jars from new! Did you know that thrift stores, garage sales, and social media marketplaces can be an excellent way to stock up on canning jars? Seeing how canning is a ‘thing of the past’ most canning jars get donated to thrift stores when our grandmas age out of the laborious job. Seeing how jar sizes, lids and rims are still produced in the same size, it does not matter what generation your jar is from!
We have heard it said a hundred times, do not reuse your lids. Lids are the only aspect of canning that cannot be used over and over, until now! Tatter is now making reusable canning lids! Yes, you heard me right, reusable! Find them on our website here. Reusable lids will help eliminate the yearly cost of purchasing lids, as well as the headache of trying to find the correct size for the jars you have.
Investing in a good canner can be expensive, but this is a one-time purchase that will pay off year after year! Check out our All American Pressure Cooker Canners on Good2GoCo. Make sure you purchase the best and purchase it in a size best suited for the quantity of jars you want to produce each year.
Purchasing food for canning can get expensive, even if you are buying from a farmers’ market or fruit stand. Ask your local fruit stand if they sell ‘seconds’, meaning food that has not been approved for store front sale, but still good and edible, just maybe not as pretty. Usually, seconds can sell for a fraction of the price! My local farmer also sells what is called ‘windfall’. This means after a strong wind rips through our town, my next day's stop is the farm! Tons of fruit blows off the trees, thus making it unfit for sale, but putting in the effort to pick it up off the ground makes for cheap and delicious food ready for canning! ‘Seconds’ may require a little extra prep time, as brown spots and such need to be cut off, but the cost saved is well worth the extra effort.
Make friends with local farmers. Not only are local farmers some of the best people in your community and simply worth knowing, but they are also usually overloaded with food that is unsellable, and farmers hate seeing their crops go to waste! They may be able to offer you great discounts on large quantities or allow you to pick your own right from the field! Make friends with your local farmer, I cannot say it enough, and remember to thank them with a basket of canned products at the end of harvest!
Friends and neighbors can be an excellent source of trade! We are fortunate to live in a region where a lot of people have fruit trees in their backyards, left after orchards were cut down to make way for residential areas. During cherry season people are almost begging others to come and pick off their tree, as they are unable to keep up with the harvest. Grow a garden and trade with friends. You never know who has too many carrots, apples or zucchinis!
If you have a relative who hunts, pressure canning meat could be your new favourite way to preserve the game! I have pressure canned venison my husband harvested, and it was the most flavourful meat I have ever eaten in my life! If you have the equipment to process your own meat from harvest and you know how to pressure can, you can now preserve the weight of a deer for a fraction of the cost of a butcher.
Variety in Your Pantry
When canning most folks will opt for the easy options, like canning tomatoes or peaches; however, these are not the largest cost savers. I find canning jams, relish, salsa and other sauces or preserves to save us more money throughout the year, as these are items we use on a daily basis. My family and I will go through a jar of salsa a week, easy. If purchased from the store that’s $7-$8 a jar. If we make our own salsa, our cost is around $1-$2 a jar. Don’t can things that are ‘treats’, preventing you from wanting to eat them on a Tuesday night. Choose to can things you eat already, making large batches to reduce costs and can enough to assure it will last you until next year’s harvest season.
Can Products that can be Used in a Variety of Ways
Some people will choose to pressure can soups. Though delicious, I would rather can the components of soup, such as potatoes, broths, meat, carrots and the like. This way I can use these items for a variety of meals instead of having just one meal taking up space in my jars. Another example of this would be apple sauce, which is a popular option for canning. I choose to can cubed apples instead. This way I can use the apples for pies, cobblers, muffins or simply eat them in a bowl with some ice cream topped with cinnamon! If I want apple sauce, I can take my jar of apples, dump it in a pan and blend it up! Now I have apple sauce. Canning your product in such a way that it can be used in multiple ways will lead to more cost-effective meals.
The time it takes to can will be your biggest cost, as your time is valuable. If you wish to lower the time it takes, invite a friend or two over to help, like the old days! Offer them payment in canned food, or have them share the cost of product, splitting the jars when finished. If you are a lone wolf, you may love the hours spent sweating it out in the kitchen and cost for time is irrelevant!
Canning does not have to be expensive! If you source your product right, it can save you a lot of money! Take your time, get to know your local farmer and decide before harvest what it is you will be spending your time canning. Do not waste time on things you will not eat, items that only get pulled out during the holiday seasons, or foods that cannot be used in variety. This is your pantry, your kitchen, and your dinner plate, make sure it contains the best!
May God bless you and your families,