Keeping canning affordable
~~ The winner of Train Like a Mother according to random.org is commenter #1 Jennifer.~~
Today I’m doing my very first batch of canning this season: strawberry rhubarb jam. Canning is sometimes a money-saver, sometimes not, depending on the choices you make. Here are some things I do to keep it more affordable.
~~Look for canning jars on Craigslist, at thrift stores, and at yard sales. It is common to pay at least $8-$10 for a dozen new jars, but I have often found them for $5/dozen or less at yard sales. Just make sure the rims of the jars don’t have any chips out of them.
~~A single box of Pomona’s Pectin makes 4 batches of jam more affordably than traditional pectin, and also allows you to make low-sugar jams. (recipes included) You can also find it in bulk, which makes the savings even greater.
~~Tattler Canning Lids & Rubber Rings have a higher initial cost but they’re reusable year after year. You’ll recoup the cost of your investment in just 2-3 years.
~~ An obvious way to save on canning is to grow the produce yourself. But if you don’t have garden space, don’t despair. Sometimes folks have fruit trees that produce more than they need, and are happy to have folks come pick in exchange for help with the cleanup. Apricots especially tend to be more prolific than many folks can keep up with, especially for elderly tree-owners. A Craigslist ad during harvest season is one way to find folks with more fruit than they want. They may be happy to let you pick for a few dollars a box. If folks do give you fruit for free, be sure to send them a thank you note. They may just contact you next year too.
~~Be willing to drive to a fruit orchard to buy the fruit directly from the grower. Farm stands and orchards sometimes offer deep discounts on very ripe fruit that needs to be used within a day or two. If you go that route, be prepared to process it immediately. If I’m short on time, I’ll sometimes freeze ripe fruit on cookie sheets, then make it into jam or smoothies later.
~~~Make jams that mix lower-cost ingredients with higher-cost ones. Strawberry rhubarb jam is a perfect example of this tactic. It’s strawberry season, so berries are reasonable — I found some for $1.37/lb, thanks to our local Bountiful Baskets co-op. But the rhubarb which I used in an equal amount grows on our property for free. Can’t beat that price. When our raspberries are in season, but not quite as plentiful as I’d wish, I’ll often mix them with apricots for another delicious fruit-stretching combination.
What do you do to save money when canning and preserving food? I’d love to hear more tips.
Other canning recipes:
- Apricot Jam
- Canning Tomatoes
- Easiest Pickles Ever
- Freezing Corn
- Grape Jelly
- Mary’s Salsa
- Ten Great Uses for Zucchini