|Picture from naturesmom.com|
Amy doesn’t get into the basics of canning, as there are a lot of sources out there. She recommends the “Ball Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing” which you can buy or borrow from the library. Instead Amy covers the Tightwad angle on canning. Specifically she’ll dispel some myths and pass along some time and money saving pointers.
First the myths:
1. Canning is difficult, tedious and time-consuming. People assume canning is difficult because they are unfamiliar with it. Amy says “If you can drive a car, you can learn to can.”
Canning can seem tedious and time consuming as you will be processing a great amount of food in one day, but as you use the food, you will notice a time savings. An example is canning your own homemade spaghetti sauce vs. making a new from scratch batch every time you want spaghetti.
2. Canning is not economical. This is usually based on buying your equipment new and not factoring in that you will be able to re-use the equipment year after year. The savings depends on what you’re canning and where you get the produce and fruit to can. Do you grow your own or are you given produce? Do you buy everything at a farmer’s market or at another store? Growing your own produce is economical and healthier as you know what you put on your plants.
3. Canning is unnecessary for people who have freezers. Many people who can also own freezers as they prefer some vegetables frozen and some canned. My mom canned green beans but she always froze corn. Canning is a flexible method for surplus. If your freezer gets full you can still process food for later use by canning. Also canned food is “immediate” in that it is ready to use versus having to be thawed out. Canned foods can make wonder gifts.
Now, here are some Tightwad tricks that Amy uses:
1. Get equipment cheaply. Put the word out for what you need and you may be quite surprised at what people are ready to give to you. Look for canning jars at yard sales and perhaps you can borrow a pressure canner from someone. Go to a thrift store and see if they have any canning supplies.
During the spring and early summer you will see the canning jar lids on sale and many times there will be coupons for these. When lids are on sale, stock up for as many as you think you will need. Also when canning spices, salts and sugar are on sale, stock up in anticipation of canning.
2. Use the right sized canning jar. Amy uses small mouth quart jars for all canning aside for pickles and jams. This fits the needs of her family.
3. Save on energy. For foods that can be either pressure canned or water bathed, Amy uses a pressure canner to save energy.
4. Cut small and pack tight. The more food you pack into a jar, the more efficient and economical the operation becomes.
5. Use the hot pack method when possible. Food shrinks during cooking, so filling jars with precooked foods instead of raw food saves space.
Canning also has a psychological value of providing for your family. For many people there is nothing like looking at a pantry full of home canned items. I have only canned things like jams, applesauce and apple pie filling.
Next year I have a goal of planting a garden and learning to can. A big part of it has to do with economics and another part has to do with knowing what I put on my plants and that it is organic.
I would love to hear any other ideas for canning or why you can. My biggest fear with canning is using a pressure cooker. I have never used one and the thought has always scared me. But since I can drive a car, I need to get over my fear and learn to use one.