Last year as I was processing food, and canning this and that.. my mother looked at me and said with a laugh in her voice (after not having been on the farm for eight plus years), Girl you have every canning tool and toy there is…
I looked up with surprise, because I just do not think that way.. everything I have is used and used well, used lots, some things only get cracked out when I am doing bushels of things but then they are life savers..
Then at one of my teaching events, I heard that from a few other folks as well.. well how do you do that if you don’t have the equipment?
At its most basic, you need a pot, any pot big enough to provide proper water coverage over the jar height will work, you do not need to buy a canning pot but you are in luck! watch the second-hand shops and the garage sales and you will find older canning pots for cheap..
You need your jars, it used to be that you could find them cheaper in second-hand shops, at garage sales or farm sales but these days those jars have value, so if you find someone who offers you jars (even ones that are filled with older food, snap them up, empty them, bleach them out, give them a good wash and wink at me) or if you ask and your friends aunt, no longer cans and she has 400 in the basement, you want them.. JACKPOT!
Lids and rings.. the costs of these are sink.. they are the one thing that needs to be replaced each time you can and their costs are going up and up.. even worse, even the best companies are making these cheaper and cheaper, they have thin downed the metal, they have thinned down the rubber, they used to use enough rubber that you needed to heat and warm it, now they use just as much as they can barely get away with to make it work..
Given that the best of the lids now are just good enough, it’s the one area, I am going to strongly recommend that you do not skimp here.. go for the good ones, but for heaven sakes plan ahead and buy on sale, buy at the end of the season liquidation prices and store them as needed so you are not paying full price on them.
I found very few good priced lids last year, I think I picked up maybe a dozen or more box’s that I found a good price on.. and the rest of my lids all came from my storage but I was watching my storage amounts going down, normally I like to buy to refill it.. but for two years running, I had found some small amounts of replacements.. two years ago, I found an amazing sale on Tattler lids and I snapped them and their rings up by the hundreds, which is nice but does not help me.
So I started looking early in the season.. and yikes! the prices, locally, the regular set of rings and lids at its highest was almost four dollars a box, the 12 wide mouth lids at the highest I saw was 3.49 cents, and the highest I saw for the regular mouth lids was 2.69, like I said! Crazy!
After careful searching, watching and a dear friend that was kind enough to send me photos of lids on sale even if it was a in store 40 min away, I was finally able to get and bring in a good amount to put away in the pantry. So I was able to get the case of lids-rings for 1.80 per box.. and I was able to get the 12 box of Bernardin regular mouth for 1.24 and the wide mouth for 12 for 1.94
So that let me bring in 720 regular lids, 432 wide mouth lids, 228 regular mouth lids and rings sets.. so that brings me in a total of 1.092 regular lids and 502 wide mouth lids for the year of 2016 so for one time uses, I have just enough to can up to 1594 jars but then you need to add in the tattlers lids.. and that means that I could can up another 400 jars..
Ops, now I am short jars LOL I am ok with that, I would rather have more lids then jars..
That is a good savings compared to the regular local prices this year.. so for what its worth, if you can find sales and you have the space, I try to recommend that you keep at a bare min! one full years worth of canning lids
Now that is an interesting statement, because it’s just not as simple as counting jars, or at least I hope it’s not.. certainly counting your jars is a good start, and I am going to round it up to a 100 jars for ease of my example..
so you own a hundred jars.. 70 of them are regular mouth pints and quarts and 30 of them are wide mouth pints and quarts.. so you need a hundred lids right..
Nope.. you need to look at your year.. because if you are doing your canning right, you are going to empty that jar and refill it up, anywhere from one to four times a year! Lets assume you are going to empty (by using them) and refill them as things come on sale.. each month of the year has something that goes on sale that you should be considering filling your jars with even though out winter.. (clearly if you can grow a lot of your own food great)
So suddenly if you bought a 100 lids on sale, you are going to be either buying another 100 to 150 plus at full price and even worse, you are going to be buying full price and paying shipping costs..
A good case if ever to pick up extra, also as I have heard time and time again, I went to can this or that, and there are no canning supplies in my local store.. the stores consider this seasonal, where we know that its year round, so you need to be outsmart them 🙂
Moving on.. Energy.. o yes, Energy is required to can.. you have to heat and boil your water or heat and hold the pressure in the pressure canner by power, propane or wood heat..
So if you are like me, that these costs are going up, up UP! then you will need to learn your power rates and learn to can during the lower times.. and depending on where you are, it might be worth investing in a two canning setup for propane.. as right now, the costs of the propane is cheaper per unit return wise then the electric power is locally, but that could be flipped where you are.
Now you have your pot, your jars, your lids and rings and you are growing raising some or a lot of your own food and you want to put up as much as possible but you do not have a pressure canner..
Tricky to answer.. but I will do my best..
A) for almost all veggies, you can get around this by pickling.. be it beets, corn or radish or turnip or carrots.. do the lightest pickle brine that it allowed for safety purpose, then when you open the jar, rinse the food, then heat them up very gently, then drain the pot and put fresh water in again and heat though and serve as normal.. by the time you add your sauce, your butter, or your seasonings or have them in soups an stews, no one will ever know that you pickled them instead of used a pressure canner.. and you were able to safely put up low acid veggies in a water bath..
But even pickling vinager added up in cost and so I do highly recommend at least one cheaper smaller pressure canning pots.. but as we are being frugal.. they do go on sale.. every Christmas on amazon.. at the end of canning season’s in local stores, and hit your social media.. Ask, Ask and Ask.. do you have one in a closet not being used that can be borrowed, do you have one that you don’t use anymore.. its amazing how many are just sitting in the basement, waiting to be scrubbed and cleaned up and put to use..
They are workhorses, and while you need to do the safety checks be they new or be they older, they have very few parts and as long as they are not dinged up, and hold pressure.. they will work for years and years..
So what do you truly need that you must buy, and the best quality you can afford.. a high quality jar lifter.. and a great funnel.. you will use those two tools more then you will think.. get a big thick one for the lifter, something that can reflect the heat, that will give you a rock solid grip and same with the funnel, cheaper ones can be a bit long in the ends, and you want one that will help you make sure you are going to get your head space learned from it.. I like to find a funnel that will give me a one inch head space if I take it to just the edge and then I can watch the inside carefully and get my half in spacing easily as needed.
Any of idea’s or thought on how to keep your canning start up costs and or running costs on the lower end!