This Article is About
freezer containers
pressure canner
garden vegetables
frozen vegetables
mason jars
victory gardens
food and fuel
cost of food
lit room
Starter Kit For Home Canning - Tips To Decrease Your Start Up Costs
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Starter Kit for Home Canning  -  Tips to Decrease Your Start Up Costs

In my previous article Victory Gardens - Why You Should Plant One Today, I discussed how important it is to plant a garden this spring, especially given the significant rise in the cost of food and fuel and the issues of our global economy.

In order to fully reap the benefits of your garden, you need to preserve your garden. There are two ways to do this: freezing your garden vegetables and home canning.

Freezing Vegetables

If you have a large stand-alone freezer, you could freeze some your vegetables. This works well for most garden vegetables, but it is recommended that you blanch, peel, and cut your vegetables in preparation of cooking with them later. Some vegetables will lose some of their texture when frozen (like tomatoes) but the flavor will remain in tact.

Frozen vegetables can be stored in your stand-alone freezer at 0 degrees for up to a year and still retain their quality. It is suggested that you freeze them in either a large freezer bag or an airtight container. Ball makes great freezer containers that work great, just make sure to leave sufficient headroom (at least 1/2 inches) if you are packing your food with water.

Home Canning Vegetables

While home canning vegetables will take longer than freezing vegetables, the shelf life is significantly longer. In order to can your vegetables, you will need a pressure canner, mason jars, lids and bands, a wire rack for inside your canner (most come with them), tongs to lift the jars into and of the canner, a butter knife, ladle or large spoons, at least one additional large pot, and some towels.

Depending on the type of vegetables you are canning and where you store them, your vegetables will have a minimum shelf life of 1 year (if kept in a well lit room at 70-90 degrees) to 5 years (if kept in a dark room at 40-50 degrees). When eating canned food, always test the lid to ensure it is still sealed, then smell the food to ensure it has not spoiled prior to eating it. When in doubt, discard it to be safest.

Saving Money on Your Start-up Costs

The most significant costs to begin home canning is for your pressure canner and your jars. Shop your local thrift stores, consignment stores, antique shops, and garage sales. Many a deal has been found for old pressure cookers there. If you do buy one from here, make sure to have it calibrated to ensure the accuracy of its use. These places are also great for finding old mason jars. As long as the jars are chip-free, they can be used indefinitely.

I recently purchased an additional pressure canner that could doubles as a water bath canner (for canning fruit and jams) and pressure cooker. I purchased it at Walmart and spent about $65. While this may sound high, most of the other canners I have seen cost around $100. I have canned lots of different foods in here, and have found that it works fabulously for both water bath and pressure canning.

As for mason jars, I recently purchased some for around $7 a dozen with lids and rims, also at Walmart. These are Better Homes and Gardens, not Ball or Kerr, but they have worked great. I have also obtained a few dozen jars from friends and family who do not can and received the odd jar here and there as gifts. Use your network to obtain free mason jars, in many cases people are more than happy to get rid of their jars.

Have Fun!

You now have the basics you need to begin canning. While it can be a time consuming process, canning is also a lot of fun and should be a family affair. Include the kids, they love to help pick the vegetables, clean the vegetables, and watch as you prepare the jars for processing.

Having the security of knowing how to grow and preserve your own food is a blessing. Start collecting your start up items now (before canning season begins) and planning your garden. Then, have fun and be proud of yourself for taking these steps to nourish your family.

Street Talk

My wife still cans fruit as it is easily available and we know many farmers who give it to us, she has never tried canning veggies and after your article is going to give it go. Thanks for the article.

  about 7 years ago

I truly find home canning to be an extremely rewarding "hobby". The satisfaction I feel knowing I grew these items, processed them safely, stored them for years, and then nourished my family with them. It's a wonderful gift to give your family.

  about 7 years ago

I remember my mother canning and the excitement of watching her select and open the canned fruit for dessert. We love our garden produce but so far haven't had enough space to create over supply. A fantastic idea for anyone wanting to know where their food comes from! I hope to do this one day.

  about 7 years ago

Heather, where there is a will, there is a way. You will have a fantastic garden one day soon. I see it in your future :)

  about 7 years ago

Oh I hope so! Are you optimistic or clairvoyant?! lol

  about 7 years ago
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