April 23, 2014

Frugal Canning

I realize that it isn't canning season yet, but if you are planning to can your garden's produce this year (or the wonderful fruits and vegetables you plan to buy at the farmers market) you need to put some time into planning to can as well as planning your garden. This will give you time to collect the equipment you need, and time to budget the money to make any purchases you might need to make.

Another way to keep canning costs within your budget is to buy a box or two of flat lids each time you shop, whether it's canning season yet or not. When you're ready to can, you should have a good supply already. Some stores will put their leftover stock on clearance sale at the end of the season. Dollar stores can be an inexpensive place to buy new canning supplies, although it can be hard to find items in stock.

You can buy flat lids in bulk from Lehmans.com. I bought 345 regular size lids for about $65; they also have wide mouth lids. Note: these do go out of stock occasionally, so be sure to order before you need them, just in case.

Lehman's also carries Tattler Reusable canning lids. I've not tried these, but have heard good reviews.

The bands, or rings, are reusable as long as they aren't rusty or bent out of shape. You must use new flat lids each time you can however; they are not reusable.

Used flats can often be used for vacuum sealing jars though, if they've been opened carefully and are still perfectly flat. Test the seal after you vacuum seal the jar; if it isn't a good seal the lid will simply come off the jar.

If you don't have a water bath canner, you can use a very large stockpot with lid. It should be deep enough to allow three inches of boiling water above the tops of the jars, without splashing over. You must have a way to keep the jars up off the bottom metal surface though, since stockpots don't come with a rack like a water bath canner does. You can line the bottom with canning rings (the screw bands), or put table knives on the bottom, fanned out so that the jars can be set on top. You might be fortunate enough to find a cake rack or a wooden rack of some kind that will fit your stockpot.

By the way, simply putting a towel on the bottom of the canner will not work. I've tried. In fact, I used a dark green towel, with the jars on top of it. The towel floated to the top anyway, and it turned the water green.

You can't skimp on a pressure canner. Save up and buy a good one. Period.

What are you planning to can this year?

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Stopping by from 'From the Farm' hop. I love canning have been doing it since I was very young. I do not can a wide variety of things; mostly just peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin and whatever else the garden grows and the family has extra. I make a lot of tomato sauce and salsa for foods to be eaten throughout the year. This year I am going to try my hands at potatoes and beans. I've never used a pressure pot thought. I do reuse the flat tops when they can be reused. And, I buy at end of season too if I see a great sale!

  2. Chrystal, I'm glad you are helping to keep the art of canning alive and well. Keep at it!

  3. You could also use tinfoil, tear some couple wide inch strips then roll into a tube and set them down in the bottom w/the jars on top. But the best is using the canning rings if you don't have a rack. Great post!!

  4. That's a great idea too. Necessity is truly the mother of invention, isn't it? :-)

  5. Just dropped by from the Backyard Farming Connection blog hop. I stock up each fall on flat lids when they are on clearance. There are two grocery stores by my house and one always has them on clearance (the other doesn't). I also got my canning pot on clearance one fall. Two years ago, Lowes had all canning supplies on clearance for 75% off! It does pay to look around in Sept!
    Pressure canning scares me a little bit. I'm hoping to make a lot of tomato sauce and salsa this summer as well as some applesauce and apple pie filling to can.

  6. 75% off is an amazing sale! Yes, pressure canning was intimidating to me too. I took a class through our extension office and haven't looked back - I'm canning veggies and meat and more!

  7. My mom taught me to can since I was 5-years old (I'm 26 now). :-) It's a forgotten "art" for my generation I think.

    The flat lids can be reused, (we have flat lids we've used every year for about 10-years) you just can't promise they will seal properly every time that's all.

    We plan to can:
    Peaches (put up 40-80 quarts/year
    Corn (80-120 pints)
    (Whatever is left over after my grandma cans what she wants)
    Venison 3 deer worth
    Chicken However many chickens need to be butchered out this year

  8. You're right, Heidi, it's a forgotten art, and not just for your generation. Many women older than you are do not know how to can, or want to can, or see any reason why they should can.


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