Frugal Canning Hacks

You can save money while canning and still follow safe practices.

Frugal homesteaders can the food they grow (or the fruits and vegetables from the farmers market and you-pick farms and orchards) to save money, ensure their food security, and supply the healthiest food for their families.

But the first year you preserve your produce can be really expensive.

The jars and lids, a water bath canner and pressure canner, and all the other miscellaneous equipment you'll need will really take a chunk out of your wallet.

I'm sharing the frugal and practical tips I've learned over the years in this post. Using these tips will save you money so you can invest in the pricier items that are hard to substitute, like a pressure canner. 

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

Jars and lids

Canning jars can often be found at yard sales and estate sales. See what you need to check when you buy used canning jars here and read about my big haul.

Buy a box or two of flat lids every time you see them in the stores, whether it's canning season yet or not. When you're ready to can, you should have a good supply already.

You can buy canning lids in bulk from I bought 345 regular size lids for about $65 (NOTE: they're now $79); they also carry wide mouth canning lids.

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Lehman's jar lids do go out of stock occasionally, so be sure to order before you need them, just in case. I've been told to go ahead and place an order even they are out of stock, so we'll be first on the list when they get another shipment.

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

Some stores will put their leftover canning jars and lids on clearance 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.

When canning, you can only use the flat lids once.

Screw bands can be used more than once when canning, as long as they aren't bent or rusted.

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 flat lids 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 and you'll need to use a different one.

To make your own magnetic lid lifter to fish your lids out of the hot water and put it on your newly-filled jar, you can make one with a magnet, a dowel rod, and Gorilla glue.

You can use a large stockpot to water bath can fruits and jellies, but only if it fits these guidelines.

Water bath canners and pressure canners

If you don't have a water bath canner, you can use a very large stock pot with lid. It should be deep enough to allow two 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, since stockpots don't come with a rack like a water bath canner does. Hot water circulating under the jars is an important part of canning.

Instead, you can line the bottom of the stock pot with canning rings (the screw bands), or put table knives on the bottom, fanned out so that the jars can be set on top. I've tried both methods but I felt that my jars were too unsteady inside.

I was able to find a round cake rack at Amazon that fit my stock pot perfectly. Measure the inside of your pot so you'll know what size to look for.

Or you might be able to find a wooden rack of some kind that will fit inside your stock pot.

You MUST use a pressure canner to can meat and vegetables.

But you can't skimp on a pressure canner. According to the USDA you can use a pressure cooker that fits four quart jars inside instead, but if you don't happen to have the perfect-sized pressure cooker in your cupboard already, save up and buy a good canner like this 26-quart Presto pressure canner.

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I hope these tips will help you save money, or will allow you to start preserving food even though canning supplies and equipment might be hard to find. Folks are rediscovering the benefits of being more self-sufficient, and I hope you're among them.

Find step-by-step tutorials and more information on canning, freezing and dehydrating foods in this post.

For more self-sufficient posts like this, subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter, and join me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram. I'd love to see you there!

Frugal canning hacks: how to save some money and still follow safe canning practices.

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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.

  9. I found a nice rack that fits inside of my stockpot. It has raised sides to hold the jars in place. Before that I used a metal trivet that fit. It kept the jars off the bottom but didn't hold them upright unless the pot was close to full of jars. - Margy

    1. I use a cake rack that fits inside my stock pot perfectly! I measured the inside of the pot and found the right size at Amazon, there's a link in the post. :-)

  10. Old canning rings are one of my favorite tricks. I have a (mostly) permanent one for one of my pots that is joined together with old bailing wire. Thanks for sharing this with us at the Homestead Blog Hop, please come back again soon!

  11. I got caught without enough lids this summer, and they are hard to find!
    Lesson learned!

  12. Great frugal canning tips! Thanks for sharing with us on the Homestead Blog Hop!



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