Frugal (but safe!) 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.

Updated July 2024

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. 

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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 They sell them in packs of 60 and 360, in both regular size and wide mouth. 

Lehman's jar lids do go out of stock occasionally, so be sure to order before you need them, just in case. Their customer service told me to go ahead and place an order even if they are out of stock. When they're next shipment comes in, we'll be first on the list.

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, how to can without a canner

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 the boiling water splashing out.

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, and buy a stainless steel rack so it won't rust.

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. I have a 26-quart Presto pressure canner and find it easy enough to use. Watch for sales!

Although, according to the USDA, you can use a pressure cooker instead, as long as four quart jars will fit inside. A pressure cooker that's smaller than that isn't safe to use for pressure canning.

Or maybe you can borrow a pressure canner from a family member or a like-minded friend, or ask for one for an upcoming gift-giving occasion. 

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I hope these tips will help you save money, or will allow you to start preserving food. Folks are rediscovering the benefits of being more self-reliant, and I hope you're among them.

You'll find step-by-step tutorials and more information on canning, freezing and dehydrating foods in this post.

For more self-sufficient and frugal posts like this, subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter, and join me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram

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



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