This is a guest post by Phoebe at Cents to Get Debt Free. I’ve never done any canning and I asked Phoebe if she would give us an introduction to the topic. She has a fantastic blog, so don’t forget to pop over and visit her.
Photo credit Renoir Girl
Phoebe and her husband decided 5 years ago that it was time for her to stay at home and raise their children. Through a lot of sacrifices and a lot of learning, they are embracing the frugal life and realizing that the simple life, is the life. Phoebe blogs daily at Cents to Get Debt Free where she shares her family’s journey at cutting costs, living the simple life and getting freedom from lender.
Gardening season is in full force, and this year many stores have seen a 40-60% increase in seed sales. Being more self reliant is becoming the new normal. In addition to new gardens, many people will be canning and preserving their harvest for the first time this year.
While some will argue that canning is not cost efficient, I beg to differ. When you are starting out you will have to buy your jars and equipment, but many times you will be able to score these at Garage Sales or other second hand stores. The only thing you need to pay attention to here is that there are no nicks or cracks in the jars. Once you have accumulated your jars and supplies, you will have them for a lifetime. This leaves you at only having to buy new lids every year. In my book that is better than buying canned goods all year, every year.
Not only is canning easy on my budget, but being able to control what ingredients are in my family’s food is invaluable to me. Since we embarked on a low (lower) cholesterol diet, I’ve had to watch our sodium/salt intake. When canning my own food, I can choose to omit the salt all together. Anymore when the store labels say “Lower Sodium” the product still has a relatively high content. I am in full control this way, and I’m not paying any extra for these special products.
I’m also able to can a wider variety of food than what is found in my local grocery store. For instance, last year we had an over abundance of cucumbers and I had to start getting creative with how I preserved them. We love bread and butter pickles and all, but we can only eat so much in a year, so I did a Sweet Pickle recipe. The Sweet Pickles are like none that you can find in the store, and are not only a new family favorite—but an everyone favorite! I’ve gotten many requests for these already this year. We were also able to take full advantage of the wild fruit that grows in our area. I canned Blackberry Jam, Wild Cherry Jelly and Wild Grape Jelly all from wild fruit found on our land. These made for frugal gifts for our family and friends.
Also, since all of our home canned goods come from either my own garden, or a family members, I also know exactly how they have been handled. This year, I have been able to completely avoid the use of chemicals (although we almost had to use them on some pesky aphids and cucumber beetles), and I have only used organic fertilizer (such as grass clippings and fish emulsion). If I were to buy all organic canned goods at the store, I would break the bank for sure.
Looking over a full pantry of home canned goods in the dead of winter is very rewarding and it offers my family a lot of peace of mind. I know that the food is those jars comes from my hands and in a tough time, we have a back up plan. Plus, home canned goods taste so much better than their commercial counterparts!
I encourage everyone to dabble in home canning, even if you only do jams/jellies. It is every bit worth the time and effort. If you are new to home canning, you can follow my Canning series on my blog, Cents to Get Debt Free.