Canning vs Feezeing

joannedisfanJanuary 12, 2009

I planning my to start a garden this spring and I'm trying to figure out the best way to preserve the bountiful harvest I'm dreaming of. I'm planning on planting peas, carrots, green beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, strawberries, lettuces, corn, cucumbers, spinach, zucchini, radishes, and herbs.

I know that canning is cheaper in the long term and more stable in case of power loss. Freezing is more expensive due to continual power usage, and you can suffer great loss if power is out for long amounts of time. I've not had my power knocked out for more than a few hours since I've lived in my house (5 years).

I want to be frugal but also keep the best taste and flavor of the food. So what are your recommendations? Can, Freeze or combination?

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Definitely a combination of both. And either way is less expensive when you've grown in your own garden (not to mention personally satisfying) than buying ready canned or frozen at the store - and a whole lot less hands and possibly questionable growing methods have been involved in what you eat :)

It's also a matter of personal I can't swallow a canned pea, something about the texture, but the reverse is true for me of green beans - like them fresh or canned but I don't care for them frozen. What does your household enjoy?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:25AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)



Try both on various things and you'll discover what you yourself prefer for what things. The debate has raged here over green beans, for example --- some folks say the canned ones turn to mush, others that the frozen ones are rubbery.

You may end up doing BOTH to some veggies --- I find the tomatoes come in so fast and furious in late summer that I have little choice but to shove bags of them in the freezer whole, but then so they don't hog all the room forever as soon as I get a breathing time I cook 'em down into sauce and can.

It also depends on your canning equipment --- to put up most vegetables safely other than in a few recipes you need to pressure can them. If you only have a boiling-water-bath canner (like me), you can put up your strawberries and tomatoes, and can do any kind of pickles and a few tested recipes for salsas (and the amazing Ball Blue Book's roasted red pepper spread!), but to do things like corn, grean beans, carrots, etc. plain you'll need a pressure canner or to freeze them.

And some thigns just don't preserve that well at all, though again, personal preference enters in. I freeze and/or dry a lot of herbs, but have given up trying to preserve cilantro, for example, finding it loses all its flavour (though some folks disagree). And I freeze zucchini only in shredded form for stews, soups, and zucchini bread --- I don't like the texture of the pieces after freezing.

Oh, and I'll be impressed if you manage to put up any peas at all. We ALWAYS eat all I can grow, and then some, fresh off the vine!!! ;-)

A lot of the fun of gardening and preserving is the learning along the way. Keep us posted on your adventures!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:31AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Combination of both as the others have said and the amount of canning will be determined by whether or not you want to get into pressure canning? Zabby covered all that in detail.

Otherwise, it is purely a taste preference done within the safety considerations for each food. In themselves, lettuces, radishes and herbs all have very limited possibilities for either canning or freezing.

Unfortunately, keeping the best taste and flavor of the food is sacrificed somewhat in favor of preserving it for later use. But the end product is still 100 times better than anything you can get in the store. ;)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:39PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

Yep! What everyone else said.
I have very specific things that are frozen and one that are canned. And those, as Zabby says, that get both!
Some are just eaten!! (Lettuce, radishes, etc. as mentioned).
Some are simply "stored" for winter. I've got winter squash and apples under the bed in an unheated spare room right now. Potatoes and onions in a bin in the kitchen.

Think about what you eat now. Do you buy green beans frozen or canned?
You can pretty much do the same with your own veggies.

Just make sure you follow approved preserving recipes/instructions and you'll have a better tasting, more nutritious (in some cases), local, cheaper food than you can buy in the grocery store.

Let the frenzy begin!!! LOL

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:33PM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

I can only ditto the above answers. Truthfully sometimes I can some of my green beans and some times I freeze them. It depends on the time I have but mostly because I really like both and the frozen beans don't taste right when I am craving the canned green beans...Also it will depend on things like a big mess of beans being ready to put by and do you have room in your freezer or you're out of bags and don't want to go shopping so you can them instead or switch those don't have any jars etc. You will figure it out as you go along...

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:51PM
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Thank you all for such thoughtful advice. Typically i buy canned tomatoes, beans, and corn. Peas, corn, vegetable mixes, and frozen fruit from the frozen section. I've never tried frozen green beans and I'll have to pick some up and see how I like the texture. I also have picked beets and canned fruit that my Mom passes along to me when she visits.

At the moment I don't really have any equipment. I have a average size freezer on my fridge. Freezer on bottom model. I have no canning equipment except a few jars I've emptied from my Mom. I did buy the Ball book and have been reading and re-reading it. I do have a dehydrator that i use for jerky, apple rings and banana chips and of course fruit leathers. I'm not sure how much food to expect to harvest from my garden as this will by my first year gardening.

My thoughts right now are to set aside some money and see what I have when the harvest approaches. I'm really hoping to pickle lots of pickles. A favorite of mine. Tomatoes I will probably can. I may can most of the stuff and freeze items that just don't can well or not safely.

THanks again for all your input.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 4:41PM
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I've read somewhere that the power usage issue between canning and freezing crosses somewhere around 4 months. If you are gonna consume something in less than 4 months, then freezing is probably cheaper. Then again, a freezer is more efficient when kept full (when not full of food, stick jugs of water int it to keep the thermal mass up so that when you open the freezer, there isn't lots of air exchange cause the space is taken up by frozen stuff.)

But back to the points that most everyone else has made. Remember that gardening also takes practice and time. If you plant lots of summer squash and zucchini, it will be comming out your ears and you will need to act quick and almost daily to keep from growing baseball bats. You will need to see what likes your dirt and what kind of attention you will give it.

Where are you located? I've got lots of sweet potatoes as they grow great here in sandy central Florida and they like the really hot wet summers here when little else does well but okra.

I've also heard many say you should start canning of acid things with a Boiling Water Bath canner before deciding if you will invest in a pressure canner. If you decide you don't like the trouble of canning, then you are not out as much money. If you do like canning, then an extra large pot is always a good thing to have around.

Different foods tend to keep better using different methods. Vit C is best preserved by freezing while canned pickled food won't take up all your freezer space.

Good luck with it, I'm still learning too and have just begun trying my had at canning.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 5:55PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


If you're new to canning, you'll probably want to start with just boiling-water bath. It's cheap --- you just need a big pot (doesn't even have to be an official "canner," though those are inexpensive), some jars (starting with what you got from Mom, and you may find more at garage sales), new lids, a jar lifter (this costs about $5 and REALLY makes it easier to handle the jars) and of course that BBB, which you have!

I started experimenting with canning in a few years ago in January when planning my garden, too. I canned some jams and pickles with store-bought produce to see how I liked it before investing in any equipment. Well, I liked it fine --- soon I was canning all my tomato products and a lot more, and I blab nonstop about it on this forum. ;-)

When we moved from a city townhouse to a larger small-town home, we were given a secondhand freezer as a housewarming gift, and it's one of the best things EVER. I freeze stuff that doesn't can well, from my garden and from the farm stands or just when it's on sale, and also it means I can cook big batches of soups, stews, breads, etc. and freeze portions for eating later (a BIG time savings). If you decide you want an additional freezer you may want to search the discussions on them here; a chest freezer is much cheaper but I am really glad we went with an upright, because it's SO much easier to find the stuff we want.

Good luck with your garden! I hope it does really well. I am sure you'll have some things that work better than others the first year but remember to celebrate the successes and learn from the glitches. Look forward to hearing about the progress!


    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 6:09PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yup a combo. A good gas powered generator can help if power goes out for more than a day or two. Canning reduces some foods to mush, or they are bland and soft. Freezing seems to work well for things like peas and beans, provided they are blanched first. Low acid foods need a pressure canner. Also, you can dry some things. I had good luck with drying sliced potatoes. I dipped them in a sulfur solution to prevent blackening. Tomatoes are easy to home can. Blanching the whole corn ear and then cutting off the kernals and freezing them works well. Drying sweet peppers too.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 7:33PM
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