Just getting started - need source of economical equipment

jennieboyer(8)May 18, 2012

Hi - I have done my first vegetable garden this year, and it is looking to be a great first year. I hope to be able to can homemade salsa, pickles, squash, etc. I have absolutely no canning equipment and a limited budget. Can anyone point me in the direction of economical (but decent quality) equipment? I need a pressure canner, equipment, supplies, etc.

BTW, what is a good size canner for a single person who will be doing mostly smaller jars, but wants some flexibility? 23, 16, 32 etc quarts means nothing to me!

Thanks in advance!

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

JMO but some of the best buys in used equipment, when you know what you are looking for, can be found on eBay. craigslist also has some bargains but they have to be evaluated more carefully so more basic knowledge is required.

One way to save money is to buy a pressure canner (you need a canner, NOT a pressure cooker) that is also large enough to use as a BWB canner. That eliminates some needed equipment. The Presto brand canners are usually the least expensive. You may see some Mirro canners that are less expensive but they tend to have more problems. 12 qt. models or larger are required to qualify as a canner.

Presto makes a good 16 qt. size. The qt. sizing is how they are rated and determines the number of jars they will hold. For example the 16 qt (model #1755) holds 12 half-pints; 10 pints; 7 quarts. The 16 qt size is deep enough for BWB half pint jars but nothing larger.

For the best flexibility for both BWB canning and pressure canning, many consider the Presto 23 qt. model #1781 to be the ideal. It is deep enough to use as both a PC and BWB and holds 24 half-pints; 20 pints; 7 quarts.

If you can find a used All American 21 qt. model (called Model 921) that you can afford so much the better but new they are much more expensive.

Jars - the best sources used to be yard/garage sales. Not so much any more although you may still find some. If you have a Fred's Dollar store near you they have the best prices on Golden Harvest jars as well as lids and rings for the jars. Walmart is also a frequently used source although their prices are higher. Again eBay and craigs list often has some really good deals on bulk lids and bands.

You can compare all these models side by side on amazon.com.

You will also need a copy of the Ball Blue Book for starters. Here is a pic of it but don't pay this price. It is 1/2 this price at Walmart.

This just scratches the surface but I hope it will give you some places to start looking.

Dave

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:32PM
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rockguy(7a)

Tomatoes, salsa, pickles and other acid things like fruit will only need a water bath canner. They are a good and cheap way to go for the first year. Squash can be frozen or dried instead of canned. The expense of a pressure canner could be put off til next year and give you another year to find what you're looking for.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 9:26AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

The OP mentions squash specifically, pressure canner (which can double as a BWB canner) will be required if she wants to process squash for jars/shelf storage.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 7:54PM
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jennieboyer(8)

OK - decided that this year I'm just doing salsa, pickles, etc so getting a 21 1/2 quart water bath canner. Now I need to source the "stuff" that goes with it. Lid lifter, jar lifter, funnel, etc. Where is the best place to find one kit? My local Target carries no canning supplies, WalMart has limited supplies. Also tried Tractor Supply, Agri-Supply, Big Lots, Dollar General, local hardware store, etc. Willing to buy online, but looking for best pricing. Thanks in advance!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 8:30PM
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txtom50(8a texas)

After reading Dave's response, I checked out Fred's Dollar store and looked at their sales flyer online. They sure have some good prices listed for jars and lids. They've also got the little canning kit with jar lifter, and other tools. You might visit their website, use the store locator and see if there's one near you.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 4:53AM
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jennieboyer(8)

Wow - you're right. I'm headed there this afternoon after work. New question - if I get the spice packets for salsa and pickles and don't have enough vegetables for the entire packet to be used at one time, can I freeze the "sauce" for the next batch if I bring back to a boil before putting in the next round of jars? Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 7:40AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Also remember if you have an Ace Hardware, what they don't have in stock can be ordered at their online site. Select ship to store and they'll deliver it there free for your pick-up.

On a slim budget I wouldn't buy Mrs. Wages-anything. Good product, just expensive and unnecessary.

Personally in your circumstances, I'd buy pickling spice in bulk and follow a reputable scratch canning recipe for salsa (check Annie's salsa on this forum) rather than buying individual packets, which are much more expensive.
Same for citric acid. Buy in bulk. Properly stored, these things last almost indefinitely. I keep my pickling spices in the freezer.

Check the link for some sample prices from American Spice.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: American Spice Pickling Supplies

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:40PM
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rose-red(9)

I shopped around and ended up getting a water bath canning acessory kit at Amazon.com. It came with the canning jar rack, assorted funnels, jar lid rack, magnetic jar lid lifter, jar tong/lifter, cheesecloth, and other assorted gadets/accessories. I use it with a large stock pot that I already had. I can fit 8 of the large mouth quart sized jars. I can, of course, fit several more jars if I go with smaller sized jars. The rack can fit in a smaller stockpot if I want to just can a little bit. It was the most economical way for me to go. I think it was about $20 for all of the stuff.

Found a tomato/vegetable/fruit processor with assorted screens and accessories on ebay. It has a hand crank and it separates the skin and seeds from the juice and pulp. It was second-hand, but had never been used, still packaged in the box with all paperwork and sealed up. I think I spent about $20 for that as well. This year will be my first time using it to process tomato sauce. I have only been making pickles until now. I planted lots of san marzanas tomatoes and will be trying out the tomato sauce maker gadget soon.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:47PM
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rose-red(9)

Just wanted to mention a friend of mine found a really nice extra large water bath canner with rack at a garage sale. She paid $6 for it.

The cheapest place to find the jars are at a dollar store.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 12:54PM
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sewcrazynurse(MI zone 5)

Personally I think you should buy the biggest you can afford. You are making a life time investment. Right now you are canning for a single lady in 10 years it may be a married with children situation. Get the tall canners that you can stack pints in. I had 2 and loved them. and then like an IDIOT I traded them off for hand spun yarn!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 2:21PM
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