What is worth it?! Canning vs. Freezing

mrsdymacek(7)July 30, 2009

I am just starting out with the whole "preserving the harvest" thing. My mother canned lots and lots of things, and only froze fresh corn. My mother in law canned with her mother on a wood burning stove until the late 80's and now loathes the chore and says to just freeze/buy everything.

Please share what I should freeze vs. what I should can. Some things are just nasty after they've been frozen but other things work for me just fine. Last year, I had good luck freezing butternut squash and pumpkin purees, zucchini, and applesauce. This year I plan on canning jams and chow chow, (and whatever else suits my fancy to try).

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Do you have access to a pressure canner or just BWB? That will make a big difference in what you can can and what must be frozen.

The summer squash, pumpkin puree, etc. can't be safely canned anyway so freezing is the way to go with them just as you did. Applesauce cans well in BWB. Chow chow will all depend on the recipe you use - some recipes require PC.

Have you explored NCHFP yet? It gives great guidelines and recipes on what may be canned and how and what must be frozen. What other things are you growing that you'd be interested in canning?


    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's the trick. :( I'm not growing. I'm hunting and gathering. :) We have a wonderful u-pick place here that has berries of all kinds, grapes, apples and now has a veggie garden. I do not have a pressure canner, yet, and unless I can create some attic magic this weekend at the in-laws', my water bath canner is only on loan, so I can't sit around and think about this for too long!

Tell me about the chow-chow as I would like to get some of that done in the next few days as the random ingredients are readily accessible.

I have no idea what NCHFP is, but I will in 2 seconds when I google it! Thanks, Dave!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 4:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry - I meant to give you a link.

With just BWB you'll be limited to canning high acid fruits, jams and jellies, pickled foods, and some tomato products. Most vegetables require pressure canning.

Chow chow mwans different things to different folks. ;) If you mean the cabbage, cauliflower, onion, and green tomato pickled mix (what some call Piccalilli )then BWB is ok assuming you use an approved and tested recipe. There is also a good on in the Ball Blue Book that is approved.

Otherwise we'd need to see your recipe to know if it can be done in BWB.

NCHFP also has recipes for Fall Garden Relish

and Rummage Relish (our personal favorite). Check them out too and see if they are what you are looking for.


Here is a link that might be useful: Natl. Center for Home Food Preservation

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 4:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

I think part of your question is also about the effort involved in each process, right?

I have only been canning for a few years (maybe five?) so those with more experience may disagree with me, but here is my opinion.

To me, canning is (usually) more work. I have to get the big pot out and bring the water to a boil and prepare the jars and have everything ready at the same time and it takes up lots of room in the kitchen and so forth. (plus, don't tell Carol and Annie, but I'm still a little scared of the whole process).

But, canned products are ready to use more quickly than frozen. For example, if I'm making a tomato-based sauce and realize I don't have enough tomatoes, I can just dump a can of them in whereas I would have to at least partially thaw a frozen bag and even then it would cool down my sauce. Being that I am not terribly well organized, I very much appreciate the "readiness" of canned goods.

Some things simply are better one way versus the other. I detest canned green beans but love frozen ones. Same with corn. But peaches are far superior canned than frozen.

Each has advantages with certain things you can do. Want some fun and interesting new jams and jellies? Can. Want a soup that has not been approved for canning? Freeze it.

It sounds like you might have plenty of freezer space (many do not), so you have the luxury of picking and choosing. My personal opinion is that a mixture of both is best. You can can the things that you want available readily and that can better, and you can freeze the other things.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 4:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My Aunt and Uncle canned until the kids married and left home. They figured out it was cheaper to buy the things they used to can when it comes to two people. They no longer can anything.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 7:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, Prairie Love, it is a question of effort. I live in town so I'm in an apartment and canning means water bill and electricity bill go up for all the cooking, washing, and cooling the apartment back down. I think you are right that peaches are worth the effort. I do have ample freezer space and so I would like input on those fruits and things which should be canned instead of frozen, in order to maintain their integrity. It IS cheaper for me to buy than can at this point, so I am wondering where I should invest and where I should just say, "forget it!"

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 9:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

I prefer to can or freeze rather then buy canned/frozen food at the store. I like knowing what is in our food and how it is grown and processed. The food I put away for my family has no artificial stuff in it, no HFCS and much less sugar and salt then what is available in the store.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 10:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairie_love(z3/4 ND)

I agree completely with caavonldy. Even if it's cheaper to purchase, it is important to me to know what is in the food, how it was prepared, etc. Not to mention the "good" feeling it brings me. And - it tastes better! I have always liked Pace picante sauce. Then I started canning my own (Annie's Salsa recipe) and loved it. We ran out last week so I bought some Pace. First time I've had it in about three years. I was SO surprised at the difference in taste! The home-made is just so much better it's astonishing.

Is there any possibility of someone you can trade with? Perhaps you can peaches and your friend cans applesauce and you give each other half of what you did? It would have to be someone whose methods you trust obviously, but could this be a possibility?

Also, you don't have to do everything every year. Do enough to last two years and then you only have to do each thing every other year.

It's also partly about life style. I teach at a medical school so I am far busier at work during the nine months of school than I am in summer. So I prefer to can or freeze a lot of prepared meals (or almost prepared) to make it quicker on busy weeknights during school. So I do a lot of pasta sauces and soups and so forth. If you don't mind preparing those the night you are going to eat them, then all you need to put away are the tomatoes or the veggies or whatever. Not the final product.

The ones I feel are definitely worth canning versus freezing:

* Peaches, applesauce, cherries, basically any simple canned fruit. However, I freeze pie fillings (peach, apple). If it's going to be cooked then the loss of texture doesn't matter. If it's going to be eaten fresh, I think canned is better.

* Tomatoes. As I said, I appreciate the convenience of canned tomatoes as they are something I use a LOT of all year. I actually do some canned and some frozen. I can pizza sauce and two types of pasta sauce also but honestly that could be frozen just as easily or not even prepared ahead, just have the tomatoes for when you want to prepare a sauce.

* Jams, jellies, preserves, and dessert sauces. This has become my favorite thing to can. They are just fun and there are so many interesting variations. And relatively easy. The Raspberry/Chocolate Preserves (which I consider a dessert sauce) is awesome and will get you hooked on these.

* Pickled things. DH loves pickled things and eats them with lunch every day so we have regular cucumber pickles, pickled peppers, and dilly beans. All of these are musts in our house. Freezing wouldn't work for this.

Things I freeze:

* Meats. Although there are ways to can meats, I just don't see the point (for my life style). We have freezer space so we freeze it.

* Most veggies - corn, green beans, leeks, eggplant, some tomatoes

* Many meals, even if they COULD be canned, to me it's not worth the effort - soups, eggplant parmesans, lasagnas, etc.

All that said, one of the most fun things about canning is trying something new. I've meddled with some relish recipes and tried creamed corn one time (it was awful, we threw it out). Sometimes I hit on something we really love (Madras Pickled Eggplant), sometimes it's a disaster. But it's fun.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Berries and snow peas (those stir-fry pea pods) are much, much better frozen in my opinion.

Home-canned food is much nicer than store bought because I know exactly what is in it.
I shudder at stories of someone opening a store bought can of veggies only to find extra protien in it. (mice, bugs, etc...) It's actually happened to me once with baby food. Bleh!

I enjoy canned meats because it is so nice to open a jar of beef, or goose for soups or hot meat sandwiches. Its already pre-cooked and is nice and tender. Canned salmon is just wonderful, but I'd bet a nice frozen fillet is just as great!
The work I find very satisfying. There is satisfaction in stocking up.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 11:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tietie(z7b / 8 nc)

'The busy person's guide to preserving' by Janet Chadwick is a great book that tells what is the best method of preserving for each food. It also tells which method is fastest too. It is the book I reach for most frequently, a great reference tool. I bought it off half.com for about $5, now I see it listed at some ridiculous amount. The regular price is about $15.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Like a lot of others, I prefer to can most of what is suitable for canning due to knowing what is in it, or isn't in it. I also prefer canning to freezing a lot of my produce because I have been a victim of freezer failure due to power outages and its not fun to lose everything you have in a freezer. I do freeze my meat, poultry and fish. I freeze corn because DH has never liked canned corn, from home or the grocery. We prefer canned preserves. I prefer canned applesauce and frozen fruit. Some veggies are just not suitable for canning or their texture or flavor is better if frozen. Its all a mix of what's safe and according to personal preference for whatever reason as far as I'm concerned.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 1:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't leave out drying foods as another way of preserving also. I am having a lot of fun dehydrating veggies this year. Very easy to do and small amounts are no problem. :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 2:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

My pepper plants have been producing many more peppers(mostly hot) then we can use. I like to dry them and then grind up to use for chili or tacos. It really spices them up. It's easy to store the dried peppers in vacuum sealed mason jars.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How do you vacuum pack dried goods in jars?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 10:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
caavonldy(8/9 N CA)

They have an accessory for the foodsaver machine that fits over the top of canning jars. It pulls a vacuum and then the lid seals closed. That way moisture and air don't get in and things stay fresher much longer. Foodsaver has many accessories to go with their vacuum sealers. I'm sorry, this old grandma can't post links.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 1:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it's all a matter of personal preferences.

First, if you don't have a pressure canner you are pretty much limited to canning fruit, pickles, relishes, jams and spreads. Low acid vegetables, dried beans, meats, those all need a pressure canner.

I can a lot of things, including some beef, because I just don't have freezer space. I have two freezers and I'm not going to buy another one! I grow my own organic and grass fed beef and my own pork. I have free range chickens for eggs and have a huge organic garden, so I harvest a lot of different things.

Some things I just don't like canned, like asparagus. That gets frozen. So does corn, blueberries, strawberries, sweet cherries and rhubarb. Pretty much everything else gets canned because the freezer space is precious and when I get a power outage here in the great white north, I won't lose the canned stuff.

It's also very convenient to grab a jar of soup off the shelf to take to work for my lunch (yes, I have a full time job in addition to the farming and gardening, LOL). Canned beef with a jar of canned potatoes and carrots makes a "quick and dirty" stew by just thickening the broth from the beef, dumping everything into the gravy and heating it.

I also dehydrate things and they take a lot less storage space. I put my dehydrator in the garage and dry hot peppers, I learned the hard way not to do that in the kitchen! I dried apples, zucchini chips for soup, shelled beans and beef jerky last year.

There are several options for everything and one has to figure out how they use their finished product and what they like before deciding which processing method is best for any given item.

As for "worth it", that's subjective also. I grow that big organic garden and can my harvest because I wanted to know what I was putting in my kids' mouths. Now I have grandkids and I still want to know what they are eating and what I'm eating, so the work and time and expense is "worth it" to me.

Peaches now, that's something else. My peach tree is only three years old and has about a dozen peaches, the first time it's borne fruit. Peaches are $12 a half bushel here, usually, and I'll get a quarter bushel for the freezer for pies, but that's about it. Dad used to want peaches to can, even at $24 a bushel. He got between 36 and 38 pints from a bushel, so that makes the cost 63 cents a pint, plus 16 cents for a lid/flat to seal it and a few cents for sugar, gas to run the stove for the canner, water and electricity to run the pump, etc. Add several hours worth of time and those peaches are 80 or 85 cents per pint plus your time. Definitely not worth it for me because I don't LOVE peaches. Definitely worth it for Dad because he did and he found the commercially produced peaches stayed "too hard", he liked the softer consistency of home canned.

It's all in your perspective....


    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 12:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I do a combination of both canning and freezing. Like tomatoes - I can some, I freeze some. Depending on how I'm going to use them. Peaches are definitely canned. Brussel sprouts are definitely frozen.

I came across this list on Michigan State University's Web site that I find very handy when I'm not sure exactly how to put something up (or I'm looking for other options). I know it hasn't been updated in quite a while, but I start here, then go to NCHFP or an updated canning book to double check to see if anything has changed.

I like it, because there is a lot of information that is well categorized, and a bit easier to search around to find what I'm looking for.

Here is a link that might be useful: Preserving Food Safely

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 2:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I do both as well, and for many of the reasons above (knowing what's in my food).

I also would rather spend a day in the kitchen canning than go shopping or some other 'vacation' thing.

It's cheaper than therapy!!

I freeze meats, corn, asparagus, berries.
I can carrots, beans, pickles, fruits, jams, some soups.

Just our preference and what works for our lifestyle.
Try it both ways in small batches and see what you like.
Follow the NCHFP guidelines and/or Ball Blue Book and you'll have no worries about safety!

Most of all, enjoy the journey!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 3:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Malna, I have that site bookmarked already, it's from my own beloved "Moo U", Michigan State University. It's the state's agricultural college and the site is really very comprehensive.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 10:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We get this conversation every year, and every year I enjoy reading everybody else's take on it. I have two freezers too. We have farms in the family so we get our meat in large doses. I have chickens, and sometime butcher those too. I have a large veggie garden, fruit trees, and bramble beds.

I can as much as possible, because we have power outages. We also get some years where the fruit trees or garden goes crazy and the freezer space is just expired. Sometimes I can for the convenience of having meat already cooked, or ditto veggies. I don't like commercial jams or jellies. I am picky about pesticides and hidden ingredients, and disgusted about the fillers stuck in commercial foods now to make them stretch so the manufacturers get a better profit by giving you less real food for your money. I also like to have an emergency food supply put by for.........well.....emergencies and also for having food handy so I don't make panic trips to town. We live in the country.

I love to garden and I plant as much now as I did when my children lived with us. I start all my own veggie plants in my greenhouses, and my chickens supply the fertiliser, so producing it isn't expensive. I have collected jars for three decades, so my only cost is lids and occasionally rings. And sugar and salt of course. And occasinally pectin and spices, but I buy them all in bulk. It all gets eaten. And if I have a bounty, it gets shared.

If you have the land, you may as well use it. I was shocked when you said peaches were dear at $12 the half bushel. They were $35 the half last year here and thank God, I have my own peach trees and am still planting more. Ditto apple trees and plums, quince and nut.

It's also very much about preferences, too. I both can and freeze corn. I can and freeze berries. I sometimes can meat and broths, sometimes I freeze them. Ditto salsas.......do both. I also used a root cellar under my old house until my husband put heat in there. LOL.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2009 at 11:51PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Is my turkey stock too thick to can?
I made stock two nights ago, last night I went to skim...
SaraBeth Williams
Making Garlic or Herb Infused Oils at Home
Now that I figured out the new format, I can post this...
Is GMO corn cobs safe for corn cob jelly?
This is the time around here that the farmers are picking...
Mason jar sale!
I was just at K-Mart (Niles, Ohio) and they have a...
Where did all my saved pages go?
Are they all gone or just hidden? Gee I leave for a...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™