Does anyone ever have to defend their choice to can?

momagain1August 9, 2010

I am having to defend it to my Mother in law in a way. (whom I adore btw!)

She says she just doesnt see how it will save us money in the long run, having to buy the canner, jars etc..

Well, the way I see it; the canner $80 over a lifetime will pay for itself...the jars can be reused many many times..the rings can as well.

Water is cheap enough to boil with...

as we grow more of a garden; the cost for that will go down as well..seeds basically and my time.

I'd love to give her a breakdown of cost..but not sure how to go about it..maybe someone has it here? just a round about basic one? obviously not exact.

right now; corn is anywhere from 88c to $1 a can as well as other basic veggies..when I have a meal I usually have to open two commercial cans of vegetables for of 5 :-)

salsa ranges from $2 (generic to $5 specialty ones or fresh ones in deli) for 16 oz..and more $$ obviously for larger ones..

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readinglady(z8 OR)

Some things ink out and some things don't. It depends on what you're canning. Tomato sauce, probably not.

I think you're approaching the argument from the wrong angle.

How can you put a cost on knowing exactly what you're feeding your family and where it came from?

I also think there's value for your children in "seeing the process" from seed to jar. They learn to appreciate food more when they have that understanding.

There's also an "invisible cost" with commercial food, like the fuel it takes to deliver grapes from Chile or oranges from Florida or tomatoes from Mexico. Dollar-wise we have the cheapest food in the world. However, a lot of it isn't particularly healthy for us or the planet.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:49PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

Canning with a waterbath canner makes good sense to me. As Carol mentions, locally or home grown foods are devoid of "invisible costs" and consciously grown food is so much better for the planet. We grow organically with harvested water. So the food costs us less than it would to purchase it (organic food can be expensive). The labor is my love. The outcome is healthy food, grown merely feet away from where it is canned and stored. It costs me about a quarter of the price of purchased foods. We don't normally buy anything canned or frozen anymore, we only eat fresh seasonal foods (if we purchase them) - so it's pricey, and sometimes very repetitive in certain seasons (winter).
Almost everyone I know supports the idea of canning. What they do not care for is that I have to work around my own schedule for things (when tomatoes are ripening, I have to stick around and process them!!!) and of course for growing things (when the garden is producing, which is about 12 months a year now, I need to stay close to home). However, the entire process of doing everything is teaching us all a good lesson.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 4:16PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Not to mention the improved flavor of the home-canned produce and the convenience of having it ready to use even off-season instead of waiting for it to be shipped in from Mexico or Argentina, or wherever.

Then there is the lack of all the commercial flavorings, preservatives, and misc. other additives found in commercial foods that ours does NOT have.

But unfortunately those who have never been exposed to the process of home food preservation, never experienced the better quality, never shared in the community spirit it engenders, seldom understand why we do it. So we just smile and keep on doing our thing.

If you are fortunate enough to live like we do in a rural environment where gardening, canning, and even butchering and smoking meats are standard practice then it is all the neighbors talk about this time of year and you would have to defend NOT doing it. ;)


    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 4:42PM
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I live in a tiny rural oasis in the middle of urban/suburban sprawl. People think I'm "odd" since I have a vegetable garden and I can. My neighbors can't understand why I don't just shop at Whole Foods - don't I now it's an organic store?

My MIL is also a loosing battle. She doesn't understand why I don't just buy the stuff - since my husband has a good job and we can afford to buy stuff. I guess only the peasants are supposed to grow their own food? But then again, this is the woman who tried to explain to me what Huggies were when I was using cloth diapers. And asked me why I didn't just hire a wet nurse.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 6:14PM
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And, of course, it depends on how many start up supplies you need and how many years you plan to use them.

I already owned hundreds of jars, and two canners (thanks to growing a garden years ago), so when I started gardening again 4 years ago, my only start-up costs were seeds.

So, for me, as the jars, canners, irrigation system, etc are "sunk costs" and completely paid off, I would argue that even tomato sauce is cost effective.

The first year is expensive, the following years have decreasing costs for increasing yields, both in number of jars, and in efficiency of your gardening/canning operation.

By now I look at every jar of tomato sauce on the shelf as almost free except for my time and labor (which is a labor of love and therefore not quantifiable).


    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 6:20PM
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I already had cans/rings and a hot water canning system and supplies purchased...

I did purchase a pressure canner this yr for $80
and a few more jars...
I did purchase more tomatoes b'cuz I didnt have enough ripe at the time for maybe $200ish..

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 6:42PM
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Not only do I can and preserve for all the above reasons, but it is a kind of therapy for me. I feel close to the earth when I plant, tend and harvest my fruits and veggies. I have a sense of accomplishment when I see the end product. Gardening and preserving allows me to de-stress after working with people all week. Professional therapy would definitely be much more expensive!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:05PM
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I never had to defend my canning or gardening to my parents, in fact my mother helped walk me through BWB canning and pickling, and both my parents gardening. My first MIL introduced me to pressure canning and they were farmers who raised almost everthing they consumed on site.

I had to knock heads with my present husband when I brought my supplies with me as we merged households. I also got more than a few comments from his mother who did not can, or have a vegetable garden, nor chickens. Bless her heart she certainly accepted my fresh produce, eggs and frozen roasting birds. ;-) I also loved her and just smiled, when she told me my flock wasn't 'worth' the time to her.

It didn't take long to convince my present husband that the canned fruit tasted good in winter, or the corn good from the garden. LOL. He even asked me to show him how to make jellies and I think he is proud of the fact that we could probably be holed up on our property a year and not starve to death. He has drawn the line on a milk cow, however. It could still happen.

I work at home and I am an horticulturist, so my work life just melts into my home life seamlessly. We essentially homestead if the truth be told. I enjoy putting up my what I grow and he helps me now to harvest and crack nuts, pick berries, and is quite obliging when days on end the kitchen is tied up with canners going.

I do not worry about pesticides or food recalls. Food is always on the shelf. I could cook a banquet for company without ever running to the store and have many times. I fill up my little car with gas once a month whether it needs it or not because I only go in to town once a week, or less.

Fast food is just what it was meant to be, a rare treat. So we eat it with no guilt. We are not diabetic, nor do we have to take cholesterol medication, nor do I have to buy specially sized clothing. I work my calories off, like nature intended.

I spend less than 50$ a week at the market and that includes everything including household cleaning products and pet foods. And we eat better than anyone I know, frankly.

I doubt I spend more than twenty dollars a year on my garden, because I use manures to fertilise them, and plant my own starts from seed. I buy my canning rings in bulk and my jars were hand me downs from my Mama or purchased at auctions.

I do not look my nose down at folks who don't can or garden. It's their choice. But frankly, I feel sorry about what they are missing.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:18PM
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Yeah; we have a larger family (6 til my eldest moved out) and we compost; so we have a small compost area; so that helps fertilize the soil :-)

We plan on starting our plants from seed next yr though!

I love reading everyones answer! :-)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:34PM
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jonas302(central mn 4)

The cost is easily explained as a hobby always add in that its cheaper than going to the bar
any further doubts I take them in my store room in the middle of winter
In the past year I have gotten my Mom back into canning where she had not done any for almost 20 years my sisters have put in gardens and started canning in the city

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 10:39PM
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Well, it's sort of like I tell Elery: I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't like to shop. I don't go to the casino, nor do I play expensive sports like golf. I don't run up the charge cards or get my nails done. He's just going to have to let me farm, it's my single bad habit!

Here's a nice article from "Grit" magazine, on the profitable side of gardening, he's done all the math for me!


Here is a link that might be useful: Grit: Growing a Vegetable Garden

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 10:47PM
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kathy_in_washington(Zone 8 Sequim,WA)

Hopefully most of us have arrived at the age, maturity, or realization that we don't have to rationalize or defend our actions/lifestyle/habits to anyone. I know, though, that sometimes dear friends or family members DO inquire.

I smile, and then... I tell them that I love to do it; that doing so gives me great self-satisfaction; that the end result is delicious and/or nutritious; and that I just want to do it! Most of our friends and family are more than pleased to receive jars of home canned foods from us. Some of them are knowledgeable enough to understand that jars can be reused, so we often receive empty jars back. Naturally they receive jars of next year's bounty as well.

Luckily my husband and I are comfortable and happy enough with each other that we both appreciate each others' unique talents and hobbies, and (if I must confess) our idiosyncrasies. I even admit that I sometimes spend too much on other things in life, don't always follow a tight budget, and have more canning supplies and equipment than any one girl should have!

There's nothing that makes me -- and probably most of you -- happier than seeing jars and jars of pretty colored fruit and vegetables lined up and waiting to be opened and enjoyed. We are all very fortunate to be doing what we do, aren't we?

Kathy in Washington

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 3:11AM
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I am new at this and at first it sound good and i do enjoy the new experience.I am trying to share this experience with my 13yr old daughter who would rather listen to her Ipod and watch music videos or read.
I live in the "big city" with every store at my finger tips. Shope Rite just had a can-can sale and i can buy most sauces and jams on sale.
The farmers market at Union Square has everything but the prices almost stopped my heart. I can buy 1 quart of blueberrys at the fruit stand or supermarket for about 1.50-2.oo but at the farmers market it cost 4.99 a quart and not organic there tent is always double the price of evertyhing for anything.
Walmart had tomatoes for $1.28lb but i went to another "farmers market" and found them for $0.69 a pound great right, the gas and toll it cost to go to New Jersey thank goodness i was getting the kids school supplys.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden then of course the cost is little and the bounty is great, but if you live in the big city and have everything from $0.99 stores to whole foods, walmart, pathmark, BJs, etc, 2 kids, a man,and want "me time" then the cost is very high.
I will admit my first canned crushed tomatoes tast great better than any can i ever bought and i know whats in it.
I've made batches of jam that didn't set. I can use it for toppings but now that is another cost to make more, if i give anything away thats a cost because no one is paying for them (i know that is my option and i love giving to my friends and they just love it).
My sister said "boy u just need a life betty home maker"
So the cost is realy what it cost you weither it is time or money.
For me its the experience of teaching my daughter how to do this is so great. Its like Knitting , do you knitt that skarf or do you buy it at less it would cost you to buy that wool and the time it takes to knitt it.
My 11yr old son said to me " mom what happened did the supermarket run out of food so now we have to make our own. That was funny. I spent about $11.00 on a little over 15 pounds of tomatoes and it only got me 4 quarts and 3 pints of canned crushed tomatoes. I thought for sure all those tomatoes would give me cans and cans of of crushed tomatoes ( i didnt figure that it cooks down) but boy do they tast good i was up half the night but boy do they tast good.
So cost wise for me this is my "out", my atlantic city trip, my out drinking with the gang, my me time,my new boots or outfit i just have to have, my learning something new, my preference and i enjoy it. (wish i had a garden though).
So on a good "fresh food" sale I will cann and as time goes on it will all even out.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 8:11AM
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Monetary savings have nothing to do with why I can. I like the idea of saving the local bounty for eating year-round. And, I like that I know exactly what is going into the foods I prepare for my family. And bottom line, it tastes better.

I live just 2 miles from a very large farmer's market, and I'm in the heart of Mennonite country, so I'm lucky to be able to get good deals on local produce in season. So I think I'm probably ahead on the cost savings, but that's not why I do it.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:45AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

The quality of your home canned stuff is so superior to most store bought stuff that you'd have to pay quite a hefty price to get that kind of product at a store. Also, you can't put a price on the sense of satisfaction of crafting something yourself. I read a book once on the science of happiness, and one of the well known facts about happiness is that it stems from finding something creative and engaging to do with your time, like . . . um . . . canning for example!! :)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 10:50AM
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I don't have time to read this thread in its entirety, so I apologize if I'm being redundant and repeating something someone already said.

When looking at it from an economic viewpoint, it probably doesn't pay to can basic things like tomatoes or corn, at best it's probably break even with the price of just buying the product commercially produced, maybe even more if you consider sale prices.

But, where it can shine economically is in doing more exotic or complicated things. While a basic jar of generic store brand concord grape jelly is under $2.00, the price of many specialty things is astronomical. Making your own definitely saves you money there if you enjoy various fancy pickles, relishes, preserves.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 4:25PM
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It is not WHAT you preserve, it is that YOU do it for YOU.

Cost really is not the issue. I have enough expendable income to BUY a $27 jar (say once a lifetime, maybe) of exquisite superbly crafted rare strawberry jam from, like say, France. Yes, I can!. Does it taste any better than the plain ol' jar of strawberry jam from what I personally grew this spring in my own backyard? Nah.! Different - yes; better - Nah! I personally pulled all of those weeds from around my plants. I mixed up kelp and other yucky smelling stuff to feed those plants and talked to them and made sure they had what they needed to make me feel connected to my food. You can't buy that, at any price.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:04PM
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I just like the idea of knowing how to do things. It seems as though we're all so separated from the process of making things anymore. I love knowing how to grow food, cook food, preserve food, cut my own hair, knit my own scarf, make my own lip balm--things that most people take for granted. I think it gives me a better appreciation of the things that I have and what it took to make them. I'd love to learn to sew for the same reason. It may not be any cheaper, but knowing that you can do it gives a sense of satisfaction that can't be bought.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:18PM
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My sister thought that since we didn't plant the blackberries, we could just let the animals/birds eat them. Don't know that she ate any of the jam I made, but her ILs and her DD really liked it.

My mom thinks I should be spending time with my kids instead of picking berries (I made the jam b4 they woke up) - they've picked with me a few times but too thorny for them. But they like the jam too. She also thinks I should hire someone to finish my woodwork, so what if it comes out half-a$$ed, *she's* living with wavy (fake) beadboard paneling. I told her I have enough stuff in my house that wasn't done right the first time (and we're having to fix or pay someone to fix it), so I'd just as soon live with unfinished trim as I get around to finishing it (mostly when the kids are in school, weather permitting, or an hour at a time a couple times a day while they're watching TV or playing, or at her house, during the summer).

I've got lots of beefsteak tomatoes, might try making salsa, my dad planted plum tomatoes and doesn't like the taste/texture raw, so I told him to bring them over, I'd make sauce (freeze, not can) but other than pickles (which don't take long and my dad likes too) I'm not canning anything but jam this year. To me, it's not worth it to invest in a pressure canner. But I've got lots of jam (may sell some at $5/half-pint, SIL said it was going for $7 at farmer's market) and more berries and zucchini in the freezer. May not work out $-wise, but eventually we may build a barn, buy a bigger freezer, and raise our own grass-fed beef and free-range chickens too. Like someone said, at least we know where it's coming from and what's going (or not going!) into it. Don't know about milk cows, milking by hand's a pain and equipment is $$$.

I'm 47, quit my job 5.5 years ago, we have 97 acres - what else am I going to do after I finish the house?

I've made some clothes for DD (self-defense, it's easier to make pants for her even if I'm still trying to work out the measurements, than struggle with her in the store or afterwards, complaining about them being too tight in places, too long, etc.). Most stuff I don't bother, since I can find nice dresses and tops for her cheap at Goodwill. I do cut her hair - but how do you cut your own hair and have it look decent?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 2:51PM
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I never got anything but compliments on the tasty food and hints for more when the dilly pickles I gave them are gone.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:02AM
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So far we (Al and I) have not had to "defend" our choice to garden and preserve our bounty. But we do get interesting comments from neighbors and "alley walkers". They'll stop and ask about whats growing. It's surprising how many people in this rural farming area have never seen pole beans before. We live in a small town and a backyard garden is not a very common sight. The neighbors and friends that we share with "never" complain about having fresh green beans, new potatoes or fresh tomatoes.

We're both retired and he does the gardening then we share in the process of freezing and canning. It's "work", but it's also a time of doing something together and reminescing about our childhoods when our mothers and grandmothers canned everything they could get their hands on to see a large family through the winter.

We're already talking about our garden for next year...what we want to do differently, what to eleminate and what to add.

Life is good. :-) Ms. Donnie

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:29AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


I agree with Carol that it depends on what you can.

For basics like tomato sauce, canned corn, green beans, you probably won't end up spending much less than the cost of standard commercial cans, which are very cheap in North America compared to our incomes at under $1 a can --- and certainly not if you count your time. (If you use a new lid for each jar, that's 20 cents already.)

But besides feeling good about what goes into your food, enjoying the process as a hobby, teaching your kids about food and nature and self-sufficiency, and all those other good intangibles that are, to some of us, priceless, there is also the QUALITY.

Your tomato sauce and pickles will be MUCH better than those grocery store ones. Like, LOTS better. (And anything that DOESN'T come out better than cheap grocery-store versions, I stop canning as not worth it.)

If I bought organic, small-batch, high-quality tomato sauce at the health food store, it would not cost $1 a jar but more like $3 or $4. And my home-canned is cheaper than THAT. I COULD, of course, work more and use the extra income to buy those kinds of foods, and if I had a high-paying job I LOVED to do and lots of small kids I suppose I might. But that's not the life I want; I would far rather spend those hours in my kitchen (and, if I had kids, teaching them those skills and values while we canned together).

The savings is even more when you can more "value added" things like jams, salsas, chutneys, sauces rather than plain vegetables. Organic, quality, small-batch jam or salsa runs about $6 a small jar (you couldn't possibly sell it for less and pay anything for your time). We go through 100+ jars of my homemade Annie's salsa a year here: not only to eat with tortilla chips, but on fish and chicken, in pasta, mixed with black beans to make a soup, not to mention given away as gifts. I grow all the contents except sometimes some of the peppers, and the vinegar, salt, and tomato paste. And I LOVE growing the garden and making the salsa. So I fill my pantry AND I enjoy my hobby---boy, do I come out ahead, financially, than if I had gone to the movies or bought a book or gone out to dinner (my other fave pasttimes), AND bought all that salsa at the specialty store.

Now, if you MIL doesn't agree that your stuff is higher quality than the $1 grocery cans, she presumably hasn't tasted it!

The best proof of quality I've ever had was with applesauce. (Again, something VERY cheap at the grocery store, and since I don't grow my own apples, I do have to buy the ingredients, though I buy them from the farmer by the bushel so they're pretty cheap by the pound.)

Some friends --- the kind who DO have high-paying jobs and shop at Whole Foods --- visited with their toddler son. Asked what the child would like for breakfast, they said Cheerios (which they had brought) and some fruit. But they had arrived the night before when we'd just got back into town ourselves, so we had no fresh food in the house. How about some applesauce? I suggested. Sure, they said.

I gave them a jar and went off to shower. When I came back a half-hour later, I found them in my kitchen literally laughing at how quickly and eagerly their son was plowing through the applesauce. They'd never seen anything like it. He usually eats a few spoonfuls, they said. He's gone through half the jar and is still at it! What did you put IN this stuff?

It was a pleasure to be able to shrug and say, quite simply, "apples."



    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 8:42AM
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Zabby - our apple trees are old and neglected (and fruit's too high to reach), so I have to buy windfalls too. I've made apple butter but not applesauce - would love to have your recipe (I assume it's more than just apples).

I gotcha on the "hobby" aspect, though I can't use that defense - I just say (as when I defend my woodworking time) that I like to learn a new skill rather than paying someone to do it for me. But my mom is a big one for going to the movies!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:04AM
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With the information that we keep seeing about various chemicals that leach out of purchased canned goods into our food, bisphenol in plastic containers, a product stored in glass jars is a lot safer that you've canned yourself, and you know where the product came from. And goodness only knows what is in glass jars from China (Dollar General Stores and jars of peaches or cherries from overseas).
I don't grow corn, but I can get 12 fresh ears from the farmer's market for $5. I know the lady who sells it to me, so I know where it's from as she has a local farm. I don't can it, but I do blanch it, cut it off the cob, and vacuum seal it. Fresh tasting corn every time! Beats a grocery can anyday!
Momagain, if you make some roasted garlic tomato soup, it may convert your MIL! You sure can't buy that in the stores!
If you ever make Annie's Salsa, she'll taste the difference!
So worth it!
I can control the amount of sugar in my jams using low sugar pectin. I can control the amount of salt in my green beans and tomatoes for example.
I grind my own hamburger meat from one piece of meat and vacuum pack it and freeze it. At least, I know it's not coming from hundreds of cows. It seems the only testing they do on the meat is AFTER someone gets sick.
Potato farmers are required to spray so many pesticides on their commercial crop. I've read where they keep a separate area for what they keep, that they don't spray. I grow my own potatoes and they have no pesticides. Easy to grow and can!
If you've ever made your own chicken or beef stock, there is a huge difference in taste. My farmer's market will have chickens in the fall. They are more expensive, but I won't have the added growth hormones and antiobiotics in them. It's more expensive, but I don't eat as much meat as I used to, better for me in the long run. The farmer's market also has grass-raised beef all year. Cattle aren't supposed to eat corn products. They are made for grazing in pastures. I suggest you see the film FOOD, INC. Eye opening!
I make my own yogurt with organic milk, simple to do, and much better and I can control what goes in it.
You are basically recycling as well. The jars are reused and you aren't putting cans or plastic goods in the trash or having to recycle them. And I compost my refuse, adding to the soil and reducing my curb garbage.
I find canning jars at the thrift stores when available (make sure to check the rims first) and I buy my lids/rims at BIG LOTS. I even found my two pressure canners at Used Furniture stores. I had the cooperative extension check the gauges and seals before I used them.
GOOD QUALITY food is a bit more expensive and it takes some effort. Americans spend less now on food than every before, much less than any country. But what many are buying isn't real food or healthy food. Read some of Michael Pollen's books - The Omnivor's Delimma or In Defense of Food. You'll get some ammunition to really substantiate your discussions with your MIL. This exerpt was a reader's comment on from Michael Pollens' book, "FOOD RULES, An Eater's Dilemma"
What does Pollan tell you in these pages? Here's a sample:
--- "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
--- "Don't eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce."
---- "Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot...There are exceptions --- honey --- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food."
--- "Always leave the table a little hungry.'"
--- "Eat meals together, at regular meal times."
--- "Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car."
--- "Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk."

Pollan would have you only eat junk food you cook yourself. He'd like you to buy your snacks at a farmer's market. He'd like you to use meat as a flavor enhancer, a condiment, an afterthought. And he'd like to see you hurt the bottom line of pre-packaged food companies by paying a little more for real food that's worth eating.
I love the Harvest forum for what I have learned about canning and real food. I did not do all of this overnight, it all came slowly. I recycled long before I started canning. I canned jams before I ever got a pressure canner. As I can more and grow more, I really appreciate my food, where it comes from and the time and energy and costs that goes into it. Slowly I expand. I planted lettuces and carrots this spring for the first time and they were so good (no pesticides) that I am planning a fall/winter harvest.
You are on the right track and you shouldn't have to defend your actions. You are doing what you feel is right for your family. That is all that really matters!

June Lynn

Here is a link that might be useful: Foods and pesticides

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:21AM
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Great post! And zabby, I buy lids in bulk so they drop to ten cents a lid. Also canned veggies at the store are usually a pint or less. So, I can get one quart of home canned food for ten cents as opposed to the price of two cans of food at the market and that would be about a dollar seventy eight here. So, I have saved a dollar sixty eight on two cans of veggies. That's pretty substantial, actually.

I save even more on fruit per quart. Twenty cents for half a gallon? And the cost of the trees were amortized years ago.

What I do is spend my time. What's is a better way to spend it? Sitting in front of the tube? Reading pulp fiction? Going to Curves? That's fine if that's what you want to do, but you pay for the priveledge not only in outlay but in lack of savings you could have had by processing your own food. Yes, I'm a nerd about and like Junelynn says my habits are based on a lifetime of getting to this point. Only one percent of the food coming across our borders is ever even inspected. Of that fifteen percent is refused entry. And American diets on average are based on 20 percent imports. It scares me enough to actually do something about it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 2:51PM
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lantanascape(z6 Idaho)

No, I don't have to defend it, but then, I live in Idaho and almost everyone at least knows how to garden and can, even if they don't do it. This year I bought a bunch of 4 ounce jars when they were on sale - I'm going to make trios of fancy jellies and wrap them up nicely for gifts. I just started canning last year and have found that giving out a nice jar of jam here and there is a good way to stay in good graces with people. Same thing with the beautiful fresh eggs my hens just started laying - a very cheap and thoughtful way to return a favor.

Before I started canning, my husband and I would usually have one sad little jar of Smucker's in the fridge for the rare occasions that I'd take a PB&J sandwich to work. We never ate toast. Now we always have English muffins in the house, and make toast for breakfast just for the excuse of sampling the wonderful jams and fruit butters that are always in the fridge.

As far as the more mundane canned goods go, I will only put them up when the produce is coming out of my garden. This week was the first time since last summer that I've had to purchase canned sauce or tomatoes. However, I think I went through about 130# of tomatoes to make all that sauce and diced toms. Even at 50 cents a pound, it just wouldn't be cost-effective to make it from purchased produce. So this fall I will be collecting lots of free livestock manure to enrich my beds, and will hopefully have a bumper crop next year that will give us 200# of canning tomatoes to take us through the winter. However, even if the sauce from my home-grown tomatoes costs as much to put up as the store-price for generic products, I can't purchase sauce from organically grown heirloom varieties, and I think storage in glass leaves better flavor than storage in the can.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:32PM
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moosemac(Z5 NH / Z3-4 ME)

Recently I ran into an acquaintance I hadn't seen or talked to in several years though we both live in the same tiny town. Knowing she was a vegetable gardener, I casually mentioned I would be canning salsa over the weekend. She laughed and said "I never would have guessed you are a canner. Don't you feel like you have keep that fact under raps so people don't think you're poor? I know I do."

Up until that moment I had never considered that angle on my canning. I've alwasy been proud of the fact I raised, canned, dried and froze fruits and vegetables for my family.

Now I wonder, do folks think we're poor? Do I care...NO!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 8:44AM
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Hmmm, maybe that's why I can't find pickling salt around here (though jars aren't too hard to find and I did find pectin in a few places)? The "yuppies" may make jam (in one grocery store I found jars in the produce section, though no pectin anywhere in the store), but don't can anything else?

I don't think I'd make jam from store-bought fruit, though I did buy some pickling cukes just to see the difference in those vs the slicing cukes we planted.

There are still some of the old farm families in town, don't know where they buy their canning supplies but I haven't checked Tractor Supply yet.

I don't know if I want to get into pressure canning veggies, but our little garden (about 200sf) is too small, only had room for 2 rows of corn, 3 cukes, 1 zuke, 7 tomato plants, 1 honeydew, 3 peppers. Next year we want to plant more corn, pumpkins, strawberries, yellow squash,okra, sugar snap peas, eggplant, and different kinds of tomatoes though probably no more than 8 plants. Maybe some lettuce and cabbage too. DH says we'll have to turn the entire back yard into a veggie garden - fine with me! I'd rather have people think we're poor than rich LOL! Both of us grew up "poor" though not food-stamp poor.

We've had a number of meals now consisting of almost all home-grown and fresh-picked produce - DH wants to point this out to the kids every time. He says that once we can start raising beef and/or chickens (I won't raise pigs), we can have a totally home-grown meal. He grew up on a farm in TX so is very familiar with "self-sustainability" - his parents couldn't afford to feed 9 kids otherwise!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:27AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


Actually, it really is just apples! A little water to keep the apples on the bottom from scorching before they soften. (I did make an applesauce from just Russetts once, and that needed a LOT of water added; it's a very dry apple.) Instructions are in the Ball Blue Book (if you don't have one I am happy to post them, however).

You can add sugar or honey or cinnamon, and I do that sometimes for applesauce to give my mom, who has a sweet tooth. But for my own use, I can it totally plain---if I serve it for breakfast I might sprinkle on a little cinnamon at serving time.

I also can mixed fruit purees, "apple-something" sauce, mixing apples with other fruits. Apple-pear is good; apple-apricot is AMAZING; apple-plum is nice and comes out a gorgeous colour; but I think the hands-down fave here is apple-blackberry.... mmmm.....

Calliope, that's a great price for lids that can't be had in Canada anywhere. Good for you! I did find them on sale last month and I cleaned out the store so mine are more like 15 cents each this season! There's also a cost to the electricity (our electricity company now has a service where we can go online and SEE exactly what that is, by the hour---it's kind of neat!), washing the jars, etc. But especially for something like apples, if you grow them yourself, you sure can can 'em cheap!

For my tomatoes I have a few more costs, even when I start from seed. There's seed-starting mix, electricity for the lights (they need to start indoors in my climate for about 8 weeks before planting out after last frost), and I did invest in a big batch of square plastic pots so I could fit more seedlings per tray, etc. I go through a few balls of jute twine tying up tomato plants each year, and a few of my bamboo stakes need replacing each year. I pay a farmer $12 for four bales of straw to mulch my paths, and some years if I don't have as much compost as I need I do one application of commercial fertilizer.

I know some of these costs I could eliminate or reduce if I made other choices, but the way I garden---the way that makes sense for me---I probably spend about $50 a year raising 80+ tomato plants. The initial cost for my gardening supplies probably amortizes to $10-15 or so a year (and I have cedar-walled raised beds, the cadillac of garden beds!!).

So for about $65 plus maybe 25 cents a jar (for lid and electricity) I can some 100 to 200 jars of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, pasta sauce, and salsa. Saves me SOME money vs. even cheap supermarket products (again, IF we don't count time, for which the only response is that one enjoys it, either as a hobby or as "learning skills" or for pure satisfaction --- or because one's situation wouldn't allow one to be spending that time working anyway).

The salsa requires the purchase of a few ingredients, but it's still the biggest savings even vs. a decent grocery-store salsa, never mind a really good organic small-batch one.

Probably costs something similar for me to buy the apples (from a farmer by the bushel) as to grow the tomatoes. Again, my toddler-taming applesauce costs somewhat less based on input costs without labour as a crappy supermarket brand would, and WAY less than a good organic brand.

And you sure can't even FIND apple-blackberry sauce at my supermarket.

Meanwhile, for me another advantage to my home canning is the opposite of calliope's by-the-quart savings: it's just DH and me, so I choose to can often in SMALLER jars than a supermarket standard. I love that I can make whatever size works for me of whatever item I put up....


    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:29PM
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Thanks Zabby - what kind of apple works best? We've got crabapples, I might try making jelly from those. Not sure what the tall trees are, DH needs to try to top them off but that's dangerous, so we don't get much off those. I buy windfalls from a nearby orchard though, they're pretty cheap and are good for cooking, just cut off the bruised parts. I'd love to try the apple-blackberry as well, I just froze a lot of blackberries. Do you just puree that, do you add sugar, do you cook it at all before you can it?

I was hoping my dad would give us a bushel of plum tomatoes to make sauce, but so far just a quart. Just about enough to cook down with some zukes for ratatouille or a "pasta toss", not really enough for sauce.

Cheapest I've seen lids here is $1.50/dozen. Electricity is expensive here - 16 cents per kWh and I don't even want to know what a big pot of water on the stove for half an hour takes (I'd have to look up my manual). But DH has been eating blackberry jam by the spoonful, he never does that with store-bought jam.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 4:55PM
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Moosemac...I've NEVER thought of a canner/food preserver as poor! I think we are talented, creative, industrious and many other adjectives I can't think of at the moment. It takes work to can and preserve foods along with dedication. If there were a food shortage, WHO would know how to plant food, grow food and can food! Most canners/food preservers (not all grow their own).
I'm surprised a vegetable gardner DOESN'T can!
Let that gal know you are PROUD and very RICH in healthy food!

June Lynn

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:23PM
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Please don't knock "food stamp poor" in this economy it dosent take much to qualify for food stamps. I have more money for food with food stamps than I did when I didn't "qualify" for the stamps so since now I am "food stamp poor" I thought of a way to learn something new and put up some better quality food untill I m no longer food stamp poor.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 11:13AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


Indeed, we should not knock any level of poor---there but for the Grace go we all.... I didn't get the idea ajsmama meant any disrespect, though, but just to give us an idea what her background was. Good for you for making the most of your situation, learning something new and getting quality food out of it!


I forgot to factor in my canning supplies cost; with jars, canner, and food mill, I probably have spent a few hunderd dollars over the years on canning supplies. This amortizes over many years (nine so far, and I'm counting on several more decades) but still, probably fair to add another $10 a year to my total input.


Good point about how we're the ones who'll know what do do if there's a shortage (or, I figure more likely, an emergency that interferes with the delivery chain). My sister and brother-in-law, both doctors with a great home, a very organized life, etc., much admired (and rightly so) in our family for their savvy and competence, nevertheless always tell me, "When The Big One comes, whatever it is, we're heading to Zabby's place!" ;-)


Any kind of apples can make sauce. Your windfalls from the orchard should be perfect! As you say, just cut off the bruised parts.

I cook the blackberries separately, with a little water, until they're soft, then put them through my food mill with the fine screen to get out the seeds. Then I add the puree to my apple puree.

I don't add sugar, but you could if you preferred it that way. Taste it and see what you think! How sweet it comes out will depend in part on what kind of apples you use.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 11:37AM
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yoshi - No offense intended - it would have been easier if we *had* qualified but back in the late 70's/early 80's I guess you really had to have *nothing* to qualify. I worked as a maid in a B&B in high school when my dad was out of work one year, my $ went to by groceries for the 6 of us (we had meat from a steer every year but my mom didn't preserve food) and my mom's salary paid the rest of the bills (and they had a mortgage then). 2 years later I went to college and my dad broke his leg in 3 places and was out of work again until after my younger brother started college, I don't know how they scraped by but by then I had declared myself independent to get more aid. The 70's and early 80's were really hard times for my parents, starting with the oil embargo when my dad owned a Mobil station (and gave out too much credit, lost the business but refused to file bankruptcy). Once you've learned the new skill of preserving food, you may find that you don't want to give it up when you can afford to, b/c of the quality!

DH's family had less $ (or at least steady income) than we had but they had a bigger farm so had steadier source of food (of course his mom canned). He told the kids that he only had ice cream once when he was a kid - his mom would make each of the 9 kids a birthday cake but they wouldn't even have ice cream to go with it. Of course eating in a restaurant was out of the question. They also didn't have a library in town, which my kids don't believe.

Zabby - do you cook the apples at all before pureeing (sp?), so the whole mess is warm before canning? But don't boil it first?

DH would like us to be self-sufficient (though I draw the line at grinding my own wheat for flour LOL!), but I think even when/if "The Big One" hits we'll be OK with canned food from the grocery store (I always stock up on tuna, beans, tomatoes, etc. during can-can sales) until the next year when we can plant (assuming seeds are available - maybe we should stock up on seeds). Electricity to run the freezer, the oven, and the well pump (or fuel to run generator) would be the real problem.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 2:03PM
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Thank you for that I'm ok just defending the "poor" : )
I found no one offensive everyone has been so helpful and friendly, such good information on this site, thanks again

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 8:16PM
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Thanks yoshi, maybe that was a poor ;-) choice of words. My dad grew up "dirt" poor, on the farm we now live on, with 3 generations in the house, no central heat (and maybe no electricity - I don't remember when he said his uncle did the wiring but it was knob and tube so I'm guessing it was in the 30's or 40's, not the 50's), no indoor plumbing until his grandpa got sick in the mid-50's and they put in a 55-gallon drum as a septic tank and added on a bathroom for him. Back then it was a dairy farm, they put up what they could but didn't have beef, and my dad wouldn't even eat rice til a few years ago b/c he had so many meals of just (homemade) applesauce and rice he couldn't stomach the stuff anymore. If there had been food stamps back then my dad's family would have qualified. So I'm not one to knock anyone for their economic status.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 8:42PM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)


Oh, yes, you cook the apples in a little water till they're soft, then puree.

Here's a link to some "official" instructions.

You don't even have to peel & core the apples ahead of time if you have a food mill---you can just quarter them, cook them with a little water till soft, and put them through the mill, which leaves skins & seeds hard cores behind. (I find mine comes out a bit pink this way from the time the red skins are cooking with the rest of it.)

If you do peel & core first then you don't need the food mill---you can mash it up well with a fork, potato masher, or whatever, or leave it chunky.

If you are putting it through a mill, you prefer it to NOT be boiling at that point (you might even let it cool and then heat it back up after)!

You bring it to boiling before you can it, though.

So I usually put on a big pot with apples, and a small one with the blackberries, and a third burner with the canner heating up the water & jars.

The blackberries soften first, and I put them through the mill, then let the BB puree sit while the apples cook. WHen those are soft, I put them through the mill, then return to the pot to cook till boiling. I add the BB puree and cook a little more (at this point you want to stir well so it doesn't scorch on the bottom, and watch that you don't get burned by exploding volcanoes of apple puree).

Process as usual:n put in the jars while both food and jars are hot, put on warmed-up lids and tighten screw bands finger-tight, put into canner with water boiling and covering jars well, process for recommended amount of time (15 minutes for applesauce pints at sea level; 20 minutes for quarts).

I do recommend a Ball Blue Book if you don't have one---it's a real deal and will have step by step instructions for ALL the basics with fruit, tomatoes, etc.



Here is a link that might be useful: applesauce directions from MSU

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 8:52AM
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yoshi, add me to the list of people who grew up absolutely dirt poor, but with the farm, we always ate.

To this day, though, I cannot eat corn meal mush, no matter if you call it grits or polenta imstead of mush, it's all mush to me and it's what we ate when there was NOTHING else and no one in the family had been successful with a rifle that day. And yes, I've eaten everything from porcupine to snapping turtle to mountain oysters, because it was eat it or go hungry. Sometimes I went hungry!

I garden, farm and can now because I want to control the amount of pesticides, herbicicdes, fungicides, artificial dyes, hormones, etc. that went into my kids' food. Then I talked to a friend who worked at a local baby food plant and found out about "particulate matter". A certain perentage is allowed in all commercially processed food, and that inclides animal hair, rodent droppings, fingernail clippings, the stray bandaid, etc.

Nope, I'm canning my own, thanks.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 4:37PM
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Hi Annie,
Its funny that u mention making your own baby food.
13 years ago when my daughter was born I made my own baby food. I breast fed her for 16 months as well as my son 20 months later and gave her some fruit and chewed up and or grinded solids . I sure didn't know about what your friend told u about the "particulate matter" at that time I read about glass in some baby foods and I was scard and my mom was pushing the breast milk those were the best days when I could eat and not gain anything so I ate healthier then and I am sure eating healthier now (we won't talk about my extra few 10 that I'm working on lol).
Whish I could have a garden like a lot of u fortunate folks.
I know what you mean, I "can't" eat gritts and eggs together or just gritts either not for the life of me not even vienna sasuage my nightmare childhood days. What ever we had we ate and my gram made u sit there untill you at it so any days I ate re-reheated of those I mentioned, for over 25 years I couldn't eat peaches you know I kept putting them down the radiator and when the heat came up u could smell them and every one knew I did it. I sat for hours with peaches lol,lol. I won't ask about the porcupine though.
we all had our crosses to bare and now we are stronger for it.
Guess I took a few folks back lol
I just made my second bach ever of crushed italian tomatos and its funny mysister was over and said " I thoughjt u had to have a garden to cann anything" and she wants half of my 6 quarts and 4 pints ooooh no lol
I have a few friends who now want me to can tomatoes and jam and veges for them 2 of my good friends will be here at 12 with 15 pounds carrots, 20 pounts plum tomatoesf and some string beans for me to do they made play dates out of it they are bringing their kids to play with my kids (no wine for me though lol)
I guess this is a good thing just for today
So I guess the memory of canning is defending itself for me .lol.
I only wish I knew to do all of this sooner like when I was "whewing up food for babyfood or making it almost every day from fresh food I cold have canned, ooh why didn't my mom or gram mention all that good stuff I would be like all of u experts but I am learning from all u good folks. Now I must do the half peaches before those teenagers get here and try to eat them I lost about 10 in the last 2 days
Good day

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 9:01AM
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zabby17(z5/6 Ontario)

yoshi, I'm still chuckling about those peaches down behind the radiator. It sounds like your own kids like peaches plenty well, and like you've come back to appreciating them! I'm glad for you, because they're SO yummy....

Your "play date" canning get-together sounds lovely. You not only get great food for very cheap, but you get companionship out of canning, too!

Tell that sister of yours to buy a bushel of tomatoes and come on over and help you can 'em, THEN she can have half (you get to keep some for supplying the equipment and expertise!). ;-)

My own sister is coming into town this weekend and I'm hoping she'll help me can some of my garden tomatoes. It's a nice thing to do together.

Best wishes,


    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 9:30AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

As June Lynn said above, there's more and more evidence that the stuff that leaches out of tin cans is not good. You can buy tomato sauce in glass jars at the store, but they're very expensive (about $4 here). So there's that, and then I just like the process, like knowing exactly what's going into it, and I know there are no pesticides or even fertilizers in my tomatoes.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 10:04AM
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jollyrd(Richmond VA)

- satisfaction of learning something new to do with your own two hands
- knowing that if times got really tough, I already have a set up for a garden, tools to preserve the fruits of the garden, and developed skills in advance (so that I dont mess up when it is actually important that I do a good job)
- knowing what went into my jars
- making your own flavors/types of preserves

I am not from Great Depression generation; I was born and raised in USSR and I remember my mother and grandmother do canning every summer - we did not have any garden, lived in a city apartment, so they had to rely on buying all fruits and vegies in summer in peak season so that they initial cost would be cheaper.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 12:43PM
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I can pickles & do not care about the cost, it is a hobby, like football, sports, which no one get a return of $$$ on.
Like wood working, canning is about making Quality not cost.
As for wild fruit, I picked it as a child, while other played on the back 40. The deal with my mother was, if I bought her 1 gallon of any fruit she would make jelly or jam. Some of my fondles memory are of picking wild fruit.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 9:06AM
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Country Sunflower

I haen been home canning food since I was a teen.. I love to do it and will continue to do it until I become too old and decrepit to do so... but I've been doing it for 50+ years. No reason to quite yet.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 11:57PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

If the OP sees this thread, 2 years later, She can justify her canning even more now! Food prices have almost doubled in the last 2 years!

I grew up in a gardening, canning family. It's just a natural way of life to me. Plus I know the food is safe and tastes better!

Years ago, friends would say, why do you go to so much trouble and expense when canned/frozen food is so cheap. I would just smile and say, mine tastes better and I know where it came from. They laughed.

Now those same friends are asking my advice on growing a garden and canning/freezing their bounty!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 12:47PM
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I just seen this thread "reborn"...

since then we have added a larger garden,
have had just this year, someone find a HUGE hidden trove of black raspberries and called me over to have them! (Did give them a jar of black raspberry jam as a thank you !)

began raising chickens (we have about 40 now) for eggs, have made our own homemade beef & Chicken broth..but for some reason, it is VERY weak in flavor...?? so I inevitably have to add boullion to it..sigh...

I am still trying to find the perfect salsa; I DID NOT like Annies salsa; I dislike sweet salsa very much and like my salsa to be thinner...

I have also canned chicken soup (without noodles/rice..those will be added in later when we go to cook it for dinner)...

but I honestly havent paid attention to food prices..

BUT today...I found at Kroger, organic 1 1/2 pound bags of fresh broccoli florets...clearanced price to $1`75..

so I brought them home, blanched them, cold water shocked them and put them in freezer bags...

ended up being 75C a bag I put away for broccoli florets..not too bad!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 9:29PM
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I started canning 3 yrs ago. We moved into our new home in August (right next door to the in-laws) & i put in a garden the following spring. (i was the only one in my family, besides my husbands uncle, that gardened. And we both come from very large familys) I mentioned to my mom that i was gonna start canning, & she told me that my grandmother & 2 of my great aunts used to can all the time. I had no clue! So i started bugging them for recipes :) everyone just smiled & said that i was crazy. i canned a few things that yr, but the next i decided to make gift baskets for christmas of stuff i grew & canned. so aunts & uncles got spaghetti gift baskets with garlic, dried basil, homemade french bread, etc. the married cousins got Annie's salsa, pickled jalapenos, chips, & cheese. Everyone loved it! it was so rewarding, & saved me money on gifts that yr. So i definitely think it pays off to can your own foods. One of my husbands cousins went to visit some family & sarcastically told them i was turning into little suzy homemaker. (this was before the christmas gifts) :D guess what? this yr, her & her husband planted a garden & she is totally excited about it! :D i love being the reason others decided to grow their own food. now, both my sister & brother are also growing a few things & one of my SIL recently moved into a house with a mini orchard growing in the backyard! :D

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 2:12PM
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This thread is wonderful; so many intelligent, well-reasoned responses. You folks are gifted.

I am the great-granddaughter of sharecroppers, whom I was privileged to know. Their industry, work-ethic, and morals informed my character, influenced my choices and secured my admiration.

They taught me to pray, read and work; that there was joy in being as self-sufficient as possible. They didn't cripple me with recriminations towards the affluent or shame of penury.

I am no more ashamed of my abundance than I am proud of their poverty. But I am proud of their response to it, and grateful that their sacrifices and wisdom enabled me to escape it.

And that's why I garden, preserve and forage.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Hi All,
I am just starting canning (beginning to get all my supplies). My grandmother preserved food in every way known to man. I wish that I had spent more time, with her, learning this. You always regret not taking time for certain things when you get older (at least I have).

I became 're-aquainted' with this when during the massive dog food recall by foods produced at Diamond. I was feeding my guys two of the 'holistic' brands on the recall list. After that I did over a 100 hours of research into pet foods; what went in them and how they were manufactured. What I found really shocked me.

The side benefit was that I learned a LOT more about what I was eating and what went into it. Now, I am going back to my grandmothers mind set to make as much of my own food as possible (I even make my own wet dog food now).

While I have a chest freezer, I also want to make my own jams, veggies & meat. Over the long haul this will pay off in my health and the health of my dogs.

I have not done a garden as I am disabled and that would be too hard on me but I can get bargans at the local farmers market. I know that it is not as good as growing yourself but it is the best that I can do.

When I was mentioning canning, friends laughed at me. They think that it is 'cute' or 'old-fashioned'. Old-fashioned it may be but we will see what they say after their old-fashioned gifts, I make them, this Christmas.

Sheila :)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 4:21PM
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and Sheila, don't forget, we are in a huge drought, severe one in our "cornland" farmer states now...

Most of my IL farmer friends, are now harvesting their fields...EARLY..WAY early...and when I say harvest..I mean just cutting them down...
because our severe drought conditions have impacted them so much in their crops...that their crops CANNOT rebound even if we were just swamped with rain now...

Most farmers are taking their crop insurance (If they chose to have it this yr)...but I promise you this, they are warning those they are close to, food prices WILL go up.

From a friend:

For instance right now we can't even buy gluten to feed cattle as ethanol plants are shutting down production. Cattle producers can't find feed so they are liquidating. Corn prices are to a level that hog producers can't afford to feed their hogs. Bottom line hold on grocery prices are going up.
(back to me ---
My chicken feed has jumped from $12 a 50lb bag to $16 a 50lb bag in a month! AND thats not even organic! just get your bargains, you can your little heart away and you will be blessed!

BTW--- Next yr, get those topsy turvy planters (At big lots for $2.50 now!) and plant your tomato plants in it...plant a pepper plant in it...then hang it up outside...

I bet those who are "laughing" saying "oh isnt it cute or suzy homemaker" wont laugh when I dont have to pay $3.50 for tomato sauce...(spaghetti sauce)...

when eggs go up crazy high, they wont laugh when I have all my 40 hens laying..(Right now only 13 lay...we had to replace our flock as we lost 25 to a predator attack)..


    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:07AM
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I have been reading about the drought. It is hitting 60% of the country. In the PNW we have had too much rain but it is more 'normal' this month.

I can not handle a 'traditional' garden but I was reading the container garden forum and that is something I could do. It won't be as much 'volume' as a traditional but I would really enjoy growing my own food.

I will check out Big Lot's. Would like to try those containers :)

Sheila :)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:16AM
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Lots of great comments from everyone ... to which I'll add my own two cents !

'Tradition' - indeed I learned about canning and preserving ( and many many other things ) as a young girl, spending lots of time with my own grandma. Now I am 'passing on' those canning and preserving skills ( and hopefully many many other things ) to my grand-daughter !

'Food Quality' - Living in upstate NY, up until a few years ago there were commercial vegetable farmers offering all sorts of top quality locally grown vegetables at reasonable prices ... to the point where it was hard to justify 'growing your own'. However, in the last few years, between low priced Chinese / Vietnamese / Mexican produce sold by WalMart and FDA food safety traceability compliance issues for the commercial vegetable farmers, the farmers have switched to growing cow corn for ethanol refineries and soybeans for biofuel. What remains of 'locally grown' produce now carries an Organic label and sells at ridiculous prices. Thus today if you want to obtain 'quality' produce at affordable prices the only remaining option is to 'grow your own'. And canning / preserving what you have grown is an essential part of that 'value' equation.

'Rising Food Prices' - this summer's drought conditions are just a small part of the overall food price situation ... which is driven by global commodity prices for corn / soybeans / wheat / sugar etc. Speculator money has increasingly been flowing into commodities as a 'hedge' against EuroLand economic problems, US money printing etc., and prices for basic foods have already risen a LOT. However, food processors and food retailers have been reluctant to 'pass on' these cost increases to retail consumers for fear of 'sticker shock' ... meaning that the food processors and food retailers have been taking a hit to their profit margins. The point is being approached where the food processors and food retailers MUST pass on higher basic food / ingredient costs if they want to stay in business ... meaning that significant additional retail food price increases are already in the 'pipeline'. And obviously the higher that retail food prices rise, the easier it is to justify growing and canning / preserving your own high quality foods.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:40PM
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^^^ I got so involved I forgot to add my two cents on the virtues of canning versus freezing.

It seems that with each passing year, electric utility companies are investing less and less money and effort to maintain / upgrade their hardware. The utility companies also have far fewer line crews than they used to. This combination means that the probability of losing electric power for an extended time period as the result of a bad storm etc. is higher now than at any time that I can remember. And to make matters worse, we seem to be experiencing more severe storms as well !!!

At any rate, canned foods sitting on a basement shelf don't care whether the electricity is on or not ... but frozen foods sure do !!! Agreed that it makes a lot more sense ( at first glance anyhow ) to freeze produce instead of canning it. And in fact I have both an upright freezer and a chest freezer that are literally chock full !!!

But after having both of my freezers' contents totally ruined by a 3 day power outage a couple of years ago, I discovered the hard way that one of the 'hidden costs' of freezing versus canning is investing in a standby electric generator !!!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:54PM
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Green Grandma, excellent posts. We live in the country and have seen the same thing; everything has gone "Corn", and I mean everything. Forests are being bulldozed for corn. A local man custom farms for us and is concerned about the depletion of the woods, and he isn't particularly green in his philosophy.

Also, your point about the black-outs is a good one. Any storm, winter or summer, knocks out our electricity. And around here we've seen our rates double in the last year, ostensibly because some work was done. The aging of America's infrastructure (bridges, roads, sewers and power grids) has long been a point of contention. But there's no money for a remedy.

Finally, conservative attorneys are very concerned about abuse of the Commerce Clause and how it can apply to farmers (and gardeners) and what they plant. You've probably read the potato story. Horrors.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2012 at 12:48PM
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I just wanted to bump this old thread, because I love it. That's all. I hope other newbies read and enjoy it also. :-)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 3:46PM
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ediej1209(5 N Central OH)

I don't can a whole lot, but I do can jam and pickles. (I do my Christmas Shopping in mid-summer LOL!) Everything I preserve veggie/meat-wise goes into the freezer.
We have our own chickens, too, and I love the fresh, bright-yellow yolks. They may not be any different from storebought as far as nutrition is concerned, but they taste so much better. We don't butcher our "girls", though -- chicken for dinner does come from the store. I know a lot of people think I'm silly, but they are just as much our pets as the cat or the dog. I guess if Armageddon actually happens, we might have to "thin the flock" but I'm hoping it never comes to that!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 1:52PM
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When I starting to can it was when I had a large garden space, and 3 growing boys, all big eaters. I was diagnosed needing a low/no salt diet and at the time, you could NOT buy low/no salt food at the grocery store. With my canning, our grocery bill was about $20 per week (1980-1990)

Now, with just being hubby and I, I don't can near as much. But with the food costs and still being rural, I'm teaching my DILs how to can, they both have kids. With all the pesticides and other chemicals used on commercially grown produce, we are watching how much store bought stuff we put into the kid's stomachs.

I usually can enough of 1 vegetable to last 2-3 years, and another the next year and so on. Home canned produce can last good for years, taken care properly. I'm now using tomatoes canned in 2005, and they are perfectly fine.

If you have to buy produce, the price is usually not worth it. But the taste and knowledge of exactly what you are putting in your mouth IS.

Fix your MIL some fresh canned green beans versus the commercially canned green beans. If she can't tell the difference, she needs her taste buds checked.

My canners was purchased at a yard sale from older women that had gave up on canning. I have 3-4 of them and will be handing them on to my sons and their families. The only thing that I've had to fix was the seals and pressure relief value, neither one cost more than $15. This is over 15 years since I got them.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:34PM
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