I’ve made a deal with my guy. He works in the garden and brings in the tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy greens – and I find ways to preserve them, whether it be through canning, freezing, drying, or other means. He loves to play in the dirt (using the garden as a test bed for construction techniques) and I get to have plenty of fresh, organic food.
No, I mean significantly cheaper. For the price of your time, you’re getting the vegetables, herbs, and fruits that you want preserved for a longer time than a few days. Look at it this way: A big ol’ jar of pickles will run you $3. Five cukes, some vinegar, and some spices will run you around $1.50. Your investment is in the jars, and they’re reusable.
Commercial canned foods usually have a full complement of additives that are meant to preserve the food longer. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like to be able to pronounce the things which are in my food. I want to know that the greens that I’m getting are just greens and a little bit of salt rather than a bunch of salt and a bunch of stuff meant to preserve on top of the salt.
The salt that goes into the pickling process or in your average can of beans is less when you’re canning it at home than when you’re purchasing it in the store. Salt is an enhancer, but overdoses of salt have been proven to have negative effects on the body. Salt bloating is not very enjoyable, and it can easily be done with a lot of the commercial products.
When you’re canning, you know what you’re putting into the cans themselves. You know how many beans, how many cukes, how much soup, how much whatever is being put into the mix. You might have a favorite mix of beans, but they have this single thing that you don’t like — with canning your own food, you don’t have to put that single thing in there.
Just because you haven’t heard of blackberry jalapeno jelly in stores (it might be at those exotic stores, of course) doesn’t mean that it’s not good. Since canning is so easy, you don’t need to have a real reason to exercise your creativity, you can make something that you’re craving and experiment with the results. If you’re making it in batches of eight (the number of jars that usually come in a flat) then you’re not losing much if you don’t like it.
Takes Advantage Of The Season
Every fruit and vegetable has its ‘sweet spot’ for growing and canning. You’ll see the roadside stands have sales on tomatoes when they’re in season, have sales on cukes when they’re around, and other vegetables. When you can it, you can buy in bulk, can the goods and have tasty nibbles all year round – protecting yourself when the prices go up out of season.
Canning saves you money in the long run. Your initial investment is going to be in the mason jars, the tools, and possibly a pressure canner. That, granted, is around $75, but that price will be made up with all of the other benefits. For tomatoes and pickles, all you really need is a big pot, a towel, some grabby tools, and boiling water.
While you do have an initial investment in canning, the overall benefits to it far outweigh the up-front costs. Your pressure canner, when maintained, will last a very long time – and it can be used for pressure cooking beans, soups, and other items. When you combine this with other money saving techniques, you’re not only helping out your family, but your pocketbook.
Emily Hunter blogs at Million Ways to Save, where she looks for the best ways to save you money. Along with tips, she also offers ideas on making money, debt reduction, and making your lifestyle work.