So why is it that all summer has been cool and mild, until the day after I acquire 50 or so pounds of fresh fruit that needs to be canned, and then the sun decides to broil the earth at ridiculous temperatures?? Seriously. I think the weather is against me. If it’s not ferocious winds, it’s scorching heat.
Sadly that is one of the downfalls of canning your own food, that the harvest season and best time to put up is right smack in the middle of summer, usually the hottest time in summer. Because the fruit and veg get ripe when the good ol’ sun is shining. Canning is a relatively new form of food preservation, but one that comes in handy. Most preserved food is good for at least a year, meaning that your fresh canned pears from August can be enjoyed in the doldrums of the following February. Preserving your harvest is a good way to save money and stock your kitchen with yummy home grown goodness. Does canning really save money though?
That depends of many things. If you grow your own produce, or have the ability to get it very very cheaply, then I think yes. Hubbins picked me 30 pounds of pears from his parents’ house, and I was able to make 5 pints of pear butter and about 7 quarts of spiced pears in syrup. I think that’s a great deal, considering my only expense was some sugar and spices. If I had to BUY all those pears, probably wouldn’t have saved much, if any money at all. On the other hand, I bought a half flat of organic raspberries at my local farmers’ market for $15, added some sugar and pectin, and ended up with seven half pints (8 ounces each) of organic raspberry jam. (SOOOOOO delicious) And I had just over a pint of berries leftover. I did a quick search and found prices for organic raspberry jam online ranging from $4-5 dollars for about 10 ounces all the way up to one for a whopping $32! If I average it out to about $5 for each half pint, that’s an approximate cost of $35 to buy that much organic jam. So, I still feel like I’m ahead on that one. Plus nothing compares to jam you made yourself from perfectly ripened raspberries.
Another factor to consider is : Will my family eat this food? Last year I made some pickled cherries, and while they tasted okay, they weren’t our favorite. We should have just ate the cherries fresh. So do some experimenting, make some small batches of things first, and focus on what you can get cheaply or free, what your family likes, and what you enjoy making, and your canning will be a success! I have two amazing books that have a wide variety of recipes to make in small batches so you can experiment without ending up with 20 pints of pickled asparagus that you can’t pay people to take. They are both written by Marisa Mclellan, who also has a fabulous blog called Food in Jars (check it out here) I highly recommend her books. One is called Food in Jars, find it here, and the other that I have is called Preserving by the Pint, located here. I have favorites from both books and find them to be an invaluble resource for my canning adventures. Next time I’ll continue talking about canning, with some hilarious mishaps and some more getting started tips!