A terrific day and Canning update - loving it!

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    So, I've made several dozen sugar free strawberry jams. Then I made several dozen blueberry jams.
    Today I've made 18 jars each of 3 different types of salsa. A simple but flavorful tomato, a tomato and 4 pepper and a mango/pear. They look wonderful, my sample mini jars I keep out to test each new attempt all taste wonderful.

    Today's salsa venture was a ton of fun. Prepping all of those tomatoes etc was much more work (not hard just lots of tomatoes!) than the jams. But my awesome S/O put all his class work aside and we spent the entire day working in the kitchen. My cousins son is having a sleep over (she's having a date for the first time in about 15 years!), so we took a break to make homemade tacos with the kids for lunch. Worked on in the kitchen while the kids giggled and got up to harmless mischief until ending by making homemade pizzas with the kids for a verrrry late dinner (just finishing up now). Now the kids are in easy child's bedroom unwinding over the late dinner and watching a movie before they head to bed. S/O and I are lounging in the living room with our food and S/O just made me a cup of one of my favorite teas. We get a break for 2 hours through the movie, to just rest and enjoy the happy sounds from the kids rooms and to chat a bit etc. Today was a wonderful day :). There is something very special on a rainy day to not do "work - work" and just spend time with family, do something fun and simple together, having the entire family cook together which is rare around here so was extra terrific, and just end a day feeling you accomplished something while spending quality time with the people that you love most and might take for granted at times. :)

    I think this canning thing is not only going to give us healthy alternatives to processed stuff while saving us a ton of money, but also gives us a fun activity that we can spend an entire day doing together. Maybe I wouldn't feel this way if the salsa was disastrous though (Lmao).

    How is everyone elses weekend going?
  2. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Rather than take you down from your wonderful weekend with the crime that mine has been, I'd rather just congratulate you for stirring the salsa deep within me that wants to get my family to the point that yours is!

    Jealous - totally jealous!!!!!!!:beautifulthing::bigsmile:

  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    MM sounds great!! I can't believe how much you canned, really! Say, if you don't have enough shelf space I can pm you my address and you can send me some!!! Lol

    We went apple picking on this gorgeous day so will be canning apples soon for mid winter pies and crisps, yum.

    Glad your day was filled with warmth and joy!
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Alright now, I'm getting mad! I know NOTHING about canning (can you do that in jars?)!!! It sounds like the perfect thing for me to do with the kids this fall. Everyone would have a job...a little time together, but no one "encroaching" on the other's space.

    We go apple picking on Columbus day (I think it's the 2nd monday of October) - will that give me enough time to figure this out?

    Any tips (including a shopping list) would be GREATFULLY appreciated.

    Thanks for helping me find something to distract me!

  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I love to can - but I get so tired of the same old stuff over and over.

    I made tons of applesauce last fall - and we've still got tons. I don't care if I never see the stuff again.

    But what I wouldn't give to really, REALLY can stuff... Jealous!!!
  6. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Beth, sounds like your weekend is off to a rough start. I hope it improves today!!!

    If I could, I'd ship off yummies for all lol

    Beth, this is the first time I've tried canning and it turns out to be a ton of fun and distracting for sure! It also is going to save a ton of money for us this winter because we tend to eat a lot of salsas, jams, syrup and whatnot (relish, dips, fruit butters, pickles etc) so I've got a long list ahead of me of what all we'll be making. My one regret is not starting earlier in the season to get great deals on the freshest stuff while in season. But next year I'll be starting early and buying while its all in season etc.

    Seemed like a lot of cash to start up, but thats because of buying the jars etc. But they are all reusable so it's an investment if you plan to continue canning on a ongoing basis.

    I bought a canning "kit" which included: a canning pot and lid (has a rack inside for the jars), one set of jars, a tool kit (funnel, tool to take bubbles out and to check how much space you leave at top of jar, magnet stick thingee to take lids out of hot water after sterilizing, special tongs made for lifting jars out of boiling water), a salsa seasoning mix, pectin, jar of pickle crisp and a canning book. The kit was priced at $49.99 and I got it in sale cheaper. I also picked up a ton of boxes of jars in various sizes. This time of year they come on sale as the season is wrapping up, although they do stay available year round. Really that's all that you need to get going, plus the ingredients for whatever you make :).

    If you check recipes for apple canning you'll have a good idea of how much to get when you go apple picking. I did my canning in multiple batches because I wanted to stock a LOT of each recipe, plus make ahead extras to make gift baskets for Christmas. But it is by no means necessary. I'm sure you could make some delicious things with your apples. I'm looking forward to doing apples soon, planning to make apple cinammon butter and apple pie fillings. I am making all of my canning with Splenda to make them sugar free. My jams turned out superb with the Splenda.

    I have a link I can send you to a terrific site for recipes and for a "how to" guide for safe canning. It really has all you'd need to know. There are recipes inside the pectic packets as well, or in pickle mixes or salsa mixes etc. Alternately you can skip the mixes and buy fresh spices etc. PM me if you'd like the link and some tips.

    Basically you put your jars into the canning pot and boil them to sterilize them and leave them hot in the pot until you fill them. In a small pot you heat the lids (the discs, not the sealing rings) and leave in hot water until you use them. For say, strawberry jam ... You simply use a masher and mash (not puree) the berries. They go into a pot with pectin (I use the no sugar needed pectic so that I can use splenda and no sugar) and a bit of lemon juice and brought to a boil, splenda or sugar goes in and gets boiled for several minutes, then the jars get filled, lids on tightly after bubbles taken out, and they jars go back into the canner to boil for a period of time (varies depending on what you are making, anywhere from 7-20 minutes usually, the recipes all tell you for each thing you make). That seals the jars while killing any potential bacteria etc. You then cool without moving for 24 hours, and then store in a cool dry place and they usually are good for 12-18 months.

    I have found when I want to do multiple batches, it sort of gets quicker each batch since the water in canning pot is already piping hot etc and you can just make batch after batch in a sort of relay type thing. I made a few dozen jams in about 2-3 hours but I was doing it alone and wasn't rushing or anything. I worked it out and my jams are costing about .90 per jar (for sugar free pure fruit jams) if you don't factor the cost of the jars themselves since they will be used over and over. My salsas cost about $1 per jar.

    The jars and sealing rings for the lids can be reused. The flat discs for the lids are one use only.

    Anyhow, if you're goign to get started feel free to PM me. Plus we've been yacking away about canning on watercooler so if you find that thread a bunch of people gave tips and some yummy recipe ideas.
  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Mattsmom, that is awesome! I love canning, too, mostly because its just so darned easy to use what I can up!

    Beth, MM has given you a good overview! I'd add one thing...Ball makes a canning cookbook, its just a paperback book that sells at Ace Hardware stores for $4-6 and gives you detailed instructions to do it all. Its an amazing reference. Ace also sells most of the canning supplies year round.

    Good luck! Its well worth the investment.
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    For those of you wanting to get started, if you're wanting to do this to save money you might want to check thrift shops or I've had good luck with garage sales in older neighborhoods. Also, some stores will sell off all or most of their seasonal canning stuff soon, but most of those in my area (including Walmart and most of the grocery stores) stock it year around. If you're buying all new at full prices, I think it would take a lot of use before you recoup your investment by the time you consider equipment, non-reusable supplies like lids, produce and electricity. At one point I decided to give up growing and canning green beans because it was costing me more than I could get them on sale at the store for, and while I liked the home canned ones, I didn't like them that much more to be shelling out extra for. Now pear butter is another story. ;-)

    If the money isn't a consideration, happy shopping. :)

    Mattsmom, could you just post the link for us all to see? It's fun to see how excited you are about your canning adventures!
  9. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    www.pickyourown.org There's a ton of information and awesome recipes, along with safety tips for prep etc

    I think it could be costly if one isn't careful, and be more costly than store bough. It doesn't have to be more costly though if you shop when things are on for a good sale at a grocery store or if buying a large amount at once from a farmers market etc. Making a bunch all at once allows buying in bigger numbers and buying in season will help too. I'll be doing a lot of stuff with apples at this point because they are in season, freshest, and can be purchased at greatly reduced prices compared to the rest of the year. Next year I plan to get started when the fresh produce season starts.

    I guess I could buy strawberry jam at a dollar store or for 2-3 dollars for a inexpensive brand at a store. Sugar free jams are usually more costly even for store brands. I'm happy with my $1 cost to make each jar and I like that I know what I'm eating, no hidden preservatives etc. It also has a taste that can't be compared to store bought.

    On the other hand, for sure the start up for the jars etc is costly. Sales shopping or putting ads on local freecycle or kijiji pages might be a good way to find cheap or even free jars and canning supplies.
  10. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I started canning because of money. I got my pressure canners and jars from estate sales, and I grew a huge garden to feed my herd. As Wee difficult child has been in the picture, I like knowing what I'm feeding him. It also enables me to fix "quickie" meals that aren't as expensive as store bought, and I know are decent to eat.

    Veggies, if you shop at Aldi's and the like...you're gonna be hard pressed to save money on those unless you grow them all yourself. And then its still questionable what you really save when you consider the lid for your jar costs 10 or 15 cents...

    But I also like to do it, and its fun to watch MattsMom being so excited about the creations!
  11. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    LOL Thanks Shari, glad I"m entertaining with my enjoyment haha.

    I agree if you're buying fresh produce from a normal store at normal prices, even if it isn't more expensive than buying premade, it could be very little savings. I doubt that I'd buy stuff out of season at regular out of season prices and make big batches of something with it. I'm definitely enjoying doing this, but I am also looking for the savings. I refused to buy cucumbers for pickle making although I'm carving making those pickles lol. The good cucumbers for pickling are hard to come by right now, and if they can be found the price is sky high. That's how I would up making salsa that day instead because tomatoes were on sale at a local store for a very considerable savings. That's also why I made so much all at once. As a matter of fact, I'm heading out tomorrow a.m. because the sale is still on. Plan to make a few dozen jars of homemade pasta sauce as well as about 2 dozen pizza sauces. Plus my apple canning since the price is terrific right now.

    It really is cost effective IF you smart shop in order to do it. It cost about $1 per jar of tomato and four pepper salsa that I made. I will have to buy new lids when I refill those jars. If I reuse them for salsa again and get my tomatoes and peppers at the same price, it will cost me about $1.10-$1.15 per jar due to the new lids. We can buy salsa at a dollar store but it isn't very tasty. We normally buy a store brand for savings, and it tastes fine, for about $2.99 per jar when they are on sale. If I paid full price for my tomatoes and peppers I'd be fast approaching the same cost.

    I factor in that I'm enjoying the activity to fill my time, it is actually very relaxing. Having a activity that the entire family can spend a day doing together is also a huge plus.
  12. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I think we do save quite a bit on the canned meat, because we buy it when its a really good sale (we got chicken last year for 29 cents a pound - you can't beat that). And salsa and sauces, I think, as well. WE did the same...the big boys ate salsa like there was no tomorrow....I inherited a lot of my jars, and grew the ingredients at home, so that was a big savings.

    But yeah, there's a lot more to it than just money. Tho that's why I started!
  13. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    .29 a pound for chicken? Seriously??? OMG, that would never happen here. And we are pretty much close to at par with the american dollar for the past couple of years. I am always amazed at the price differences in spite of our dollars having near to identical value.
  14. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I think what's availableto you locally is the key here. I can buy store brand salsa that we really like for $1 per jar when it goes on sale. Cheap tomatoes are hard to come by here unless you grow your own and don't have to pay for town water.
  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Yeah, it was pretty wild. It was a one time deal at a grocery chain and it hasn't happened so far since. They had a limit of 10, and there are 3 of those stores within 25 miles (different little towns) so husband, easy child 1, and I went to all 3 and bought our limit a couple of different times and I spent a whole weekend cooking and canning chicken.
    That was a huge undertaking, but 29 cents a pound was a HUGE sale.