Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Harvest Time!

Most of us don't live on farms, but we might live where we can find fruits and vegetables cheaper than at the store, or we may have a store which sells cases of fruit more cheaply this time of year. One friend of mine in Oregon raises enough tomatoes to can all her family's ketchup and salsa and tomato needs for the next year.

Some may think that canning is too expensive a proposition to bother, but it's like anything else. You start slowly and accumulate as you go. Fruits and jams can be canned in a water bath canner, and that is much less expensive than a pressure canner. You need that and a good pair of tongs, then jars. If you have jars (and you might find some at the thrift store, though last time I looked, I thought it was cheaper to buy new ones!), you just need new lids and possibly screw bands. You want them clean and tight, no rust or peeling spots. Always use new lids (the flat part), no matter what, or you won't get a good sealing.

If you are making jams, you can forego the canner and the jars if you seal your collected jars of any kind the last one-quarter inch with beeswax, available in the grocery store. Don't skimp on the wax!

It may be that you have a Dollar General around which has decent prices on the jars. I saw stacks of them on the sidewalk at one near my post office. It may be that you will wait until the end of the season and find a canner at a reduced price, or one with a dent. The dent doesn't hurt things a bit! It must have the basket inside, though, or you've just bought a huge soup pot.

Is it worth the trouble? Yes! I have never felt such satisfaction after a job as looking at my counter and seeing lines of jars of fruit and jam. It's one thing we can do for our families which is tangible, which has a result we can see. The taste and the quality are so much better than store bought, and if you re-use your jars each year, and amortize the cost of your equipment over the years you use it, then the cost is also much less than the store.

Give it a try. You can do it!

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