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Thu Aug 20, 2020, 12:45 PM

The economics of canning

With the gardens producing and there being a nationwide shortage of canning lids (I can't find wide mouth lids anywhere) I'd like to talk about some thoughts I have about canning. Ideas that I've developed over the years and after doing quite a bit of back of the envelope calculations.

IMHO, there are some items that are not worth the time and effort to can such as green bean, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce. Not when such can be had in the store for $.50 - $.75 a can. In the case of spaghetti sauce, it is far less time consuming to go to the store to buy the ingredients (tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes) then to make them from scratch. Higher end items like dilly beans, pickled beets, chow chow, no-cook salsa and some others are probably worth it.

Some may say that eating canned foods that came from the garden is healthier so it'd be worth it to can the items I mentioned earlier. However, I'm unaware of any study that shows that person who eats homemade foods lives a healthier life then one who eats foods bought from a store. Some may say that there is a big difference in flavor between home canned and store bought but i really can't tell that much of a difference and certainly not that much of a difference to justify the cost. Another way to justify the cost would be if one considered the task to be a fun hobby. For them, the time put into it is well worth it because of the enjoyment it brings.

I enjoy the effort myself but being frugal, I want to get the most bang for my buck. The garden is going to produce a bountiful amount of tomatoes this year so I'm considering fermenting a bunch. Using 5 gallon food safe pails, I can preserve quite a bit for far less cost in materials and labor then if I were to can it. I don't have any paste variety of tomatoes in the garden this year but next year I will and I'll try dehydrating some.

In summary, I want to preserve as much as I can from the garden but I want to do it in a way that makes it price competitive with what I could buy in the store.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 12:49 PM

1. what or how do you serve fermented tomatoes...what are they called?

pickled? I could imagine green tomatoes might lend themselfs to pickling but thinking of how overripe or slightly off they can taste it doesn't sound appetizing to me. have you had them before?

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Response to Kali (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 12:57 PM

2. Fermented tomatoes are popular in Eastern Europe

I haven't made them before or even tried them but I did make fermented sugar snap peas which are quite good IMO and I'm snacking on a few now.

A video, there are many, on fermenting tomatoes.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 01:02 PM

4. interesting, never heard of it

let us know!

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 12:59 PM

3. I've never heard of fermented tomatoes. How long do they keep and how do you use them?

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Response to Arkansas Granny (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 01:13 PM

5. If you do a search on YouTube, you'd find lots of videos.

Every year, I make sauerkraut, which is nothing more then fermented cabbage, and it will last me all winter into spring just sitting down in my basement in food safe 5 gallon pails covered with plastic shopping bags. I just make sure the brine covers completely the sauerkraut and I do that by placing a plate in the bucket on top of the sauerkraut and the plate is weighted down by a gallon ziploc bag partly filled with water.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 01:22 PM

6. My wife does a lot of canning, and we grow and buy a lot of organic vegetables from local farms.

We don't do it to save money. We do it because it's a good retirement hobby, and because we know what we can has not had a chemical spraying airplane dump who knows what on our vegetables.

And some of the things we can can not be matched in quality by anything at the grocery store, or doesn't exist period.

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Response to Mr.Bill (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 02:12 PM

8. Some people really enjoy canning and as I said, they find great value in that.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 01:41 PM

7. I'm doing some canning this year

But as you mentioned, it does not make economic sense.

I think it's pretty much like breadmaking or cheesemaking, or sewing clothes. Usually much cheaper to by from the store.

I do it for several reasons:

1) It's fun and it's a nod to history and my family.

2) You can 'can' unique things that are not easy to find at any store. My friends and family love my pickled okra, one friend so much so she told me that she would like to learn how to can her own and wants me to teach her how to do it. You can find picked okra in the store, but I use my own special mix of spices, that folks just seem to love.

3) I know what ingredients are in there.

Money can be saved if you can re-use jars and bands. Then that way I only have to buy lids. Problem is that I give jars to friends and family that I don't always get back. I do tell them that if they want further canned items, it's better if they return the jars to me, so I can make more.

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Response to forkol (Reply #7)

Thu Aug 20, 2020, 02:15 PM

9. Like raising chickens. For most, it doesn't make economic sense.

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