and so much more!!!
I've been busy!
I still have apples, some peaches, and green beans to go. PLUS, harvesting the carrots, drying onions, and using the last of the tomatoes!
So, is it worth it??
This seems to be the question of the hour! For me, the answer is... sometimes. See, my jars and supplies have long since paid for themselves. So, financially, it IS worth it. But in the time that it takes to bottle or freeze these items, I'm not sure that over powers the financial gain. I lost a lot of time with my family because of the time spent canning/freezing. AND, it totally took over my kitchen.
I think in a time when organic food is SO READILY AVAILABLE, and at a fair price (at Costco,) we can finally ask ourselves if "putting up food" is really worth the benefits to the family.
PROS:Cost: Once you make the initial purchase, the cost of canning your own food is fairly negligible. Even if you take the time spent on it and paid yourself $10/hour, your would still be coming out on top. However, this is only after about 3 years of use.
Let's take green beans for example. At $0.10/oz, each of my bottles of green beans are worth $3.20. Since my initial investment of the bottles has paid itself off a long time ago, that doesn't go into my costs. The lid for that bottle cost me $0.10. The rings are re-used over and over and, have paid themselves off long ago as well. In a matter of 4 hours total, I can process $38.40 worth of organic green beans for a total cost of $1.40 and 4 hours of my time. Even if I bought everything new, I would be getting $38.40 worth of green beans for appx. $15.00 plus 4 hours of my time. If I added together the canning time PLUS the planting, it would only be MAYBE 6 hours total since I plant my garden in a way that I don't weed... at all. So, that helps too. I'm getting better quality food at over half the cost. And, as I said before, I know EXACTLY what went into that bottle, and what was used to grow the bean. But like Alice said, if you ARE going to bottle produce, you'd better do it right! Take pride and care in it. I too, have seen too many people bottle bruised, or questionable fruit only to have it go bad in the jar and they have to throw it out. On the other hand, if you have the cash to spare and you just want to rely on the Organic standards, by all means, spend the time doing something else, because it IS a huge pain! Some will argue that their time is worth MORE than what it saves them. I guess that is relative. Sometimes, my time is precious and valuable.... other times, I've got plenty to share. So, if it comes down to spending quality time with the family or canning, family wins. But if it's watching Dr. Who or canning, canning wins.
Quality: You KNOW where your food came from. You know what brand of peaches or apples you like and you know if pesticides were used, or if worms got into them... etc. There isn't a middle man to make you wonder.
Recipe: If your mothers recipe to salsa, chili sauce, apple pie filling, pickles or what not is the best- then the only way to get it is to can it yourself.
Decor: Ok, so, I like the way canned goods look in my pantry. I feel so... "general store-ish."
Pride: There is a sense of pride that comes from doing this yourself. The whole "I DID THAT" feeling goes a long way.
CONS:Time: Canning is time consuming. It just is! Prepare ye to stand in the kitchen for hours on end. And your Saturdays??? Oh kiss them good-bye! Sorry camping trip, the BEANS ARE ON!!
Processed: This is just a con all around for canned food. It's no secret that frozen food maintains its nutrients while canned goods have most of the nutrients cooked out of them. However, some things just don't freeze very well and you HAVE to can them!
Physical Labor: Yup, gardening is a lot of work! I am pretty lazy and I use black plastic to help keep the weeds out, and it STILL takes a lot of work!
Overall, I would have to say that some foods were worth the work, while others... not so much. I found that this was mostly the case with the particular recipes that I was canning. Things like pickles, tomato sauce, green beans- things that I want to taste (or feel) a certain way. Other than that, I think that you might find me a little more in the canned/frozen section at Costco!
What about you? Anyone else do some canning this year? How many buy from the store? Why? What works best for YOUR family?