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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: NCGal on August 07, 2014, 06:31:36 AM

Title: Anyone can food that is not home grown?
Post by: NCGal on August 07, 2014, 06:31:36 AM
I took a canning class at our county co-op extension. I`d love to start but I don`t yet grow my own food. I could only do water bath since I have a glass cook top. It doesn`t seem to be a cost-effective option when some recipes call for 20 lbs of tomatoes to yield 7 pints. I know there is other value to consider but does anyone save any money canning fruit or pickling cucumbers, who don`t grow their own food?
Title: Re: Anyone can food that is not home grown?
Post by: Mrs. PoP on August 07, 2014, 07:36:59 AM
I started doing jams and jellies about a year ago, getting fruit that was grown locally and pesticide free at its peak when it was cheap/free.  Around here that was sea-grapes at the end of summer and strawberries at their peak in the spring.  I plan on continuing with those, and maybe adding to my repertoire slowly, focusing on when a particular type of produce is at its peak, and there's more around at cheap prices than I could possibly consume at one time. 
Title: Re: Anyone can food that is not home grown?
Post by: Rika Non on August 07, 2014, 09:38:43 AM
I have canned wild picked berries for jams / syrups.  My mother used to can store bought tomoatoes sometimes in mid-summer when they are cheap and higher quality for home made tomato sauces / soups.

Also if you are interested in canning, let it be known that you willing go pick the fruit.  You would be surprised how many people have fruit trees that mostly go to waste.  Most people I know are just happy to see the fruit being used instead of wasted.  Courtesy if you a hauling off buckets of fruit would be to share something back.
Title: Re: Anyone can food that is not home grown?
Post by: MsSindy on August 07, 2014, 09:58:23 AM
Yes, but you have to get a deal on the food to make it worthwhile, or add things to make it more than 'just tomatoes'.  For example, how much does a jar of Salsa cost these days (I haven't bought it in about 5 years)?  Making salsa or marinara with the tomatoes may be a worthwhile venture if you shop for tomato seconds (slightly blemished or a day or two passed their prime).  Farmer Markets in our local area are too high-priced, so we make a leisurely trip out to Amish country (30 min drive) and buy things right from the farms and since they can/preserve, they understand how to price things for bulk purchasing.  I grow my own garden, but I will still supplement with 2 - 3 trips out there for things that take a lot of space to grow (melon/pumpkin) or have just been hard for me (broccoli) - I've purchased both broccoli and cantaloupe for .50 each!

Now, you could argue that the gas I spend to get to Amish country cancels out any savings - and you'd be right!  But I look at it as providing other benefits: beautiful drive spent with my husband usually spent as an opportunity to discuss "a simplier life", controlling the ingredients with no preservatives,  sheer satisfaction of 'I made it', engaging in a culture (Amish) that is very different from me, and canning is a fun hobby!
Also, be sure that you are canning alll the tomato parts - don't throw away any of the juice - can it and make tomato soup or use it as a base for others.
Title: Re: Anyone can food that is not home grown?
Post by: NCGal on August 07, 2014, 12:15:33 PM
Thank you for your responses. I knew I'd get some great feedback from this community... I do see strawberries cheap sometimes, before they are about to blemish. I haven't seen tomatoes cheap but I may not have looked hard enough. The offer to pick someone else's fruit wouldn't have occurred to me but it's a great idea!  We also have something in the area called 'Know Your Farm Tour' where about 20-25 farms in nearby counties as well as my own have open house tours. I went to one in May and there should be one in the fall. At least a few of them grow fruits and I could find out the class we did a simple grape jelly from Welch's grape juice. It tasted just like I had as a kid in a Flintstone's glass - if any of you remember that! I guess I just want to make sure I don't delude myself into justifying a new hobby for which I buy stuff and get bored with. I'll keep up with it if I know it can save me money. I did find a nice 12 qt stock pot online at Walmart for under $50 that would work for canning on my stove, and I don't have a pot that large anyway. It certainly would be cost effective to start cooking whole chickens instead of buying chicken breasts.