With spring officially here, the garden started and the outdoor farmers markets just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming year’s preserving. What do we want to put up over the course of the spring and summer so we can be eating really good food during the next winter? Do we have enough jars? How many boxes of new jar lids do we need to buy this season? What canning supplies do we need to get more of – vinegar, pickling salt, pectin, etc.? How are we going to label our jars this year? Do we need to make any equipment upgrades? Naturally, I’ve been mulling over all of these questions all winter, and I’ve got a rough idea of what we want to do, so it’s time to really hash it out and take a good inventory.
|Product||Raw Quantity||Total Jars||Book||Page Number||Method||Canning Sessions|
|Apples for Baking||1 bushel||14 quarts||Blue Book||17||Water Bath||1|
|Tomatoes Packed in Own Juices||147 pounds||49 quarts||Blue Book||22||Water Bath||4|
|Apricot Jam||2 quarts||5 pints||Blue Book||32||Water Bath||1|
|Cherry Jam||1 quart||8 half pints||Blue Book||33||Water Bath||1|
|Hamburger Dill Pickles||4 pounds||7 pints||Blue Book||48||Water Bath||1|
|Chicken Stock||Pressure Can||Rolling|
|Beef Stock||Pressure Can||Rolling|
|Whole Kernel Corn||42 pounds (56 ears)||7 quarts||Blue Book||65||Pressure Can||1|
|Green Peas||21 pounds||7 pints||Blue Book||66||Pressure Can||1|
|Red Wine Jelly||3 ½ cups||6 half pints||Complete Guide||122||Water Bath||Rolling|
|Pickled Roasted Red Peppers||20 peppers||4 pints||Complete Guide||317||Water Bath||1|
|Green Beans||18 pounds||7 quarts||Complete Guide||386||Pressure Can||1|
|Cubed Pumpkin||1 5-pound pumpkin||2 quarts||Complete Guide||393||Pressure Can||1|
|Barbecue Sauce||TBD||4 pints||Blue Book||52||Water Bath||1|
|Boston Baked Beans||TBD||6 quarts||Blue Book||64||Pressure Can||1|
|Brandied Fruit Mincemeat||TBD||8 pints||Complete Guide||176||Water Bath||1|
|Beer Mustard||TBD||5 ¼ pints (4 oz.)||Complete Guide||274||Water Bath||Rolling|
How’s that for a list? Pretty ambitious, I know. But, this is over an entire summer. As some of the stuff on it I’ll be doing on a rolling basis, as a have time, like the red wine jelly and mustard. They aren’t dependent on fresh produce per se, so I can really do them whenever. On the other hand, I’ll be canning every single weekend in August to put up the year’s measure of tomatoes. But it will be worth it to have enough to last the entire calendar year. The chicken and beef stock I didn’t list quantities for since I will do those through out the year as I have chicken carcasses or beef bones and vegetable trim. So for purposes of calculating how many jars I’ll need, let’s say a dozen for the stocks.
What’s our magic numbers for jars? And more importantly, how many more do I need to acquire? Looks like I’m going to need this many -
|97 quarts||(8 cases)|
|35 pints||(3 cases)|
|14 half pints (8 ounces)||(3 cases)|
|5 ¼ pints (4 ounces)||(1 case)|
I overestimated on the case sizes because you can’t buy a smaller amount than that retail, and it never hurts to have extra jars around anyway. But I’m hoping I’ll score again this year and find some second hand.
I have not yet had a chance to inventory my jars. I have at least six cases of quart jars, if not the total eight. It’s possible I have a few more than that as well – they are just everywhere in the house. I have at least two cases of pints and the one case of the four ounce jars that I’ll need. I don’t believe I have any of the half pint jars though. If I do, it’s literally only one or two jars. So I’ll likely need to buy three cases of the half pints and a case of the pints. If I have to buy them retail, that’ll likely run me about $45.00, which isn’t too awful in the greater scheme of things. But I have high hopes I can get them second hand, or at least on sale or with a coupon, so hopefully I can come in much less than that. I’ll also need a dozen boxes of new jar lids this year. I’m pretty sure I’ve got half a dozen new boxes from the end of last season when I stocked up at the sales, so depending upon how many I actually need, that’ll run anywhere from $15.00-$30.00.
And you’ll notice that I’ve got some pressure canner goods in my list above. That’s right – husband and I talked it over and decided we’d like to buy a pressure canner so we can become more self sufficient with the food we put on the table. Being able to can my stocks is what tipped the balance. We’ll never have enough freezer space to store the amount of stock we use, but you can put a jar just about anywhere. We’re looking at getting a pretty basic model to start with (probably thie Presto 23 quart).
In addition to the canned goods, we’re still going to freeze some things this summer. Ears of corn, and a lot of fruit. I like to freeze fruit instead of can it, because you can leave out the sugar syrup pretty easily. So we’ll put up blueberries, raspberries, and peaches at least. Hopefully this year we’ll also be able to get some persimmons in the fall that we can freeze too.
I really considered going the full distance and canning huge quantities of everything on my list above (if you doing it, you might as well do it) but I decided against it since it’ll be my first time with the pressure canner and I want to make sure I start slowly so I can really get comfortable with the process and do it right. And make sure we like the taste and texture of what it produces. It’s my goal eventually to put up 90% of the produce my family consumes (since I’m not ever going to be growing bananas and whatnot, it’ll never be 100%). That will be a much easier proposition when we have a little acreage and can garden for preserving, but until then we can start adding more each year with what we can get from our local farmers. And that’s still not a bad way to go. So, I still need to find a little time to go digging through the kitchen cupboards and take a proper jar inventory, and shop around for the best deal on a pressure canner, but otherwise we’re getting closer to canning season here at Apartment Farm – one of my favorite times of the year!