The Can Plan

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!

8 thoughts on “The Can Plan

    • Thanks! I do can every year, but this is certainly my most ambitious year thus far. I love it – it’s such a fun way to spend a weekend, plus you get to eat the results!

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  2. Where did you find directions for pressure canning stock? I have been freezing mine bec I didn’t think you could can it. Can you share your method?

    • You can certainly pressure can stock, you just can’t water bath can it since that’s not safe. I always follow the guidelines in either the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving or the Complete Guide to Home Preserving. Ball also has their recipe for canning chicken stock posted on their website – another great resource.

  3. We are big canners too. I usually make a loose list and then if something is very cheap at our farmers market (we can from our garden and the market since we rent and can not do things like grapes) or if our garden produces a lot then we can it like mad. Last year we canned a lot of grape juice because we got it very cheap. Corn was also inexpensive so we canned a lot of corn since it will last 3 years pressure canned I am not worried about eating it all tomorrow. We also freeze a lot of berries (especially strawberries and blueberries) This year I will can tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, stock (through the year like you), peaches, jelly, and pickles. On Wednesday I am posting a large post on all of my canning recipes.

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