Curious if anyone is into canning other fruits/vegetables/cheeses etc.
I have canned for over thirty years, any questions feel free to ask.
Where do you get your jars and canning equipment? Do you prefer buying online, or at a local store? I heard Wal-Mart was inexpensive.
Also, when canning, is sugar 'always' used? It seems like so many fruits require a syrup during the process. I'm curious if there's a way to preserve in this method, which doesn't require so much syrup, or if you have any suggestions.
I was planning on taking my eldest (3 years old) to a 'U-Pick' farm this weekend. Fortunately, where I live, there are a lot of apple, strawberry, and other-berry farms/orchards locally! I saw online you could go and pick your own fruit, and I thought it would be a great family outing. There is a family from church who I'm hoping will bring their son as well!
1. Jars: First ask around and see if anyone has some they don't want. Sometimes you may come across someone older who no longer cans. When it comes to jars, free is always the best price!
The cheapest place I've found for jars is Big Lot/Odd Lot. I have had luck at
Amish hardware stores and Amish bulk food stores as well. I find it cheaper to buy lids in bulk at the Amish stores.
When you're ready, Walmart will be the cheapest place to buy a pressure
canner. Don't be afraid to pressure can, it's not hard. The hardest part I find is to align the darn lid with the pot.
Unless you can find free shipping, canning supplies will be more costly buying online.
2. Sugar: If you're talking about jellies and jams, yes, yes, yes! Without it, your jam won't gel. You can purchase a product called Sure-Jell in a reduced sugar amount.
3. Pick your own: Usually it is cheaper to pyo. I've found around here when it comes to cherries, it's about the same price picking it yourself or buying it already picked at the orchard. Do call your local berry farm before going to make sure what you want is ready and to check to see if they allow children in the fields. Some places have learned the hard way how much damage little ones can do to berry bushes. Also, some berry bushes (raspberries) have nasty thorns, not good for little ones.
Seems to me, you're starting off just right. Jellies, jams, and high acid foods are they way you want to start, all are water bathed and this process is easier then presser canning. Just start off slowly and next thing you know, you won't even have to get the canning bible off the shelf, The Ball Blue Book (it's a must have), it costs seven to nine dollars.
I do believe it was Ora pro me mentioned canning; another great way to preserve summer's bounty. Dried fruit minus sugar is a wonderful snack for wee folk.