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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Maximizing Your Home Canning Dollar

Frugal Kitchens 101
I talk a lot about home canning on this blog because it is one of the most frugal activities to do if you want to save on your food costs.  While I home can year round, this is the busiest time of the year for canning.  It's the time of year that my garden is producing well and local produce is available.  Everything has been about two weeks ahead of normal this year but because of adverse weather conditions spanning back into last winter, the price of local produce has increased.  I only buy the produce that I don't grow but even then still realize a savings in the products I make with purchased local produce over the cost to buy commercially canned in the grocery stores.  However, it is sometimes hard to envision that cost savings when shelling out $15 for 5 dozen ears of corn,  $20 for a hamper of cucumbers or $45 for a bushel of peaches.  Dill pickles, whole kernel corn and canned peaches are fairly inexpensive in the grocery store which is not to say don't can them but rather divide the amount of the produce purchased into making a few products that are considerably lower cost than store bought.  Here's a few things I do to maximize my home canning dollar:

  • pre-planning - When I buy produce, I am always calculating how I can recoup the cost plus some.  For example, the peaches I just bought will be made into peach salsa, spiced island peach chutney, peach jam, peach fruit leather, peach powder and plain peaches.  I won't save much on the plain peaches but will save significantly on the other products to more than warrant the cost of the fresh peaches. 
  • think convenience -  It is wonderful to have jars and jars upon jars of whole or crushed tomatoes but it is even nicer to have convenient ready to use tomato based sauces, salsas, soups and other tomato products.  While I do can whole tomatoes, I can a considerable larger number of jars in other tomato products.  Convenience foods are always higher priced in the grocery store but if you make them as part of your home canning, you can save a significant amount of money!
  • think gourmet - Gourmet jams and jellies can be as high priced as $7 per 250 ml jar and yet you can make a batch of homemade gourmet jam or jelly for about $7 with a yield of 7 - 250 ml jars or a cost of $1 per jar.  Gourmet style tomato sauces (eg. tomato basil)  are about $4 in the grocery store yet  cost me the price of lid (12¢) and natural gas to process (about 10¢) so for 22¢ I have gourmet tomato sauce in 500 ml jars.  Now my tomatoes are free but even if I had to buy them at $8 per hamper I would still be well ahead in cost savings.
  • rethink waste - Some products that are home canned create a fair amount of waste (eg. corn, tomatoes) but that waste can be used for other products.  For years, I honestly tossed the liquid from cutting tomatoes for salsa and old fashion chili sauce.  Michael Smith, one of my favourite Canadian chefs showed how to use this golden liquid as a drink.  Well, now anytime I cut tomatoes, I let them rest to get that golden liquid to can as tomato stock.  It has an amazing flavour!  Tomato skins can be dried for tomato powder rather than tossing them as can most vegetable and fruit peels.  Vegetable waste can also be turned into stock.  Corn cobs can be boiled for about an hour to make a delicious corn stock, corn cob jelly or corn syrup giving three free products from what would have been tossed.

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