It’s been a busy few days here in the CPN kitchen. Harvest season has begun, and even without the full garden this year, many grocery stores are advertising some produce on sale. This week for us, it was green and yellow beans at 99¢/lb. This is a price we haven’t seen since food inflation began during the pandemic. Taking advantage of that sale was a no-brainer.
We currently have 3 options for food storage. Pressure canning, dehydrating, and freezing. I know most don’t consider freezing a viable solution to food storage, but we do have a generator and enough fuel to run for a few months with proper gas rationing. Freezing food is more of a short term storage solution, but also a great inflation fighter. Pressure canning and dehydrating will make foods shelf stable.
For this batch, we chose to freeze about half of our purchase and home can the other half. For context, we made a mix of green beans, yellow beans, and carrots. a case of 24lbs of each color beans, along with another 5 lbs of each, and about 8 lbs of carrots were processed and mixed.
At this point in the article, I feel the need to point out 2 important considerations for processing food for storage. Those are time and water. Both will be required in abundance, and can be scarce with a long term grid down situation. In order to tip and cut the nearly 60 lbs of beans and scrape and cut the carrots, two adults required a full 8 hour day, and a few more hours the evening before. Consider that with all that time spent, not one bean had actually been put into storage, but simply prepared for the process.
Washing your produce will require a significant amount of fresh, running water, not to mention the water required to blanch produce for freezing, or for heating it for the canner.
At the end of the day, we put up 18 quart jars of veggies and froze 18 medium freezer bags.
Let’s consider that a home kitchen garden should produce some fresh veggies for about 2 months of the year, we are left to store up 10 months worth of veggies. With 36 jars/bags put up, we have just over 10% of our veggie storage for the year done. That may not sound like much, but considering it took us about 2 days to accomplish, and that we got the produce at pre-inflation prices, It’s a pretty good start.
For the home canning, we use the Presto 23 quart pressure canner. It’s not the best one on the market due to the need to occasionally replace the rubber gasket, but it does the job just fine. Due to the shape of our jars, we could only fit 6 in at a time. Sometimes we can get a 7th jar in if the jar shapes are right. Pint size jars can be double stacked, and we can often get 14-16 of them in a run. Pint size jars fit about 1 lb of food, so we use them more for meat products as one jar contains about the right amount of meat for our family of 4. We picked ours up at a flea market years ago for $50, but they can be found on Amazon brand new in the $250 range. These canners will last decades with proper care and gasket replacement, but if you’re looking for a canner that doesn’t need gaskets,
look for the All American brand. Granted, they are significantly more expensive, but are made much thicker and will likely be passed down to your great grand children in the same condition as when you bought it. As a price comparison, this All American 21.5 qt canner sells for just over $600. Keep in mind that although there is no rubber gasket for sealing, all canners require occasional gauge and over pressure plug replacements. Keep a couple of each on hand.
If you want to start home canning and need a canner, just click the links provided throughout this article for Amazon products. Of course, the CPN will receive a small commission for that purchase, but it costs nothing extra to the consumer, and you get to support the network at the same time. Also, keep in mind that the USDA Guide to Home Canning, with recipes and easy to follow instructions is free to download from this site with a Gold Membership that costs only $5 per year. Gold members also have access to the complete CD3WD collection and there are more proprietary documents to come. If you are not yet a gold member, you can sign up here.
When shopping for a pressure canner, do not make the mistake of buying a cheaper pressure cooker. They are NOT the same thing and only a pressure canner will safely process your food!