Tuesday 16 October 2012

Holy Canning Batman! That's a Lot of Food!

Canning is an important tool in managing our food budget.  All year 'round, we put aside money so that during the harvest months we can buy food at its seasonal best - and most affordable - and put it by.  

Our well stocked pantry has stood us in good stead over the years.  When I was ill and unable to work last year, it was especially useful.  Without our well stocked pantry, we would have found it much more difficult to weather those trying months.

A near-empty pantry and predictions of rapidly rising food prices in the months to come have added a sense of urgency to my canning projects this year.  I used up my entire canning budget this season and also put some of each month's grocery budget towards restocking the pantry with staples.  I canned meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruit, soup stock and soup, jams and jellies, pickles and relishes, chutney, HP sauce, and mincemeat.  It took 109 quart jars, 551 pint jars, and 110 half pint jars to contain it all.  

I've reached the end of our canning budget (and of our room for food storage) now, so I put the canner away this weekend.  It was not without relief that I said goodbye to it.  My tiny kitchen is always very cramped during canning season and, when taken on top of my full time job outside our home, the work of putting food by can be very tiring.

Even though I've retired my canner to the cupboard for now, I'll continue to do some canning throughout the fall, winter, and spring months - just not in the volume I can during the harvest months.  

I'll be putting by any fruit or vegetables we're given, canning carrot pudding for Christmas, and marmalade in the late winter months.  I'll be replenishing our stock of beans as we use them, canning meat from manager's specials, and putting by small batches of soup and stock as I use up leftovers.

Why bother putting by all this food?  

Lot of people ask me that, and several have suggested that I'm hoarding food, so I thought I'd set the record straight.  

This is why I put food by:

Canning fruit and vegetables when they're in season ensures that you preserve them at their best, and that you purchase them at their best price. 

Canning meat, poultry, and fish allows me to take advantage of gifts (of fish) and sales (on meats and poultry) even though we have limited freezer space.

Having a well stocked pantry helps to ensure variety in our diet even when our food budget is very limited.

We eat from our pantry on an on-going basis, especially during the winter months.  It doesn't take long to work your way through a large quantity of canned goods when you "shop" your pantry before heading to the grocery store.  

Canned foods require little additional preparation at serving time, making them a convenient meal option on busy work nights.  Although I do have the means to supplement my supply of canned goods with fresh meat and produce this year, it's not uncommon for us to use a jar of meat plus two pints of vegetables to make supper, and a jar of fruit for our dessert.  

Finally - and most important of all to me - putting food by provides us a hedge against hard times and an assurance that, should the unexpected happen, we will be able to eat - and to eat well.  That assurance provides me peace of mind.

Peace of mind, my friends, is worth any amount of hard work. 


Annie at Haphazard Homestead said...

I just did a really quick count, converting it all to pints as I went, and I 172 jars of canned food. I still have a bit of veg. to do, and if we get deer, there will be venison and soups to add to the list.

I would add one to your list - it's rewarding to can food yourself, maybe even more so when you are able to grow it yourself, too.

JoAnn SweetPepperRose said...

Your canning is beautiful - hard work I know - but so good!

Aunt B said...

You're right Annie. It is best if you can grow it yourself but, at this stage in our life, apartment living is our best option. I miss my garden and hope to have one again some day. :)

Canned venison is very good, isn't it? I can it too when I'm fortunate enough to get it.

Aunt B said...

Thank you! It is delicious. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey if I could do what you do, I'd do it. I wouldn't even blink an eye if someone called it hoarding.. seriously? Great post Aunt B always learn so much from you. Mr.CBB

Aunt B said...

Thanks Mr CBB. As you already know, I always enjoy your posts too. I always find good information there.